Tuesday, December 15, 2009

thank Heaven for Silent Night!

tonight was our older boys' Christmas music program at their elementary school. it is the last year that both of them will be in elementary school, because here in Franklin, the children will attend a new school for grades 5 and 6. it will be nice, but terrifying at the same time. anyway back to my story, see. i was again a single parent this night, as Willie was at work. the two youngest kids ready for bed but excited to be skipping the night time ritual for any excuse, were bouncing off the walls. with Santa hats and reindeer antlers in hand, we set out to experience some "Christmas Joy."

upon arrival i realize we were right on time and that meant no parking...anywhere. we parked way out in the woods, or at least way out of the parking lot and across the road from the school. this was a great beginning to the night, because it meant i got to walk a long distance in the cold and darkened parking lot to enter the building clear on the other side. yeah, me. (find that Christmas Joy yet?) but i put on my best"i can do anything" attitude and strode off with purpose, baby in arm and three year old holding my hand. we make it to the gym in a timely manner. it's packed. no seats, barely any wall space to speak of. alas i find a spot against the wall pretty close to the front. i would have to stand, but what ever it takes to support my boys, right? right!

the program begins, the babies get excited and want me to hold them both. i struggle for a minute or two, but suddenly an angel in disguise appears. she was seated at the end of one of the rows of many happy filled seats. she turns and asks Aislynne if she would like to stand on her lap to watch the program. Aislynne almost shy, doesn't hesitate long. she excitedly jumps on the angel's lap and happily watches the program as if she were nobility. i hold Braden in my arms and talk with him throughout the program to keep him engaged in what is going on around him. he enjoys it alot.

the program was darling, partly because it didn't last very long and partly because the music was upbeat and fun. then the "Night Before Christmas" is told in a new version involving the principal and his entire staff. it is cute and funny. but at the end, i find myself smiling the most.
(not because it was over:)

the principal of the little elementary school, in our little mountain town of Franklin, stood and asked everyone else to stand. he then preceded to say that the program was filled with fun and excitement as is the holiday season, "but let us not forget," he said, "that at this time of year, we need to be thankful for the blessings given to us by our Savior." he asked that we all remember the reason for Christmas, and shared his gratitude with all of us, that he is still here with us. last year he suffered a severe hear attack and was out most of the last semester of school. he was so thankful to God to be able to be living and working with the students once more. this is his last year, he will retire after this year is over.

but i wanted to tell you this because after his words, he asked us to sing all together "Silent Night" while holding a neighbor's hand.

this struck a cord with me, because it seems more this year than ever before, people are upset that "Christ" is being taken out of Christmas. i feel that that isn't so. not as much as you may think. we still need a God, a Savior and we still need to feel and share that knowledge and love with each other.

so, as i stood there in the elementary school's over crowded gym singing Silent Night acapella style with a bunch of strangers, my heart swelled at the proper recognition in such a public place, of our Heavenly Father and of our Savior, Lord of Lords. of His mercy and love for each and every one of us. it was neat. as i was leaving, the angel lady told me she had been in my shoes a long time ago and remembered how she had once been helped, like she had helped me. the Christmas Spirit is out there, in abundance. people masquerading as angels and spreading good cheer and kindness. simple kindness and simple words of proper recognition were all that was needed to find the TRUE Christmas Spirit that was laying dormant inside of me, trying to come out. and i am grateful that i was witness to it's power and positive force for good this evening. thank Heaven for that special Silent Night, that miraculous Holy Night.

Monday, December 14, 2009

in the blink of my eye...

i must start off by saying..."this is the beginning of the end" and although i know this sounds melancholy and all, i can't help it. for all mothers in the world, you will be able understand where i am because either one of two things: you've been here in my shoes or you fear this day as i do. so without further delay, i will share my story.

this evening, the children and I gathered around the table for some fun family time. i had promised my darling three year old that we would write out letters to Santa, so after the weekend passed and no letters, she started angelically badgering me about writing them. OK, not angelically at all. so, i called the kids around the table to help us out with it. now i have two older boys who know about "Santa" and so therefore the eldest of the two blurted out in hastiness, "mom, aren't we a little too old for that stuff?" this was said not even two feet from their sister who hangs on their every word.

i glared at at him intently, fighting back every impulse not to bite his head off right then and there and ruining the whole darn thing for everybody. I'm talking the laser beam look. looks that could kill, because i didn't want my three year old to repeat this new attitude. miraculously i managed to say, "you are never too old for Santa." then i followed it up with the "wink." you know the one, moms. the one that is way over exaggerated for the other recipients benefit. yes, the one where we look like our whole face tics with the movement, as if nodding to heaven. anyways, thankfully she didn't really catch on to anything amiss. the boys had been taught to keep our dirty little secret and therefore when i heard the response was angered that he spoke that way in front of her.

i let it go. (i'm so good;)

later, after one bitten off green marker top, marker stains all over the table and the paper shreds in the garbage, yeah, I'm not sure how the shreds were even made. we finally posted the letters on the wall for Santa to see. our task complete to every one's satisfaction, i read them all one at a time, savoring the memory of this years wish lists. as my eyes approached my oldest son's letter, i beheld a plain hasty written note. just barely a sentence of what he wanted for Christmas. my heart dropped. I'll tell you why.

my sadness overcame me not because he didn't believe in Santa anymore, i knew he didn't. i was the one who told him about that dirty little secret. it was because i think really for the first time it hit me. there is no going back with kids. he's done with that stage of his life. the magic, mystery and wonder of it all...it's gone, in the blink of my eye! as i stared at his practically bare and unadorned letter to "Santa", i realized i can never go back with him to that place, to those moments. all that are left are memories of past magical Christmas', and there have been many wonderful magical memories, but it isn't the same and it doesn't feel the same. my boys are growing up so quickly before my eyes, and i can't slow it down or go back or even stop it. it is happening every day, whether i notice everyday or not.

i had passed by the living room a while later and peeked in on the boys watching a Christmas movie. the lights where glowing and the tree stood peacefully basking in that light. the room softly filled with reminders of old times and traditions mixed with new ones. i stopped and gazed at them secretly hoarding the new memory. keeping it locked deep inside, so that one day, all too soon, i can pull it out and be grateful for that memory and maybe laugh to myself and thinking "back then, i had thought they were so old." because as i have just learned they will be gone too soon. and i won't be able to come back "here" with them.

in the blink of my eye....a very wet and tear-filled eye.

Merry Christmas to all our friends and family, enjoy it while they are young.
youth really is priceless.

Friday, December 11, 2009

"Just Life"

OK, so i was literally on the couch this entire week. sick. i had some multiple germy guests outstaying their welcome. so with four kids, a husband with two jobs, and me with a part time babysitting job, we don't have time for me to get sick. this week life really reared it's ugly side. let me share with you some examples:

me sick for the length of the whole working week.(sinusitis, walking pneumonia)
the second car stopped working, mysteriously!
missed work days, (willie and i) right at Christmas time.
couldn't get in to see the doctor till Friday
more missed work
kids late for school
broken glasses by collier
late to work, leaving early from work
pain, dirty house. beyond dirty
never seeing my husband other than a whirlwind figure that swept in and out of the house.
burnt dinners
babies in two-day old pj's and no baths
helplessness
my daughter telling me "mommy, you stink. you need a sower!"

a down right miserably hard week of "just life"

i really had to stop my self pity party and think "what do i learn from this? i know God intends me to learn from my experiences, so think, val. think."
i prayed. and prayed because life had gotten really hard really fast.

the up side to life suddenly appeared as i had my thoughts turn heavenward. here are some examples:

my friend was able to pick up my boys from school, twice.
my husband broke his back to keep the family running as i would have. he tried:)
he kept his cool almost the whole week.
my friend called to check on me and delivered a homemade pot of soup!! a must have recipe!
the truck miraculously started after a week of not working. (willie prayed)
i eventually started feeling a bit better.
willie and i found time to talk out our troubles and got to whine together.
we felt that God was with us again. (not that he ever left us, usually works the other way)
we became stronger as a unit
the boys learned to help cook and other things that mommy does without notice:)
we understood each others important rolls in the family and now it will be a very long time before either of us forgets that!!
and i learned that as busy as i can get and all the things that i can do, there are always others waiting to help, should i not be able to.

so, yes a bad week in a certain perspective but a whole lot of gifts given because of "just life" getting in my way.

imagine that!!!

thank you to my superhero in disguise, my love of my life and husband, willie.
thank you jenny for all your help this week. i owe ya big time:)
thank you boys for being ready and willing to lend a hand when needed. you both are so awesome. santa was definitely watching:)

thank you Jesus for the merciful arm that was wraped around me and my family during this past week, we couldn't have done it without you. that i know without a doubt!!!

thank you God...lesson learned!!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

anniversaries and marriage.

as mine and Willie's 12th anniversary approaches this up coming Sunday, my mind has been reflecting on the past quite a bit. the past as in the changes in each other and in our relationship. i often reflect upon the past as each anniversary approaches, but this year is different.

usually, i would reflect on all the things we've been through and what we've done with our lives. never really feeling satisfied at all with our results. so i would always ask myself, what are we celebrating. thinking that we really didn't have much to celebrate in terms of our marriage. each year seemed to be filled with what seemed to me to be "failure."

however, this year i find myself reflecting once again, but not in my usual habitual way. this year, i ask myself "how do we celebrate all that we truly are AND give it justice?" this question has changed because willie and i have changed. instead of surviving our marriage year after year, (you know the saying: "we survived another year!") we have actually figured out how to enjoy our marriage as a partnership and team. not surviving it, but living in it actively and participating in it whole hearted. no more "auto-pilot", if you will. no more separate individuals living together, but actually living together..."as one."

i finally understand what that actually means. "become as one." to me it means that willie and i really and truly want the same things and will now go about getting it in one way. two minds, two hearts, two souls merging together for the one goal. to be "single minded" as a couple. it allows us to work together and sacrifice together selflessly, both giving and taking, listening and hearing the other. yes, it may have taken us a long time to reach this point, but we did reach it. there's no going back. it is a comforting, unconditional and sacrificial love that now bonds us for eternity.

now... i think that it something to celebrate!!!

to my willie,
thank you. it is all i can say, even though it isn't enough. i feel that we have figured out the mystery of marriage, finally, and it makes me more in love with you than ever before. this, because i know you will be with me no matter what happens in our lives, and i will be with you. and that one day, we will reach that goal together. hand in hand. heart to heart. spirit to spirit. mind to mind. "AS ONE." thank you for waking up each morning and choosing me everyday. i see the proof of this in your eyes, in your thoughts, in your actions, in the sacrifices you give, and i feel it in your loving heart. may God bless us in our efforts to love each other more each day. may he bless us in our marriage and in our family that we have been lucky enough to enjoy. i love you and say thank you once again for loving me as me, without end.

love eternally,
Valerie

Sunday, October 25, 2009

primary program parts

this year for our primary presentation, my boys were given assignments. the over all theme was "my eternal family."here is what my boys wrote as they were to come up with a bit on the subjects that they were given.

Austin was to talk about baptism. this is what he wrote: "Baptism is the first ordinance of the gospel. by following my baptismal covenants baptism strengthens me and my family to have faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus. it teaches me to help others with their burdens and sorrows. my family gets closer and stronger in the spirit as we obey and keep this covenant."

Collier had to write his own 2 min talk. his topic was repentance. this is what he wrote: "repentance strengthens my family. i know repentance can strengthen my family. it helps us grow with the spirit. the Lord wants us to repent so we can reunite with him in heaven. the second principle of the gospel is repentance because it is important. i have a personal experience of repentance strengthening me. i was fighting with my brother, Austin before going to church one morning. i hurt m brother badly, which made my parents mad. once we got to church, i repented of what i did. after i repented, i felt stronger and better. after church, my brother apologized to me and i said i was sorry to him for hurting him and for starting the fight. that is my experience of repenting. i know that if repenting can strengthen me, it can strengthen my family. i say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

my boys wrote these by themselves. i was amazed at the simple truths they bore as they spoke those words today. i learn so much from watching them grow in the spirit. i am so proud of them and so humble that i get the opportunity to teach them and witness the Lord in their sweet little growing lives. what a blessing to see the evidence of our Savior Jesus in their everyday living. Collier told me today that he loved giving his talk because he had felt warm inside while saying it. he said he knew he was speaking the truth because he had felt the spirit. it made me fell like they were getting ready for their missions by stepping on one stepping stone at a time. what an awesome thing to see. my two boys standing for something right and good. and then sharing what they know. i was so proud in a very humble sort of way. i got to see bits and pieces, today, of the men they will become tomorrow.

thank you Collier and Austin for sharing our sweet simple testimonies. i love you both so much. what great examples you both are and will be.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

ode to candycorns...

During the course of my life i have always had some sick fascination with Halloween/fall/spooks etc. i don't know where exactly this comes from, though i will say that dad may have played a roll in that. he was always found sneaking about the house in hopes that he could pop out from behind one unlucky, unsuspecting sibling's door. not to mention, many other means of scary tactics that followed me through out my childhood. i.e. spiders on my legs, "i see cobb webs" and the list goes on. my eldest sister also, i believe, played a great roll in this fascination. she and her friends would take great delight in freaking out us younger siblings. she accomplished this feat by "games" such as: "Freaky Friday" (blood and all), "what's hidden behind the trap door in mom's closet?" and our beloved favorite"the dogs are chasing us." she had endless resources it seemed to pull off these great and memorable "games." so you see how i could have gotten the idea that being scared was a fun thing. this fascination with being scared, in later more grown-up years of my childhood, lead me to play games with my friends. i.e. "Bloody Mary" three times in front of the mirror, and yes, i DID see her in my reflection...who didn't? then of course the famous "murder in the dark" and the always fun slumber party favorite...."light as a feather stiff as a board."

these games became staples at my parties and markers of each Fall, sparking my imagination to draw up something awfully awesome and perhaps gruesome each year for Halloween. such as graves in the lawn, witches hung from the tree, and chicken bone skeletons. (he he, oops!!! that was actually my costume...thanks mom!!:) (yes, Melanie...you may laugh now.)

Fall to me means i can indulge myself in these scary themes and also in the Fall staples
such as: candied/caramel apples, crunchy brown, orange, and red leaves under my feet. the smell of tootsie rolls and Starburst in the same breath. mom's famous chilly and homemade veggie soup, the smell of fresh crisp air and feeling the bite of winter waiting impatiently around the corner. these things are a few of my favorite things. but what i love about this season most of all is the fist sign of the season. i anticipate it every year. and even while living in Florida for a long time, i would miss the signs of the changing seasons because leaves don't change there. and i would miss the excuse to bundle up and to eat a very warm drink like hot apple cider. it was way too hot. even though we'd try every year to drink them and pretend it was chilly out.
how do you think i really knew the season was here, besides using the calendar? i'll tell you. and for those who know me well, this makes perfect sense.
i was always abreast on the store front. which candy was in stock. (my sister and i adore candy and have an unhealthy love and respect for the joy it brings. its an addiction, really) anyways, i would watch the candy isles for what was up and coming. do you know what the first candy stocked on a Wal-mart shelf for Fall is...?

CANDY CORNS!!!!!

that's right. i LOVE candy corns. and as I'm already on my third bag for the season, i felt compelled to write an "ode" to this lovely first candy of the Fall. when i see the candy corns sitting innocently upon the shelf of the store, the white-tipped, orange and yellow triangles of waxy tastiness, i can't help but flip out a little, in excitement that is. i immediately and i might even say, greedily, grab a bag or three. i love everything that that first sight and taste of that sweetest candy corn means to me. it reminds me of all my childhood memories of frolicking about recklessly, spooking others and myself and feeling like time could freeze. even though all around me were the signs that it wouldn't last. time moves on. but i knew how to enjoy every moment of Fall and everything it brought me. i still do. from dressing up for Halloween, jumping in a huge pile of dead and crunchy leaves, to pigging out on the Fall delictables such as spice cake and trick-or-treating goodies. (i just get some from the kids now that i'm older.)(taxes, i say. ha ha)

Fall is a season for many kinds of indulgences, spooky frights, playing dress-up, outdoor play and frolic, and tasty treats. but Fall is candy corns and candy corns is Fall. and so it is to this little insignificant piece of candy who quietly sits upon the shelf waiting to bring out the season of frolic and fun, to whom i choose to indulgently eat and dwell on this day. to this candy who never gets the recognition that it deserves. it is always over shadowed by the other bigger better candy bars wrapped in shiney Halloween foils. but to you, dearest sweetest candy corn, i say this...may you never change. stay the same for ever like my childhood memories that remain unchanged. may you always bring the sweetest smile each Fall, and may you always supply me with endless Falls of happy sweet memories. i do love you, and everything you are and everything you symbolize. but above all this, i love the way you taste. all three colors really DO taste different!! i swear.

***and if i should gain 50 lbs this Fall for not having enough will power to stay away...so be it. i could never blame you, my sweet. some things are meant to be together, forever.

**I'll just wait till January, well after Thanksgiving and Christmas. I'll blame them for the "holiday weight gain" and end up like everyone else who resolves to loose the weight and start to eat healthy again. I'll do this, but only to prepare myself for this time next year when we will meet again...

....and we will meet again.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

football and daddy's shoulder

three years ago, aislynne, when you were about three months old, i had you in my arms. i had wanted you for a long time. and finally after a long wait, i got you. so i gathered the bits and pieces of your tiny frame into my arms to cuddle and hold close to my heart. but i soon discovered it was not me that you had waited for.

as i struggled with you, (baffled that i couldn't make you happy and content, after having two before you) holding you this way and that, bouncing you and singing to you, i realized...you must be entirely different from your brothers. maybe they were right. all those people who said girls are more dramatic and difficult from the very beginning, than boys were. could it have simply been just that. you were a girl and so you had to make it difficult for mommy? i didn't buy it, not then...

but as the night wore on i became so tired, i was barely able to hold you like i had waited so long to do, and now i was completely exuasted. as my weakend arms passed you gently to your daddy, i felt a sense of failure. but it didn't last. i'll tell you why. i watched silently as your daddy held you up, vertically on his big strong and abled shoulder. he sat down in his chair and proceded to watch football while rubbing your back. i thought to myself.."this will never work, she'll not stand for this." after all i had been sitting too, while struggling with you, as i couldn't stand on my own yet. but yet again, i was wrong.

daddy held you that way and sat in the silence of the house except the low cheers emitting from the football game, the only light on in the house was softly gleaming from the square blue box. i watched in wonder as you listened to the game. you silently drifted off to sleep on daddy's shoulder. within five minutes you were out like a light!

i sat there astounded.

how could that be? i asked daddy that very question. his reply was this "val, while you were recovering from your accident (almost two and a half months of recovery) who do you think took care of her? this is our little routine." he said simply and proudly.

i pondered that.

i had waited so long for you, but maybe you waited just as long to be with daddy. since that time, you two have had a bond that we'll never have. but i'm ok with that. i feel like my recovery time was a gift to the both of you. your daddy was there when i couldn't be and he will always be there for you no matter your age or circumstances. you are his little girl. always has been and always will be. every fall/football season and the singing of happy birthday in september will always remind me of those short months when you were so new to us. but i will remember football and you on your daddy's shoulder as the crowds quietly cheer in the background.

and i smile.
thanks to all who came to aisy's third bday party. she had a blast and wishes her bday was everyday!!! it made willie and i very greatful to be here with tons of great friends. it means alot to us that everyone has welcomed us and befriended us so quickly. it feels like home here. i think we'll stay:) thanks again.

my three year old daughter

videoaisy's favorite part...hitting spongebob with a bat! that was the thrill of the party. every parent's dream...right? thanks for the crowd control tricia!!

aisy had a blast with her friends, henry and holden! thanks for coming guys. thanks for the cool barbie, holden:)

thank you jared and martha and baby sam!! braden and i laugh and play with my new "real" chipmunk!!
love, aisy

thank you sister webb!! i love my franklin grandma!!! and i listen to my music all the time:)
love, aisy

she's ready to go tubing down the river!! let's go girllie!!!

this is a REAL ponytail on aislynne!! it only took three years to get it, but it's really here!!!!!!!!!

aisy ready for her birthday party!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009


jenny, i thought you'd love this one. cause when are our kids NOT eating or asking to eat? they acted like they were starving!!! too funny. even little braden's head is there. he was just as "starving".

this was at dry falls. my boys and their bff logan. he visited two weeks ago, from fl. it was great to see him again. star wars and more star wars were on the agenda for that week. then it was off for some waterfall fun, and the pool with some conoeing at the river!! great time.

yes, they were shooting at me...and got me good!!! this was at dollywood with some good friends!! thanks proctors for a great time!
videothis is buster butt falls. well part of it. this part is a very high rock that you jump off of into the freezing water below. the falls are off to the left. it's actually really deep right where you land. it was awesome and all of us did it. when i fix the other videos of the others, i'll post them too. we actually had to climb a rope and scale the big side of a rock to get up to where you jump off. this is where i saw how brave my walz boys were.

history definitely repeats itself...

ok, so if i'm going to make my point, allow me to go back in history a ways...say...twenty or so years ago. wow has it been that long? anyways. here up in our childhood bedroom my bestest friend/sister and i sat sneeking our favorite treat into our secret hiding place, which happened to be the olnly hidding place as we shared a room with two other sisters. i.e. the closet. we had planned to sneak out of bed that night to retreive the said snack and consume it in our own timely manner; to indulge ourselves in a sweet pleasure of yumminess. this snack just so happened to be...(bare in mind we were poor...) it was powdered sugar in a red cup. well we waited with anticipation to that eveing when we could fulfill our childish dream of eating as much sugar as we wanted, when just as we were saying good night to mom and dad, our sister had found the sneaky treat and was running down the stairs yelling in her highest voice..."look what i found in the closet!! look what valerie and tiffany had in the closet!!"
we were punished severly for that. too severly, if you ask me. we were angry. so angry at our sister for ratting us out. we couldn't understand why she would tell on us.
but hear listen to this...
so that being a sore subject with me and my dearest friend, i must say, maybe now i can see a point in tattling. MAYBE. yesterday i made chocolate crinkles. cookies with powdered sugar sprinkled lightly on the top. yummy. anyways, collier was hovering around me as i was making the first batch. i knew he was impatient to devour the cookies. after i was feeling a little ill, willie took over the cookie making and i turned and gave collier permission to have a taste of the powdered sugar while he waited for the cookies to come out of the oven. i left the kitchen, propped up my feet and left the heat and cluttered chaos to my ever capable husband.
later that evening, we are saying goodnight to the boys and willie goes down to see them to bed and to make sure that their clothes are good for the following day. he comes back up the stairs and says to me "look what i found in your sons' room." (notice he said "your sons'") i looked. it was the bowel of powdered sugar. collier had escaped to his room with this delectable treat so that he could eat it at his leisure. i simply stared at the bowel in disbelief. all i could say is.." history definitely repeats itself!"
i had to laugh. though i couldn't bring myself to punish him for it, i did tell him it wasn't so wise to bring food down to the room. it could attract all kinds of sugar seeking rodents and other mountain creatures willing to throw caution to the wind to risk life and limb to get some. cause if they come in...they don't go out alive. so as i said i can ALMOST see the reasoning for my sister's tattling. i wouldn't want to live in a room where food was being smothered in all the time. but it was our first offense as it was collier's and to be honest, it's a little cute and sad at the same time. i don't think it warranted a punishment. am i wrong here in thinking this? let me know what you all think!! would you have punished your kids upon finding that in there room?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


this is my first baby, a ten year old fifth grader..he is a wonderful son and the best big brother. he is my artist and outstanding reader. his humor cracks me up. collier, may you find fun and success this year. kisses and hugs.

back to school boys


this is my once"baby 'austy" he is now a big fourth grader. he is a sports nut and a rocker at heart. he is a loveable comedian and an outstanding student. he is a fine example of what a young man in the gospel should be. i'm so proud of him and wish him a great year of success. kisses and hugs to my austin.

Monday, August 3, 2009

videothanks grammy. we love and miss you!!!

postcard perfect!

awesome...right?...the view i mean:)

braden finally couldn't stay awake. at least he made it to the top for the veiw and lunch!!! soooo cute!

the silers troop!!!
videovista at silers bald!!!

this is just a fourth of the veiw!! it was a panoramic beauty to behold!!!

here are the rest of us climbing up. the veiw is next...wait for it...wait for it...

grammy, this is when you called. we were at the top of the mountain called silers bald. willie is trying to listen to you. i heard your voice and screamed "hi mommy".

Sunday, July 26, 2009


for all who wanted to see Collier in his new eyes, here he is! sooo handsome and big!

we made it to the top...

a thought occurred to me as i was pushing the stroller with aisy in it to the top of a mountain. it was this. "can i make it to the top?"
i was hearing the passersby persecute us for having attempted to bring up the stroller and a baby as we passed on pushing and pushing up toward the top. willie would put his hand on my back to lend support and try to help push me from behind. i would also hear passersby talk loudly "your almost there!" even when we obviously weren't. these two opposite meaning outbursts to me sent a very useable teaching moment for myself. could i make it to the top? or should i turn back. the view was undoubtedly the best around, and i really wanted to see it. but my strength was draining as i was getting a bad cold. the more and more i heard of the persecuters the more i wanted to believe it. i was getting weaker as the seconds rolled by. but as soon as i heard the positive cheerleaders cry "your almost there", i could feel my strength grow just a bit. i would feel the desire to go on and try to make it no matter what. i made up my mind. i'd go at my own pace, stopping when i needed to. i would though, without fail, reach the top.

and i did!!! the veiw was outstanding. i felt a sense of pride and self appriciation for having had the courage, strength and belief in myself to reach the top of that mountain.
would something terrible have happened to me if i turned around and gone back? most likely no. but i did feel happy and proud and i felt i got a darn good workout. :)

thanks to the cheerleaders, i may have turned around if i hadn't heard your cheers and encouraging cries.

may we try to be eachothers cheerleaders as we all climb these mountains called trials and life. we need to hear it....and OFTEN.
to meema, thank you for sharing that day with us. we all agreed it was too short of a visit. we miss you already and want you to come back soon. we thought it was a much needed day of fun. thanks for the memories, laughs and love. your the greatest!!! love...us

just wanted to show you all the clingman's dome. that's what we climbed the frickin mountain to get to. we were dead even with the mountain ranges!!! it was awesome. view was worth the climb.

a royal welcome. first things first according to aislynne. meema MUST read a book to her. then... mcdonalds!!!

the top of the cake. mcdonalds!!!! that was the main reason for aisy to get up in the morning. she knew meema would take her to mc d's. it was the perfect end to the perfect day. thanks meema for the memories. we love you. please come again soon.

a visit to the past. an old farming house. so cute. was neat to see how they lived. it reminded me of hocus pocus (the beginning)

ahh...our tour guide for the day. meema was outstanding. except that she left us to ourselves to climb to the top. she knew how high the climb was...yes, i would not have gone up there with a stroller either, meema, had i known. you were sooo right!!!

"he's gotta FEEVA...and the only cure is MORE COW BELL." this is austin with the "yelloe fever" from dandilions. ahhh it takes me back.

as if willie EVER needed this sign around while he is expressing his first amendment rights...am i right?

at the top 'o the dome!! a perfect vista!!! it got really chilly up there, as you can see aisy bundled up in the middle of july!

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Thursday, July 9, 2009


lesson learned...

i learned a lesson last week. as i was reminded of our countries sacrifices and courage at the beginning of its birth, a lesson had slithered its way into my conscious mind. i would like to share that lesson with you. here it is...

the sacrifices that the men and women gave in the fight for our Independence back in 1776 had struck a cord with me personally. the amount of courage that it required these new patriots to accomplish these much needed sacrifices was endless. to the point, they died for the cause of freedom. this courage was the strongest example of god's love and presence in our lives, next to the two most important: our Savior's atonement, Crucifixion and Ascension, and our Prophet Joseph Smith, who was called to restore The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. no two events in history required as much faith, courage and strength to carry out a heavy calling as these two did. they each required God's hand in it personally to be carried through.

i feel the countries freedoms was the next major event that required God's hand directly. it needed to absolutely happen to allow for the restoration to take place. but this is just the skeleton to the lesson. i learned through those three examples that praying to God for the righteous desired outcome of freedom was I'm sure the most popular prayer at the time. but the prayer that was more worthy (i feel) was the prayer that was asked in faith that they received the courage and strength to endure the trials of the times. sure they all wanted to live to see the day we became a free nation under God, but they knew some would not. and if the cost was their life, they knew they needed the courage and strength to endure the trial until the cup passed from them and the burden lifted. what a heavy burden.

my burdens today look nothing like those of my ancestors. i feel somewhat like i cheated or skipped the race to the finish line. sure the stresses of life really can scare me and bring me down, but they so far have not required my life as cost to live this free life. (something i would most gladly give) if i apply the prayer from that lesson learned, i will pray not to see the destination of my righteous desires, but to have the courage and strength to endure the trials called upon me to carry. that i may carry it well until the cup has passed from me and my burdens lifted. as I'm sure the patriots knew their Savior was there to help them carry these heavy burdens, i too know that He is there to help me carry my heavy burdens. i can attest and stand as a witness to that. i have felt the burdens actually been lifted from my shoulders, i have felt the love and peace, most of all i have relished in the sweet mercies given unconditionally to me from Him.

in short: pray for the strength to endure life's trial to the best of your abilities, as well as praying for your righteous desired destinations. it makes all the difference in how you live while waiting for those prayers to be answered. it's God's time, we don't know how long it might take... ha ha . the best we can do is endure that waiting time as best and as happy as we can. may God bless you and may you walk with your Savior always.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


surprisingly twitterpaited!!!

OK, so I've never gotten into the whole famous people, celebrity ism stuff. it's just not something i do. i never got too gushy over famous teen crushes, (aside from my diary entries at which i scribbled "val + so-in-so") never swooned too heavy publicly over real boy crushes either. i was pretty much a silent observer and secret admirer throughout my life. I've thought about this and tried to figure out why i was and am this way. while so many of my friends screamed their heads off at concerts and sent out massive advertisements to the world about their crushes, i merely was content to stay at home and listen to the music of the crush or watch the movie starring the crush. was i scared, what would i say to them? I don't know, all i know is that once i had a crush on someone famous, i usually read or heard later of their indiscretions, follies, and faults. No, i was not expecting perfection per say, but i was really disappointed when i would here that they were not who they really pretended to be. i think at an early age, i realized:"why worship some person who is completely as flawed as i am?" what's the point. were they just not worthy of my admiration's anymore? i don't know. but what i DO know is that that all changed for me a few months back.

last May, i had the opportunity to attend a women's' conference in Columbia, S.C. it was a Time Out For Women event. this meant travelling. i carpooled with some local friends and we all travelled up there together, bringing with us our excitement that could only be brought on by our highly anticipated escape from our current responsibilities; A.K.A. our children!
as we were travelling i was talking to one of my friends and she was sharing a recent concert event that she and her husband had attended. she handed over her phone and showed me a picture of an up-and-coming famous man and herself. she was telling me in excited words that she met this famous man and he was awesome. she had been so nervous and gitty around him, that she had trouble remaining a rational, mature woman. she said she felt like a teenager again. she said she had felt twitterpaited! TWITTERPAITED!!!
i said, "wow, i can't believe that you felt like that, your a grown woman!" we laughed about it. i couldn't comprehend what she was feeling, because as i stated before, i don't get that way about famous people who are just people. i didn't know then, but i had just gotten a case of "foot-in-mouth disease."

So there I was, sitting the Time Out For Women event, watching somewhat silently (that means giggling as reverent as possible with my girlfriends), half-heartedly listening to the speaker, when the announcer then steps up to announce the next guest on the program. i knew that this person was going to be in attendance and i was excited, but i had already seen this man at a previous TOFW event two years before. so when i heard the announcement i was happy, but not over excited. "next up will be Kenneth Cope." the announcer had said. yippeee!!!
"i love Kenneth Cope." i whispered to my friend.
"you do? that's great." she said.
"yeah, I've already seen him at an earlier TOFW two years ago, i said. (trying to sound awesome, why?) i love his music. i feel that he has put my testimony of my Savior, to the most beautiful music. it sings to my soul." i went on and on. (could that be gushing...?)
any ways as we sat there listening, OK, truthfully i was SINGING along while he was singing. who was the guest singer here? anyways, my friend then leaned over to me and whispered,
"if you really love his music, you should meet him."
i replied with a suave and confident;
"OK, yeah sure. if he stays after the program I'll go up and shake his hand."
i felt cool. but almost as soon as i had said those words, i began to be suddenly nervous. my hands started to shake, i began to feel sick to my stomach. i leaned over to my friend and said,
"i think I'm actually getting nervous!" i couldn't believe i was getting nervous. i Don't get nervous!!!
she leans into me with a sly smile and asked;"are you twitterpaited, Valerie?" and then she giggled at me. she could already see that i was. i was still in denial however, i said to her;
"no, it's just that his music means so much to me. i have sung it and it has become apart of my own testimony. i feel so close to the spirit when i listen to his music. there had been moments in my life when that music lifted me, taught me, reminded me of who i am, and just made me aware of my Savior in a new light. i am grateful to him for sharing his talents. i just want him to know that. that's what I'll tell him." (that's not twitterpaited...is it?)

she just laughed a little at this and said,
"that's great Valerie, but why are you so nervous to tell him that?"
"i don't know, maybe because it's personal to me to be able to thank him."

this seemed the right answer. yes, i was wanting to thank him. that's all. simple as that. but i couldn't stop the nerves. finally he sang his last song and the program ended.
it was time.

"OK," my friend said, "time to go and meet him before the crowd builds."
with "good lucks" and "well wishes," not to mention a few jabs, from the girls, i headed off to meet the man whose music has meant so much to me.
in line i was rehearsing what I'd say to him. i couldn't think straight. i couldn't remember my own name for crying out loud! when did this happen to me? i have now in an instant become what i had earlier made fun of my friend for being; a teenage gushing girl. it was my turn next. i moved up in the line.
finally he was staring at me waiting for me to speak. this was my brilliant conversation with my music idol:
"hi, I'm sooo nervous and i don't know why." (giggle giggle)
"it's OK, don't be nervous!" (he puts his arm around my waist!)(ahhh!!)
"i have few things to say, first, i love you. thank you so much for sharing your talent with us. your music is beautiful and i feel that you have put my testimony to your music and it has meant so much to me. my husband knows to turn on your music Sunday mornings to set me in a great mood." (he laughs and says, "wow, that's a compliment. i hope your husband's OK with that!")
"second, i want to ask you to sign your autograph, and third would you please let me have a picture of you?"(sheepish grin from ear to ear)(more giggles)
" sure absolutely, I'd love to."
"i don't know why I'm so nervous, I'm sorry, i don't usually get this way." (another embarrassed sheepish grin)
"it's OK, don't worry about it, I'm so thankful to you for sharing with me. i love to meet the people whose' lives i can touch. it makes me feel like I'm doing something important." (he says this while holding me with his arms around me and then signs my program and smiles for a picture!)
"thank you so much, thanks.(i think at this point i was gushing uncontrollably)
"no, thank you. it was so nice to meet you." ( he smiles and waves as my friend is pulling me away. thanks to her for rescuing me from a morbid embarrassment. she could see the signs I'm sure)

i went running back to the girls..."he signed my program with a heart and a smile face AND i got a picture!"

yes, my friend was right, i WAS twitterpaited. so twitterpaited. i had felt like a gushing teenage girl, fumbling over my words. trying with all my might to make and impression and tell him all that he had meant to me, all this in a time limit of two minutes. but i did it! completely trembling, but i did it! it was a silly high for me. i will never forget it. feeling so outside of myself. but it was totally fun. "foot-in-mouth disease" is not easy to swallow, but i had a great friend who knew better than i and was able to laugh with me and make it a most memorable silly moment! i guess there are some people out there are who are still holding some admiration of mine that i hadn't considered in this kind of light before. twitterpaited...hummm....i definitely was, SURPRISINGLY TWITTERPAITED!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

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us, screwing around! but when tention and pressure mount...just DANCE!!!
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HELP! ...and clutter on the brain.

have you ever been so overwhelmed that your brain literally feels like it will explode? that's me right now. so i must write down these thoughts to pull them out of my brain and clear the clutter. i am a person who can not stand clutter. time to clean out the closet.

ok, so between my husbands job opportunities, summer break fun for the kids, doc visits for my oldest, bills, a huge church calling, and having four children and their schedules, i'm feeling a little thinnly spread. i know this is how most poeple live these days, but i hate it. it makes me feel like a tightly stretched rubber band. and we all know what happens to the rubberband...it snaps. sometimes it snaps and only breaks itself, but other times that rubberband can hit, possibly break other objects, while flying in the path of self destruction. yes, this may sound dramatic, but then...I AM!! so the question is ...how do i avoid "snapping?"

i was talking to my mom the other day...really unloading these thoughts onto her. (love you mom:) but she told me some good advice. stepping outside of your self and taking a good look at what's really important allows yourself to be put in charge of YOU again. not the other way around. ok so, what comes first. basically look at your priorities and put them in order. i usually do this. but when i get bombarted by life and its little details, my brain suddenly feels like quitting, or shutting down. i start to feel inadequate, sorry for my self, and emotional!! i cry, in other words. i cry over the stupidest things. am i alone in feeling this way? surely not.

ok, so i actually visualized myself stepping outside of my body and looking at my life from an outsiders point of veiw. it was liberating to say the least. "wow, great hair by the way, val!!"
ok, so looking at myself and my obligations, i realized I was the only one adding pressure on myself. i was expecting ME to handle EVERYTHING perfectly and in a timely manner.

whoa...back up there vallie girl... way to much pressure. why was i doing this to myself? just because i had added to my calendar, i added pressure to myself. it went hand in hand. did i mention i am chlostrophobic? i think when i see my calendar fill up, it clutters my head and thus i add pressure to myself to eliminate those clutters as quickly as possible. make sense? well, i don't know exactly how to fix the problem, because i must write things down or i will forget, but when i write them down it overwhelms me. the olny thing that i remember that my mom told me that really stuck is... i'm the "BOSS", of myself that is. i control my life to a major degree. if i'm overwhelmed, take charge and eliminate the clutter. most importantly though, i am NOT alone, either. i have a family. and i just taught the little nursery children about why Heavenly Father gave us families. it was for us to have HELP! so to my husband... i said"Help!" and you know what? he did! my mom helped, my husband, and children, even family and friends on facebook helped.

life happens, but we don't have to let it take over us. we take charge. and ask for HELP!!!
thank you mom, willie, kids and family friends, you know who you are!!! most of all, thank you Jesus Christ, my friend and savior for allowing these burdens be lifted from me and for helping me carry them through the finish line.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

firefly summer

last night while coming home from a party, my boys alerted me to look outside the car window. "what?" i said. "what am i suppose to be looking at?"
"look at the fireflies, mom!"
"awe, yes, i see!" i said. "they are cool, huh?"
as the boys were talking animatedly in the back seat about their new discovery, (having grown up in florida, they have never seen fireflies before, and among them, my husband) i allowed my mind to wander to a distant past. one filled with cool summer evenings, barefeet in the grass, late night games with neighborhood friends and the always anticipated; fireflies. yes, my childhood summer nights. i was immediately swallowed up in the smells and feelings of those summer nights, firefly nights. we knew that when the fireflies came out we only had about an hour left to play outside. we would quickly organize our remaining time into the most meaningful hour of the day. suddenly we played like it was the last time we would ever play. with all our hearts and souls, we would engage into the most fun we could muster up.we felt so old to be able to play past dark. our imaginations quickly at work, we tumbled, chased, jumped, hid, and cartwheeled our way to a magical world where we ruled the night skies. we were the gods, then.

as the night rapidly flew, our time coming to an end, i recalled to myself, seeing and hearing my mother calling to us from the front porch."time to come in!" she would yell. i can still see her sillouette against the white house, under the porch light. this memory warmed me now, but it didn't back then. this was the signal that our time was up. it meant it would suspend our nightly godhood for one whole day more. what an eternity a day was back then. the evenings stretched on forever.

i remembered the smells of the cool grass on my barefeet. the feel of the wind rushing past my face as i chased my friends, the hard concrete on my back as we laid on the sidewalk to count the stars. endless the night seemed with the stars stretching on in the blackness forever. we actually tried to count them all, well who didn't?

i remembered the taste of freshly picked mulberries and the juicy stains that accompanied them. the feeling of endless pleasures and the sounds of laughter that drifted up to the heavens. blowing blades of grass between my lips, riding bikes down the middle of the road and skating down the sidewalk, sometimes on one foot, as to share the other skate with a sister. :)

at the moment that these memories washed over me, i was bathed in a blanket of homesickness. one i haven't felt since last summer. i think i have felt it every summer since. summers just don't add up to those anymore. though i am a grown up woman now and know the evils of time(that much never changes, no matter how old you get) and i can't do a cart wheel very often any more, i can dig in my memory box and pull out a lifetime's worth of summer nights, they are always with me. and i can now enjoy passing these summer traditions on to my children, who are now discovering what it is to be a child in a firefly summer.....

it begins again.

Friday, May 29, 2009





...just add BARBIES!!!

now that the sun is finally shining, the weather is warming up. the birds sing and the leaves soak up the vitamins needed for growth, all around me are the signs that summer is just a warm breath away. i know i'm feeling the summer itch and most certainly my children are feeling it. for instance: the boredom with school sets in. the boys gradually stay up later and later. they are ever so careless about what they are wearing these days. (i.e. holy jeans and mismatch socks!!!) end of year skip days occur frequently, and if i can get a pair of ...well if i can get Aislynne in ANYTHING at all , i'd be pretty amazed. in the past, we bought a small pool each year to kick off the "almost summer" season. well, this year we don't have much room for a pool at the top of a mountain, so i had to improvise.

bare with me....

it was a warmer day and Aisy and i were playing Barbies. we often play Barbies. it's one of our bonding girly times. anyways i have quite the experience playing Barbies, as i played with all four of my sisters growing up. oh, the hours of endless fun! our bedroom would be transformed into a lavish mansion or many mansions for our Barbies. we would play the same game for days, hours, weeks. whatever it took till our stories were played out. with all that supreme experience on my childhood resume, i feel more than qualified to teach Aisy how to play. however, i have been allowing Aislynne to play as she likes. it is more interesting to me to see her imagination grow before my eyes. the other day, she asked:

"mommy, can we gib da Ba-Bees a baff?"

i responded with a "why not", it would get me out of having to undress and dress the said Barbies over and over again for her.(even if by a few minutes) so, i search and scrounge up a "bath " for the Barbies. i fill up a short but long rubbermaid tub with water and let her have a field day with it. Braden then wanted to join the fun and splashing. he and Aislynne began making eachother laugh hysterically. i observed from the patio door. the two of them were knee deep and covered head to toe with water, laughing their heads off. they played like this for several minutes, as their attention span does not allow for more. then i hear that they are getting bored and start screaming at eachother because there isn't enough room in the tiny tub for the both of them, and how long can they sit there splashing water at eachother over and over? i knew just what to do...

"here comes the Barbies for their bath!" i said.

i start throwing in the Barbies for their bath, and what do ya know? they started playing and throwing and laughing with the Barbies. Braden throwing them(he loves to throw them by their heads) Aisy was bathing them. suddenly the water was fun all over again.

so why was i even writing this?...right...so...

when the fun and exciting activities and frivolities of life become the mundane and boring...

JUST ADD BARBIES!!!

my sisters and i always did. not only did it keep the fun rolling, it allowed our imaginations to take us where we wanted to go. even if it was just to the backyard pool, pretending the Barbies were mermaids. if you can't play Barbies anymore... find that something to give life a new twist. it helps us make a mundane and dreadfully boring day, a happy out-of-the-norm kinda day. those are the days i remember!!! and summer is the perfect time to make a ton of "new twist" days as the summer boredom sets in, ...it always does.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

memorial day thoughts

what does it mean? memorial day. growing up, i used to get labor day and memorial day mixed up. all it was to me was a day off with BBQ and fun with the family, just because there had been wars fought in the very distant (to me) past. the word war, also seemed somewhat a novelty to me. i hadn't seen it in my childhood. i had only read about it from my dusty torn history books. i was always a little facinated with history, though. i felt some connection to the past. as i grew into young adulthood, my facinations grew. i watched movies that told stories about the wars. i read books that would take me to war fronts. i learned about the things that war could and did do to families, countries, and the world. but only when i became an adult and began my own family, did i realize the amount of sacrifice that went into making this country free, the amount of continued sacrifices that are still being made, in order to keep this country free. i mourn the loss of all those boys who died in the heroic efforts to protect our freedom during the earlier wars, but also those who die trying to bring freedom to others who cannot fight by themselves. freedom is the most awesome, fragile power. It is what allows each of us to reach our potential. it is what our creater wanted for us. we needed freedom so the world could be able to learn of HIM. i speak of our savior, Jesus Christ. the world as a whole, not only one nation. we are all entitled to freedom. yes, we are our brothers keepers. if one cannot do for himself what we can do, it is up to us to help him. i didn't understand this fully, especially right after 9-11. my heart had broken for our country that day along with millions of others. it made me sick that humans could bend to such evil tendencies. i knew satan was real that day. i tried to draw a good guy bad guy line. i couldn't. i struggle for the losses we as a country have had to swallow and somehow make sense of. i think of the children who grow up not knowing their fathers and mothers. you see, i understand WAR now. i am living through it. it is not some fight in a distant land. but it lays at my door daily. i am aware ever so much these days how prescious life is. i marvel at the courage of those poeple serving, they are truely noble and inspiring to me. they teach me selflessness, love for my brothers and sisters at home and in distant lands, courage, strength, faithfulness, loyalty.

mainly these days, when i think of memorial day...it pulls pictures to my mind of someones brother, sister, son, daughter, mother, father, but i mostly picture a hero. a normal human, flawed as i am, but willing to give the ultimate price for freedom. "anything worth having...is worth paying for!" i heard a solder repeat this. how true it is.

so, to all that serve in those armed forces....thank you is never enough, but since it all i can say, i'll say it loud and clear....THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! my thoughts are with you all tonight in my prayers. may God keep you in the hollow of His hands.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

here are braden's bday pics and videos! he cracks me up!


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