Saturday, February 23, 2013

Mt. Diablo: Rock City

David had the Saturday off and so we thought we would use the chance to go hiking.  About an hour away is Mt. Diablo. 

 My roommate from college, Brittany, lives just a few minutes away from the mountain so not only did I get hike time but I got friend time!  David made a comment about how glad he was that I had Brittany, after we left.  I think he worries about me, with all our moves, having to leave friends each time.  He knows how much I need girl time.  I am REALLY grateful that Brittany lives so close!
(Avery and Brittany)
Another nice thing about having Brittany with us is that she could show us where the cool stuff was.  We spent all our time at "Rock City."  She couldn't have picked a more perfect place for my older boys.  
We saw deer, a lizard, and a gopher (we fed him some of our carrots to get him to come out of his whole.  He did and he was sooooooooooooooo cute!) but none of that compared to all the climbing.  And the rock was kind of a soft rock so it was fun for them to mess with that as well.
 (Alexandra, Hyrum, Levi, and Brigham)
I was so wiped out by the time we left.  I walk 6 days a week for an hour so I was surprised how much this took out of me.  But still very glad that we went.  The boys needed it and I think Daddy did too :)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Getting to know Tracy, California

There has been a lot of noticeable differences to me during our short stay, so far, in California.  I know the United States of America is large but it still amazes me that one can move just a few states over, and see so many cultural differences.

A few days into their new school, Brigham brought up that he didn't say the Pledge of Allegiance.  I knew this school had the kids say it every morning before entering the classroom, so I was a little confused.  He told me that when the Pledge of Allegiance is said, that they only say it in Spanish.  What the heck?!  I mean, I know that when I walk the kids to school, my boys are pretty much the only ones with lighter hair out of the sea of black hair on the play area (not kidding) but come on.  Surly that isn't then I got to thinking.  He probably only HEARS it in Spanish because that is most of the children's first language here at this school.   I told him that he could still say it but he felt funny about it because he didn't know what they were saying and so he doesn't know when to say certain parts of the allegiance.  Then today, Levi tells me, "School is starting to get easier.  But most of the time the kids are speaking in Spanish and I don't know what in the heck they are talking about!"  I just laughed!  What a great experience my boys are going to have while we are here.  Absolutely LOVE it!

Levi came home with this on Valentine's day.  Man I love that kid! 
Minecraft is computer game you play online and the older boys are a little addicted to it right now since they saw their cousin Stephen playing it :)
All the family stuff is so sweet, typical Levi, but the "Grove O.K." was a reminder that living in Oklahoma was his favorite place out of all the places we have lived...well, and a reminder to teach that boy how to abbreviate Oklahoma the right way...

Hyrum has cried twice after grandparents have called since being here.  The first time was with Grandma (Helen).  That boy LOVES her!  Always has.  When he was a baby and we were living in Orem, Helen lived in the basement below the house we were renting.  It had these stairs that went down into her place but was separated by a door.  There was a vent like opening at the bottom of the door, so when she would leave our part of the house, he would crawl over to the door, stick his fingers through the vent, and baby talk to her through his binkie.  

While she lived with us this last time, she stayed in Hyrum's room at night.  Every night I would hear him talking her ear off.  It took forever to get him to go to sleep and, of course, Helen never stopped him.  So it broke my heart when she called a few days after we left to move here and he started crying about missing her when he got off the phone with her.

A few days later, MeMaw and Poppy sent the boys a Valentine's package.  When the older boys called to thank them and I got my turn to talk, I hung up the phone, not realizing that I didn't give Hyrum the chance to talk to his MeMaw and Poppy.  Cue the tears...

But the world was able to move forward after we called them back :)

There are a lot of homeless people here.  They are pretty much on every corner next to a big shopping area.  I know many would argue that they are going to use the money, me and the boys give to them, on alcohol or whatever but I really don't care.  If that is what makes their lives easier, so be it.  Obviously, life experiences for them has dealt them things that they are not able to cope with right now.  How dare we judge them for what we have no clue what is like to walk in their shoes?  Can you tell I'm a little passionate about this?  :)  

So, the other day Brigham said something that made me so very proud.  We were leaving Wal-Mart and there was a homeless man on the corner.  Brigham got all excited and said, "OO, OO, Mom!  There's a homeless man!"  So I hurriedly get out a dollar bill before it is our turn to get on the main road.  Brigham then says, "I wish there was something else we could do for him."  

Those moments can NEVER be replaced.  I am so grateful for those moments that slap me in the face and seem to yell, "See!  Stop beating your self up.  You are doing just fine as a parent."

Friday, February 15, 2013

Mr. Bowles

Pounce texted me earlier this week that Mr. Bowles had passed away.  As most would be, I was immediately sad.  My emotion, however, was due to aberrant reasons.

You see, Mr. Bowles was one of the good guys.  A "good ol' boy" as David would say.  He is exactly what I miss about small town Oklahoma.  He was my science teacher in high school for 2 years but he was also a farm and church man.  He was the perfect example of a hard working Christian man that I would have loved to have taught my boys.

This is where the aberrant part comes in.  
I know Mr. Bowles is in Heaven.  I have no doubt of that.  There is no way a good man like that wouldn't be there.  So my sadness has nothing to do with his death.  His death has just made me sad to think of the simple life that my boys are missing out on.

With all our moves, my boys have experienced much and in a lot of ways, I truly feel it has benefited them because of all they have been exposed to.  It has bonded our little family closer than most, in my opinion, because we have to lean on each other.  We can't run to extended family members.  We have had to build a strong family relationship with each other because we know that Heavenly Father's plan and our little family is the only stable thing in our lives.

I can remember coming home for Amanda's wedding.  Levi was 4, Brigham was almost 3, and I was hugely pregnant with Hyrum.  We were at church and they were climbing all around me and both trying to get on my lap (David was in Utah).  I was in the same pew as my mom, grandparents, April, and her kids.  I just happened to look over and see my mom and grandmother's face, well, kinda dumbfounded.  Finally my mom took the boys and told them to leave me alone.  It took me a second but I realized that wasn't "normal."  I wasn't used to a lot of help (except from David) and so really, David and the boys were my world.  They had to be.  I love this about all our moves.

However, I can't help but envy my sister, April.  She and her family have never left Jay, Oklahoma.  Her children may not have made as many friends or been to as many entertaining places as my children have, because of a lack of things to do in Jay, but they have stability.  They know what time Daddy will come home every night.  They know how to find things to do in little Jay, Oklahoma.  They know that worldly things aren't that important, not only to themselves, but also to those around them.  People in Jay, Oklahoma could never be accused of "keeping up with the Jones" and I love that.  There is something to be said about leading a simple life.

I guess what I am saying is that I know both April's path, as well as mine, is good.  Real good.  We are both raising good children.  I guess I just wonder sometimes about choices.
So, I write this journal entry to remind myself that there is good in so many of our life choices...and I also wanted to remember this good man.

My favorite memories:
*Mr. Bowles was a teaser.  But he did it with an infectious smile.  I seriously don't know how anyone could not like this man.  The only time I ever saw irritation in him is when we would take things to far and even then that didn't last long.  He used to always tease me about a certain boy.  I can hear his giggle now....
*He had this mounted deer head that he would bring to school every Christmas and stick a red light bulb where its nose should be and tell us that he killed Rudolf.
*He told us that if we waited until marriage to have sex and took a mason jar and filled it with jelly beans everytime we had sex whithin that first year of marriage, that we would never be able to empty that jar if we started taking one out everytime we had sex after that first year of marriage.   I still love telling people about that because I think there is some truth to that!
*But my all time favorite memory of this man is his live birth video.  He had us watch one once and then rewound it (in a slower motion so that we could still see what was going on).  We watched as this baby went right back up in the mom and then he said something about that being birth control for us all!  See...a good man!  Not afraid to teach (preach) about staying away from pre-marital sex.

All these experiences in his class made me WANT to learn because he made it fun and inviting.  I can only hope that with all the teachers that my children have had, that at least one will have as much impact on their lives as Mr. Bowles did on mine.
 (top: Laura, Alisa, Angie  bottom:  Mr. Bowles, Niki)