Sunday, June 18, 2017

DAY 1902... The Compassion Experience

Spencer and I have been searching for ways to teach our children about how lucky they are.
It's really not an easy thing to do.

In the past we have donated toys and clothes and food to people in need,
and even though we would take the time to explain completely to Aniston what we were doing and why,
she never really seemed to understand completely.

The world that we live in is so comfortable,
full of fulfilled wants, 
and filled with so much excess.
Do we really need 20+ pairs of shoes?
Do we really need 3 flat screen TV's?
Do we really need more than 1 swimsuit?
Do we really need a room full of toys?
we really don't.
We are so blessed to live in the world we live in and to have what we have.

I remember when I was younger,
my parents would take us to Tijuana to help us understand how blessed we really were.
I remember my little sister would always save up her money so that she could buy an entire pack of chiclets from the small child that would always be selling them to make money for her family at the border.
It always broke our hearts to see these children working on their feet and begging for people to buy whatever they were selling.

But regardless of how we felt at the time of our visit,
that feeling of compassion would eventually wear off and we would become greedy and forget about how fortunate we really are.

I didn't really understand the entire experience of compassion as a child.
I didn't always grow up with money.
I remember being really young and my crayons were my favorite toys.
We would put them into families and play with them all day long.
But my Dad worked hard and changed our situation and we lived comfortably in a blessed life.
I took a lot for granted.
I think we all do at times.

Do we remember while we are drinking water that many countries and people do not have clean drinking water?
Do we remember while we are throwing out food uneaten after dinner that there are millions of people and children going to bed hungry?
Do we remember when we are sitting inside our cool homes in the heat of the summer that there are millions of people without A/C who live in much hotter locations?

So when I read on Facebook about The Compassion Experience,
I knew that that was an experience I wanted Aniston to have.

I didn't think Benson would understand it at all,
because he can't even understand the word "no" these days (mega eye roll),
but I was hoping that it wouldn't be totally lost on Ani.

It was free and took place at a church,
so I thought that it was the perfect Sunday activity for our family.

As you stood in line waiting to get in,
there were a lot of facts and information about poverty and how it effects the world today.

We had the choice to choose between 2 experiences,
but we left it up to the universe to choose our story and we ended up going through Sameson's story.
We put on headphones that connected to an iPod and waited for our experience to start.

As you walked through different rooms,
different parts of Sameson's story played.
We learned about him from a young age,
when he was abandoned by both parents,
through his school age,
where he didn't pass his exams,
to his present day,
where he was encouraged by a sponsor to pursue his dreams and to follow his heart,
and now he teaches young children how to build with wood.

As you walked through the different rooms you got a good sense of the quality of life that Sameson had. 
You saw his home and what he would eat and where he would eat.

We saw where he would attend school,
and we saw his wood shop. 

We took a small amount of extra time in each room to explain to Aniston what she was seeing and what was happening.

The biggest impact that effected her was that he was abandoned when he was 3 and what he ate.
When she saw the food she wasn't quiet about how "yucky" it looked.
Another thing she pointed out was that he only had 1 toy.
We talked with a representative afterwards and he told us how they had the actual people walk through the exhibits and make sure that they were correct and accurately portrayed their life. 
So for Aniston,
the thought of only having 1 toy was shocking to her.
The idea that he had no money was shocking to her.

When you finished the story you entered a room with tons of pictures of different children all across the world who were looking for a sponsor. 
These are children that can't afford to eat or attend school.

Spencer and I have often talked about how much we have and how blessed we are,
especially our children,
but we had never really talked about sponsoring a child in another country to have their basic needs filled.
I wasn't really surprised,
but it was nice when we both said that that was something that we wanted to do.

So what if we don't eat out for 1 meal a month?
It only costs $28 a month to sponsor a child.
for our family,
is less than eating out for 1 meal.
That is less than it cost to see a movie basically.
That is such a small sacrifice on our part to be able to provide for a child in need.

I have been actively searching the past several days for opportunities to teach Aniston more about compassion and love and service.
If I can do my part as a parent right and avoid enabling her with that sense of entitlement that makes me crazy,
then I will.

I feel a HUGE responsibility as a parent to raise my children to be productive members of society and to make sure that they understand that hard work can pay off,
but that there will always be someone less fortunate than them that they can reach out to and help,
even if that means making small sacrifices on our part.

If you have the chance to attend The Compassion Experience,
DO IT!!!
It was so humbling and touching and such an amazing opportunity to remember our blessings,
and to remember how we can help others.

Click HERE to read more about The Compassion Experience. 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

DAY 1880... It's Over

13 years ago last week,
on June 4th, 2004,
I graduated high school.
It was the first step into adulthood for me.
It was new and exciting,
and I woke up the next day and nothing felt different.

Ryan graduated from High School.

Graduations happen all the time and usually aren't such a big deal,
but they should always be a big deal because it's a HUGE accomplishment,
but when the last of 5 kids graduates high school,
it's a very BIG deal.

Especially when it's Ryan.

who was offered acceptance into every University in Idaho in a single letter,
a full ride to BYU Provo,
and a 4 year paid scholarship into the honors program and into their business program as a freshman at the University of Utah.

It was a difficult choice for him to decide where to go to school.
Both my parents and me and my sister, and my husband, and my brother in law all graduated with our undergrads from BYU-Idaho.
And Jake is currently attending BYU-Idaho.
Out of those who graduated from BYU-Idaho,
4 of us have master's degree's,
but all from different schools.
My brother in law got his master's from U of U,
and we may have conspired together and campaigned to get Ryan to choose U of U....
My parents definitely campaigned for BYU,
but we,
my husband,
brother in law,
really wanted to him to break out of the Mormon bubble a little and the U is an amazing school!
He wouldn't have gone wrong with either choice,
and I have no doubt that he would have excelled anywhere,
but I think he made a great choice!

Ryan will be attending the U of U this fall and I cannot wait to have him 20 minutes away from me!
We already bought tickets to attend the Imagine Dragons concert this fall and we are counting down the days!

 Aniston is pretty excited about Ryan's decision...

But back to his high school career...
Ryan was heavily active in Drama and Speech and Debate.
In fact,
he medaled in 3 different categories of Speech and Debate at state in 1 year and that hasn't happened before at his high school in a long time.

He will also be attending Speech and Debate nationals,
for the second time,
in a this next week.
This kid can speak!!!
He spent his senior year serving as Vice President of the student body and was very socially active.
I have loved being able to watch him perform in his plays,

and attend debate competitions to watch him.
He was also apart of Debate Council.

He was a really busy kid in High School.
He amazes me every day.
He is so incredibly smart.
He took 4 AP tests in 1 week this past year,
and scored a 35 on his ACT test,
He is the sibling,
13 years younger,
who we would call when Spencer had math questions for his college level homework.
And he knew the answers every single time immediately.

Ryan and I were probably the most similar in our family when it came to high school.

Minus the whole being smart thing.
It's not that I wasn't smart,
I was an honors student,
but only because I had higher than a 3.5 G.P.A.
Ryan had like over a 4.5 G.P.A.
Whatever that means...
School is confusing nowadays.
But I was very social and actively involved in a lot during high school.
There was cheerleading,
and church activities that I was always participating in.
Then my parents had a break with the next 3,
who were still active in school and other activities,
just not like Ry and I were.

I was so glad that we only lived a few hours away from Rexburg so that we were able to drive up to attend graduation.
It was especially awesome because Ryan spoke.
And it was AMAZING!
I may or may not have watched it every day since he graduated...
I am amazed that he came up with this idea of the pennies and that it apply's to everyone and not just graduates.
It was so good!
You will LOVE it!

Ryan and I have always had a special bond.
I was in the hospital room when he was born,
and our connection has just always been very special.

I remember being in high school and he wasn't even in school yet.
We would spend the summer's playing Super Mario Brother's 2.
Every time we would get to the end of a level I would tell him I needed a root beer to pass it and he would run our the garage and get me one from our soda machine.
Then he would come back in and when the music would start he would yell,
"We Gotta Do Something!"

I remember that the day I graduated from high school,
Ryan graduated from preschool.
You know what's awesome about that?
Aniston graduated from preschool the same year Ryan graduated from high school.
I love funny coincidences like that!
I have put the pressure on him that in 13 years he needs to have a 4 year old who is graduating from preschool so that we can continue to carry on this tradition.

I remember leaving for college and he was about to start kindergarten.
He was very sad that I was leaving and wanted to get me a gift.
His favorite movie at the time was the Lizzie McGuire movie,
and the day I left,
he tearfully handed me the DVD and asked me to remember him.
I still have that movie.

I remember when he was in elementary school and I was visiting home for the weekend and his latest obsession was High School Musical.
He had show and tell on the upcoming Monday,
and asked if we could do something together.
We spent all weekend working out a dance routine to High School Musical,
and I skipped work that Monday to go to his class and perform it with him.

Ryan and I have had a lot of amazing memories.
We have never really fought as siblings.
Come to think of it,
I don't think I have ever fought with Jake either...
Kim and Jason all the time,
but I have never really fought with the younger two.
It's kind of great.

I am just so proud of Ryan for taking advantage of high school and not letting it just pass him by.

I can't wait to see where he goes in life and how much more amazing he will become!

But enough about the graduate,
let's talk about my parents.
Finally after 26 years in the public school system,
they are done!!!

They have done so well as parents.
I don't think they ever missed a game that I cheered at,
or one of Ryan's plays.
They have always been extremely supportive and willing to go the extra mile by volunteering to bring food,
or accompany a cheer team to an overnight state trip.
It was never a question for them,
they just did it,
and I love it!
I am excited for them to be empty nesters and to be able to only have to worry about themselves instead of their children.
But does a parent ever really stop worrying about their kids?

I am inspired by both of my youngest brothers,
Jake and Ryan.

They are such hard workers,
so smart,
 and seriously...
they are the BEST uncles ever!

Congrats Ryan on graduating!!! 
I can't wait to see where life takes you next!!!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Everything You Missed... May 2017 Edition

May flew by for us! 
We have been so busy!
Can time please slow down for just a minute!!!

Look at that husband of mine...

And it's official!!!

We are LOVING all the baseball games!
Go Bees!

Summer nights in the yard.

May the 4th be with you!

Zoo days...

 I went in to check on Aniston one night and she had fallen asleep "reading" her scriptures!
Love it!
PS - She can't read...

Fun in the sun.

If you don't look like this after eating ice cream...
you're doing it all wrong!

Aniston had been spending a lot of time with her imaginary friend Stephen lately...

Our friends made homemade churros and they were to die for!!!

Girls night out!

Every picture can't always be perfect...

Dress up,
every day...

Didn't love getting his hair cut...

He is espeically cute in the morning.

 Aniston had her kindergarten open house in May!!!
She is so excited for school!

So many choices...

 Park at the park by Grandma's and Grandpa's!

 He may or may not have gotten stuck...

Sunday walks every week.

Give him all the kitchen tools.

We had a snow day in May.
Not cool.

Spencer and I in Lego form...

Benson was not a fan of the glass elevator at the downtown library...


Our walks take twice as long now that Benson has discovered bugs...


More fun at the zoo.

Movies at Nana's.

Our favorite Rexburg treat!

Loved visiting with my graduates!

Too much fun with cousin Cortney!

Benson's first time on the Ferris wheel at Scheel's!

Hi friends!

When he falls asleep on you and you have so much to do!

Helmets and water guns.

Walks with Ani!

Memorial Day hike...


 Aniston is growing pumpkins and they are growing so good!!!!

We probably shouldn't teach him things like this....
I blame the movie Sing.

The family that sings together,
stays together.

Our mornings are the best!

They are out of control...
Especially in public!

These curls....

Still dancing every day.

How to get to Rexburg...

Zoo booty..

It's almost time...

May was AWESOME!!!
Hopefully June will be able to measure up...