Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What are you doing New Years? I'm getting married!



OK, OK, OK... I know I haven't posted FOREVER and now I am posting this! But obviously I've been way too busy to blog! I have no idea where to start, so I'll at the beginning...

This summer was kind of a hard summer. Hard in the since that I got off track. I was dating someone that I knew wasn't going to work, but yet I was trying to make it work. It's funny, but you know from the start if it's gong to work out or not. I needed to get my life back on track and I was disappointed in myself for losing focus. I was getting ready to start teaching institute, so I turned all my free time over to scripture study and my kids. I started seeing my counselor again (the one I saw after Rob's death) to make sure I was making wise choices. She is an unbias person I could talk to and someone to help me work through dating (yes I needed someone to help me so I didn't make the same mistake again). My friend Stephanie talked me into going online to a LDS dating site, just for the fun. She had met her husband online and gave me great advice. YES, I know I made fun of many people for going online...so I am sorry! I went on many first dates and went through a lot of emails. I had come to the conclusion of two things. First, men lie about how tall they are online. I am 5'5, so how is it with heels I am taller than someone who is "5'10"? And second, I honestly thought there were no strong single LDS men out there. I am talking, guys who won't watch a rated R movie or go to the store on Sunday. I was beginning to believe I was going to have to lower my standards.




So, I get a flirt from some guy in Texas. Usually I don't even look at people who send flirts, but something about him caught my attention. Plus he was in Texas! We started emailing...So he tells me his work brings him out to Salt Lake and that he would be in town if we would like to go to lunch. It's funny, looking back now, I didn't even want to go to lunch. I was so sick of first dates and the awkwardness in meeting someone in person for the first time. AND he wanted to go to Olive Garden of all the places! (Sorry if you love Olive Garden, but it's honestly one of my least favorite places to eat) To make a long story longer... our lunch lasted three hours! The only reason why it ended, was he had to catch a flight back to Houston. Now the long phone conversations start! I love my sleep so I am guessing I must really like this guy to stay up late talking to him on the phone. I realized with him I didn't have to lower any of my expectations. He loves the gospel as much as I do and is truly devoted to it! He came back two weeks later, and we were able to go out a couple times. That's how we started dating, when he was able to come out to Salt Lake. (BTW he works for Huntsman and has an office up in Salt Lake) I was heading to Portland to speak and did not know he was planning on surprising me there. He emailed Jennifer to make sure he wasn't imposing on her and mine's time. I think she was excited to meet him and agreed. During this time, I was still meeting with the counselor, making sure I was taking this slow...




When I was in Portland speaking; Steve, Jennifer and I had about 5 hours in the car to talk. I knew this would make or break it. If he drove me nuts, than it would be over. (Yes I was driving the whole time. If he had been driving...this story would have ended differently!) On that trip, I just knew. I knew he was the one. Jennifer also knew. Her and I talked about it and it was a special moment for the both of us. I didn't want to go back to my counselor and tell her I had fallen head over heals for someone. I was trying to take it slow, but I could just feel Heavenly Father's hand in my life slowly (actually quickly) showing me the way.





Now that we both knew it was right, it was time to meet all the families. I was able to fly down to Houston for Steve's birthday and meet his parents (who were visiting from Boise where Steve grew up) and his two kids, Hannah 11 and Max 7. Steve then got to meet all my family over Thanksgiving and then the Epperson's the following week. I got to meet 4 of his 6 siblings over the Thanksgiving weekend here in Salt Lake. I can say all of my family (my family includes all the Eppersons too!) was very impressed with him. I mean, he has to be a great guy to want to marry someone with 5 children! Let's fast forward to dinner on December 7th. Steve was heading back to Houston the next morning and we started joking about getting married on New Year's Eve (come on who wouldn't want the tax write offs?) We had joked about this forever, but never really thought much about it. The more we talked about it, the more the idea appealed to us both! We made a few calls, talked with our Bishops (who both agreed sooner is much better than later) and finally on Monday 14th we had the green light. So basically I have thrown together a wedding in a very short time. We will be living apart till school is out, but the weekend visits will be much more fun!




I can't explain how I can love another person besides Rob. I know it's hard for other's to understand and I hope no one has to go through what I have to learn it is able to love again. I also didn't think there would be someone out there that could love me so much! Like I put in my Christmas letter; in the Oct 2008 General Conference, Elder Wirthlin talked about the Principle of Compensation. He said, "The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss. That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude." I remember hearing this statement and knew it had to be true, but I couldn't see how in my life. I am now seeing the full filling of this statement and can testify to the truthfulness. I am thankful for many people who have prayed for me. I know it won't be easy, but that with the Lord's help we can do all things!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween 2009

Here are some pictures from Halloween. On Friday night Adrienne held her annual Halloween Party. We were all disappointed with Andy not dressing up this year. Apparently he had dressed up, but as Jeni said, his costume went a little to far. Luke and Johnjohn dressed up as Buzz and Woody. Not sure if any of you remember Jake and Robbie dressing up as Buzz and Woody. As a matter of fact, Luke is wearing Jake's costume. Robbie was sure original this year by being a football player. He has finally hit the age wear he wants candy but doesn't want to dress up. All the older kids went off with friends this year and it was just me and the monkeys. Andy and Adrienne came over and hit some houses with us. The monkeys really enjoyed trick or treating this year. Running from door to door getting candy.

Halloween Party Lesless held.

Jaxon, Kelsey, and Robbie

Luke and Johnjohn

AJ and Andy doing the annual Pumpkin Carving Contest

Adrienne's Halloween Party

Jimmy and Linzi

Mother AJ and Spidy Beck

Roddie and Hank

The whole gang!

Every year we have so much fun!

Jessica and Mick

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Matty

One of Rob's best friend is Matt Elerding. This is a picture of Matt and Luke at Red Robin for I think Rob's birthday. I came across this article Matty had written and wanted to share it with you all. In typical Matty fashion, he didn't tell me about the article. Here's Matty's words:


(the rough draft of my 4th article for The Columbian. Don't be shy with your feedback.. it's not due until Wednesday!)
A Tale of Two Robs – Let me say right up front that this article, while it appears in the Real Estate section of the Columbian, is only loosely tied to the art of buying, selling and financing homes. To be candid, I just don’t have it in me to pen another depressing manifesto about the current state of real estate and mortgage lending. That being said, I have to believe that if you thumbing through this section of the Columbian then you are either employed in the real estate field, employed in the lending filed, buying a home, or selling a home – or at least some variation thereof. If this is the case then I also believe that you, like so many others in a similar role, have experienced a healthy amount of change in the past two years. If this is the case then this article is meant for you. So instead of asking you to slog through another write-up filled with the lexicon of mortgage lending or the realities of real estate, I would rather tell you a story.
It’s a story about two guys named Rob. I met the first Rob – Rob E. – in the spring of 2007. It was March and we both had the dubious distinction of being Little League Dads – a title that carries a brimming level of poignant responsibility fraught with leadership, character and, above all, an unbelievable amount of time. Rob E. and I would arrive every Tuesday afternoon, the trunks of our cars crammed with baseball mitts, bats and dirty cleats that will forever decimate the resale value of automobiles until the end of time. We would shepherd our young soldiers on to the field of battle and do our best to teach them the ways of the world on that hallowed ground known simply as the Baseball Diamond. Neither of us were official ‘coaches’ of those fearless Boston Red Sox, but being the unpaid ‘helper coaches’ of this ferocious gaggle of ten-year-old boys was a duty that we both looked forward to every Tuesday. Under the guise of coordinating baseball drills and handing out juice-boxes, we were secretly solidifying yet another chapter in the book of memories with our lookalike progeny. It was on this field, deep in the heart of Battle Ground, that I grew to admire, respect and love this father of five kids. He worked hard, treasured his beautiful wife and found time to shower five separate children with enough love to last them a lifetime. He was so very, very amazing and he made me want to be a better man.
Meanwhile, an equally incredible Rob – Rob C. – came into my life. He too demonstrated all the qualities that should be printed into a text book of how to be an amazing human being. He sold real estate for a living and had been doing quite well. He wasn’t your typical unctuous salesman. He oozed effervescence and all those he encountered knew that it was genuine and true. Despite an unwavering commitment to his career, he always managed to strike that perfect balance that allowed him to love his wife and be a role model to his three adoring children. Shortly after becoming friends with Rob C. he asked me one day, rather randomly, what was my favorite song? I answered his question with a raised eyebrow, he said ok, and we moved on. A few weeks later I called his cell phone to ask a business question and was greeted not with the standard ringing of an outbound telephone call but rather with the soothing reverie of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. I couldn’t help but smile at the simply sweetness of his gesture. It’s just the kind of guy Rob C. is; simply thoughtful and he, like Rob E., made me want to be a better man.

As 2007 began to unfold, it was apparent that maybe our collective gravy train would be pulling into the station in dire need of a massive overhaul. It started with the seemingly unstoppable real estate juggernaut coming to a grinding halt and before long virtually everyone – particularly those tied to, or even loosely tied to, real estate – was feeling a level of strain that hadn’t been felt for quite some time. All around me I saw people with this unshakable and palpable level of stress and anxiety, something that hadn’t been experienced by such a large number of people in a short period of time. Our incomes were suffering and yet those pesky monthly bills kept showing up on the 1st of every month with remarkable consistency. A lousy economy is truly an equal opportunity employer. Despite their positive outlook, the two Robs of my life were also feeling the pressures of the changing economy. Rob C. was experiencing a painful dip in his real estate business. His listed homes where not selling and his potential buyers were having difficulty obtaining financing (curse those mortgage bankers!) He was working twice as hard for half the income. He would eventually have to go through the painful experience of a short-sale on his own residence and move his family into a rental home. A few short weeks later his wife, his partner in business, would be diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Never had I seen a friend be barraged with such a tidal wave of bad news and yet through every nightmare transaction and through all the unthinkable battles of his personal life, his bright smile and infectious demeanor never wavered. Not once.
Although not directly tied to real estate or banking, Rob E. was feeling the pain of a souring economy and struggling to make ends meet with his career as well. His company had cut his hours and people were just not spending money the way they used to. But with bootstrapping endurance, Rob showed me and so many others that perseverance was not merely a choice but an obligation. It was about this time that Rob wasn’t feeling very well and he went in to see the doctor. Three days later he was diagnosed with cancer. I watched with a heavy heart as my dear friend battled Melanoma for three long and painful months. I watched as his frightened wife and terrified children saw the most important man of their life dwindle to a frail human being incapable of walking and eventually unable to wrap his once strong arms around his family. I watched as his spirit remarkably, and inexplicably, seemed to grow stronger with each passing day. My friend, bedridden and so weak he could barely muster a smile, had become the most monumental hero I had ever met. The night before Rob would eventually lose his battle, I came to his bedside. I leaned over and kissed him his brow and told him how much I loved him for making me realize what it meant to be a hero to so many people. I feel so very blessed that these two Robs came into my life and showed me a level of optimism I had never experienced before.

Here were two guys struggling with all the ills and setbacks that this life can throw at you, but through it all they maintained an attitude that seemed to permeate the jaded exterior of all those they encountered – me included. Please understand. I’m not trying to channel my inner Casey Kasem by prodding you to reach for the stars. But somewhere between tired clich├ęs and an overwhelming sense of doom and gloom the truth lies. The two Robs showed me that for every chunk of bad, there are infinite more nuggets of good – you just have to be looking for them. There is always a laundry list of things for which we should all be grateful. Look, I’m not some Pollyanna about the bad stuff that exists out there. We’re surrounded by bad stuff. It’s everywhere. In our relationships, in our jobs, in those we love and those we don’t know. We have jobs being cut, people losing houses and parents claiming that their son is floating away in a helium spaceship in an effort to land a reality show to further exploit their children. Make no mistake – bad stuff is abound. But I also know this; there is good to be extracted out of even the simplest of moments. Sitting in a restaurant, eating with your family. Your senses pounding on all cylinders. The smell of your waitress’s perfume. The infections laugh of the toddler two tables over. The sound of the baseball game pouring from the TV mounted above. The smell of dinner wafting from the kitchen. These seemingly simple moments are loaded with all the little nuggets of life – but only if you’re open to receiving them. Listen, I know that this life is filled with daunting uncertainty and a brooding realization that maybe, just maybe, our existence isn’t going to be what we had imagined as kids while fearlessly sprinting across the playgrounds of our youth. The squashed dreams and painful realties of our lives are scattered up and down the I-5 corridor as we bumper-to-bumper our way to jobs that, frankly, we just don’t like very much. I think that sometimes we look around and feel like we’re the only ones living in a constant state of fear, disappointment and regret for a life that could have been. Fortunately we all have moments of grandeur and a realization that, if only for brief and inspired moments at a time, there is hope for the years that remain. I keep a picture of Rob E. in the sun visor of my car. He is there as a constant reminder of the man he was and the man I know I’m capable of being. I don’t keep a picture of Rob C., of course, as he is still alive. It might be difficult and slightly awkward explaining to my wife why I have a picture of another man, with crystal blue eyes, tucked into the visor of my car. Instead I just call his cell phone and listen to the beautiful notes of that famous Beethoven sonata and remind myself that we’re all in this together. And that gives me hope. And that’s a good thing.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Scarecrow Festival

Johnjohn, Kate, Hank, Meggie and Pucca
Katers dancing in her Cow Girl costume
Erin and I planning our outfits so we could match! jk
Katers, Hank and Meggie
Trying to sneak a picture of Robbie and his Grandma.
We have documented proof that Robbie spent the day with us.
Trying to get a picture of me and Robbie.
I am still stronger...
But not for long!
The people around us starting giving him a hard time
so he finally agreed to smile!
On the choo choo train.
Meggie, Katers, Pucca and Johnjohn
These three are trouble!
Johnjohn on the jumping toy.

Yesterday we had the fun opportunity of watching my niece Kate dance at the Scarecrow Festival. She did a wonderful job in her cowgirl outfit. Robbie happened to be the only "older" child home, so he HAD to come with us. He complained about 70% of the time. We kept trying to get pictures of him, so we could document that he spent time with his family. The kids had a great time, riding the choo choo train, playing on the jumping toys and eating kettle corn.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Simple Blessing


Each year before school would start, Rob would give a Father's Blessing to each one of the children and me (school is hard for me too). With Rob not here with us, my dad has given us the Father's Blessing before school these last two years. This year when he gave me my blessing, he said that you will be getting another blessing, but not at this time. I thought that was very interesting and it also made me a little nervous. I thought, what would be going on in my life that I would need another blessing? Tonight our new Young Women's presidency and Advisors were all set apart. I am very blessed to be the Laurel Advisor. I am so excited and so grateful for the opportunity to work with such wonderful leaders and young women!! All the leaders were setting there taking turns getting their blessings and all of the sudden it hit me, this is the blessing your father was talking about. I could feel the spirit so strong, testify to me the truthfulness of what I was thinking and feeling. Brother Manuela gave me the blessing (my home teacher who my family loves). He talked about how much Rob wanted me to know he loves me. How I have angels around my family guarding us and helping us. The importance of sharing my testimony with the youth, not only in our ward but all over, as I do my speaking. It was a wonderful and beautiful blessing. For a moment, I knew I exactly where the Lord wants and needs me. I hope I am able to do all that He asks of me!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Suprise Trip for the Boys

I have felt like a neglectful parent to my kids, in the sense that I can't focus on them all as good as I would like. My older kids do a lot of work. Not chores per say, but they have a lot expected of them with dad gone. I wanted to do something for the older kids to show them how proud I am of them with all they have been through the last 18 months. We are St Louis Cardinal fans and I realized they were playing in Denver soon, so I put together a weekend with Robbie and Jake (in all fairness I am taking Ellie with me to Portland in October). The boys had no idea this was going to happen. I told them I was checking them out of school to take them to lunch. Robbie asked where we were going to lunch and I told him Cafe Rio and he said he rather stay at school. So we get home and on the table is Cardinal t-shirts, airplane tickets and game tickets. Jake just saw the t-shirts and was like, gee thanks for the shirt? I had the explain, no we are leaving right now to get on a plane to go to the game tonight. It took about a minute to sink in what we were really doing. We had such a great time. The game Friday night was close but the Rockies won in the bottom of the ninth. We got to go down on the field to watch the fireworks after the game. I turned to the boys and said, when you woke up this morning, could you have even imagined that you would be laying in the middle of Coors Field tonight? We got to stay with Garret and Tiffany Anderson, our good friends from college. We stayed up all night talking and laughing! Spent Saturday with them and went to another game Saturday night. Yes the Cards won the NL Central with that win! There were tons of Cards fans there cheering. We all had a great time!


Jake and I in front of Coors Field














Down on the field for fireworks
Robbie and Jake sick of me taking pictures
Jake watching Batting Practice
Saturday night when the Cards won the NL Central!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Summer is over...


I know that everyone has pretty much stopped checking my blog. I pretty much knew that I wouldn't blog very much over the summer. This is a picture of us taken in June in Las Vegas. I have a lot happen this past week. To say the least it was a hard week. All the different parts of my life came down on me in different ways. I was talking to my Bishop and he said that he felt as if Satan was trying his hardest to discourage me. You see this next week I start teaching institute. This is a dream come true for me. Ever since I started attending institute in Washington, I knew I wanted to teach someday. I didn't know how much the Lord was going to expect of me over the next six years to develop me into the teacher He needed. My Bishop has the most confidence in me and my teaching (I don't think he has ever even heard me teach!) He said of course Satan wants to discourage you, wants you to not be focus, think of how many lives you are going to touch. So after pretty much crying all day Friday, I turned to the Lord and asked for forgiveness in my lack of focus. I was reminded that it is through our trials that we learn to trust in the Lord. So I got out my study guide and started reading. I started listening to Conference talks again on my ipod and knew I needed to focus, if not for myself, for all those who will be attending my class. In church today we were singing the sacrament song, when a line to the song struck me, "And silently we pray, For courage to accept thy will, to listen and obey. We love thee Lord, our hearts are full, will walk they chosen way." I need to remember that I have chosen to accept the Lord's will for my life, and sometimes I just forget. I guess I had figured by now (a year and half after Rob died) I would have a better idea as to where my life is going. The one thing I do know, is I love to teach and if that is how I can be an instrument for the Lord, than I am doing what He wants. I am so excited for my class. I hope I can help at least one person grow, like I was helped in Washington.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

First day of Preschool for the Monkeys!

Yes, I am one of those mothers who can't wait to put her kids into school! I have friends who want their kids to stay home forever or think they can teach their children better than someone else. I think my kids and I do much better with a break from one another! And yes for you doing the math, the monkeys don't turn 3 till October, but I begged and pleaded my friend to take them early. I think she might count this as her compassion service for the year! The monkeys have been talking about school everyday. When my dad gave the kid's their Father's Blessing before the beginning of the school year, Luke and Johnjohn wanted a blessing also. Everyday they have been asking me, school? We going to school? Luke could not wait and actually tried to leave with Robbie to school this morning! How cute is this kid? He's ready to go!
I could barely keep him from running out the door!


Johnjohn on the other hand wanted to stay home and watch TV. I am not sure how we got him out!

Luke jumped out of the car!

Johnjohn needed to be pushed out of the car.

Here they are holding on to the rope.
The monkeys would not stand together and smile. This was the closest picture I could get. I am sure it's going to be a wonderful year!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Back to School Back to Blogging



Do you have any idea how many entries I have saved as drafts from this summer. I would get started writing them and then life would happen. We were so busy this summer, I barely had time to think. But with school starting, I have time in the morning while I am avoiding my breakfast dishes to blog. Life will be just as busy this fall. Robbie and Jake have both started playing tackle football. They absolutely love it!!! I held them off for as long as I could playing tackle football. I didn't want my boys to get hurt (any who remember all my brother JD went through with concussions would understand my concerns). The boys love playing and just having fun. Robbie wears his dad's old AF football uniform to practice. Robbie has been told by his coach to ease up at practice and not hit the players so hard. He knocked a kid out the first day! He loves playing defence. Jake has been playing center on his team. His first game is tomorrow morning.


Robbie started Jr High this year, lockers, different classes and everything. On Wednesday the 7th graders went to school all by themselves to get the layout of the school and classes. They then didn't go on Thursday and went back today for their first "real" day with 8th and 9th graders. Yesterday Robbie and I spent the day together with Ali and her 7th graders out on the boat. It was a fun last day together before my little Robbie is a teenager forever. He is such a tremedous help. I know that I am probably too hard on him. There is no way I could get through all of this with out him. I wish he didn't have to grow up so fast, but I know he will be a better person and father because of it.


I had the opportunity of speaking at another Best of EFY in Pocatello, Idaho this week. I went very well and I love being able to share my testimony with others. I will be doing another one in the Tri-Cities area in October. It will be great heading closer to home! Starting in September I will be teaching an institute class on the Book of Mormon. I am also looking forward to learning and growing in the gospel. I have misses my institute class in Washington and hope my class will be even half of what Sandy's class was for me. This class is for anyone, it will be Thursday's 9:30-11 am. There will be a nursery for mom's to come and learn. I am anxiously looking forward to what this year will bring for me and my family. I have no idea what the Lord has instore for us, but I do trust in the Lord and lean not on my own understanding.



Friday, August 7, 2009

I KNOW......here's a post!


So it has been an extremely busy summer. We have been to Las Vegas, McCall (twice) and Lake Powell. Also, I ran a relay race in the middle of all of that! Plus all of Sally's field trips have kept us extra busy! I have a whole bunch of pictures and blogs saved as drafts. I just wanted to quickly write so everyone wouldn't give up on me! The biggest new is I will starting teaching an Institute class in the fall. I can't tell everyone how excited I am for this! While we lived in Washington, our stake offered an institute class during the day. I will admit that I first started to go, just to get out of the house. (At the time, Robbie was 6 Jake 4 and Ellie 2) All the moms took turns in the nursery, so we could come and learn. Sandy Ririe was and still is the teacher. I know my testimony grew more there in that class than it had ever in my life. She taught me how to love the scriptures and seek learning for myself. All the women in the class taught one another in sharing their testimonies and stories. The class had young mothers, women with older children and empty nesters. We felt safe and loved in our class. Any concern we had, we could find our answer there. In this class, I felt the whisperings of the spirit to have more children. I started to cry and turned to LeAnne and said, but I don't want to. Surprisingly she knew what I was talking about and knew I could handle more children. I was to the point to where I scheduled everything around my class. Adrienne started flying in on Wednesday nights so she could come to the class. After 5 wonderful years of learning, I am finally having my turn to give back. My hope and desire is to be even half of the teacher Sandy was for me. If I can help anyone to learn to love the scriptures, it will be a success. For people to grow and build their faith and testimonies, is all I want to accomplish. I hope I can be an instrument for the Lord in helping others come closer to Him. I thank my brother, Bishop Bagley and President Sermon for helping this dream come to past! I can't wait for class to start! I am sure I will learn more than all my students. Next week I have Youth Conference, a Best of EFY in Pocatello, then school starts! I will post my summer, but I don't know when. Love you all!!!