Pool time in Sun Valley

So this is a rather long clip of my kids at the pool. I knew my family would want to see it. The rest of you can fast forward all you want. At one point in the video you hear me gasp- that would be because David has just done a flip into the pool and missed the edge with his head by no more than a millimeter.
And guys- please know that you can borrow David's neon pink life jacket whenever you'd like. All you need do is ask.



Um, what's that noise? That can't be good...

Let me just set up the scene: It is Monday night and we are coming back from our trip to Sun Valley. It's 10:30 p.m. The kids are exhausted. Nate and I are beyond exhausted. School for Tess starts the next day. Nora has had an accident in her carseat (something that never happens) so we've been smelling urine for the last hour. We are so anxious after 5 hours of driving to just get home and into bed. We (finally) walk into the house and as I set down the first load of suitcases I hear something that sounds a bit like Niagara Falls coming from our basement. Oh dear... I run (with as much energy as I can muster) down the stairs and see what appears to be a torrential downpour in the laundry room. Oh yes, in our absence a water pipe had burst. (Okay so I love old homes until something like this happens.) Thank goodness for the big drain directly beneath the waterfall. And thank goodness that the burst hadn't happened too much earlier. At least we assume it didn't happen that much earlier because the water was actually fairly contained. Just wet in the laundry room and the immediate surrounding hallway. The kids' bedrooms and playroom/family room were dry (thank goodness!) Actually, we consider ourselves quite lucky. It could have been a lot worse. But just some food for thought: you may want to shut off your water next time you go out of town. No doubt we will!

For Andrea and her work buddies

Here are the best pictures I have of Dori, Brian & Cole. Hint, hint Dor...maybe you should start a blog. People are requesting pictures of YOUR family from ME. :)

Sun Valley with the Horsley Fam

A big thanks to Mom and Dad for another SUPER FUN family trip! I had about 150 pictures and have narrowed it down to just these 50. Family- you rock. So excited already for Newport Beach 2009. (Andrea & Jackson- no excuses...we will see you there!)

After putting together this slide show I realized that I have NOT ONE picture of Dru and Tyler. How did that happen?!?! Guys- I'm so glad you were there!!! Sorry I'm such a tard. Love you!


So Lucky

Yesterday I went to the mall with my kids. Now this is not something I attempt to do very often, but as I was getting Tess ready for her first day of school I realized that she had outgrown all of her shoes. Desperate times call for desperate measures. So off to the mall we went.

While trying to herd my children to the bathroom at one point during our visit, I passed a woman who said to me, "You're so lucky." Assuming that she was making a sympathetic comment about the unruliness of my crew (that were of course darting in and out of the racks pulling off clothes), I laughed and answered back something like, "Yep it's always a party when we go shopping." And to that she replied, "No I really mean it. You're so lucky to have so many children. I would give anything to have more."

At the time she said it I was in hot pursuit of my little ones and it wasn't until we had reached the bathroom that I registered her words. I hurried my kids along and ran out of the restroom, but the woman was gone. I'm not sure what I would have said to her had she still been there. Maybe just shared my story. But I wanted her to know that I recognized the longing look in her eyes and hoped she would feel she was not alone. And maybe I could have given her some hope that miracles really do happen (as evidenced by my family). But I was too late.

Today my thoughts have not been far from the woman in the mall. Today I pray for her. And for all the other women out there that know the desperation of not being able to have the one thing in life they want most. For the women that are begging, pleading, bargaining, beginning to doubt or have completely lost hope. For those that have started questioning themselves and their God. For those that put on a brave face, but feel the heartache with every child that they see. Theirs is a lonely road.

And today I hug my children a little bit tighter, recognizing that I am no more deserving than any of these women. I just happened to get "lucky." And I am going to do my best to savor every bit of my good fortune...

...even when my toy room looks like this:




A friend's recent post reminded me of a quote that I first heard at Education Week 2 years ago. It's one of my all-time favorites...something that I pull out every couple of months just to refocus myself and gain perspective. The speaker is Pat Holland who is married to Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles. It goes like this:

"Our Father in heaven needs us as we are, as we are growing to become. He has intentionally made us different from one another so that even with our imperfections we can fulfill his purposes. My greatest misery comes when I feel I have to fit what others are doing, or what I think others expect of me. I am most happy when I am comfortable being me and trying to do what my Father in heaven and I expect me to be.

For many years I tried to measure the oft-times quiet, reflective, thoughtful Pat Holland against the robust, bubbly, talkative, and energetic Jeff Holland and others with like qualities. I have learned through several fatiguing failures that you can’t have joy in being bubbly if you are not a bubbly person. It is a contradiction in terms. I have given up seeing myself as a flawed person because my energy level is lower than Jeff’s, and I don’t talk as much as he does, nor as fast. Giving this up has freed me to embrace and rejoice in my own manner and personality in the measure of my creation. Ironically, that has allowed me to admire and enjoy Jeff’s ebullience even more.

Somewhere, somehow the Lord “blipped the message onto my screen” that my personality was created to fit precisely the mission and talents he gave me. For example, the quieter, calmer talent of playing the piano reveals much about the real Pat Holland. I would never have learned to play the piano if I hadn’t enjoyed the long hours of solitude required for its development. This same principle applies to my love of writing, reading, meditation, and especially teaching and talking with my children. Miraculously, I have found that I have untold abundant sources of energy to be myself. But the moment I indulge in imitation of my neighbor, I feel fractured and fatigued and find myself forever swimming upstream. When we frustrate God’s plan for us, we deprive this world and God’s kingdom of our unique contributions, and a serious schism settles in our soul. God never gave us any task beyond our ability to accomplish it. We just have to be willing to do it our own way. We will always have enough resources for being who we are and what we can become."

-- Pat Holland from “Portraits of Eve: God’s Promises of Personal Identity” (LDS Women’s Treasury)

My cup runneth over...

Yesterday I got to go down to BYU's Education Week. Each summer, Nate takes a day off work so that he can watch the kids while I do this. (He really is too good to me.) He knows that I NEED it. Time to reflect, remember, rejuvenate. Time to be still. I go down with my mom and we meet up about every other class. I tend to like the classes on family & marriage while Mom goes for the doctrinal ones on Isaiah. Someday I hope to be a scripturian like her!

And can I just say that simply being on the BYU campus fills me with all sorts of happiness. I'm suspecting that that sounds super lame and cheesy, and I know that I am a total traitor to the university that employs my husband and puts food on our table, but I can't help it. I {heart} BYU. Cougars forever!

The classes were wonderful (as they always are) and left me feeling able and energized. I have greater resolve to be a better wife/mother/person, and I just want to hug everyone I've ever met. I'm a little sad it's over (for me anyway), but I'm already making notes on the speakers I want to hear next year. Can't wait!


Philly Youth Rock!

This past week my good friends were in town. The youth from my Philadelphia ward were here to attend EFY and tour church historical sites. (I was a youth leader when I lived in Philly so I know most of them pretty well.) These guys are AMAZING. Most of them come from inner-city, single-parent, low-income families. They've seen things and been in situations that most of us can't even fathom, but they have overcome these challenges and are stronger and more faithful than ever. Words cannot express how much I love them!!!
From L to R: Freddie, Alexia, me, Wonder, Munah, Crystal
I asked the youth if there were any other black people at EFY and they said, "Yah, like 2 or 3." When I asked them how they liked that they assured me "it was cool." Actually, I imagine that they quite enjoyed all the attention they got. They had CES camera crews following them around, documenting their experience, and they won the dance contest on the first night there. They were the celebrities of the week!

Cheeko and Kilief stayed at our home after EFY. My kids LOVED them!

Will with his new best bud "Cheeeeeeeeko"

This is Crystal. Yes, Crystal! The girl that was so shy 3 years ago she would barely look you in the eye. And now....she's on stage (by herself!) singing her heart out. Wow- it was so fun to see how these guys have blossomed over the years. (Actually "fun" probably isn't the right word considering that I was crying that ugly, convulsing, blubbery cry...I was completely overcome.)
Gerald swing dancing with Kelly (a leader). Yep, Gerald is the same old Gerald.
Kilief, Cheeko and Rome rapping. These guys are AWESOME!! They are total street rappers, but their lyrics are all about how much they love the church. So cool!
Wonder- she'll be famous one day...no question
Meet the fearless leaders- Isaac and Sara- the most stellar couple ever!!!! They organized this entire thing. They helped raise thousands of dollars to be able to provide this opportunity for these youth. Isaac and Sara- you guys are my heroes.

Also, the youth did a combined service project with the youth in my current ward at the Food Bank. But of course I forgot my camera and therefore have no pictures of this event. So irritating!

Well, it was a great time for everyone and now they are back in Philly and hopefully catching up on some Z's.
I can't wait for next year. (So please please please come back!!)

Happy Mother's Day 2004

At least I think it was 2004. We had only Tess at the time and Nate tells me that he wants me to pick out some mommy jewelry for my Mother's Day gift. Sweet, really. The only problem was that I had a hard time finding something that I liked. And then soon after, we learned that we would be adding to our family in a big way, and finding the right necklace became that much harder. I just didn't want a tacky conglomeration of mismatched birthstones. So finally, after years of half-hearted searching, I ran across this website on a friend's blog. (Thanks April!) And within a matter a minutes I had ordered myself this little beauty:

Isn't it cute?! I'm delighted. Yeah me! Happy Mother's Day!

Now if I can just get that camera I wanted for my birthday 6 weeks ago, we'll be all caught up on presents. No pressure Nate, take your time.... :)

(Actually that's quite unfair. Of the two of us, Nate is the much better gift giver. He's always very thoughtful. Love you babe.)


Lots going on...

So first of all a big CONGRATS to my sister Dru and her boyfriend, or should I say fiance, Tyler on getting engaged today.

To propose Tyler painted suicide rock with "Marry Me Dru." Isn't that awesome?! He did it in the middle of the night with 2 buddies and rumor has it he almost fell off the rock at one point, but luckily didn't. We sure glad you're not dead Tyler! The wedding is 10-09-08. Cool date huh?!


Two of my other sisters, Andrea and Dori, had birthdays this week, and pretty big birthdays at that. I don't want to publish their ages for all the internet to see, but let's just say that they are getting pretty old. LOVE YOU TWO! (I wish I had a cute picture of us all as kids to throw in right here, but they're at mom's house...)


We got to see our totally cool friends from Philadelphia, the Vances, for the first time in years tonight. Okay so I got to spend a weekend with Angie this spring when we went on a gal pals trip to Vegas, but we haven't seen Kennan in about 5 years, so that was so fun! Hey guys- remember this?
In all fairness, we took some pretty bad pictures that day too:
Admit it- I look totally constipated in this picture.
And remember how bugged Tyler was about his hair:
Ah, good times. But enough of the flashback. On to more business...

It's time to say good riddance to the pony tail. You know it is time for a change when you've put your hair back and "out of the way" for the last 100 days in a row. So ta da...the new me: I'd like to thank DRU (your my girl!) and L'Oreal 5R Medium Reddish Chestnut for the color and Brittney at Salon Lydia for the cut. You guys are awesome!

Now I was feeling pretty cute with my new 'do until Will looked at me and said, "Mom, you're a man?!?!" Gotta love kids for always keeping you grounded.

And speaking of the little stinker....here is yet another messy-faced picture of Will:This is how I will always remember this guy: with a crusty nose and a mouth smeared with chocolate. But....still pretty stinkin cute.


Ward Campout

So Nate has informed me that it's time for a new post on our blog. But I'm not in the mood to be clever...so here are some kinda lame pictures from our church campout. (Let me clarify- the campout itself wasn't lame...it was really fun...just my pictures of it are.)

Nate as MC (with a clingy Nora)
Musical chairs a la hat style
Tess was the winner
David and his friend Noah running to each other and hugging...it was cute...even when they started adding a kiss
Will and his sword (and a very messy face). The sword went everywhere with us up until today when David bit it into tiny pieces.
David and Nora holding hands- they've started doing this a lot lately. It's adorable.
The bishopric (minus Bishop Wilson) cooking breakfast. Yep that's Jim Jackson for all you fellow Titans.
David's ideal breakfast...one link of sausage after another
Playing in the stream- Tess and Laine
from L to R: Nora, Will, Laine, April, Tess

Too bad I don't have pictures of our nature walk. It would be all smiles on the way up the trail and all blood and tears (and one fat lip for poor Nora) on the way down. Gotta love it.