Thursday, June 30, 2016

Cherries, Cherries, and More Cherries

When we moved into this house, we found out that we had several fruit trees already planted here. We moved in February of 2015, so we had no idea what we were going to get when spring arrived.

Last year, we found out that we had two pie cherry trees, one golden delicious apple, and one red delicious apple. We also have a crab apple tree, but we think we're going to replace that one with something a little more delicious.

Last year, we didn't really pick very many cherries. For one thing, I had no idea what to do with them. I didn't have the tools to can them, and I didn't realize you could freeze them. We also had a ton of other projects going on, so we didn't really think about them too much. The robins didn't mind. We had some really fat and happy birds.

This year, however, we didn't want to miss out on our cherry harvest. So, for the last week or so we've been working on cherries, cherries, and more cherries.
The dogs have enjoyed eating the ones that have fallen on the ground too. Lately, their poop has had more cherry pits than poop. I think that's pretty funny. I was glad to see that they weren't crunching up the seeds though. Cherry pits have some cyanide in them, and can be dangerous if too many are eaten. However, when they're swallowed whole, they don't seem to be dangerous. 

We've had some great helpers over the last couple of weeks. We were tending our friends' kids, and they helped us out.
This was our first pick. We didn't pick very many because they weren't quite ripe, but we enjoyed sharing them with our friends.

Then, a week later, Kevin and I went back out to pick again. The cherries were wonderful, and there were so many. We ended up filling two ice cream gallon buckets.

 Kevin, in particular, has been a great helper. He eats nearly as many as he picks, but he worked very hard and helped me fill up the buckets. Our trees are severely overgrown, so most of the cherries are pretty high off the ground. We had to bring out the ladder to pick, but we were able to pick this many and we only had to move the ladder once. That's when I began to realize how many cherries we have.
The next day, we went out and picked some more. When Grig got home, he helped out as well. It was really fun to pick cherries together.

Four buckets later, we had plenty to work on.

I accidentally left one bucket out of this picture.
We picked these Friday night. My grandma was amazing and let us borrow her cherry pitter. We were so grateful to her. This would have been an even more daunting task if we hadn't had her cherry pitter. It took hours anyway, but it would have taken a lot longer if we were doing it by hand.

It took a good part of Saturday, but we finished all six buckets. We froze most of them, but we also put some aside to make a cherry pie. We also dried five trays full on the dehydrator. They turned out well too. We cooked some of them in pancakes the next day, and they added a good flavor to them.

We ended up with around nine quart bags full of cherries after that. We froze all of those, except the bag we kept in the fridge to make into a cherry pie.
The cherry pie turned out to be delicious, and we look forward to making more.

Tuesday, Kevin and I picked two more buckets. The cherries are so ripe and sweet now that they are a pleasure to eat right off the tree. We're kind of tired of working on cherries, but it's a shame to waste any.

Yesterday, I tried canning by myself for the first time. My grandma had needed her cherry pitter back, but I read online that chopsticks make pretty good pitters. I didn't have any chopsticks, but we did have some shish kabob sticks. So, I used the blunt end of one to pop out my pits. They worked pretty well, and it took me about an hour a bucket to pit them all. Then, I bottled them and used the new canning kettle I had gotten from my great aunt to cook them.

It appears that all 11 pints sealed. I'm pretty proud of myself. I think they turned out great!

Then, after Grig got home, we picked two more buckets and gave them away to a couple of friends who had requested some. We'll have to go and pick some more today.

After all this, we are a little tired of working on cherries, but we're so grateful for the bountiful harvest that we've been given. The birds have eaten their share too. Quite a few of the branches are high enough that we can't get to them, and the birds have been gorging on beautiful cherries. Our robins are so fat right now that they aren't moving too quickly.

There are still a lot of cherries left. I need to pick some more today. I've been really bad at blogging that last couple of weeks. I've been really trying to write and finish my second draft of my story. I'm nearly finished, and sometimes I have to choose to blog or write with the little writing time I have. Today, I'm blogging. We've had a stressful couple of weeks, but we've also had some neat blessings.

The cherries are definitely a blessing. I'm pretty excited that we've been able to store so many.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Rough Night

Last night was a rough night for poor Kevin.

He came into our room crying, which is kind of unusual, but not terribly. He climbed into bed with us, and went back to sleep. Also not unusual.

What is unusual, is that he woke up at 4:15 a.m. and wouldn't stop crying.

First, he said, "I don't want cuddles!" Then, when I stopped cuddling him, he cried because, "I don't want Siff in her kennel!"

She still sleeps in her kennel, even though she hasn't had an accident during the day for weeks. We just don't want to risk it yet.

I explained that we could let her out in the morning, but he kept tossing and turning and crying. I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know what. Finally, he asked for a drink. Then, he let me hold him and comfort him.

When we got up this morning to get Grig ready for work, we discovered what the problem had actually been. He had a bit of diarrhea.

I got him cleaned up while Grig went to work, and Kevin never even woke up while I did. Then, I wrapped him in a towel, and let him keep sleeping. I'll give him a bath when he actually wakes up.

It's interesting how kids can tell you so much without ever actually telling you what's wrong. If I'd have known, I'd have taken him to the bathroom. However, how could I have known?

I'm still new at this mom-thing. I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know his stomach hurt.

Hopefully he feels better when he wakes up.

Monday, June 13, 2016

A Very Busy Weekend

Going into this last weekend, it was a little overwhelming. It seemed like everything was happening in a three-day period, so we weren't sure how everything was going to go.

We were pleasantly surprised.

Friday, instead of work, Grig's job had a Lagoon day. The tickets were free (we found out later, we thought we were going to have to pay for them), and we were excited to take Kevin. It's been a couple of years since we've gone.

This year, he was just an inch taller than the 36' mark. That meant that he could go on a lot of rides that he couldn't go on before.

The first ride we did was a dinosaur drop. Grig said that, at first, Kevin was a little scared, but then after Grig told him to laugh, he began to really enjoy it. This was a big change from last time. One of the few rides Kevin went on caused him to cry because he was scared. It's fun to seeing him getting so big.

The next ride we tried was a swing ride. It was for children, so the seat-belt didn't fit me or most of the other adults I saw riding it. Kevin seemed to really enjoy that one though. 
After that ride, I really wanted to take my family on a ride called Rattlesnake Rapids. It had been one of my favorites when I had been here in jr high, but it hadn't been open the last couple years when we had come. 
It was on the far end of the park, but because of that, the line wasn't very long yet. We were able to quickly get on one of the boats. 

At first, Kevin was a little frightened.
However, as it went on, he began to enjoy it more and more. In fact, he was really getting into it...when we floated under a waterfall and he got soaked. That was the only time during the day that he cried. He did NOT like getting unexpectedly wet. 

The next ride made up for it though. On our way to the "beach," we stopped at a car ride. He wanted a blue car, and he just happened to get one. We loaded him into it, he was buckled up, and he drove away. It was on a track that just looped in a circle, so we went to the end to wait for him. 

The kid in front of him was screaming by the end of it (he didn't want to be away from his mother), but as Kevin came around the corner, we had to laugh. He was singing and jamming out as he rotated the wheel. When he came to the end of the track, he wanted to go again, but we wanted to get to the beach. He was a little disappointed, but he really liked that ride.

Next, we put on our swimming suits and went to the "beach." It was really fun. We didn't end up taking any pictures, because we were all playing in the water. Kevin loved it. As we played, clouds came up and wind began to blow, and though he started shivering a bit, he didn't want to get out of the water. 

We only had time for about an hour of fun there, and then it was time for lunch. We got dressed and headed over to one of the terraces, where we met up with the rest of the company and got free food. 

Kevin made a friend, and we enjoyed hamburgers and other things. 

Our next stop was back to some more kiddie rides. Kevin got to try bumper cars, and I think he really enjoyed that. Then, he went on the swings again with his dad. 

Afterward, Grig really wanted to go on a roller coaster, so I took Kevin to the Merry-Go-Round. I'd already gotten to swim and go on Rattlesnake Rapids, so I was satisfied. 

For the first time, Kevin really enjoyed the Merry-Go-Round.

We went on it twice while we waited for Grig, only to find out that there was a delay, and so he didn't get to go on it anyway. That was kind of sad for him, but at that point, it was time to go.

We loaded up the car and drove to Idaho to celebrate my Grandpa's 80th birthday. It was a really fun party, and I hope that my grandparents enjoyed it. We love them a lot, and they have made a huge impact on my lives. I'm so grateful that they're still around to celebrate with us.

We didn't get to sleep until after 11:30 p.m. 

The next day, we had a luncheon with my family, and afterward, Grig and I went on a date while my sister kindly watched Kevin. I don't know if we could have pried him away from his cousins anyway. He was having a really good time with them. 

Grig and I went to watch Jungle Book, which we enjoyed and were grateful that we were able to go. We went back to my sister's house to pack, and then we went to a gas station on our way back to Utah to meet my sister and pick up Kevin.

We tried to call them, but there was no answer. So, we waited. It ended up being a good thing, because at that moment, I found out that my sub for Sunday was sick and couldn't take my place the  next day. I spent the next half an hour calling around, and finally found someone. Then, after we went in to go to the restroom, we heard from my sister. They had been in an area without reception, but it worked out just fine. 

We had a nice drive back, and got home at about 11:30 p.m.

Sunday, we woke up, got dressed, and got in the car in time to make it to church in a nearby city so we could listen to two of my cousins speak in church. They did a great job. One had just come home from a mission, and the other is leaving soon.

After church, we ate lunch together, and then my dad, my brother, his daughter, and our family went to the cemetary. It was nice to have some quiet time alone with them. 

Kevin loves being around people. He really enjoyed the whole weekend, but I also think he was also tired. 

When we got home, we collapsed. Grig and I fell asleep, and Kevin played quietly in his room. 

It was a wonderful, exciting weekend. It was nice to be around family so much, and we really appreciated those who helped us out and fed us. 

It wasn't until later that we learned about the tragedy in Orlando. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and their families. We pray that they'll be brought peace and comfort during this trying time. 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Another Miracle and Time with Friends

This week, we took our new vehicle into the shop.

It was making some strange sounds when we'd first start it up, and so we decided to have it checked out. Grig dropped the car off in the morning on Monday (it's awesome that he works right behind it, so he can take it in during break), and then we waited to find out what was going on.

I felt pretty peaceful about it, so I wasn't worried. I figured something was just loose or something.

However, when Grig called me that night, he informed me that we were looking at $800+ in repairs. He told me that the sound was caused by our timing belt, and that it was pretty expensive to replace. I was pretty surprised.

That night, I prayed pretty hard. Due to our recent expensive purchase, we no longer had $800+ extra in our account. In a couple of months we will, but at the moment, we do not.

The dealership we bought the car from agreed to pay around $250, even though we didn't have a warranty with them, but that still left us with around $600.

It was hard not to second guess ourselves. We couldn't help but doubt and wonder if we had bought the wrong car after all, or if we should have put less money down for the down-payment?

However, on Tuesday, Grig called again after work to inform me that it was going to be far less than predicted. It turned out, though the timing belt did have a small slice in it, the biggest problem was that someone that didn't know what they were doing had tried to install it and it was loose. They tightened it, and told us that it should last for at least a couple of years. They also found a valve that had some problems, but again we were told that it wasn't any immediate danger, and we could bring it back in a couple of months.

That was the biggest miracle for me! I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father. It was a nice reaffirmation that we had been following His council and he was going to take care of us.

It's also been super hot lately. As in, over 90 degrees every day.

I went to mow the lawn yesterday, and after about 30 minutes, the lawnmower quit on me. It died completely and wouldn't start at all. I started to panic. Money is tight right now, and we couldn't afford a new lawn mower or repairs. To de-stress, I called my mother. She's really good at listening and letting me vent, and then helping me to have more faith and hope. She told me that the lawn mower may just have overheated. She told me that sometimes their lawnmower does that in really hot weather.

So, a few hours later, I tried it again, and it started back up. I feel like that was another major answer to prayers.

Kevin had some friends over to play in a boat pool that we were given by some other neighbors. They had a fantastic time, and our dogs enjoyed playing together. With their mother's permission, I'm going to share a few photos.
 There was a lot of jumping and splashing involved from everyone. Sometimes the kids couldn't jump in the pool because the dogs were in it, but everyone was having a great time.
 In this picture, you can see Arkhon and Siff playing with their dog. He only has three legs due to a preexisting injury that occurred before they got him. That doesn't stop him though! He plays as hard as the other two. They don't care that he only has three legs. They love it when he comes over! He's a sweet dog too.
Kevin is so funny! He loves being cold,and he was wet all the way to his neck, though it wasn't on purpose at first.

At one point, Kevin jumped in and slipped, landing on his bum and chest deep in the water. He stood up and said, "Cold, cold, cold!" and then, two seconds later, jumped in and deliberately did it again.

His friends weren't quite so sure about sitting in the cold water, but they weren't afraid to get wet either.There was a lot of splashing and fishing, but eventually, everyone started getting hungry and tired, so we had to end the pool party.
It's so fun to have friends!

Monday, June 6, 2016

I Love My Calling

I love my calling, I really do.

When I was first given the assignment to be the primary chorister (the person who teaches the children music) I was a bit nervous about it. It took me a while to find my own rhythm and my own method of doing things.

I feel like I'm finally beginning to know the kids and how to most effectively teach them.

I graduated college with an elementary teaching degree. However, since my graduation, I've become a stay-at-home mom, and thus haven't been able to utilize a lot of the things I have learned. Some of it, I've done in my own home, and I've become a lot better at discipline, but a lot of the things are methods for teaching a large group of children.

I'm grateful to my Heavenly Father for the opportunity I've been given to use my talents and to stay practiced in my major.

The kids in my primary are amazing. They try so hard, and I feel like they are pretty self-motivated. Yesterday, I had them come up to the board to draw pictures to illustrate the song we were learning and they tried so hard to be reverent and to sing their best. After I felt we had the words down pretty well, we played a game of hot and cold.

Hot and cold is where I have one of the children hide an item (in this case, a vibrating lobster), and another child goes outside of the room while they do so. Then, once the first child has finished, they return to their seat and the second child comes back in. They then search for the item, and all the children sing louder or softer depending on how close the second child is getting to the item. The closer they get, the louder everyone else sings, and the farther away they get, the quieter everyone is.

They sang so well, and the Spirit was there. Even my little three-year-olds were trying their hardest.

We learned a song about faith. Faith is so important to learn early on in life. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that (Alma 32:21) "faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true."

This life can be pretty turbulent at times. Sometimes when the storms of doubt and distraction rage around us, it is nice to be able to focus on the lessons that I learned as a child. The simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ can and does bring us peace in the midst of the chaos that surrounds us.

I was reading in the Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Howard W. Hunter manual, which is what they are studying in Sunday school this year, and I found the following quote from a general conference talk given back in 1969:
… Indifference to the Savior or failure to keep the commandments of God brings about insecurity, inner turmoil, and contention. These are the opposite of peace. Peace can come to an individual only by an unconditional surrender—surrender to him who is the Prince of peace, who has the power to confer peace.10
The troubles of the world often expressed in screaming headlines should remind us to seek for the peace that comes from living the simple principles of the gospel of Christ. The vociferous minorities will not unsettle our peace of soul if we love our fellowmen and have faith in the atoning sacrifice of the Savior and the quiet assurance he gives of life everlasting. Where do we find such faith in a troubled world? The Lord said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” (Luke 11:9–10.)11
...One may live in beautiful and peaceful surroundings but, because of inner dissension and discord, be in a state of constant turmoil. On the other hand, one may be in the midst of utter destruction and the bloodshed of war and yet have the serenity of unspeakable peace. If we look to man and the ways of the world, we will find turmoil and confusion. If we will but turn to God, we will find peace for the restless soul. This was made clear by the words of the Savior: “In the world ye shall have tribulation” (John 16:33); and in his bequest to the Twelve and to all mankind, he said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth. …” (John 14:27.) 
Jesus Christ in white robes, interacting with a group of six children in the Americas after His Resurrection.
That really hit me yesterday. Sometimes, I do feel buffeted by the events that are occurring in the world right now, but when I focus on the Savior and the little things like faith, hope, and charity, my soul is comforted and peaceful. I remember that the Savior has power over all things, and if I'm on his side, my family and I will be okay, and I'll be able to be with my family forever; regardless of what happens in this life.

As I do my best in my calling and have lived the principles that I've been taught, I have been blessed with more peace and a stronger testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I truly believe and know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is His church on this earth.

That is my solemn witness in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Friday, June 3, 2016

The Zoo and Softball

Monday was Memorial Day, and we had a really good time.

We went and had lunch with family, and then we went to the local zoo. It's changed a lot from when I used to work there. There are a lot more hands-on things to do, and they have quite a few reindeer. Kevin wasn't sure he wanted to touch this one, but he finally gained courage and did so.
 There were still a lot of neat birds, but the great horned owl was particularly impressive.
 I thought this hawk had a very cute face, too.
 They had a new exhibit with an iguana. At first we thought it was empty, but after the other people left, he came out just for us. He was an impressive fellow.
 This black crowned crane was fun to look at too. They had a few other cranes as well (the sand hills are some of Grig's favorites because of the sound that they make) but this one was new to me.
 The yak was easy to see this time too, and seemed to be enjoying the heat, though he was shedding like crazy!
 When we had almost finished our tour, Grig and Kevin were playing. I was "base" and Grig was trying to keep Kevin away from me. A scuffle occurred, and Kevin ended up scraping his knee on the sidewalk. It bled a bit, but the zoo had some band aids in the store, and they gave us one. That was super nice of them!
 Afterward, we went to the park and Kevin got to play for a while. He really had a great time having his dad around!

Then, on Wednesday, Grig's company had a softball game. Before it, we all practiced together, and then Kevin and I went to watch and cheer him on. 

Or rather, that was the intention, but Kevin fell asleep on the way and slept through most of the game. 
 Grig played the game as the catcher, and he did well. It was fun to watch him play with his coworkers.
 He also was up to bat three times and hit the ball each time. He made it all the way to third one time, but unfortunately the ball was caught and he didn't make it back to second before he was tagged out.
He and his team did awesome and they ended up winning. We were really proud of him.