Spring Break in St. George 2017

We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to go to St. George, UT for spring break this year. It has become a tradition for many years now to visit southern Utah’s red rocks and enjoy the outdoors after being cooped up for the winter.

This year we joined Lance and Anne’s family again, along with the Puzey’s – sans Diana, and the Peterson’s – another family from Sugar City. We kicked off our adventure by checking our kids out of school at noon with our car and trailer loaded to the hilt with camping gear, bikes, food, and luggage.

We made it to Inkom when the tire on our trailer decided to blow! YIKES. Good thing for spare tires…the guys changed it in record time and we were back on the road without loosing much time.

We were anxious to get to our camp spot, because not only would it be almost dark when we arrived and we needed to set up a tent – we weren’t entirely sure if there would be camping available. It was first come first serve in primitive camping at the Bearclaw Poppy trails. The Puzey Fam were following on the road with us. We arrived near 8:30 pm on the bumpy and steep road to our site and finally set to work getting our tents up and sleeping bags unrolled. The rest of our party arrived closer to midnight.

Next morning we were up and eating breakfast after a lovely (and surprisingly warm) nights sleep. Lily apparently has always wanted to eat the fruit of a cactus, so got all of the kiddos excited about cutting in that for our morning entertainment. The events of the day included an excursion to Gooseberry Mesa to ride bikes…all of us! After that, we had a picnic and headed to Red Cliff Reserve. The kids loved getting wet on our hike in the narrow canyons after a windy and sweaty bike ride. Lily kissed a frog….gross! 😉 For dinner we drove to In-N-Out Burger, then back to our campground for popcorn over the fire, s’mores, and kids playing night games.




Friday it was decided that our bike ride would be the bearclaw poppy trail. Olivia’s bike steering was awful from the previous ride so we were all juggling bikes around to find a way we could all be successful and happy. 🙂 She had a hard time being excited, but plowed through all the way to the end! My favorite thing about Olivia on our spring break trips is her attention to the beautiful details: flowers, rock shaped hearts, etc.. JT, on the other hand, was so anxiously excited he rode way ahead of the others and eventually was lost with Gordon Peterson. We didn’t even realize it, until we ended and then the panic set in. Luckily it didn’t last long as we asked some of the other riders if they had seen two boys and they told us they had and where they were. YIKES! I’m so grateful they didn’t get hurt or kidnapped. I guess that is bound to happen with such a large group. Mason was a rockstar and re-rode the entire trail backward to find the stranded boys. Stephen headed back to camp and got the trailer for all of our bikes. Thankfully all ended well. We rode our bikes back to camp and then ate lunch while determining our next move. Since camping and being sweaty most everyone was ready for a dip in some water. We headed out of town and found a free lake. Stephen challenged any takers to swim across the lake for $5. Sami, Mason, and Owen took him up on it and completed the challenge!  Lily and the older girls washed there hair in an adjoining body of water. She said she could check washing her hair next to a duck off her bucket list.  Afterward drove to Snow Canyon for a hike to a cave. There we cut open glow sticks and splattered then on us and the walls so we could play glow in the dark hide and seek. It was a lot of fun! We settled on pizza from Little Caesars for dinner and ate it at an awesome park while we watched the little and big kids play on the toys. What a full, fun, and exhausting day!


When we first began our plans in January about where to celebrate Spring Break and determining that we would camp to save money, etc. Lily was less than excited. She was worried about the bike rides, and hates germs so camping isn’t her favorite. The thing that kept her excited was the opportunity she wanted to take to do baptisms for the dead in the St. George temple. So she invited her friend Bailey Peterson and I to join her. We went first thing on Saturday morning. When we got back to camp the crew was getting ready to head out for another bike ride on bearclaw poppy trail. I stayed back at camp and relaxed/organized a bit while Bailey and Lily hid candy on the rocks for an Easer Hunt. When all returned we let the kids find the candy. The older kids were able hunt for 5 – $1 bills and 1- $20. Owen was the one to ride the $20. In the afternoon, the Lance Parker family left for home and we – along with Puzey fam, made the drive to Zion’s National Park and in hopes to climb Angel’s Landing. Each of us made it to the scout lookout, but only the oldest kids and Stephen summited. It sure is a beautiful world that we live in! As were were driving back to St. George, Stephen started wondering about the idea of staying on a hotel that night so we could get him back to the airport on Sunday in time for his flight to Austin TX. After a long debate, we decided to take Casey up on his offer to stay in their hotel room. haha! So we got creative and made some interesting sleeping arrangements. Mason shared a bed with Stephen and I. Lily slept by Ashlyn on a hide-away bed and Olivia, JT and Ellie slept on the floor. What a great family to make memories with! So funny and truly gracious.

Poop Patrol!

We were able to wake up and head out of town right on schedule! It was Easter Sunday, so I made a few things for us to discuss and talk about as we drove to feel like we experienced church and took time to honor the glorious truth that Jesus Christ is Risen! Stephen made it to the airport in fact ahead of schedule and the rest of us came home unloaded the car and ran off to the Parker Family Easter party at John and Michelle’s home. What a fast and furious weekend full of unforgettable memories and beauty!

Dia Viente/ Chao OSSO

Two of my favorite Tias. Clarissa and Jenny.image  I ❤️ Cuenca.imageOverlook at the llama museum.
imageThe mural. Translation: you may not have my eyes or my smile, but from the very first moment you had my heart.image

Well today was officially my last day in Cuenca. I miss it already as I sit in the Quito airport.

My morning shift/last shift was in Milagros. I love those boys! One of them told me I had to write him a note for later. Haha two of the boys in there are just the cutest of friends and I love to tease them and watch them tease each other.

I got to push the kids in the swings and hold the baby/3-year-old from Milagros. He is the cutest thing. I felt like it was the perfect ending to my last 3 weeks.

I had the afternoon off to pack, but I was done so I went to the culture museum with Hannah, Nicole, Madie, and Nik. It was really cool. I even got to see a real live llama! Haha After that we went home and worked on the mural. I got to write the quote and sign it. Yay!

When I was first assigned to Cuenca I was really uncomfortable and nervous. I wasn’t used to the type of atmosphere in that orphanage and I wasn’t too excited about stretching myself.

Even on my first day I was overwhelmed with the challenge I knew it would be for me. After this week I don’t know what the heck was wrong with me and I wish I hadn’t spent so much time stressing. The children at Los Pequiñitos de OSSO are the best thing to bless my life.

I have learned so much from them and I wish you could all meet them because they are my best friends. Saying goodbye to them today was probably the hardest thing I have ever done. When I took the boy his note he hugged me while I sobbed in his crippled arms. After he read my note he even hugged me again.

When I got to OSSO the two pieces of advice that stood out the most to me were from Hailey and Jacie. Jacie told me not to worry about trying to be just like the other volunteers. She said that the individuality of each volunteer is what the kids need. Hailey said that these kids are just like me and you, the only difference is that we can move and talk more.

When I took time to apply these advices into my time at OSSO I found myself growing the most. If any of you ever get the chance to serve in a similar situation as mine, I hope this advice is just as beneficial. I love you all and I can’t wait to tell you all about my life in Ecuador.

❤️The Girl with Big Plans

MOAB 2014

Our family has started a tradition of going to southern Utah for our Spring Break – we seem to trade back and forth between Moab and St. George UT. This year we ended up in MOAB and had a great time! It was great to stay in one spot, one hotel, for 4 nights and 5 days and then just enjoy the beautiful world. Highlights included family bike rides and hikes, petroglyph sightings, Stephen and Mason conquering Porcupine Rim, Lex and Jodi running the Canyonlands half marathon, JT’s trips to the dollar store, Olivia & Lily getting to test out the new bikes they got for Christmas, and everyone having fun at the local bike park.

Some Big Moments in Mason’s Life

This month has brought some great moments for the Mason Man! First up was him receiving his Eagle Scout Award on October 20th. After a lot of work and many merit badges, as well as finishing up his project to fix up & collect gently used bikes to give to charity, he is officially and Eagle Scout! It was a proud and happy moment to be his mom. He is not one to want to be in the spotlight, but he handled it great. He carried himself well and it has been wonderful to see him grow and develop in his character and leadership abilities. I appreciate both Grandpas’ in his life and the amazing scouting legacy that has been laid before Mason. Grandpa & Grandma Parker were able to participate via Skype from their mission in Brazil. Bruce gave Mason the eagle charge. My dad did a magical fire lighting and was the recipient of the mentor pin. He helped Mason go over his application and get it ready to submit at the Council office. He also been an avid role model for scouting for all of Mason’s life. Grandma Baldwin helped out with the refreshments. I don’t know what I would have done without all of the help!! Mason is a lucky young man to have amazing men in his life to strive to become like. Stephen has also been such a great help and support to Mason. It is fun that his calling as Scout Committee Chairman enabled him to be more of an active part with the presentation and preparing involved. Mason has also had many wonderful leaders all through his scouting years, including Cub Scouts. Keep up the great work Mason!!

We just got home this past weekend from a trip to Boys State Soccer in Boise where Mason was able to go with his team. It was a growing year for Mason as he was the only freshman on the team. It wasn’t his favorite to have to be the bag boy and not get to dress down because they had one too many players, but I was proud of him for sticking with it and being a good support to his team. He got a sweet sweatshirt and sweats as part of the deal. He also got to travel with the team and be at the hotel and eat some awesome free meals! He has been motivated to work even harder for next year and is talking about what he needs to do to be able to be a “starter” next year. We think and hope the team with again find themselves at State. It was great to watch the level of playing that we saw – such a treat! As a mother, I have appreciated the way the older boys have reached out and tried to help Mason feel good about this year. It is cool to see boys be sensitive and compassionate. I have been impressed by several boys and the quality of who they are becoming – not only as players but their character. Mason is blessed to have learned from some of them this year. His team finished off the season with taking third place on the state level! It is the highest the sugar soccer team has ever come, and that is something to brag about.

It’s been a good few weeks for Mason!


Kindergarten for my youngest child – could the term bittersweet be more fitting? I think not! My how I've been waiting for this moment. Time home alone at last to clean uninterrupted, finish a project, go shopping, do whatever the heck I want! But as I watched this little boy sit on the kiva with his class today looking back at me with those puppy dog eyes – I melted! My eyes welled with tears – heck they are welling now as i type – at the idea that my years of babies, toddlers, and pre-schoolers are gone. The little hands that need to be kissed better, the story that needs to be read, the naps we would take together, my little shopping buddy – gone! He has been just such a joy and blessing in our family. His funny, goofy, and silly faces and moves will always crack us up. His determined, independent, and stubborn ways aren't going anywhere. Hopefully his loud and "bossy" voice will smooth out into a concise leadership voice as his teachers help mold and shape him through the next 13 years.

Really though JT is so excited about kindergarten, I think he is up for the great adventures that lie ahead. His teacher, Mrs. Gee has a great personality to help him achieve what he needs to this year. I am so excited that he will get to make some little friends. We don't have any neighbors or any boys in our ward his age. He hasn't gotten to feel the fun times that hanging out with friends can be. I think this will be a good year to try it out a little and get to know some nice kids. I volunteered to be his room mother so I can help guide him to the nicest and smartest kids in the class. Haha

If you can't tell – I just LOVE my little boy. He will always be my little boy. I'll try not to spoil him and ruin him and rescue him and coddle him too much, but in him in a lot of wrapped up nostalgic motherhood memories not only from him, but 4 other kids as well. He is the one that represents the changing of the tide so to speak. The oldest gets to open the doors, signaling the first one to do this or that and the youngest one closes the doors, signaling the last to do this or that.

Well I can't spend a lifetime mourning over the doors closing so I just need to be happy that I got to celebrate the past years and moments in life with the littlest people of the world. On with the JT stories…

JT is one cool kid. He is one of those kids that the teenagers think is cool and want to hang out with at church, school, or soccer games. He totally know what he wants from life and will tell you all about how you can help him get there and a step by step plan to make it happen, as soon as he feels comfortable. Stephen has said this on more than a few occasions, "I think JT is going to be a leader someday, because he sure it good at telling me what we need to do." JT comes across a bit shy at first, but funny thing – he isn't really shy. He is just getting a gauge on how things work in a new environment. He is accessing his boundaries and what is tolerated, who he can trust – once he figures all of these variables out he is an assured and confident little person ready to command his ship.

He likes to work around the guys in the garage and I think he thinks he is a lot older than he really is. He tries to use tools from the garage – not the fake plastic one that kids are suppose to play with. Some of the happiest times I've seen him are shoeless and riding on the front of a motorcycle with his big brother driving. He also likes to chill with Lily and Olivia and will allow them once in a while to tell him how to do things. Other times he gets bothered that people are "trying to control him". Once time he came in from being outside and told us that the wind was trying to control him. 🙂

He really makes Lexi laugh and makes her happy when she is sad. He has a tender heart and can be a little hugger when he wants to. JT loves to watch all of his sibling play soccer and was totally thrilled when he found out it was his turn to play this year. He loves putting his shin guards, cleats, and jersey on, but I've had to refocus him at his games when he is ready to run off the field and head for the slide.

At church JT has probably the best Primary teachers, Brother and Sister Goodman,  any parent could hope for. They are so good – they teach JT to be reverent and sit still and listen, they come prepared and teach him the gospel, they love him and notice him in the good things he tries to do. When they sent him a special note in the mail when they left town to go to florida one time, JT felt so special.

I LOVE this guy,  JT. I don't know what I would ever do without him in my life. He makes my life fun, exciting, and happy. His little smile and smirk make my day. His excited loud voice remind me who he is and what he is about. His determined and bold nature let me know that he has the capability of being a valiant young man who will stick to his principles. I love to hold his hand still, and give him a hug when he is sad. I love to kiss his cheeks and rub lotion on his legs. I like to fold his clothes and put his little shoes in their cubby. It is an honor to be his mother.

Second Grade

Olivia woke up this morning happy and ready! She went to bed to night happy and eager to get to bed so she could wake up happy and ready. (Olivia isn't a morning person so this is a big deal!) She wants so badly to meet her goals. She is a sweetie pie.  She is the cutest darn second grader you will find. She pays attention to details and carefully picked out her outfit making sure it matched and went together (side note: out of all of my kids she has had the most innate fashion sense of them all – I think it because she is detail oriented). She looked and felt great – even though she couldn't't eat breakfast. This is a meal she would call a necessary evil. She's not really into eating it ever. She is excited to get Mrs. Smith for a teacher – just like Mason and Lily. Mrs. Smith is a perfect fit for her and they will have a great year together. As I walked away from dropping her off I felt happy and satisfied about a good year ahead.

As I've stopped to listen to her more and appreciate her strengths she has responded positively. Recently Stephen and I took her out to lunch for her special eight year old talk and date. She was so chatty and willing to talk to us. I think she must feel overwhelmed when so much is going on and its crazy and spinning fast at our house. As we slowed down and gave her our undivided attention, she was like a flower that blossomed right out in full. I couldn't believe how much she talked and laughed and smiled. Time and caring and quiet were just the right combination. What a gift it was as parents to see her sparkle. We took pictures of her at the BYU Idaho gardens for her baptism pictures. She is so photogenic it was hard to select which picture to use. I will never forget the wonderful time I had watching her feel special, I wish every day could be just like that for her.

Olivia has been begging us to let her do gymnastics or dance for at least 2 years. Well, we finally signed her up at Airbound. She has literally been doing cartwheel and the Russian splits ever since! I feel bad we've waited so long, but maybe the wait makes it all the more exciting for her. It will be fun to see her progress and watch to see if this becomes her thing. I decided that everyone in our family has their "thing" they are known for and good at. Olivia has tried all of them and does a lot of them too, but it isn't "her thing". As mother I am finding how important it is for each kid to feel noticed for good in a certain thing that they love to do. Maybe for Olivia this will be gymnastics. She is growing up and getting big and it is great to see her blossoming in so many ways!

This has been Olivia's year to shine on the soccer field – things are just clicking out there. She isn't afraid of the ball or doing for it. She has a natural defensive nature which helps cover the goal, a great thing as well. Stephen has been her coach and it is cool to see her get into the game and beg to get to play.

Olivia has been preparing for her baptism day – which is happening two days from now. He interview with the bishop went well and he was very impressed with how well she understood and knew what he was talking about. She has a great depth to her and she is extremely thoughtful. Her prayers reflect this quality that she possess and I love to hear her prayers. She has an ability to feel deeply and sometimes doesn't understand her feelings. I am excited to see her tune into this as she grows older and is blessed to have the Holly Ghost as a constant companion. Hopefully this special gift will help her make more sense of her feelings and she will begin to rely and trust on it as a driving force in her life.

I LOVE Olivia so much. If I could I would lay by her and cuddle forever. I call her my snuggle bunny because she loves to be held and hugged and nestled. I want to just protect her and shield her from anything bad or hard that could and might happen. Since that is not possible and not how things work down her on earth, I'll settle for some hearty prayers. She is a special one of Heavenly Father's children. She is sensitive and kind hearted and I know her hands will be used in service to bless many for good. She is a friendly, gentle giant – a label I would give anything to be.

Sixth Graders are middle schoolers not elementary

Today Lily entered the halls of her school as the top dog sixth grader. She walked in determined, prepared, and organized for the challenge. She is a good student and I rarely worry about her with any teacher. She can handle most situations she is placed in. This year she has chosen to join the orchestra at school – she will play the cello! I hope she really enjoys it.

She had her clothes laid out neatly on her floor the night before inside of her color-coded, and meticulous closet.  She was the first one up and ready, and had her bed made perfectly. This is just who she is. She would never think of misplacing something in her room because everything has a place. She just got the privilege of having her own room and is quick to remind me that "her room would never look like _________" – fill in the blank with a negative label.

**this is where the part where I need to insert that I am choosing to dote and be a proud mom who brags about her awesome daughter for the rest of this entry!**

This introduction is to portray just how Lily is one of a kind. We say that a lot over her at our house – you are one of a kind Lily! When she was a little girl I think we were both frustrated and overwhelmed a lot with each other. We are both pretty head strong and like things done our way. A lot of people may dub that as a negative thing, but as I've gotten older and learned it is mostly a positive thing and something that makes Lily so special. How else could she be such an exceptional pianist. Her will and determined nature and passion enable her to produce some amazing things musically. She has a gift, and behind that gift she has motivation and hard work. When time calls for a consequence for her we tell her she can't play the piano and it works every time! She absolutely loves it and is connected to it. In fact, she has recently started saving her extra money she earns forr her own piano. She would love a grand piano, but has settled for an upright. I gave her the idea that if she first buys an upright she can teach piano lessons in college and then save $ from those lessons to get her "big piano".  She is a dreamer and a planner and I think she just might pull this one off – check back in 15 years. 🙂

In May Lily started taking piano lessons from a young 16 year old girl prodigy. She has been a wonderful mentor to Lily. I am so grateful my prayers were answered to find a great and affordable teacher that would inspire Lily to keep her talent sharp. Lily is know learning the well-known and difficult songs:  The Entertainer and Maple Leaf Rag. The real versions! Go pick up a piece of that music and see if you can play it – I can't! It is impressive and sometimes I can't even believe it is real. She is on a great track. I dropped her off at lessons last week and a Annie (piano teacher's mom) can to the car and asked if I knew what I had gotten myself into. I was confused and she explained that her daughter Annie was just like Lily at her age. She further warned that if Lily so desires and continues in this direction we would need to be prepared for the dedication involved financial and time. We will see what happens and what Lily decides is her goal. It will be fun to see. I am happy to support her in any way. I am just happy she loves music and that is good enough for me. When one crosses the line into resenting and hating music it's gone too far – in my humble opinion. I just want her to keep loving it and growing. Mostly music should be used to bring joy to yourself and bless other peoples lives….ok Lily – if you ever read this?

Friends are very important to Lily now. She wants to hang out all of the time and have something fun to do along with it. She is always looking for ways to get together and make a memory or bond with people. Some of her friends are Brynne, Kallie, Abrea, Emma, Katie, & Hannah. She still thinks boys are gross and stupid – all except Sam Puzey and he is our "cousin".

Lily is also taking her soccer skills to the next level and ready to start Fall Club Soccer this season. She is on an all girl sugar team and I am excited to see what awesome things will happen with this group. Lily like to play – doesn't love it, but she is excited about it and being with some of her friends.

Neat things about Lily are that she is kind, caring, and nurturing. She is one amazing babysitter – she does laundry, dishes, and makes and invents the coolest and funest games kids would ever want.

She is so close to achieving her Faith in God award in primary. She is completely honest in all that she does and I really like that I can trust her. Her testimony is growing and she wants to do what is right and be kind to others as Jesus would. She is trying hard to develop good habits of prayer and scripture study. She likes to do the right thing and sees things in black and white. She gets worried about the lyrics to songs on the radio immediately changes the channel, the same is true for movies, tv. etc. She has a sensitive spirit to things in the media that drive the spirit away and I think that is just wonderful! Keep it up Lily!!

It has been so great to get to be her mother and understand how much she needs to feel respected by other people. She can move heaven and earth if she knows you genuinely respect her. She just wants to be understood and listened to and treated fairly. Give her that and she will give you more back. Simple.

I was driving down the rode the other day and I started tearing up thinking about this girl. I thought of what an amazing person this is that has come to live in my home – and I get to be her mom. What a humble opportunity it is to watch her develop and grow into such a fine person so far. I know she will have a bright future ahead as she stays true to who she is. She is going to make one great mother! I just LOVE this girl so much – she brings me so much joy!

Freshman Year – entry to the High School Years

My man Mason is officially in High School. He was looking pretty "legit" this morning and is sure to turn a few girls' heads. 🙂 He has found a deeper voice to come out and talk with, and was happy to let me know he even has a few arm pit hairs. Apparently that is an important right of passage to enter through.

I will take this opportunity to let the reader know that I am taking this moment to profusely gush and brag about my oldest guy. I'm so so happy I get to be his mom. He has taught me so much. More than I ever thought I wanted to learn…haha, but seriously he is helping me understand that my way isn't the only way. He has some pretty awesome ways to do things in life – ways that I don't very often consider, but that work for him and make him happy. I love watching him live life and experience it in his way. I have learned that he can be depended on and has a giant heart. I am glad he still lets me get away with a side hug and endures my long winded "discussions". He is teachable and that is a wonderful character trait to possess.

He is NOT excited about school, but he should be he is stinking SMART! Let me say it again…he is smart, don't ever let him fool you. At school he made the High School soccer team. I heard that he even got to play at this past Saturday's games while I was out of town and did a heck of a job! He is the only freshman on the team and is out of his comfort zone, and I admire him for trying out even though it was intimidating for him. I hope and think he learned even more about life and himself by doing this, than he is learning about soccer. He also still plays the trumpet in band at school. I think he enjoys it at his pace. He doesn't love to practice because he is afraid someone might just hear him – silly boy!

He has worked hard this summer to finish up his Eagle project and has done some great work. Stephen and I have been excited to watch him blossoming as a leader. He knows what he wants to accomplish and is gentle in his approach at getting people to follow his lead. He has grown up a lot and gotten the opportunity to work and interact with many adults, peers, and younger kids. His project was to collect bikes for needy children. He called the Upper Valley Resource Center and worked with Paul Hymas to get the job done. He rallied his cousins and family to help him distribute flyers at the fourth of July Parade to help get the word out. He put a trailer and sign out in front of our house to collect donated, gently used, bikes for the month of July. He also retrieved bikes from peoples homes and organized and assessed the bikes' needs and made a list. He got generous donations from Sticks and Stones to make the needed improvements. He made arrangements with his quorum to come help, and had the knowledge to fix up the bikes that needed fixing. He also made sure the other bikes were safe. He collected and dropped off 24 bikes! Stephen, the new Scout Committee Chairman, and my dad, Grandpa Baldwin, were such a huge help in getting all of the paperwork completed and turned in. His is now waiting for his board of review and then hopefully can say he is officially and Eagle Scout very soon! It has been awesome to see how much growth has occurred and confidence was gained through his experience in the scouting program this far. I am grateful for Mason and his desire to WANT to be an Eagle despite how much work it is to achieve! He has genuinely enjoyed scouting and has learned many skills that will not only benefit him, but hopefully others for the rest of his life. I love to watch him get excited about camping. His leaders appreciate that he can manage to go on camp outs with just a small amount of stuff. They always tell me that they wish other boys would get along with less "stuff"  like him.

Mason loves to putter around in the garage and work on things like three wheeler engines and rebuilding bike frames, or building a unicycle or inventing a cool wheeled contraption for younger siblings to enjoy. He comes in the house with greasy hands and leaves imprints on my white doors and has grease stains on several items of clothing. While other mothers are venting to me of their teenage boys being lazy and idle, I think of my complaints of greasy shoes and hands and then decide to be grateful. I love to see his greasy nose and sweaty face and scuffed up shoes from working on his stuff. 

He loves motorcycles and the thrill of the ride. He would love it if I would allow him to ride motorcycles or bikes around town all day long. He has passed on this passion for wheels to his idolizing little brother. JT will follow Mason anywhere and really trusts his big brother. He knows how cool Mason is and is his buddy out in the garage. They are turning into good friends.

We have worked hard in our home at being responsible with jobs around the house this summer. Do you know how cool it is to see your 14 year old boy load a dishwasher, make dinner,  and wipe off the counter or clean a bathroom, and then know that he could go out and help your husband change the oil in a car? That is pretty cool stuff! I appreciate that although Mason doesn't LOVE to do the house jobs, he WILL Do them.

I have enjoyed having some very meaningful conversations with Mason. He can be such a quiet and private person at times that some wouldn't know how deep, thoughtful, witty, loving, and gentle he can be. He is also very resourceful and energetic as well. He has a competitive edge that helps push him forward to accomplish the projects he desires with ease. When you give him a motivation or reason to do some thing he can believe in – he has amazing ambition and determination!

Mason is a true boy and loves to eat. He is eating a lot these days and is growing like a weed! He jumped 2 shoe sizes from last year and now wears a size 10 1/2.

I look forward to seeing this guy realize just how much he is capable of. I've always told him he is a diamond in the rough (as we all are). I have full confidence that he will get to do some pretty amazing things in his life time and will help many for good. I hope he always remembers that he is Child of God and because of that has unlimited potential.  I think of Mason and just want to squeeze him so tight and yell out to the world  – this boy is going to go places and he is my son!!!

Eleventh Grader

Wow – that's about all I can ay is WoW! I remember 10 years ago dropping Lexi off at a new school in Idaho Falls without any friends. I looked backed and saw her swinging on the swings all alone. Even though she felt fine, I cried all of the way home because my baby was going to school ALL day long! I cannot believe I am sitting here now typing this because on the way to school today Lexi proclaimed, "two more years of HS and then I'm done!" Where has the time gone??? Just to let anyone that is planning on reading the rest of this know – I am totally going to brag about this chic in the following paragraphs.  She is pretty good at being humble for the most part, so I need to document her latest and awesome accomplishments, because that is just what moms can and should do. I can take NONE of the credit for any of these cool things – it is just who she is, and it is amazing to get to sit by and watch her become who she is meant to be.

I sure love this daughter of mine. She makes me proud to get to say I'm her mother. She isn't perfect, and that is hard for her to accept – but she is pretty darn close most of the time. haha 🙂 But really, she works really hard to be her best in all she does and I greatly admire her for it.

At school she is known as "Parker", no. 6 on the girls soccer team. In fact, at the game I didn't get to see on Saturday she scored her first goal of the season! Way to start things off right Lex! She was voted the Jr. Class Captain of her team this year, and really felt honored about it. She takes things serious – sometimes a little too serious, but that is why we love her and how she can do some of the great things she sets out to do. She got a few fundraisers going for her team, and has been a great older sister to Mason as he is starting off his first season on the HS team. She looks out after him and is there to be a friend when he needs one. That makes my heart smile really, really big. She has also helped out with her choir a lot. She and a friend volunteered to pick out the outfits for both the boys and girls. She is pretty responsible and good at communicating to have a positive result. She also was excited about getting the solo of Cosette in the song, "Castle on a Cloud". She also get to be the Jr. Class President this year. She hasn't gotten put to work yet, but I know the Lip Sync is something she has been thinking about and wanting to help her class win this year.

At church Lexi is the one that her YW leaders like to ask to do things because she is willing and good at being dependable. She has developed great habits of reading her scriptures & praying. She is one of the people you could describe as a quiet strength to others. She isn't one to stand up and proclaim her beliefs – she just lives them every day. She is out of her comfort zone to bear her testimony all of the time, but heck ya she has a strong one! She has chosen and is determined to live a virtuous life and has set high standards for herself, which is inspiring. She has adopted a sweet old lady in our ward and often goes over to help her with some work or just to watch TV or visit.

At work, yes she has a job!, she is trying hard to do her best too. For her it is important to be punctual to make sandwiches and swirl yogurt at Mill Hollow Frozen Yogurt. She has enjoyed her work there and has made some fun new friends. She really likes working with her cousin Paige. They have become even better friends and have had a fun summer – along with Riley and Haley (and Kassie when she is in town). We seem to find ourselves stopping in for a yogurt more than we ever have, just to see the cute blonde girl behind the counter working hard to make money for College and Mission. She is a miser when it comes to spending and saving her money. She does not let it exit her hands without thinking really hard about where it is going to go. She splurged at bought herself a pair of Tom wedges (shoes) for school. She was so freaked out it almost made her sick. But I'll tell you what, she is so proud of those shoes and treats them better than any piece of china.

Friends/Boys/Dating because she is now 16. She has had fun doing some group dating this summer, but is finding it isn't THAT big of a deal. It is fun for her to spend more time hanging with boys & girls at parties because she didn't really do that as often before. She has nice and good guys all around her to hang out with, so that makes us as parents happy for her. She has a few that she has reserved at the top of her list, but mostly she is just waiting for "boys" to grow up into the "man" she is dreaming of. haha – that is totally her mother saying that – not her!

It will be a wonderful few years ahead with this girl. I love to cheer for her at soccer games, sit by her at church and sing the hymns – we switch who sings alto/soprano every other verse without even planning it…we just know, watching her ham it up on the stage of her swing choir songs and dimpley smile, curling her hair when I get the honored privilege, depending on her to take care of the family when I'm gone from home, and mostly all of the great talks found at the end of my bed after she gets home from work or playing with friends.

Strong willed, independent, dependable, & full of integrity is this girl in a nut shell. LOVE her to death!