Thursday, December 3, 2015

November Newsletter & Slideshow

Hamilton Newsletter
November 2015

FAMILY: The beginning of the month was daylight savings & with the darker evenings, we've been enjoying candle-light dinners almost every night. We all love this tradition. We also finished the first Harry Potter book at the beginning of November. We all loved it & the girls would talk quite a lot about Hogwarts and spells they wished they knew :) Kalli & Mike came into town the very end of October/beginning of November to see a friend at SUU & they stopped by a couple times. It was great to see them!! November 7th would have been Link's 3rd birthday. We sure miss our duder-dude. See his section for more details about his birthday. The 11th was Veteran's Day & Jason had the day off work. We attended our local Vetran's Day Program at our Veteran's Memorial Park. McKinley's class was there, too & it was fun to spend some time with her as well as honor the Veteran's who have served our nation. On the 12th, Grandma Potts & some friends came over for dinner and dessert (cupcakes to celebrate Grandma's 60th birthday!). We loved to see her, even if we wish it were longer :) She was so sweet & got the girls all shirts and a book she put together called "Why I believe what I believe" - so sweet to give gifts for HER birthday! On the 14th, they had the annual Storybook Parade on Main Street. This is the first year daddy has been able to go & we all had a wonderful time. It is always so well done, with so many impressive floats and characters. Afterwards, we went to St. George, grabbed a pizza & headed to the park to see Daken play baseball. The Reeds were there, too, so it was fun to see so many cousins & cheer on Daken's team. Afterwards, we grabbed some hot cocoa and cookies :) Thanksgiving was with the Devenish's this year. As always, we enjoyed good food, good conversation, and good times. The kids had fun coloring and mom even printed out a Thanksgiving quiz packet with crosswords, rhyming words, etc. Anyone who completed the packet would get their favorite candy bar, & all the girls completed it. Way to go! We have very much to be thankful for this year, including our faith, our family, our new home, daddy's job, and our freedoms.  All month, we had a pumpkin on our kitchen table with a marker for everyone to write what they are thankful for. It was neat to fill it up with so many blessings. We also did our annual Gerald the Grateful Turkey this year. Unfortunately, after we got home from Richfield, most of us got sick with sore throats, headaches & fevers, so we had to stay home from church & school for a bit :( Another bummer was having to get a new radiator for the van. $450 :(

JASON: Jason had fun visiting his family during Thanksgiving & going out with Jeff & Dave to look for cow elk and then to go cut down a Christmas Tree in the mountains.

HEIDI: Heidi had REALLY a hard time at the beginning of the month with Link's birthday. Not sure why this year was harder than the others for her, but for a few days, she wasn't very functional & all she could really do was cry. His third year would have been so much fun. One thing that was hard was going through all his funeral pictures this month that she had to save one by one to the new external hard drive from That was a difficult trigger. Thankfully she got out of that dark place & was able to find more gratitude and in doing so, she also found love notes everywhere from her baby boy - including hearts in tortillas, rocks, chips, and how Link's candle from the wave of light event is STILL going!! Also - Ireland had a dream about Link being resurrected & that made mom really happy. Heidi helped a lot with the "Make & Take" night this month for Relief Society. She was in charge of doing burlap pennant banners. They were fun to make & it was a fun addition to the decor.

-McKinley got to go on a few fun field trips this month, including getting to see a famous young engineer who made a robotic arm and going to Veteran's Park for Veteran's Day.
-McKinley decided to join the ward choir and she is really enjoying it! (and being brave since mom & dad don't go)
-McKinley had a turn for Activity Days being in charge and sharing her talents. She showed the girls how to do finger knitting, how to do zentangles, and how well she's doing with her piano playing. Great job McKinley!
-She loved the Activity Days about babysitting. They got little binders with information on babysitting & McKinley has already put post-it notes in there for all the things she wants to remember.
-McKinley had a few days where she was feeling lonely for not having close friends. Mom & dad had some long talks with her & prayers. She did make a lot of her little "Hohos" for all her friends and for Mr. Sahagun. She also found a friend at the Storybook Parade when we were there.
-McKinley is doing art again for Polar Expeditions & she loves it!

-On the 11th, mom took Ireland out of school to take her out for her lunch date. She chose to go to Wingers. We had a yummy lunch & she especially loved the asphalt pie! She kept saying "my tummy is full but my taste buds say MORE MORE!"
-One day mom was fixing Ireland's hair & she commented about wishing she had such pretty hair when she was her age. Ireland said "Well, you didn't have the cool technology of curling irons back then."
-Ireland's class job right now is materials manager, which she really loves because she is quite an organizer!
-Ireland got to go on a few field trips, too, this month, including a field trip to Zion's to see an IMAX film and a trip to Homestead Resort. Cool!
-When mom was asking Ireland about her field trip, she asked her if Ireland blew Link a kiss since the cemetery was right by where she went on her field trip. Ireland looked at her a little sheepishly and said "in my mind..." and kept talking :)
-Ireland had a dream this month about Link being resurrected. She said she was sitting by mom, who was "holding Link in her hands and was so happy!!"
-For Polar Expeditions, Ireland kind of accidentally chose a class that teaches about mummies. She wasn't really excited about it, but has learned a lot & now she thinks it's pretty cool!
-Ireland was SO excited on the first day of snow. She grabbed her snow gear right when she got home from school & worked till it was very late & dark on her snowman :)      

-Kezia and Noelle were playing outside in the cold & snow one day & all the sudden there is a loud noise. Mom came out to see that the patio table was shattered. Kezia immediately started crying & sobbing & it took a while for mom to understand what happened, but eventually she got that Kezia had been trying to throw rocks at the table to make them be in the snow on the table & be "glittery." Needless to say, we will need a new table. Kezia felt so bad, but mom made her help clean up the mess & she will have a consequence.
-In Kindergarden one day, the teacher asked the kids to come up with things that start with the letter A. Kezia raised her hand & said "Anne of Green Gables!" :) Parenting win!
-Kezia says her favorite parts of November were the Storybook Parade (her favorite float was the music box one) and going to St. George.

Three years old this month. You would be so excited and loving to open the matchbox cars set that we got for you. You would be able to choose what you wanted to eat for your meals and what you wanted for your birthday. Oh, how we missed you this year, our sweet Link. This year was a little more simplistic than the other two. It was on a Saturday. We woke up and ate Fruit Loops, since they are rainbow-colored.  watched a movie in the morning, then we went to the dollar store and bought a lot of things for the Jubilee House. Then we went to the Cemetery & released balloons & then to McDonald's to put money in the Ronald McDonald Jar. It was just our little family this year. We are grateful for your love notes this month. Mom found MANY hearts in many different places & your candle from the Wave of Light is STILL going after almost 2 months now! It's really a sweet blessing. Mom is trying to do a family history game for Christmas this year & hope it will help us become closer to our ancestors and help fulfill your mission. We truly hope you can feel how loved you are, little boy. Happy Birthday.

-Noelle says "Yay!!" when we put some food that she loves in front of her. It's sooooo cute!
-Noelle still thinks the fire alarms are stars and she loves to look at & point to the one in her room and say "star!" and sing twinkle, twinkle to it.
-We are amazed at how much Noelle knows. She knows the sounds for about 10 animals, she knows a few of the numbers when we count (like if we count to 7, she knows 8 comes next), she knows a lot of the ABC song & can point to about 10 of the letters and tell us their names. She can point to & say like 10 body parts. She is starting to really speak in 3 & four word sentences now. It's so fun to see how much she absorbs!
-When we throw Noelle up in the air or blow on her tummy or do something else she loves, she will say AGAIN! again & again!
-Another 10+ on the cuteness scale is when she says THANK YOU after she kisses you. It's this high-pitched Thank you and it's soo cute.
-Noelle will get a diaper for you if you ask her to! She says "daiper!" & runs & grabs one & brings it back.
-She says "Buh-Bye!" a lot. She really likes to be out going & doing - not just in the house all day.
-We got a book called "Wake Up!" from the library & she knew a lot of the words after a couple weeks of having it. The cutest was how you would turn to the page that said "ewww... " and she would automatically point to the word & say "Ewwwww!"
-For FHE one Monday, we made a cookie cake with whipped cream. We gave some to Noelle & she proceeded to "wash her hands" with the whipped cream while she sang the hand-washing song.  :)
-Instead of just repeating back the word, she now says "Yes!" or "Yeah." Like, do you want an apple? Instead of saying "apple" she says "Yes!"
-Noelle has started to tell us when she has a stinky diaper. She will reach around, pat her bum & say "Oh! Stinky!" One day while changing her diaper, mom said "buh-bye stinkers!" and she said "Ni-Nite Stinkers!"
-Noelle has really started to join her sisters in playing ponies. She loves to have one or two at a time & have them "talk" to each other & walk on the walls. She also still loves little cars.
-Noelle's hair is getting so long! It's about to her shoulders & we can put it in pigtails now! It's so adorable. 

Friday, November 6, 2015

October Newsletter & Slideshow

October 2015

FAMILY: October started with the ending of soccer. Ireland's last game was on the 6th. Kezia's was on the 10th (Jason coached that game because Denell was out of town). It has been nice to have some extra time in the evenings now that soccer is over & everything isn't quite as rushed. The first weekend in October, we enjoyed conference very much. There were many beautiful, inspiring talks and we enjoyed spending time as a family. On Saturday while daddy was at Priesthood session, mom took the girls to the dollar store & the new TJ Maxx store for some shopping. Then crafts. It was a fun girls night! On the 10th, after Kezia's last soccer game, we headed to Parowan and hit the end of their fall festival on Main Street. We got to see some cool cars, jump on the inflatables (mom and dad even tried to hit each other off the inflatable stands), and see some neat booths. The weather was just perfect. Afterwards, we went on up to Paragoonah to the Judd's Family Pumpkin Patch to pick some pumpkins. We had fun wandering around, picking the perfect pumpkins. We got some very huge ones! And some very tiny ones, as well. Also - the girls (especially Noelle) had fun seeing the baby pigs, goats, and cows. Early in October, the girls all had a late-over as well. Kezi had Macy - from her soccer team & school come, McKinley had Lindsey Brown, and Ireland had Sophie Johnson. They watched the movie HOME, ate caramel popcorn, and played games. It was fun! We also got our family pictures taken at the beginning of the month - at the old barns over by the soccer fields - and at Link's bench at the cemetery. Noelle hadn't taken a good nap, so she was pretty busy and ornery, but we got some good shots and we're always glad when that's over with! The 12th was Columbus Day and Jason had it off work, so we let the girls take it off school, too. Late that afternoon, we went and hiked Spring Creek Canyon. It was a beautiful slot canyon and the weather was so perfect. We saw gorgeous red rock, a purple butterfly, some cool caves, some sweet flowers, and some colorful fall leaves. What a fun hike! The 15th was the annual Wave of Light and Remembrance that Share puts on at our stake center. We lit candles and people sang songs and talked about their babies. Then we let go of balloons and had treats. It was a neat night that we always look forward to. We left for Salt Lake on the afternoon of the 16th so we could meet at the Potts' church and help set up for Grandma Potts' surprise 60th birthday party. We were late, but were able to help a little before she came and we surprised her (Grandpa had tricked her into cleaning the church). It was a fun night and probably one of the best moments was when Aunt Tiffany walked in and Grandma Potts was just SO surprised! We sent invitations through Facebook, e-mail, texting, and Grandpa even hand-delivered some. She had plenty of people show up and Trisha had made a way cute photo book and Tiffany had done a "60" out of pictures and Heidi put together the slideshow & Cindy did the cake. GG Tew also helped with balloons and activities for the little kids. All-in-all, it was a fantastic night & we LOVED seeing everyone & especially Grandma's surprised face :) Saturday morning, we headed to Gardner Village for the witch hunt. We took lots of fun pictures and saw some fun shops and crazy witches (live and non-living), and danced to some fun Halloween tunes. Afterwards, we all met at Pizza Pie Cafe for some lunch (thanks Grandpa!). It was such a quick trip, but it was time to head south to Fairview to meet the Bensons at their cabin. Over 3 days of fun awaited us there & we had a blast 4-wheeling (even Kezi got to ride the smaller one by herself. And Heidi & Jason got to go on a quick ride with Mindy and Brent in the beautiful fall weather), playing on their paddle boat, having hula hoop competitions, roasting marshmallows by the fire, watching movies, hiking, playing games (UNO Dare anyone? CLAP, CLAP, CLAP I BELIEVE IN FAIRIES!) :), dancing to Brent's mom's accordion, and celebrating both Kezi & Logan's birthdays as well as Brent's actual birthday. We loved our time with them and in nature. Even though it rained off and on, it was still wonderful weather and we enjoyed being up there. on the 23rd, Jason got free tickets to see Darryl Worrley at SUU for the Western Freedom Festival. What a fun concert!! We got to feed the Reed's one October evening and then go to Canyon View to watch Sedona play her last game before regions. They won and it was fun to see her play. The Hillstead's invited us over to their house for movie night & we watched Inside Out. So fun! Kezia turned 6 on the 26th of this month! See her section for more details :) We carved pumpkins on the 28th and had fun with LOTS of seed-roasting! Friday, the 30th, McKinley & Ireland got to dress up in their costumes for school & on top of that, their school earned a block party! They got to have a fire truck & police cars and walk around the school block and dance to Halloween music. Mom and dad and Kezi & Noelle came to cheer them on :) Halloween was on a Saturday this year! We went to the park, went to a piniata-whacking party at the Gregerson's & then mom took the girls trick-or-treating. It was a warm Halloween! No jackets needed! The girls got to eat candy to their heart's content, and then it was lights out for Halloween and all of October :)

JASON: Jason really struggled with allergies the beginning of October & had a take a couple days off. He was just totally out of it & miserable :(We're all glad he's feeling better now. Jason was busy this month taking care of the rental - we got the windows put in and he had to dig out the new window wells and secure them to the house. On Halloween, he got to go to the SUU football game with Allen Hillstead, Carl Petersen, & Greg Riddle. It was hot, but they had fun & got to cheer on our Thunderbirds! Jason also continues to work out at the Greggerson's in the morning & get some sweaty "guy time" in ;)

HEIDI: Heidi feels glad that things have slowed down a bit in the crazy lessons department for now. It is nice to focus on other things. Much of Heidi's time this past month was spent on the computer. First priority was to get Kezia's birthday book done, and with lost time after her hard drive crashed, she didn't get it completed till the day of her birthday. So... we're still waiting for it to get there. But thankful that it's done. She is SO very grateful that it really does seem like most things we have a copy of - even McKinley's birthday books, Mixbook sent links to the pictures & she is working on saving them. The most heartbreaking thing that was lost, though, were the past couple years of pictures after Link's death. Heidi had been saving all the rainbow pictures, events, etc where we remembered our baby boy. And those are gone :( It truly is a miracle how much was saved, through, & she is thankful - and working on making sure it's all backed up on the new 8TB external hard drive and online. She also decided this was the month to rip our movies into digital format. So - she spent many hours and got about 100 of our movies into digital format. It was really nice for our road trip to be able to have ripped movies on the tablets for the girls since our DVD player in the van isn't working. Heidi bad luck with cell phones continues and even though she's had this phone for a year, one drop ended it's life. it cracked and then just would not boot up. For now, she's using Jason's old phone. It isn't ideal, but works. Heidi also is thankful for a heart-to-heart talk she & Jason had at the end of the month, deciding to move forward in faith to try and have another baby. She is nervous, but also feeling blessed & thankful for this opportunity.

-McKinley was so excited when the day finally arrived that she could change out her stud earrings for regular ones. And from her birthday, she had MANY to choose from! She had fun switching out colors and styles, but after a couple weeks, they were bleeding and hurting. We realized she was pushing the back in to tightly and so after we loosened it and put some more neosporin on it, it seems to be doing better and she even wore dangly earrings! So exciting :)
-During her late-over with Lindsey, Mom was helping McKinley make caramel popcorn & she accidentally stirred too fast & some of the caramel came out & got on McKinley's shirt & burned her tummy very badly. there were blisters and it really hurt :( Mom felt terrible & know it was embarrassing for McKinley in front of her friend. Not she has a scar :(
-At the beginning of the month, McKinley had a fever and wasn't feeling good. She came home from school and slept in mom's bed. Then threw up pink pepto bismol all over her white bed covering :( She stayed home for another day before she felt well again :(
-Wednesdays are busy for McKinley. She has Polar ICE after school (gifted program) and then piano. She has felt like the ICE program isn't as interesting or fun as she had hoped, but she is sticking with it. She continues to do well with piano and is currently learning Christmas songs and hymns. We love to hear her play!
-Jenny Davies asked McKinley & her daughter Jenna to sing I Wonder When He Comes Again at Sophia Johnson's baptism. It was a sweet privilege & she did wonderfully.
-McKinley LOVED to ride the 4-wheelers at the Benson cabin. She got to ride the adult size this year & had fun riding with Zach and taking her sisters for a ride. She also had fun staying up late playing games.
-McKinley got to be the lunch lady girl this month! She even gets to come home with a cool hat :)
-McKinley does not seem to have good luck with tablets :( This is her 3rd replaced tablet and the wi-fi just wasn't working even after a reset, so we had to send it into RCA to get fixed. It will be at least a few weeks :(
-McKinley & mom are having fun with their book club. McKinley read the Whatever After books and is currently reading Walk 2 Moons, one of mom's favorites :)
-One Sunday, McKinley decided she wanted to have an in-depth scripture discussion, so she picked a verse and we talked about it for about an hour. Just one verse! (1 Ne 1:4) We learned about Jeruselem, ancient prophets, the 12 tribes of Israel, and prophesies about the last days. It was really neat to learn so much!
-McKinley & Ireland had red ribbon week the last week of October. McKinley had fun doing crazy hair (spray painted), wearing neon, wearing red, wearing camouflage, and wearing her costume (she was a Vampiress this year). :)

-Soccer is now over for Ireland. Ireland's team lost every game (in fact, they only got one goal the entire season), but we are so proud of her for not quitting, for having a good attitude, and for learning so much her first year! Way to go Ireland! Her favorite position was defender and she loved having Isabella on her team!
-She's now on the waiting list to get into SUU Gymnastics.
-We were watching General Conference and one of the sessions showed the organ player. Ireland yelled "LOOK! That guy has FOUR ARMS!!" (To her disappointment, she found out that it was actually 2 people playing the organ at a sideways angle) :)
-Ireland had a lot of fun at the Benson cabin and especially having sleepovers with Sienna and wrestling with the boys.
-Kezia has been wanting to sleep by herself for a while now, so this month we told Ireland she needs to sleep by herself, in her own room. She was NOT excited about the idea, but we told her that if she slept in her bed 10 nights (didn't have to be in a row), she would get to have a special sleepover with mom and dad. The biggest thing that helped her feel comfortable has been that we start with a prayer and then we read scriptures together before we sing her song and leave her for the night. We have all felt the Holy Ghost as we read together and know that He comforts her & has helped her. At the end of the month, she had earned her sleepover & got to hang out with mom and dad that night, eat ice cream, talk and laugh, and sleep. (even though she was a very active, moving sleeper! She says mom and dad squished her)
-Ireland was SO happy that Mahina came back this month! She was calculating how many days till she would get back & how many days she'd been gone.
-Ireland earned a date this month and chose to go see Minions with mommy. It was a fun date and we got to get ice cream at Bulloch Drug afterwards!
-Ireland has had quite a bit of homework lately. Dad has been VERY patient and spent hours working with her, explaining things like fractions (even cutting up four apples!) to make sure she understands the concepts. What a good daddy!
-Ireland had fun being "Spider Girl" for Halloween this year and even let mom put some "webs" around her eyes and a "spider" on her cheek. She also had fun trick-or-treating with Mahina this year!
-Ireland says "Remember that one time when I caught a butterfly at Kezia's soccer game? I held it and ran back to show you. And then I tried to put it in a paper bag, but it flew out."

-Kezia is sad that soccer is over, but she had a great season. Kezia's team won every game (though that last game was close). There were only 4 players on their team and many times they competed against teams much bigger that got to take rests while they had to play the whole time. Kezia learned so much as well and had a lot of fun. We loved to hear her squeals of delight as she would run down the field and kick the ball. She was a great forward and made many points.
-Kezi is still enjoying Kindergarten, though she sometimes says she is bored. Her teacher is good to send home harder books and even sent an extra bag of books for her. She is still loving to read Magic Treehouse books and has read 6 books so far. Her sisters like to brag about her that she can read MTH books when she's only in Kindergarten :)
-Kezi loved hanging out at the Benson cabin & said her favorite part was the hula-hooping. She got pretty good!
-HAPPY 6th BIRTHDAY KEZIA! She couldn't wait for it to come and she loved that it was on a school day! She got to wear her birthday crown (even though she got another one, too) and bring birthday treats and she was the star of the week! She got to bring a picture poster the first day (her birthday) and cupcakes, then she got to bring a show & tell item (her Link bear), a favorite book (Magic Treehouse), an information sheet (she said her eyes are blue and her hair is gold and she wants to be a princess when she grows up). She got to have a party on Friday for red ribbon week and wear her pajamas and have crazy hair (TONS of hair bows and spray paint). For her birthday she chose to have Fruity Pebbles for breakfast, IHOP with daddy for lunch, and Navajo Tacos for dinner. She also got a "rainbow" cake (it wasn't very attractive-looking) for her cake. Her favorite gifts were her sparkly purple fan, her Ty kitty cat, Equestria girl, black boots, bead craft, the "Love you More" pillow from Grandma Devenish and a new shirt. Grandma Potts took her shopping & she got jewelry.
-Kezia was Batgirl for Halloween and looked really super hero-ish! (and cute! Shhh - don't tell her I used that word!)
-Her primary teacher said she did a Word of Wisdom lesson. She said she poured some dirt into water & asked if anyone wanted to try it. Kezia was the only one who did! she didn't actually drink it, but Sister Crandall warned against wanting to "try" things!

Our sweet boy, we miss you SO much. How much we wished (again!) that we could have bought you an adorable outfit for Halloween and taken you trick-or-treating. We love you forever.

-Noelle-my-belle is 18 Months! Can't believe it! She went to nursery for the first "official" time (she's gone when mom has subbed a few times) & her first week was good in the beginning, but rough by the end. 2nd week was much better and she cried here & there but stayed in the whole time. We are so proud of our girl and how she is growing & learning so much!
-she is getting really good at using utensils! She still makes messes and sometimes uses her hands, but overall she's doing great!
-This month, Noelle has started playing with ponies! Now, we've got 3 girls obsessed with ponies in this house.
-Noelle is so cute reading books. At the end, she will say "the end." One that's fun says "wake up!" and there's a part that says "ew" and she says it every time. She can point to & say the name of probably 20 animals/items in her books and she also knows probably 15 animal sounds. She can point to almost all parts of your face and name them, including chin, cheek & teeth. She really is a smarty girl!
-Noelle is adorable when mom goes to wake up her sisters. She sings "Good morning to you" like mommy does and usually gives them hugs and kisses.
-She has started to go up and down the stairs the right way!
-She says "have good day!" "Love you!" "Buh-bye, See ya!"
-She still loves to sing twinkle, twinkle (she always looks up to see the stars when she sings that song) and ABCs.
-Mom went to the DI & found a elephant ball popper. It's become her favorite toy! She laughs and squeals and love to hold the hold the balls, watch them pop, and throw them. It's one of the few things that she will go downstairs to play with all by herself while her sisters are at school.
-Noelle was such a cute little pumpkin for Halloween. She wanted to eat ALL the candy ALL the time.
-Daddy decided to try to wean Noelle off her sleep sack AND her white noise this month. She had a couple rough times, but she's done pretty good!
-Noelle now says all her sisters, and her brother's names. The cutest is when she sings the Good Morning song or calls out "Kinley, where are you?"

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Why the invisible one counts, too

I have five children. FIVE. 

I know you don't see all of them. You can count and count and count again, and you will only get to FOUR children when you see our family around town. But, I promise, I have five children. 

I have quite a few friends who have five children. Sometimes when I get together with them, I get the sense that I'm not 'quite' as experienced as them, considering they have five children, and I only have four. They see that I have four children, and some will remember & acknowledge that I have one in heaven, but it surely can't be as demanding as having FIVE living children. 

Can it? 

This is one of the hardest things to explain to someone who has not lost a child. Just because Link is not here on earth and I don't get to have the daily physical care of him - helping him to get up, get dressed, feeding him, bathing him, teaching him, dealing with tantrums, messes, etc, - does not mean that he requires less mental, physical, and emotional energy than my living children do. I know that may seem a bit of an exaggeration, but I it's true. 

MENTAL: Honestly, Link is on my mind JUST as much as my living children. And you know how, when you become a parent, you are always tuned in to where your children are? Yes, I have that with Link, too. That was one of the most difficult things those first few weeks after he was gone. Your momma mind & heart is always searching for them, needing to know where they are at that moment. While I have grown more accustomed to not knowing exactly where his spirit currently is, my heart and mind still try to keep tabs on him, just as I do my living children. 

Do I worry about him? It's not the same as my living children, but the worrying component is even there. With my living children, I worry about their safety, their health, their spiritual and educational state. Now, the worry is for me. I worry about my spiritual state, etc, and if I am making the kind of choices that will assure that I will get to be with him forever one day. I can promise you that kind of worry can be just as intense as worrying about my living children. Also - especially at the beginning, I irrationally worried about his cold little body buried at the cemetery after it snowed. And, a huge worry for us loss-parents is that people will forget our sweet child. That a year will come when no one remembers it's their birthday but you. 

PHYSICAL: No, I am not waking up with him at night, dragging him out of the store during a tantrum, strapping him into his car seat, etc. I don't have those everyday specific physical drains with Link, but ask any parent who has lost a child and they will tell you that there is a VERY large physical toll that comes with this journey. Grief from not having Link here wears me out more physically than if he were here. I know, it's hard to believe. But, it's true. I've lost more sleep from grief than an entire lifetime of night-wakings I would have gladly taken in its place. Many of us loss moms will tell you, and I'm sure research would agree, that losing a child takes many years off your life. Gray hairs, weight gain or weight loss, wrinkles, etc. There is an enormous physical, DAILY toll that comes with losing a child. 

EMOTIONAL: Raising children is hard emotionally. SO HARD. Some nights you go to bed just wanting someone to hold you and tell you everything will be okay. Especially after a day of orneriness, back-talking, tears, yelling, cutting teeth, sibling rivalry, disobedience, puberty, etc. You name it. It is HARD. But it doesn't even compare with the emotion of grief. Never. Living-children  emotional drainage is difficult, but you know eventually it will get better - there's a new day tomorrow and children go through phases. With grief, you feel like the only thing that will really cure it is getting to hold your child again. And you do not know how many seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, or decades that might be. And so the emotional pain is just there. And the hardest part is, unlike living children, you don't have the milestones, the proud moments, the sweet talk, the hugs and kisses to offset all those negative behaviors and emotions. Just like with living children, some days are easier than others, but the hard days are just harder when you are dealing with grief. 

So - yes, having a child in heaven is very different than having a child here on earth, but the toll it takes on me as a mother is very similar, if not more demanding than a living child. If anything, I would say that Link is probably my most demanding child. Physically, emotionally, mentally. He's also so very beloved. And I feel so blessed to be his mom. 

Thank you for all those to give me "credit" for my five beautiful children. You'll never know how much it means to me. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

September Newsletter & Slideshow

Hamilton Newsletter
September 2015
FAMILY: Back into the school routines & schedules along with soccer practices & games - life has gotten crazy busy! It was a good month, though, and we are grateful for our blessings, opportunities & learning experiences. Kezia started Kindergarten on September 1st! Noelle & mom are still getting used to mornings together. She sure loves when her sisters come back as mom isn't nearly as entertaining :) For Labor Day weekend, we got some home projects done - mudroom coat hooks, bench, a pedestal for the washer/dryer, and laundry basket shelves - and we still had some fun times. We went to the Iron County Fair and the girls each got to ride on 2 rides and then we saw all the cool things people had submitted for awards. On Monday, Labor Day, we finally tackled Kanaraville Falls. What a beautiful hike! The red rock, the water, the slot canyon walls, and the nature-made waterslides made for a wonderful, memorable day! We learned a few important lessons, though: Go as early as possible, don't go on a holiday! (we waited over an hour to get down the waterfall ladder) and wear quality water shoes (the girls had good running shoes, but we tried to wear flip flops, too & it wasn't very effective). Overall, though, it was just a great hike & the girls couldn't stop talking about it :) September 9th was McKinley's 10th birthday! (see her section for more details. In the middle of the month, mom & the girls finally finished reading Anne of Green Gables. It was a fabulous read & the girls loved it! Our next reading selection is Harry Potter - pretty opposite of Anne, but we are looking forward to it! On the 19th, after Ireland's soccer game, we headed down to St. George & the girls played at the Hamiltons while mom & dad went to the temple. Afterwards, we ate pizza & celebrated Jeff, Daken & McKinley's birthdays with cake & ice cream! On the 21st we headed up Cedar Canyon for FHE to look at the fall leaves. It was a beautiful cool, crisp evening & we hated to leave! Jason & Heidi had some fun date nights this month, including a drive on the moped to see the temple progress & to visit Link's grave, out to dinner at Applebee's, and the SUU event where they had free food, candy, and entertainment. There was an awesome 70's band that was a lot of fun :) The girls have also had fun with Activity Days - we learned how to make bread, we went door-to-door collecting money for Pennies By the Inch, we had ice cream sundaes, and we made s'mores at woods ranch. In between all of that, we've had to do lots of coordinating for soccer practices and games for Ireland & Kezia. The girls had a primary program at the end of the month & it was SO good! Kezi was VERY VERY loud! McKinley sang a beautiful solo for I Wonder When He Comes Again, and Ireland sang a song with all the children who had been baptized this year. They also all did so great memorizing & reciting their parts. We got SO many people coming & talking to us about how well our children did. We are so proud of all of them. Overall, September has been very warm! Temps haven't really gotten much below 80, so we're hoping for a cool-down soon! :) One thing the girls are all into right now is watching HEIDI on Netflix. It's not a whole lot like the book that we read earlier this year, but they all really like it. Also - at the end of the month was the blood moon. It was REALLY cool to wach!

JASON:  Jason was so good to do Heidi's honey-do list for labor day. The laundry room is SO much nicer! Also - Jason has been busy doing a sprinkler system for the rental home as well as being at all the girls soccer games. He is learning a lot about the game and is coaching the girls from the sidelines. Jason & McKinley are still going on walks in the mornings, but Jason just started going to the Gregerson's again to get some weight training in, too. Things have also been busy at work with his boss gone on fires pretty much all of the month and needing to work on end-of-fiscal-year projects.

HEIDI: Heidi feels like as a family we were on a leisurely boat ride during the summer and it's gone from that to full-throttle breakneck speed! It's quite interesting trying to coordinate everything :) Heidi has enjoyed her time in the mornings. Usually after she gets back from taking the girls to school, she has some mommy & Noelle time where they read books, do puzzles, color, look at pictures, etc. Then she cleans and does a morning project (organization, memory, family history, decoration, etc) before Kezi gets home. Then it's lunch & errands and time to get older sisters from school. We will be glad when the Vogts get back so we can carpool again :) Heidi read 2 books last month - Jane of Lantern Hill by LM Montgomery (really good!) and I am Number Four (also good - suspenseful). Heidi has started working out with some more friends from the ward - doing a 20 day fix dvd in the Gregerson's garage. The middle of the month, Heidi had her hair done - she was going for darker, but it was MUCH darker than she imagined. It was fun to see everyone's reactions! Very different! She did end up lightening it up a bit, but it's still much darker than before & it's kind of fun :) Heidi has finally gotten pictures printed & things up for around the TV in the living room - and she also got some of Link's pictures & memorabilia up, which she loves having out. Ireland accidentally dropped mom's 2TB external hard drive when she was taking out the laptop :( Thankfully, we were able to get some of the data off, but much of it - like movies - and a couple of McKinley's birthday book files are still missing. We got a huge 8TB external hard drive to help, but we're going to have to be better about double-backing up! It was heartbreaking when she realized some of the data was gone forever!

-HAPPY 10th BIRTHDAY McKINLEY! McKinley woke up to the family singing, got to go to the little Brick House for lunch (she LOVED her Thunderbird sandwhich), she got her EARS PIERCED (!! - she got them done at Walmart & chose cute small blue - her birthstone - butterflies. She was very brave!) and Grandma & Grandpa Devenish came & surprised her on her birthday! From mom & dad she got to go see Beauty & the Beast at Tuacahn with mom the night before her birthday, getting her ears pierced, candy, UNO Dare game, and handmade earrings from PEI. Grandma Potts gave her crafty flowers and Grandma Devenish gave her a cute shirt, skirt & jewelry. She was definitely spoiled! The only big bummer of the day was that by about 4pm, she started getting a fever and wasn't feeling well. She really got hot by the end of the day & had to go to bed early :(
-One day McKinley surprised mom by cutting up ALL of the veggies from the garden (a HUGE glass bowl of cucumber) :) and making a garden salad and a fruit salad as well! It was all SO yummy - especially the garden salad. Great job McKinley!
-Dad went to McKinley's "parent training night" at North Elementary & got to get to know Mr. Sahagun and learn more about how his class works.
-One sad thing for McKinley this month - by order of President Obama they changed the name of the mountain from Mt. McKinley back to Denali :( McKinley was pretty sad when she found out - especially because Grandma & Grandpa Potts & GG Tew went to Alaska & while Grandma did find things that still said McKinley, it's sad to know the name has changed.
-McKinley read Ella Enchanted this month & really liked it (was a recommendation from mom) :)
-McKinley has a crush on a boy named Orlando :) She told her friends not to tell, but somehow he found out ;) She has been dressing up with him in mind :)
-For the primary program, McKinley did fabulous! Mom & dad got so many people saying that not only was her solo beautiful, but her entire animated expressions throughout the program were fantastic & her love for the music was so obvious. One sister said she had to force herself to watch her own children because McKinley was so animated and fun to watch :)
-McKinley's parent-teacher conference with Mr. Sahagun was fantastic! She was scored as reading on a middle-of-sixth-grade reading level and she got 100% on her first math test assessment. Mr. Sahagun said he plans on just getting out of her way & letting her fly with math and learn all she can! GREAT JOB McKinley! We are so proud of you!
-The evening of McKinley's Parent-teacher conference, we got a letter in the mail stating that McKinley was chosen by her teacher to be in a small group of students that they are putting in a gifted after-school program on Wednesday. Talk about proud parents!

-One day mom was trying to help Ireland find some shoes. Mom suggested some shoes in her closet, to which Ireland replied "Mom! Those shoes are EXCEEDINGLY hot on my feet!"
-One day Ireland decided to do a mini spa for mom. She got out warm water & messaged & lotioned her feet and cut up cucumbers for her eyes :)
-Right before McKinley's birthday, Ireland said "Yeah - we're coming with you to get your ears pierced! I want to see those grubs in your ears!" Apparently Ireland heard GRUB when we were explaining about STUDS. Funny visualization though! ;)
-Ireland and Kezia ate lunch with dad while McKinley had lunch with mom. When we were walking through the halls of dad's work, Ireland exclaimed "Daddy, if you had enough money, you could live here all the time!"
-One day Ireland was having a difficult time concentrating on her homework. Mom came over & Ireland said she just wanted someone to talk to. Mom asked why she didn't just talk to herself? Ireland replied "Because that's more boring! I already know what I'm going to say!"
-Mommy was SO proud of Ireland at her parent teacher conference. Her teacher raved about what a focused, hard-worker she is and how she is really learning with math and how her handwriting and reading are phenomenal. She said her reading is at a mid-4th grade level. Great job miss Irleand! We love you & are proud of you!
-Ireland has been very busy at soccer this month between practices and games. Their team hasn't won any games yet, but they did make a goal and it's been great to watch the progress of the whole team and Ireland, too. She has worked really hard - in heat and frustration - and hasn't given up. Great job Ireland!

-Yay for Kezia starting Kindergarten! Well, mom isn't so happy, but Kezia sure is! She had to wait 2 whole weeks after her sisters started, so she was WAY ready! On the first day mom and dad brought her into her classroom. Unfortunately, the school had our old address, so the bus tried to drop her off at our old house. Thankfully they called & we got her all straightened out, but it was a bit traumatic for her first day! She really likes Mrs. Ekker and has started to make new friends, including Ruby & Macy. She gets to sit by Courtney on the bus on the way home and she gets to play with her ward friends at Recess and sometimes at PE. She is having fun, though they've had to work at finding books hard enough for her. She's currently reading Magic Treehouse books (finished #13 in a week!). So - her teacher has sent home some harder, chapter book s and she is enjoying reading them and checking the off. She also LOVES to get her homework done as soon as possible and turn it in right away so she can get a sticker on her folder.
-One day Kezia came off the bus with a large red scrape on her head. Mom asked what happened & she said she was racing a neighbor boy to the bus stop and tripped & fell. She scraped her head and both her knees were bleeding :( Mommy felt so bad that she was there by herself without anyone to give her a bandaid & kiss it better!
-One day Kezia was walking around singing "All I want for Christmas is my 2 front teeth GONE!" She really can't wait till those teeth fall out! She also has been counting down the days until September ends (someone is excited for their birthday!)
-Kezia has really excelled in soccer! Even though their team is frequently outnumbered, they have never lost a game! All of her teammates (Laura, Macey, and Maylee) and really good and they work well together. Kezi is a fast runner, a good kicker, and a fantastic thrower-in girl :) (that's probably not the correct term) :)
-For the primary program, mom and dad sat in the back and still could hear Kezia VERY loudly. We got many comments on how entertaining she was :)

We felt you close this month, our sweet boy and appreciate SO much your love notes. There was one day in particular that your pictures came up on our Chromecast more, the girls talked about you more (and even made crafts with your pictures), and even Noelle was saying your name. That evening during FHE, there was a gorgeous, brilliant rainbow outside. We all came into the backyard and oohed and ahhed over it's beauty and enjoyed the closeness we felt to you. Also - in the next few days, we got numerous texts about rainbows where friends and family lived that made them and us think of you!! We LOVED it! Mom also was able to get more pictures & things up on the walls & nooks of you & LOVES how it makes you feel closer to us.  Thank you for always watching over us, protecting us, and just loving us. We love & miss you eternally!

-At 17 months, this girl already thinks she is a BIG girl! She wants to drink out of big girl cups, wear big girl shoes, and be with her sisters & their friends whenever they are over!
-At night when we have a hip-hip-horray for someone in the family, Noelle chimes in at the end, raising her arms in the air, saying "HOORAY!" so adorable.
-Noelle knows the names of 3 or 4 animals now. She can say MOO! (again, cuteness overload), quack, neigh (and she tries to blow on her lips at the end), ruff, and meow.
-We were at North Elementary during Ireland's soccer practice & Kezi & Noelle were playing on the playground. Kezia would take her up & even though she was a bit timid at first, she went down the BIG slide again & again & again and laughed the whole way down. She LOVED it!
-Mom was walking into the store one day & Noelle said "LOVE YOU!" Melt-your-heart cuteness. She has said it probably 8 times since then.
-At one point in her life, Noelle HATED shoes & would take them off whenever she could. She's now reached the other end of the spectrum and is CONSTANTLY bringing mom or dad or sisters shoes or socks of varying sizes & colors. She loves shoes!
-DOORS! For a little while this month, Noelle would go into a room and shut the door and close herself in and she would cry & cry until someone opened the door. And THEN one day she figured out how to open it (EEK!). She still isn't good at opening the regular knobs, but she's got the lever knobs down pat!
-Noelle loves to watch cars pass our house and she says "Vrroom vrooom cars!" and shows the sign for cars. She also says and the does the sign for bike.
-Noelle LOVES being outside! During her "witching hour" - around 4-5:30 or so, one of the only things that will make her happy is to go outside. Good thing her sisters are usually very willing to go with her & push her in the swing or just walk around with her :)
-She says "THANK YOU!" - so sweet. She will say it when you give her something, but she also says it when she brings you something (like shoes) and wants you to help her.
-Lately Noelle has been getting on the table a lot!
-Whenever mom or dad says something like "McKinley... STOP!" (as in stop it), Noelle chimes in and says "STOP... AND GO!!" :)
-She is so cute at naptime or bedtime. She will lay down & say over & over again "ni-ni time." She's also started singing her goodnight song as we walk to her room to put her to bed! So sweet <3 all="" also="" br="" by="" her="" herself.="" likes="" noise="" on="" she="" to="" turn="" white=""> -Noelle has shown more of an interest in dolls & pretend play this month. She will get a doll, lay it down and say "Ni ni baby!"
-Noelle had one of the pretend cameras & was walking around pointing it at everyone, saying CHEESE!
-Noelle enjoys being with mom, but REALLY loves it when her sisters come home! Many times we will sit on the front porch, or just inside the storm door, watching & waiting for Kezia's bus to come home. When it does, Noelle SQUEALS with delight and just giggles until Kezia runs up and grabs her. It's so so sweet. She also loves being around all the activity day girls and just any new friend that comes over. She loves the attention :)
-She loves to go in and out of the door in her changing table - in and out. In and out. She also likes to hide in her closet :)
-For some reason in the past week, Noelle has decided to get up earlier & earlier in the morning. She used to wake up at 7:30. Then it was 7. Then 6:30. Then 6! Someone tell this girl to start sleeping in again!
-Noelle randomly starts singing the alphabet! Most of the letters are hard to decipher, but she's got the tune pretty good and she always gets the letter I in there :)
-She likes to say "pretty" when mom fixes her hair or she has a skirt on or cute shoes :)

Friday, September 4, 2015

August Newsletter & Slideshow

Hamilton Newsletter
August 2015
FAMILY: How is it possible that August has already come & gone? August started in Salt Lake City for Joshua's baptism. It was a wonderful day and we loved seeing family. Congratulations Joshua! That evening, we met some other SIDS families at Sugarhouse Park. It was wonderful to visit and share about our sweet babies. Afterwards, we stopped to feed the geese at the park. There were quite a few! On August 2nd, we went to the Potts' ward and had dinner at GG Tew's that evening. Aunt Cindy was so sweet and made a Beauty & the Beast cake for McKinley since she wouldn't be there for her birthday in September. On Monday, the 3rd, we went to 7 Peaks water Park! Unfortunately, mom did not take one picture! :( But it was very fun & we got to meet the Bensons there, too. Monday night we went to see Tiarra in Shrek the Musical. She did a great job & it was a fun play :) On Tuesday the 4th, we went to the Daybreak park again - the one with the ziplines & stream - with the Edwards & Simons. The girls had fun playing at the park & with their cousins. Then we went to do sealings with the Potts & Simons at the Jordan River Temple. It was wonderful & we were able to do family names!  From August 6-14th, Heidi & Jason went to Prince Edward Island to celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary. They had such a an amazing, rejuvenating, fun, peaceful time! Some favorite memories: a gorgeous rainbow from Link on our first night - welcoming us to the island, Enjoying the quaint dairy shed turned guest house that they stayed in at French River & getting to know the Owners - Rhoda Moss & her daughters, learning about the history of Yankee Hill (the hill they stayed on - and visiting the Yankee Hill Cemetery) as well as the history of the owners' home which is said to be the place that L.M. Montgomery based her last book "Jane of Lantern Hill," spending lots of time down at "our" beach - Jason walking the shoreline finding crabs, jellyfish, hermit crabs, shrimp, and searching for clams, Heidi swimming in the ocean, having dessert with some "Maude ladies" as Rhoda would say - experts on L.M. Montgomery, going sea kayaking over by Cavendish, visiting about 6 different lighthouses, reading "Anne of Avonlea" to Jason in the car - being able to truly visualize what she was writing about, driving by all the beautiful farmlands, old churches & cemeteries and relishing the vibrant colors, the FOOD! (I don't think we ate at one bad place. They were all authentic & YUMMY!), driving to the South side & seeing confederation bridge & going to Chelton Beach, Jason's lobster, lobster bisque & lobster pizza, going to all the Anne attractions: Anne of GG Museum (Silver Bush), the Lake of Shining Waters, L.M.M Birthplace & Cavendish Home, & of course Green Gables, including walking on the Lovers Lane and Haunted Woods trails, attending church service on Sunday & meeting some nice people, drinking LOADS of raspberry cordial, going to the Blue Moon Tea Room which was owned by a Japanese couple (Terry & Mark ) who were friends of the owners, COWS ice cream!, sleeping in & hot chocolate every morning, driving down a secluded lane by French River and seeing a home with miniature castles & buildings, night-time phone calls with the girls (they had a shared line, so that was interesting!), Biking for 4 hours on the Confederation trail and through small French towns to have a picnic by the ocean, driving through the national park and having an adorable fox walk right up to us! (we fed him beef jerky, but don't tell anyone!), sleeping with the sea breeze blowing through the windows at night, acres of wildflowers everywhere, walking through some of the Garden of Hope, spending a rainy day in Charlottetown going sight-seeing with wet shoes & learning about Canadian History, and seeing Anne & Gilbert the Musical (really fun & good!), driving by a potato factory and smelling potato chips for miles on our way to Kensington, running from mosquitoes, and trying to figure out all the signs (or lack of). Usually a sign to go a certain place would be a mile before the turnoff & so it was a bit confusing, but all part of the adventure! Getting home was also an adventure as we missed the cutoff for check-in by 15 minutes & were told we wouldn't be able to get home till the next day at midnight. thankfully, guardian angels helped us along the way & we got back at midnight that day instead. It was a WONDERFUL trip! We loved their welcome home signs, candy bar poster & welcome back balloon & we are SO thankful to the Potts and the Edwards for watching the girls while we went. We got back & hit the ground running! School started for Ireland & McKinley on August 20th. The day before mom decided to take the day off from her to-do lists & let the girls run the show. McKinley decided to have a fancy tea party with friends & their new Anne dolls, Kezia wanted to go to the dollar store, and Ireland decided to have a picnic at the park with daddy. It was such a perfect day & evening, we didn't want it to end, but alas! School was upon us. Soccer, too! Ireland & Kezia are both in soccer & that has been a learning curve, but fun! For activity days at the end of the month, we had a pool party at the Gregerson's. So much fun! Couple other things this month: Our garden is doing well! Lots of cherry tomatoes & regular tomatoes & cucumbers! Also - we are SO excited about the temple! They broke ground while we were gone & we've been able to see so much progress!  one really neat thing: The girls each got to write their favorite scriptures on small rocks. Those rocks will then be crushed & made into the foundation of the temple. So neat for them to be able to say that their favorite scriptures form the foundation of the temple! And a lot of our time has also been spent trying to find a new renter for the upstairs apartment in our rental. It was SO busy because there is a housing shortage and there are SO many students this year, so my phone & grandma's phone was ringing constantly with people wanting to see the apartment. It was kind of crazy. We ended up going with a single 27-year-old engineer from Minnesota who is here on a temporary project. She seems great & we hope it will all work out.

JASON:  Jason said his favorite parts of the PEI trip were just the beautiful scenery, walking in the ocean, looking for sea creatures, and going to the cheese store. One funny memory from the trip was when Heidi sprayed Jason with "bug spray" which wasn't actually bug REPELLANT spray, but like a fog spray to kill bugs. Oops! Jason has been really good with waking up at 6:30 every other day to go walking/running with McKinley! Jason has enjoying cheering/coaching on his girls in soccer & is learning more about the game from Larry Daniel. Jason finally had time this month to fix the moped! It's running great now - GREAT JOB!

HEIDI: Going to PEI was truly a dream come true for Heidi. It was such a wonderful get-away, but then to add such beauty, fun, history, and Anne things, it couldn't have been more fabulous. In fact, since they've been back she keeps having dreams of being there again. She hopes one day they will be able to go back - and maybe even be able to take the girls. It's hard to choose a favorite part of the trip, but the day they went to Green Gables was really amazing. And she loved eating at the Preserves Company. Just being able to throw out her to-do list and just soak it all in was incredible. Because her to-do list this past month has been pretty hefty! Between getting ready for the girls to go back to school, doing things for the rental, fulfilling 3 church callings, keeping up with memory things (newsletter & McKinley's birthday book), all the packing & unpacking and all the regular day-to-day things, she has been busy! Heidi read most of Anne of Avonlea when she was in PEI, which was so much fun. She hopes to read "Jane of Lantern Hill" very soon! She's also been working out with her friends Carmen Hillstead (strength training) and Jamie Petersen (running), so that has been really good & helpful to wake up consistently at 5:20am. The evening after we got back from PEI, Grandpa & Grandpa took Heidi to the Shania Twain concert! It was so much fun and she was so glad to go since this was Shania's last tour. Thanks mom & dad!      
-McKinley was so brave at 7 Peaks and went down the steepest water slide they had! She is quite the dare devil!
-McKinley had fun staying at Grandma's & Aunt Cindy's. She especially loved getting to learn & play Magic the Gathering with Uncle Mike & Michael.
-GG gave McKinley a plastic owl FULL of pennies because McKinley is named after her! And some pennies were even really old!
-McKinley is SO excited to be in Mr. Sahagun's class! She says he is super-funny and keeps saying "I'm sorry, McKinley, I keep forgetting your name!" She is in a 4th/5th class and gets to be in there with her friend Maddy (who is in 5th), so she is really loving it. Mr. Sahagun has certain jobs to do - like feeding the fish, helping with books, etc, & McKinley is super excited to help out!
-McKinley is doing SO well with piano! She is almost through her book and is ready to move on to learning basic primary songs. So exciting! Her teacher says she is learning fast! And mom never has to remind McKinley to practice. She is so good and usually practices longer than she's supposed to :) Way to go McKinley!
-McKinley gave a wonderful talk in primary on Miracles. She talked about Jesus' miracles, healing miracles in our family history (Warren Stone Snow), and our own miracle of getting to take Link home at Christmastime. It was a very wonderful, sweet talk!
-One Sunday McKinley decided she wanted to bake! We had some old bananas & she followed a recipe to make banana bread! Dad says the bread was soooo good! Great job McKinley!
-Mom substituted in Primary one Sunday and they were working on Primary Program Songs. Sister Pearson asked McKinley to come lead the signs for "I know that my Savior loves me" and she did a great job!
-McKinley had someone come talk to her class about not doing drugs, smoking, etc., so McKinley did a FHE on that, complete with handouts for everyone and good activities. We all learned a lot & signed a paper saying we will stay away from those things!

-Ireland had a blast at 7 peaks & she loves that she & Sienna have matching swim suits!
-Ireland is pretty sensitive when mom & dad leave. She cried a lot the night we said goodbye & she cried the first few nights we were gone. She
was so sweet & happy when mom & dad got back!
-Ireland has enjoyed the new teacher Mrs. Strother so far. Can't believe she's in 3rd grade now! She just can't wait until Mahina comes back to play with her at recess!
-Ireland has enjoyed soccer so far! They've lost their first couple games, but as a team they are really learning and growing. Ireland is learning how to be aggressive & stay with the ball. She's also learning endurance & staying energized even in the heat! Their team is TEAM AWESOMENESS! :) Her friend Isabella Daniel and McKinley's friend Lindsay are on her team.
-Ireland does NOT like oatmeal. And when mom makes oatmeal in the morning ,Ireland takes it as a personal insult and is grouchy all morning :(
-Mahina told her that one time the "hair fairy" visited her one night & brought her a treat. Poor Ireland has been ripping out her hair and putting under her pillow, but to no avail. Apparently the "hair fairy" does not exist at our home.
-Ireland's coach wants to have practice on Mondays evenings. This is the first conflict with FHE that we've had in our family. After some discussion & prayer we decided that Monday family night needed to be the highest priority, so we did tell her coach she wouldn't be there on Monday nights. It hasn't been easy, but we believe the Lord will bless us for this decision and Ireland will be a better player because of it.

-Kezia loved being at grandma's & sure wish we still lived there :) She did miss mom & dad, though, & made a plethora of notes and crafts for us to enjoy when we got home :)
-Kezi was really sad when her sisters went to school about 2 weeks before she gets to start Kindergarten. She didn't even want them to talk about school in front of her because she didn't think it was fair she had to wait. She got to spend lots more "Mommy & Kezia" time, though, and we had fun making a popcicle basket, waffle brownies, printing memories, etc.
-Kezia started soccer this month & mom was worried about her not being very aggressive because her personality is sensitive, not aggressive, but she has done really well for her first time! Her first game, she scored one goal & her second game she scored 2 goals. It's fun that Laura Spencer is on her team and a girl that's going to be in her Kindergarten class - Macy. GO TEAM PURPLE PRINCESS BUTTERFLIES!
-Kezi earned a date this month & got to go to Arctic Circle for a shake & then to the movie, Minions with daddy. They had the whole theater to themselves!
-Kezia had a talk in Primary this month on miracles. She did a great job and lots of people commented on what a fantastic reader she is!

Our beautiful, noble son. We miss you so!! Mom had a really rough day or so this month - heavy with missing you. Heavy with wondering all that you would be doing right now if you were on the earth. McKinley gave a primary talk about you & the miracle it was to be able to bring you home at Christmastime and surprise everyone. That time will forever stand out in our family as one of the most special, amazing gifts we were ever given. Mom had a dream about you this month! It's been soooo long & it was so sweet to see your little face. We know you are so busy on the other side, and are so thankful when you send us love notes like the rainbow on the first day we were in Prince Edward Island. Mom has tried to get back into your Link'in families together page this month & back into family history more. WE LOVE YOU! We MISS YOU!

-Such a busy girl and SO fun! Her attitude and understanding just seems to have blossomed recently. We LOVE our Noelle-my-belle!
-Grandma & Aunt Cindy said Noelle was really good for them for the most part while we were gone (whew!)
-Noelle has a mouth full of teeth now! 10 teeth to be exact! She's quite the little eater when she likes something. Her favorites are german pancakes (she will eat almost as much as her sisters!), spaghetti w/ spaghetti sauce, popcicles and ice cream. Oh - and she LOVES suckers! If she sees anyone with a sucker you'd better watch out! She will try & take it from you!
-Noelle says LOTS of words - probably at least 30. And she's started to say her sister's names. Like Ireland she says "Iiiiii!" :)
-Noelle still loves books, but she really loves to go at her own pace. You can't just sit & "read" a book to her. she will skip ahead 5 pages & then come back 2 & so on. She doesn't like chronology.
-She has liked shoes more lately & will often bring us shoes to put on her feet. She's still mostly gone barefoot all summer, though :)
-We discovered CHU CHU TV on Youtube this month. It's a cute channel with lots of songs & nursery rhymes. Noelle loves it - especially the head, shoulders, knees & toes song. Nice to have something she loves besides Signing Time!
-Noelle says Hi! Sometimes she whispers it again & again. Sometimes she does this really loud, high-pitched HI! So cute :)
-Noelle can point to eyes, nose, ears and mouth!
-Mom was just thinking how Noelle hadn't been playing in the bathroom that much lately (so glad we're past THAT phase!) then one night mom was hearing sounds in the bathroom & went to investigate. Noelle had her doggie that she sleeps with and she was dunking it into the toilet again & again. What a mess! Mom took the dog away to wash it & daddy cleaned her up. She cried quite a bit - both because she's starting to realize when she's done something wrong and because mom took away her doggie.
-Noelle is so cute when she dances. She nods her head & squats her legs and jams!
-Noelle really loves going to her sisters' soccer games. She loves walking around - talking to people, trying to take their food & drinks, and kicking stray balls around :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

July Newsletter & Slideshow

Better late than never, right? (it's been a busy summer) :)

Hamilton Newsletter
July 2015
FAMILY: July was another wonderful, busy summer month! In addition to our regular 4th of July activities in Richfield (parade, park fun, BBQ, fireworks), it was also Jason's Richfield High School 20th Reunion, so Jason & Heidi had dinner at the Senior Center the night of the 3rd, and Jason got to ride the float in the parade! Yay! That next week, the Edwards came for a visit. We had fun going to the Aquatic Center, the St. George Children's Museum, the splash park, and the Renaissance Fair. We also had a picnic at Link's bench :) Ireland's baptism was Saturday, July 11th. It was a wonderful, special day and we are so proud of her! Many people came to support her, including Great-Grandma Tew, Grandma & Grandpa Potts, Aunt Cindy, Michael & Joshua, the Simons, Grandma & Grandpa Devenish, Sedona, Hayden & Canyon, the Hamiltons, the Bensons, the Ballous, the Davies, and the Schoppmans. After her baptism, we had a sandwich luncheon at our home and then we went to Hillcrest Park for some water fun! We rented an 18 foot water slide & we had probably 20 kids there playing on it for a few hours! It was a bit chilly, but everyone still had a great time :) We also did a piñata and had cake, ice cream & otter pops. A great time was had by all :) One evening it was late getting to bed & Ireland suggested we go look at the stars. So - we hopped into the back of the truck, laid down and watched the stars. We saw satellites and shootings stars and the beautiful moon. It was a wonderful summer moment - not as good as camping, but close.  On the 13th, McKinley, Ireland & Kezia got to play on the SAME SLIDE for a primary party at Sister Beachams! :) On the 18th, we finished cleaning out the garage & finally got to park the van in there! Hooray! Also that day, the girls got to go over to Kyla Johnson's to watch a movie in their movie theater while mom & dad went on a date! On the 24th, we joined the ward in a nice breakfast at the church and then the girls got to be in the parade & wear red, white & blue. McKinley was determined to live like pioneers that day and so we went the entire day without electricity! When it got hot, we went to the East Canyon Park to cool off in the stream and Heidi cooked the corn dogs in a dutch oven over the fire that night. It was Jason's Aunt Dee Loris' 80th birthday party in Vernal that weekend. We were all planning to go, but Noelle had had a fever and was cutting molars, so she really was not in a state to travel for 5+ hours, so Heidi, Ireland & Noelle stayed in Cedar - we went to the Park & McDonald's & watched Epic - while Jason, McKinley & Kezia stayed at Sandy's in Spanish Fork & then drove to Vernal for the party, back to Spanish Fork and then came home, stopping by a hot spring in Meadow on the way home. We were all glad to be back together again :) July was a rough month for McKinley & Ireland to get along. There were a lot of make-up bench moments and a lot of having to separate them in different rooms. Bummer. One day our neighbors & friends, the Prices, brought over a laundry basket of clothes they had outgrown. The girls LOVED them and decided to have a full-on fashion show with them, complete with a catwalk, music, multiple wardrobe changes, and a dance party at the end. So fun! We also did a lot of our themed days this month for "make-it Monday", etc & have done some fun crafts (flip-flops with beads, string stars & letters, laminated people magnets, and oodles of perler bead creativity with the Edwards) & made yummy things! For Activity Days this month, we went to the Shakespeare Green Show (fun!), hiked the "C" Trail (hard!) & did a lemonade stand. Originally, we were going to raise money for a cause, but we didn't get stake approval in time, so we just offered lemonade & baked goods for free. Amazingly, not very many people stopped for free lemonade! We still had a great time, though, brightening people's days with our signs & smiles! A lot of July was also spent on the rental that we purchased with the Potts - getting everything arranged & meeting with the current renters. There is a housing shortage at SUU this year, so we've had over 40 calls/emails about the upstairs apartment & have had to do lots of arranging & negotiating. We're hoping to have new renters in it by September 1st. We have also been SO EXCITED to drive by the site for the temple!! It's getting all ready for ground-breaking and we could NOT be happier!
JASON: Jason had a great time seeing many old classmates & visiting with them. We visited with Kevin & his brother & watched a slideshow. The one bummer, though, was that Jason had helped Dave & Jeff build a pavilion at the cabin property and Jason neglected to put on sunscreen. So - his face and especially the backs of his calves were VERY red and painful :( 

HEIDI: Heidi had fun with Cindy & her boys when they came to visit. It's always fun to have them here for a bit in the summer. Jason was also sweet enough to watch the kids while Cindy & Heidi went to see Taming of the Shrew at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. It was SO funny, fun and educational. We had a great time! Unfortunately, her back has been bothering her lately. She threw it out at the beginning of the month and then on the 18th when they were cleaning out the garage, it really tweaked & Heidi was walking like an old woman for at least a couple weeks :( Heidi is grateful that Heavenly Father answers prayers. One morning she was running alone & prayed for a friend to workout with. Within 2 weeks, she's found 2 friends to work out with! She & Carmen do strength exercises on Tuesdays & Thursdays and her new friend, Jamie that just moved in, go running on Mondays & Fridays. It's been such a blessing! Especially with her back hurting, having friends and accountability has made a huge difference. Thank you Heavenly Father!

-At the beginning of July, Heidi & Jason had a few evenings where they met with McKinley in her room after her sisters went to bed & had some "talks." :) It went well & she enjoyed spending "grown up" time with mom and dad & learning new things. :)
-As part of the "growing up" talk, we bought McKinley deodorant. She's excited to use it - but she keeps calling it "detergent" :)
-Another side-effect of her growing up is her desire to fix her own hair. We found some really good tutorial videos on youtube & she has been doing more things with her hair - braids, headbands, bobby pins, etc. It's been fun to see her learn.
-McKinley went to "Girls Go Digital" camp at SUU for 2 days at the very beginning of the month and she LOVED it!! Seriously, we've never heard her so excited about anything! She just couldn't stop talking about all the awesome things she learned & did, including making her own doggie robot, coding, learning about pixels, make an LED bracelet and so much more. She can't wait to go back!
-McKinley was so sweet & wanted to make a skirt on her sewing machine for Ireland for her baptism. So when Aunt Cindy came, they made a cute skirt together. Unfortunately, McKinley's sewing machine needs some repairs, but it still turned out cute & was so thoughtful. Great job McKinley!
-Though we were out of town and so was her teacher for a couple weeks, McKinley still has done really well with her piano lessons! She is learning so much and so fast! We are so proud of her :)
-McKinley got 4 chapter books at the library this month. Mom didn't really think she would finish them all, but she really plowed through them & was done within the month!
-McKinley has been spending more time with mom & dad in the mornings. On Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays, she wakes up at 7 and walks with daddy for 30 minutes. On Tuesdays & Thursdays, she does our "Mother-Daughter devotional book." It's been neat to have that special time with her.
-McKinley's latest thing is learning about dogs. She REALLY wants a puppy once Sydney dies and she's been reading and taking notes in her dog book about the different breeds.
-One day McKinley asked mom "So... is it Van Gough that lives in our ward?" So so cute... :) She knew we have a famous LDS painter in our ward (Del Parson) - she just couldn't remember his name :)
-McKinley sure loves her texting app on her tablet. She especially loves to send texts to her aunts and grandmas.
-McKinley made elastic weaved bracelets for every member of our family, using our favorite colors! Even Noelle! Thank you McKinley!!
-Another idea of McKinley's was if she had her "dream house," listing all the rooms she would have in it. Things like an "obstacle course room" and an "optical illusion room." 38 rooms in all! We can't wait to see it when she grows up :)
-McKinley has really been good with her chores this summer! She even has extra chore than her sisters like "Wash my face" and "write in my journal" - she has done so good. Great job McKinley!

-What a fun month for Ireland! She's been looking forward to turning 8 and her baptism for ever so long & the long-awaited day finally came! On Ireland's birthday, Jason asked her if she felt old. She replied "No! I feel awesome!"
-Ireland came around with mom to deliver her invitations for her water slide birthday party. Mom is so sad she didn't take a picture of everyone who came, but there were probably 20 kids there at one time - going down the water slide, hitting the piniata, and eating cake & ice cream. It was SO much fun & we hope Ireland will never forget her birthday! Her big gift from mom & dad was a tablet just like McKinley's except purple. She also got new scriptures from mom & dad & she has been so excited to read them. Grandma Potts got her her flower CTR ring (which has already fallen off a couple times - we need a smaller size for her tiny fingers!), Grandma Devenish got her her beautiful baptism dress, Aunt Cindy slaved over her beautiful Barbie Cake, mom spent MANY hours on her baptism slideshow, and she had many other wonderful gifts of necklaces and books. She was very loved & spoiled!
-Ireland is still playing "musical beds" :) She was sleeping with Kezia in her bed upstairs for quite a while, but now decided to sleep in her own room as long as Kezia sleeps with her.
-One night as mom was leaning down to kiss Ireland goodnight, she could see she was crying. Mom asked her what was wrong & she said "
"It's just that I miss my brother. I want to know when he's coming back to us."
-One day mom was in the garden and spotted a nasty tomato caterpillar. One of those huge things. She told the girls to get rid of it, but sure enough, they brought it inside & found a jar for it. When mom asked why they just didn't kill it already, Ireland said "You may not like the tomato caterpillars, mom, but we think they're inspirational!"
-One of Ireland's favorite sayings lately: "What the hey?"
-A proud mom moment came when Ireland was done with gymnastics and she held the door open for her fellow gymnasts coming out. Great job Ireland!!
-Speaking of gymnastics, Ireland is doing so well!! Her current record for walking on her hands is 8 times! She can do a backbend kick-over and a front bend, come up! and she's getting so good on the bar. She can get up there all by herself and is working on the hip circle. So proud of our gymnast!
-Ireland spent a good deal of time with her sisters & Mahina making a fairly heavy duty fairy house out of leftover 2x4s. She had McKinley hot glue gun it together & she had tiny plates with tiny cut-up carrots, seeds, and everything. Beds, cups, etc.

-One day when mom was driving her to a friends, Kezia said completely randomly "Mom -
Grandma will be ready for heaven when it's her time. She is so nice to us!" Mom agreed & shared it with Grandma Potts, but told her to not be getting any ideas!!!
-One morning for breakfast, Kezia randomly went into the backyard. Mom wondered what was going on, but saw what was happening when she came back with a handful of raspberries and placed them in her cereal just so - to match the picture on the front of the cereal box.
-The girls get an extra chore if mom has to take care of their plates or bowls from the table. One day, McKinley & Ireland left theirs on the table, so Kezia scooped them up & took them to the sink before mom could take care of them just to be nice to her sisters :)
-We were doing a Superhero puzzle & after we had put it together, Kezia noticed Spiderman & said "he's doing the I LOVE YOU sign!"
-Poor Kezia has had a hard time lately with summer. She's used to mommy & Kezia time, but with everyone home it's been really hard to find that time during the day. Hopefully once school starts & routines get back into order, it will be easier! She especially wants to do crafts from the books she picked out at the library :)
-Our new neighbor, Jamie Petersen, teaches a music class for kids that are Kezia's age. She went to a preview class & had a lot of fun. It was really cute.
-Kezia was so cute one day. She put together a family "party", complete with invitations, money, treats, 2 treasure hunts, and a game! So fun! We love how she loves to do fun things like this :)
-Kezia was so cute & made mom a headband out of a ribbon, see-through stones, feathers, & pom poms. I am one lucky mom to get so many amazing crafts from kezia! She is so creative!

Our sweet baby boy. We love you SO much and are SO thankful when we take the time to SEE the love notes you give us. One morning mommy woke up really early - like 5:20am - to go exercise. She wasn't very excited about it. It was really dark when she started. But she decided to walk down to where the temple was getting built & by the time she got there, the sky had lightened & there was the most beautiful, pink clouds. It was perfect! She walked away from that spot - feeling SO blessed about the temple and your love note - only to find that you had send another one! This time it was a small, but definite RAINBOW! In the West (which hardly ever happens) - and at 6:30am!! After mommy saw that, she just couldn't stop the tears from flowing & she thanked you out loud for that specific blessing to be able to see your rainbow. How glad she was that she woke up that morning! Not only those love notes, but she has been noticing hearts in random places - rocks, clouds, splatters in the outside fridge, and even when she cut open a watermelon - hearts on all 4 sides! THANK YOU for sending so much love to us this month! We miss you so much every single day - and we LOVE YOU to no end!!We also enjoyed having a picnic at your bench this month with the Edwards, Grandma Potts & GG. We even make a garage for your cars out of "Lincoln :) Logs"

-Oh, our sweet girl! She is growing too fast! At 15 months, she is everywhere & into everything!
-If you ask Noelle how old she is, she says "ONE" and tries to hold up one finger. It's so cute!
-Poor Noelle was not so happy in July. She was cutting molars and they made her VERY grouchy! We went through a lot of ibprofin and frozen gogurts this month!
-Noelle is so adorable at prayer time. You say "prayers!" and she will fold her little arms so cute. The only thing is that her sisters have confused her a bit with the sign for "baby" and just folding arms for prayers, so she will often "rock" her arms during the prayer.
-Mom helped in nursery again this month & again Noelle did SO GREAT! She sat in her seat like a big girl, ate the snacks & drank the drinks out of a big girl cup and even participated a little bit in the music time. We're on the countdown for full-time nursery! :)
-One time in church, Noelle gave mommy a bit of her cereal & mom ate it & said "Mmmm!" Seeing that mommy liked the cereal, she unselfishly took the cereal she had in her own mouth and tried to put it in mommy's & couldn't understand why mommy didn't like that one as much?
-Noelle still LOVES Signing Time & sometimes it's the only thing that will calm her down. she knows quite a few signs but doesn't use them a lot. One that she does love to say and DO is "STOP" and "GOOOO!" It's so cute! She also says & signs "hurt"
-Noelle really does try to be with her bigger sisters. If they are playing on the Wii, she wants to play too & tries to grab the remote or push buttons on the TV. She doesn't understand why they put her outside the door and close it on her!
-Noelle has really started helping to unload the dishwasher! If you can get her from standing on the door, she might just hand you utensils, one by one and say "Thank you!"
-Noelle's naps were a bit all over the place this month with her teething & sickness. She had a fever & just wasn't acting herself. She went from one nap to two naps & sometimes even three naps a day. Thankfully, she seems to be feeling better all the way around & is back to just one nap.
-She graduated from having a tray with her high chair to no tray - just pulling her up to the table to eat with us. She still is known to give most of her food to Sydney, though :/
-Another one of Noelle's loves is her pink swing. If she is ornery, mom or one of her sisters takes her out for swinging & she LOVES that! She loves to be outside!
-Noelle is NOT afraid of the water! At the splash park, she doesn't shy away from the splashing or dumping water - she walks right up there & has a ball!
-Noelle can now point to your nose, eyes, ears and mouth! Also - if you ask her where her belly button is, she just kind of grabs her belly! So cute.
-She LOVES balls!
-She still loves music, singing, dancing, etc :)

Monday, July 13, 2015

June Newsletter & Slideshow

Hamilton Newsletter
June 2015
FAMILY: June was a wonderful month! We sure have loved summer so far :) We got to check off a lot of our summer bucket-list items! Including painting & constructing a castle out of our washer box, making Wendy's chocolate shakes, making glitter magnets, going to the St. George splash park, making sand pudding, making toilet paper roll animals & people, going to the Lake at the Hills, making smoothies, slushes & homemade ice cream, hiking Hidden Haven, swimming at the aquatic center, making 4th of July crafts, having a picnic at Woods' ranch, and much more! It's been so fun to have "Make-it Monday," "Try-it Tuesday," "Water Wednesday," "Thinking Thursday," & "Forest Friday." The girls really look forward to the fun activities & mom loves spending extra time with her girls. At the beginning of the month, daddy took the girls to the circus! They hadn't been in a couple years, so they had fun! But the sad part was that Kezi got sunscreen in her eyes and they were really hurting, so mom had to come get her & she didn't see much of the show :( Some terribly tragic news this month was that Grandma Potts' cousin in California accidentally backed up and killed his 6 year old granddaughter . GG & Grandma Potts flew to California to support them and be there for the funeral of this sweet girl. Also - one of the young men in our ward (who Jason was over when he was in YM), was driving with his girlfriend and they got into an accident & she was killed. Our hearts are broken for this family. On June 16th, Heidi & the girls headed up to SLC for our annual "friend & family catch-up week." Jason actually ended up having a work meeting in Escalante that week anyway, so it worked out. We had fun going to a splash park with Anna Packard and her girls, going to IKEA, going to the zoo with the Bensons (there were moving dinosaurs there! & mom got all the girls hats), driving to Syracuse to meet up with Heidi's friend, Gayla, playing at the Matthews' home in Herriman, hanging out with the Simons at a Daybreak park, having breakfast at Joseph's new place, and Grandpa taking the girls to see the new movie, Inside Out. Heidi also got to have separate get-togethers with her cheerleader friends and Park City friends. It was a wonderful catch-up week! That next weekend, we hosted one of Heidi's SIDS mom friends (July) to a BBQ while they were in town for her daughter's archery competition. Our kids really got a long and we enjoyed visiting. We also have been hosting our new neighbors, the Petersen's for dinner, while they work on their new home to get ready to move in. They have 6 children, so it will be fun to have more kids on our street!  In-between all of this fun was getting the hardwood put in our front room, building shelves in the garage (whew! a LOT of work!), planting our garden, moving forward with buying an SUU rental with the Potts, and organizing and decorating to prepare for Ireland's upcoming baptism. It was a wonderful month!  

JASON: Jason continues to have many work force planning meetings and he had his trip to Escalante for work. This year, Father's Day and Jason's birthday were in the same week! We had fun spoiling him with breakfast in bed, treasure hunts, HAPPY FATHER'S DAY signs, cards, making his favorite foods, & giving gifts. For his birthday dinner, we got a sitter & went to Milt's. Jason also worked hard this month building shelves in the garage & it's SO nice to be able to start really organizing the garage!

HEIDI: Heidi is enjoying her new activity days calling. This month she got to go with the girls to the Shakespeare greenshow, and making lip gloss. Also - Heidi helped with her Relief Society calling - making posters, door flyers, and taking pictures for the fun Family Reunion Idea night. Heidi was ready for a change & chopped about a foot off her hair! :) She had to deal with a yucky cold sore that lasted almost 2 weeks, which wasn't fun :( Heidi really enjoyed catching up with friends this summer. It's nice to keep those connections over the years and see what everyone is up to. Heidi has been busy decorating and had fun (maybe a little too much fun?) at IKEA getting things to put here & there around the house. It definitely feels more like home now that we have things on the walls and there is more organization & places to put things. She also worked on making our home really decorated for the 4th of July, including string starts, a jar with red, white & blue beans in it, hankerchief banners, pillows for the front yard, red, white & blue flowers in the front yard barrels, and some other patriotic touches around the house (Including painting our front door blue) :) Heidi also read "Rekindled" this month & really loved it! Also - she's started doing strength workouts on Tuesdays & Thursdays with her friend, Carmen, so that has been fun!

-McKinley started piano & voice lessons with a lady in our stake, Jan Pressgrove. She is a great teacher & McKinley is excited & eager to learn! We had our piano in our garage while our front room was being done - and then McKinley left her practice books at Grandma's, so it's been a bit difficult to practice, but she's getting there!
-McKinley is really growing up! She is fitting into small women's clothes and can wear mom's skirts to church & can wear her flip flops!
-McKinley got her new tablet and it came with a keyboard. She LOVES texting everybody - especially grandma. Grandma is sharing some articles she's written with McKinley & McKinley is working on articles for the friend that she is going to have Grandma read.
-This summer, McKinley wants to index and she also wants to start figuring out how to make vehicles that are 100% solar powered :)
-She's got to play with Olivia and Emma this month & they've had fun!

-Ireland started back up with gymnastics this month at Julie's & she's really loving it! She's back to doing cartwheels, handstands, and backbends all the time - all over the house & anyplace she can find grass :)
-Ireland got to get her baptism pictures taken in St. George this month. Grandma Devenish bought her a beautiful dress and even though it was hot, the pictures turned out cute. After the pictures, mom & Ireland went to a place where you could serve your own ice cream & toppings. It was fun :)
-Ireland has had fun having friends over - especially Emmy and Isabella.
-Ireland has had fun being penpals with Kaydence, Jason's cousin's daughter in Texas.

-Kezia had swimming lessons this month! She was the youngest in level 1 & her teacher said at first she wasn't sure she would be able to keep up, but she did terrific & ended up passing that level with flying colors! Now on to level 2 for next year!
-After we went to the St. George splash park, we went to Maverick for gas and icees. We were in line to pay for them, and the guy in front of us dropped some coins as he was heading out. Kezi picked them up and gave them to him. A few seconds later he handed her a dollar for her honesty. So sweet! She was very exited :)
-Kezia was doing FHE & she asked mom "Can you print out like 5 pictures of the Holy Ghost for me?"
-Daddy was so sweet for Kezia's FHE. She wanted, NEEDED checkerboard cookies & daddy helped her make them, even though it took over an hour & we didn't even start FHE till 9pm.
-Kezia has had fun with friends, too, including Paige, Adelaide & Emmy.
-Kezia got to have her lunch date with mommy this month, going out to Denny's :)

We always love when family & friends send us pictures of rainbows - we got 2 this month (& we saw one, too!) from the Edwards who were in DisneyWorld and the Harrisons who were in Texas. Also - Grandma Potts sent you 2 tractors in the mail to put by your bench. It warms our hearts to know that you are still remembered, loved & missed. We still think about you & talk about you every single day, sweet boy. We love you & miss you.  

NOELLE: We all agree that somehow Noelle just gets cuter & cuter every day! She's 14 months this month!
-Noelle really says quite a lot of things for her age. This month she added "gentle, Shhhh, Sydney, Sit (at least we're pretty sure it's SIT ;), Grandpa, Signing Time & Alex & Leah!" The girls are all trying to get her to say their names first & in the end it was Sydney's name that won out :)
-For some reason, Noelle has started hitting her face this month :(
-We are also working with Noelle on being GENTLE (probably why this is one of her first words) to Sydney. Sydney is a patient dog, but there have been a few times where she has barked at Noelle because Noelle keeps pulling on her ears and poking her nose & eyes.
-We still need to capture it on video, but Noelle really does sing parts of "Twinkle Twinkle" and the "Signing Time" song. It's SOOOOO cute!
-Noelle also puts her finger to her lips and says "Shhhhh"
-Noelle is getting so good at stacking blocks. She stacked 3 the other day!
-She is still INFATUATED with the bathroom. She loves to play with the toilet and toilet paper.
-Mom finally put some child locks on some of the cabinets in the kitchen after she was tired of Noelle pulling out tons of crayons & markers all the time.
-Noelle really loves being with her big sisters & she already wants to be a "big girl" & do what they're doing. When Ireland is doing her tricks downstairs, she squats down and puts her head on the ground & we help her to do a somersault. So cute!
-Noelle loves to find a cup or box or anything & put random things inside.
-Noelle's teeth seem to be bothering her a lot this month & she has gone through a lot of frozen go-gurts.
-We got a baby swing for the backyard swing set & Noelle LOVES it! She just laughs & laughs.
-Noelle really loves the water. Whenever we go to a splash park, we set her down & she just heads right for the water. She will walk around & splash all afternoon :)