Sunday, June 28, 2015

Summer Days

A few highlights from the week: Wednesday we had a big cub scout activity. Thankfully we've cut back to only one activity a month, instead of one a week. I love it! It's only for the summer, but I'm enjoying the break. Anyway we all met up at the church then drove down to Eagle River Nature Center and went on a hike. It's a rowdy, fun, hyper, crazy group of boys but they are good and Tyler has a blast with them. Lots of families of the boys were there too. Including me and my brood. I carried Brigham around in the heavy backpack carrier the whole time and now I know what Kenny goes through when we hike together :). He's always the one that carries that big lug and now I'll be more grateful. Anyway we had a fun time.

Tuesday and Thursday we went to running group which is always fun. Thursday they did some yoga too before running and it was so cute. My kids have horrible balance haha.

 They all went off on some trail together as a group, but I stayed back with my younger 3 because I didn't have a stroller or anything. We were waiting in the car and when they all came back, Brynlee walks up holding this huge bouquet of wildflowers she picked. I just had to smile at my flower-loving girl. We're both pretty happy the fireweed is exploding all over now.

 Kelsey gets so worn out at running group. She doesn't participate with the group, but she and Madi run their little hearts out too. When we came home I was reading to them all on the couch and she fell asleep on me.

 Friday Kenny had the day off and we just stuck around and got work done. It was a productive day and always fun to be together. I always wish we could just like live on a farm or something so Kenny and I can work together or at least near each other all day. It's fun. That night I took Tyler out on a date. We just went to Subway and ate dinner together and talked. I talked to him about his transitioning from Core phase, to Love of Learning phase (in the TJED model). I talked about the importance of him taking responsibility for his own education, what I expect of him this coming school year, what he's interested in learning, how I can help him achieve his goals, etc. He's a good kid and I'm proud of him. He does a great job.

 We eat dinner and lunch outside a lot because it's just so nice. This night I grilled hamburgers and even bought a bag of potato chips, which I never do. These girls sat here after dinner and devoured what was left of the bag.

 After our little date we came back and Kenny set up a zip line in our backyard!! I had mentioned to him weeks ago how it would be really fun to have a zip line, but I also said several other things. It was more of a "here's my dream backyard" speech. But he just came home from Lowe's with all the stuff and wanted it up that night. The kids LOVE it to say the least. We didn't really have anything to use for them to sit in. Then I remembered when I was little, my cousin Kenny Kartchener came and stayed with us in France and he made us a swing from our tree using a bat. So I knew that would work! :) Daddy makes everything fun!

 Saturday morning I got up early and drove to Anchorage to go to the temple. Kenny came in afterwards with the kids and we met up at our duplex. Kenny mowed the lawns, and then I did 4 showings back to back. We've got a change in tenants so it's back on the market. But it was a successful day. Afterwards we stopped to say hi to cousins for a bit, then headed back home.

Today we had the missionaries over for dinner and Kenny did home teaching. Oh one more funny thing. On either Monday or Tuesday, Madison and Kelsey were so grumpy and just constantly fighting and screaming at each other. So I sent them both upstairs to time out in separate bedrooms. After a minute it got quiet and I was busy making dinner so I certainly wasn't hurrying up there to talk with them. But when I went up I found both of them fast asleep. :) Yes, it ruined their bedtime but I definitely let them sleep for a little bit because heaven knows they needed it, and I was really enjoying the peace :).

Friday, June 26, 2015

Same-Sex Marriage

This morning I learned that last night the Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage as a legal right in the United States of America. Immediately upon hearing it, I wanted to cry. I felt so much sadness and so much loss for our country. (The same way I felt, unfortunately, when Obama became president, more specifically the second term.) I feel like this was one more giant step in the wrong direction. I can't say I was very surprised, though. It was extreme disappointment, but certainly not surprise. When we as a nation forget about God and put religion and faith in the background, we will inevitably What once made this country so great that everybody wanted to flock to it, was that we were a moral and a free people. Because we are so quickly losing our morals, we are giving up our freedoms as well.

Supporting that argument, John Adams said, "we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

In Frederic Bastiat's The Law he says "When law and morality are in contradiction to each other, the citizen finds himself in the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense, or of losing his respect for the law-two evils of equal magnitude, between which it would be difficult to choose. It is so much in the nature of law to support justice that in the minds of the masses they are one and the same. There is in all of us a strong dispotition to regard what is lawful as legitimate, so much so that they falsely derive all justice from law."

We have set up a false standard of what is right and wrong based on our man-made laws. They have ignored any principles of natural law. But as former Supreme Court Justice Dallin H. Oaks said, "But man’s laws cannot make moral what God has declared immoral."

I'm going to quote again from Bastiat, this taken from his essay, What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen, because I think it's very applicable for this situation.

...a law produces not only one effect, but a series of effects. Of these effects, the first alone is immediate; it appears simultaneously with its cause; it is seen. The other effects emerge only subsequently; they are not seen; we are fortunate if we foresee them.
There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen.
Yet this difference is tremendous; for it almost always happens that when the immediate consequence is favorable, the later consequences are disastrous, and vice versa. Whence it follows that the bad economist pursues a small present good that will be followed by a great evil to come, while the good economist pursues a great good to come, at the risk of a small present evil.
 ...Two very different masters teach him this lesson: experience and foresight. Experience teaches efficaciously but brutally. It instructs us in all the effects of an act by making us feel them, and we cannot fail to learn eventually, from having been burned ourselves, that fire burns. I should prefer, in so far as possible, to replace this rude teacher with one more gentle: foresight.
We haven't even begun to understand the effects of this ruling. The family is the basic unit of society in the mortal and eternal realms. Marriage between a man and a woman is the safest and best way to ensure proper procreation, and a stable environment for the raising and nurturing of children. We can try (and have tried) a number of different ways to form "families". Time and time again we are shown that the equal team of one man and one woman raising children together is always the best scenario. Do we really think we can plan or construct a family better than God himself designed? We must look to the future of our own children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren when making decisions-especially binding legal decisions-for that is what ensures the continuation and success of any society or nation. I fear that we will be reaping the negative consequences, "what is not seen", for many generations to come.
(Disclaimer: I apologize if this isn't very well articulated, I just had to spit out my knee-jerk reaction.)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Half-Marathon and Father's Day (and more)

There are always a lot of things I want to write down about my kids; things they do or say or just how they are in this stage of their lives. But I forget a lot of it by the time I sit down to write, and that's so frustrating to me. I've got to do better about hurrying and putting it in the notes section on my phone, or something. But this post is super long so feel free to skim :).

A little about Briggs. He's over 10 months now! He's in full blown destructive baby mode. He crawls everywhere pulling things off of shelves, opens cupboards and pulls everything out, gets into trash cans, the dishwasher, etc. He's a lot to keep up with, as all babies are at this stage. But we are all crazy about him and he's generally a very happy, smiley boy. He loves to play games, especially with his daddy :). He wrestles with him and it's so funny to watch. He's also figured out throwing really well and will play "catch" for quite a long time. Babies at this age don't ever get sick of games haha. This week he's also figured out how to crawl up stairs, which means we have to watch him a lot more and all the plants are no longer safe. Kenny's sad about that fact, but I told him the day would come :). He's built like a tank and eats anything and everything. If you're eating something, he always wants it. He's getting better at sleeping through the night, but still not consistent enough to move him into Ty's room. That's the goal is to get him OUT OF OUR ROOM. It'd be nice to turn the lights on and not have to sneak around silently when we're getting ready for bed at night, or getting ready for the day in the morning. But I know that time will pass. I just love looking at him while he's sleeping.

He's been eyeing those plants and reaching for them for months, but now he can finally get all the way up that step! 

This week has been really hot. I think I've said that like one other time since living here, so I try not to complain about it, because I know it won't last haha. It gets uncomfortable at night since there's no such thing as A/C in houses here, and the sun stays up forever. But I've got a little system down. At night we leave their windows open with box fans in them blowing cooler air in, so at least there's some circulation. Often Kenny stays in the girls' room to help them fall asleep faster. Because the window's open it means it's really light in their room, because the sun doesn't set till midnight. So it helps to keep an adult in there so they stay still and close their eyes. Eventually they do fall asleep. Then before I go to bed, I move the fans from the windows to the doors. So now the blinds are closed and it's darker. Only now I leave the bedroom door open and the fan blowing air from the hallway to their rooms. Then around 4:30 I get woken up by the bright sun and I go and shut their bedroom doors so they don't wake up to the light also. It's a pain, but it works.

There's actually been some bad fires going on here. One in Willow, about 40 miles north of us, and one in Kenai, about 200 miles south of us. A lot of the homes have been evacuated and it's just really sad. I feel grateful we've been safe. Because of the fires, the wards that go to the Willow church building are going to meet here at ours, the stake center. So we only had one hour of church  (just Sac. Mtg.) and met at 9 instead of 11.

Because it's been so hot this week we've been at the lake several times, and the rest of the time they're in their swimming suits outside, usually in the sprinkler. Pretty much they wore their swimsuits all week and loved it. I put mine on for the first time in like 2 years and they about died of shock. None of them knew I had one I guess haha. Sort of sad, but that's the reality of life in AK. One day we met up with our friends the Ovards, and another day we were lucky enough to have Carmin and her kids come out to our house and play with us at the lake for a little bit. We love having friends over. It's fun to see the kids get tan lines (even a little sunburn)! Feels like real summer. :) Briggs really loves splashing in the lake. I don't like how often we find leeches--it really makes me uncomfortable but I guess that's just what comes with lake swimming.

On Thursday we went into Anchorage because we needed to go to the health and fitness expo to pick up our bibs for race day. We went in a few hours early and hung out. We did stop at the bookstore for me, but mostly just played at the park, and went to the library. We got some fun free stuff at the expo and that made the kids happy :).

 Ice cream cones are always a favorite.

Friday we were trying to get all of our Saturday chores done because I knew I wasn't going to want to do anything after our race. Plus, the kids wanted to earn some money to spend at the little fair/carnival thing going on in Anchorage. They are always sorely disappointed because we never let them do any rides or buy any food at those kinds of things. So while we were there on Thurs. and saw them setting everything up, they really wanted to go and I told them if they worked to earn money we could actually do fun stuff. Tyler mowed THE WHOLE LAWN by himself. I was seriously proud of him. We live on a half acre, and while not the entire thing is grass, it's still a big yard. And he worked so hard to do it all by himself. Not only that, but I told Brynlee and Madison they needed to go clean the upstairs bathroom, and they did that by themselves too. It was a really great moment for me to have my oldest 3 actually working, like being for real helpful and cleaning without me nagging/looking over their shoulder to make sure they do it without getting distracted, etc. I felt like shouting Hallelujah!! Definitely not every day is like that, and it still is a lot me working alongside them. And that's fine, but it's SOOO nice to feel like all these years of working with them is starting to pay off to the point where they know how to do things themselves and can do it independently. That night we had a nice carb-loading dinner of chicken fettucine alfredo and I made some delicious breadsticks to go with our meal. It was worth heating up our house even more just to eat those. Yum.

Saturday morning was the big fat half-marathon race that we've been working towards for almost 3 months. We got the kids up early and we got out the door to drive to Anchorage. We dropped them off at Andy and Shalee's a little after 7:30. We were SO grateful for them for watching our kids so we could go do this.

The race went really well. It was so fun to be there with all those people, each one running for various reasons but all of us with the same goal to finish it strong. I think there were about 5,000 participants in the half, and I don't know how many more did the full. Kenny and I didn't run together at all, but I thought of him often during the race. He had some cool bluetooth headphones that he really likes, and I guess they died after like 2 miles so he ran most of it with no music haha. He said it wasn't that big of a deal, but I know it would've thrown me off and made me upset. So good thing he was using them and not me. The course was cool, with a lot of the trail right on the bay so the views were gorgeous. We ran through some forest too, and alongside an airport with loud planes flying low overhead. The sun never came out, it was cloudy and cool and absolutely perfect running weather. Seriously I couldn't have asked for better. The first half I was feeling awesome and so strong. My goal was to run under 2 hours. I was using an average pace of 9 minute miles to get that. I knew I would run the beginning faster than that, and I'd slow down at the end so I just averaged 9. So if I stuck to that I'd be at 1 hr. 57 minutes, so that gave me a little fudge room depending on how hard the hills were, etc. I ended up at about 1 hr. 58 minutes, which was just right. I was so happy to have gotten my goal. The last mile my calves were really cramping up and hurting, but nothing compared to what they were the rest of the day. OUCH.  But overall it was a super fun race. I was wishing that I had Kenny there with me to cross the finish line and seriously debated whether I should stop and wait for him so we could cross together. That was a big deal to me. We had trained together (not literally running together because obviously we have kids to tend to) but taking turns and supporting each other etc. during this training process. So I wanted to do it together. But I had a goal to meet and I knew he wouldn't have wanted me to do that. 7 minutes later he came across and I quickly found him and gave him a big sweaty hug. We had done it!!! They had tons of food there to help us replenish, a medal, and a cool t-shirt. I was scarfing down food like crazy, it was amazing. Then we went back to the car and drank our chocolate milk we had in our little cooler, and drove over to pick up the kids.


After (trying to be hard core)

We got the kids and went over to the park where the carnival/summer fair thing was going on. We were having a hard time walking, but we had already promised them we would go so we went, even all sweaty and stuff. (I had brought sweats to wear over these.) It had just opened like 20 minutes before we got there so it wasn't busy at all! It was SO nice. I hate taking the kids to super crowded places. It was so fun watching the kids be so happy on the rides. I feel like those things are never worth the money because they're so dang expensive. But really this is the first time we've ever done anything actually fun at the fair, so it was a good family time and they really loved it.

I wish you could see their faces a little clearer--it's pure joy and excitement!

Today has been a nice, slow father's day. We brought him breakfast in bed...
  then had our one hour of church. Kenny and I both took naps, went on a family walk, played games together, called Kenny's dad and had a google hangout with my family, and just enjoyed being together. We had some yummy hot fudge pudding cake and ice cream as a yummy treat. The kids all made cards...let me be more specific. Madison made a card, Brynlee wrote a story (she's really into writing/making books) and Tyler created a comic book (he's really into those right now) about a father/son superhero team. Pretty cute. I also made a little movie for him where I recorded each of the kids and they answer what they love about dad, what they like to do with him, etc. and sing a little song. I did one a couple years ago and even though I was annoyed at the time with how it turned out and the kids didn't act the way I wanted them to, or they were too silly. But we watch that back now and just laugh our heads off. So I know this one will turn out the same way :). It's always fun to get live video snippets of how kids talk and act at different periods of time. We sure are lucky to have this guy at the head of our family. We are all crazy about him. These kids have no idea how lucky they are. I hope he had a great father's day and understands how much he means to us.

 Every time Kenny is driving with any of the kids, as soon as we turn onto our street he lets one of them climb up into the front with him and "drive us home". They all absolutely love it and feel so big and cool. I think it's so sweet of him to do that. It's his thing. :)

A few shots from our Sunday evening letting the chickens roam around

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Hiking Pioneer Peak (the first part...)

On Saturday the 13th, we wanted to go do something fun together as a family. I had suggested going to Matanuska Lake and enjoying a nice hike (read: level nature walk). Everyone was on board for that so we got in the car and started driving there. But as we were going Kenny decided that instead, it would be really fun to go do the beginning part of Pioneer Peak hike. He said there's a really beautiful look-out point where you can see the Knik Glacier and it's only about a mile in. So I expressed my concern about our lack of preparation for the hike, and the fact that the kids were still tired and a bit ornery from their sleepover. But we decided a mile there and back wouldn't be too bad. Mostly I just knew that once he gets an idea in his head, it's hard to talk him out of it. :) So we went for it and it started off fine. Everything is so green and beautiful and we loved all the wildflowers. We even brought our "Alaska Wildflowers" book so we could identify and put a name to what we were seeing. It's Bryn's favorite book right now. 

Problem #1 was that Madison said she "couldn't find" her tennis shoes even though I asked her repeatedly to put them on. So she was wearing her bogs with ankle socks. She quickly started to get a blister on her heel. Kenny was wearing Briggs in the carrier on his back, but he still took turns carrying Madison and making her walk off and on. Kelsey decided life was just too hard and she was too tired to walk and needed to be held a lot too. So I was alternating off and on with her as well. There were many times where we were carrying more children than were walking. That seemed a little silly to me. But if you think Kenny would turn around, then you don't know his determination!! (Some might call it stubbornness...) We get to the mile point--thankfully this trail is super well-marked--and Kenny says it must be just a little bit further. So we think, well we're already this far we can go just a little bit more. But that "little bit more" and "just around the ridge" and "right above this treeline" and "we're almost there" turned into 2.2 miles (11,600 feet to be precise) with about 4800 elevation gain (estimate). Not to mention Kenny and I had already done a hard 6 mile run a few hours earlier. Anyway, it was rough going. Briggs cried. A lot! And Kelsey demanded to be held. A lot! And Madison too, until I finally wised up and told her to just take off her shoes and socks and I carried those for her. She loved being bare foot and it was just what she needed to give her a positive attitude the rest of the way. 

At a couple points we were really about to turn around. I mean, it was getting ridiculous because we really had no idea how much further we needed to go, and we only had one water bottle for the whole family to share. I hate to admit I was definitely grumbling to Kenny. If only he had just listened to me and gone to the lake we could have been having a FUN time! ;) Had we known and prepared we could have brought more water and snacks, especially for Briggs! so we got to a point where we all stopped and Kenny had everyone take a vote. It was to be decided by majority rule whether we would turn around back to the car, or trudge on and get to the picnic table (look-out point had a picnic table). For whatever reason, the kids decided to continue. So I told them if we all did it together we could stop and get some ice cream on the way home. Boy did that cheer them all right up! From that point on everyone's attitudes changed (except the baby haha) and we made it to the top. The top for us, not for everyone else hiking that huge mountain. It took us about 3 hours to get up and 1.5 hrs to get back down. Brigham finally fell asleep in the carrier on the way down, making it bearable for everyone. We quickly drove to a McDonalds and got dinner and ice cream for everyone, because it was 8:00 at night!! We were all starving and dehydrated and that crappy food tasted so dang good haha. My legs were so sore. Even the kids woke up the next morning complaining of muscle aches.

Once it was all done and over with, I will admit it was a great thing for our family to get through together. Kenny talked to the kids afterwards how this can be a good example and reminder for them that we can do hard things! Just like our family cheer we say every night, "We are the Westons and we are strong!" Memories were made and we all came out alive. :) 
I sure love my family and I'm grateful for a wonderful husband that pushes us all to greater heights and further distances.