Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sunshine, popsicles, and a new pool!

Summer break has finally arrived! School is out and we are ready for a fun summer! Today was a very hot day, the kids were getting antsy, so we took a trip to the store. We stocked up on popsicles, (my kids love the twin pops) and a new pool. It isn't anything expensive or fancy, but it does the job.

We got it blown up, filled with water, and in no time, I had 4 little happy fish eating popsicles and playing in the water. It brought a smile to my face that something so simple could bring such joy to my kids. It also made me so happy to see them playing together, laughing, splashing, jumping, and truly enjoying being children.

Here's to a great summer!
This picture truly cracks me up! I recently bought Sadie a "shampoo hat" to wear in the bath tub. She wears it when I rinse the shampoo out of her hair and it is supposed to help the water from going in her eyes. I found her little white sun hat to help keep the sun out of her eyes. But a few minutes later, she came inside, walked upstairs to the bathroom, and came downstairs looking like this. She told me she needed the white hat to keep the sun out, and her "shampoo hat" to keep the water out. She keeps us laughing!
McKell loves being in the summer sun!
Cayden thinks it is great fun to torment his little sisters, and he does a great job of it. But deep down, he loves them and they love him.
This picture just makes me laugh so hard! So typical of Ashlee. She LOVES water more than any child I have ever seen. So a pool is heaven for her! She found this ridiculous troll doll and had a great time with him in the pool.
Sweet little Sadie Jayne
Pool time is THE BEST!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Spring Dance Recital 2010

The girls' spring dance recital last year was quite an event. We had monsoon rain storms on the night of the recital and when it was rescheduled, we got round two of the storm. This year, we were grateful that we didn't get completely rained out, although we did have another storm this year, but it wasn't as bad.

The girls did such a great job and looked beautiful. The song they danced to was "The Big Bad Wolf" and they both did a great job. It was definitely hard to keep Sadie in her seat because she loves to dance and wanted to jump right up on the stage with them. We are definitely putting her in dance next year.
(*Ashlee's smile looks a little strange right now. She had a "rapid expander" put in at the orthodontist. Her bite is too narrow for her permanent teeth to come in and in hopes of avoiding braces, we needed to expand her palette as quickly as possible to make room for those new beautiful permanent teeth to come in.)

We are so proud of Ashlee and McKell and their hard work this year in dance.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I'm a sucker for a good summer storm

Align CenterI am such a sucker for a summer storm! Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved watching the dark clouds roll over the mountains, the smell of rain in the air, and the lightning and thunder. I remember as a child we would sit on my Grandma Neilson's front porch and play the "lightning thunder game". Grandma told us that when the lightning struck, we should start counting and when the thunder crashed, that would tell us how many miles away the lightning had struck. Not sure that there is a whole lot of scientific fact to that, but it sure was fun.

Now as an adult, I still love summer storms. We had a wonderful one this evening! It was a very hot day and after a full day of family, church, etc. we came home and all of us just sat on the back patio and ate pancakes at 8:00 pm. We watched as the dark clouds came over the Oquirrh Mountains and we knew it was going to be a great storm. The lightning started and I taught my own kids the "lightning thunder game". So there I sat, in my backyard on a summer evening with my kids, and just watched a storm come. It was pure heaven!

It actually turned out to be quite a storm. We loved watching it and afterward, the kids had a great time picking up pieces of hail and jumping in the puddles. A great summer storm. I love these "ordinary, extraordinary moments" with my family.

The kids loved picking up the pieces of hail. Some were about the size of marbles!

It made it even more fun that our neighbors, the Jays, came out in their front yard as well. Their daughter, Kennedi, is a good friend of Ashlee and McKell's. They are great neighbors!
I LOVE these photos of our street! This is right after the storm ended, but the skies look amazing!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Ashlee & McKell's Baptism Day

Almost 8 years ago, on a warm day in July of 2002, I dressed my beautiful baby girls, Ashlee & McKell, in their sweet little white blessing dresses. They weren't quite 2 months old and were so tiny. They still carried that unique spirit that only comes from little babies fresh from leaving the presence of their Heavenly Father. On that summer day so many years ago, I remember looking at these sweet little angels and feeling like my heart was going to explode. I was feeling so many different emotions. Love, joy, nervousness, gratitude, and incredibly blessed. Before the girls were born, a life threatening ectopic pregnancy left us unsure if we would ever be able to have any more children. The doctors told us that our chances of getting pregnant were not good and that if we did get pregnant, that our chances of another ectopic pregnancy were much higher. Imagine our shock when we found out that not only were we having one baby...but two! We were thrilled when we found out that these two babies were little girls. For a long time, they were known only as "Twin A and Twin B". But on May 9, 2002, they became Ashlee Jo and McKell Elizabeth. A few months later, we celebrated their blessing day.
Eight years later, on another warm summer day, I was again dressing my beautiful little girls in white dresses. But this time, it was for their baptisms. They looked so beautiful and pure and again, like little angels. And just like 8 years earlier, I again felt like my heart was going to explode from feelings of love, joy, nervousness, gratitude, and incredibly blessed. I also immediately began flashing back to the past 8 years with these beautiful girls. SO many priceless moments with each of them. SO much joy and laughter as well as tears and sadness.

Tonight, as I reflect back on this special baptism day, I wanted to write down some of my thoughts and feelings of the day.

In preparation for this day, we had a special family night. I remember doing this when I was 8 years old. My own dad showed me how he would baptize me and we practiced it over and over in the backyard until I felt sure about it. Rob did the same thing with our girls and we have tried to talk a lot about baptism, what it means, the promises we make, etc.

About a month ago, we went to the mall to pick out their baptism dresses. This was such a special day for us. We went to "Jolene's" dress shop and I let the girls pick out whatever dress they wanted. They each chose a different dress that fit their personalities perfectly. In typical fashion, Ashlee had hers picked out within a few minutes. Ashlee usually sees what she wants, makes her mind up, and then usually doesn't give it another thought. McKell, however, took her time. She tried on many many dresses and then agonized over which one to choose. This is so typical of little McKell - my indecisive one. I picked out some white sandals and white headbands for them as well.

A few weeks later, we headed to Grandpa and Grandma's house on a beautiful summer evening for the girls' baptism photo shoot. I absolutely LOVE doing pictures at their home in the backyard, over the hill. Uncle Jay was on hand to help me with poses, making sure their dresses and hair were okay, etc. The pictures turned out more beautiful than I even imagined. The girls had such a fun time and loved sharing this moment together. I used those photos for their invitations, display photos, etc.

This past Sunday, Ashlee and McKell had their baptism interview with our bishop, Darren Gillette. McKell was surprisingly nervous about it. She is so funny that way. But she did a great job. I asked her about it afterward and she said that she and the bishop talked about why she was getting baptized, what promises and covenants she would be making, etc. McKell has a very deep understanding of the Gospel and a true love for God and Jesus. On more than one occasion, I have gone into her room to find her kneeling by her bed saying a prayer. She also has a strong testimony of the Priesthood and is usually the first one to ask for a Father's Blessing when she is sick or needs comfort.

I actually sat in Ashlee's interview with her. I sat back in the corner so I wouldn't be a distraction to Ashlee. I'm so grateful that I was able to be there and listen to Ashlee as she talked with the bishop. In typical Ashlee fashion, she came up with some new "Ashlee-isms." Right to begin with, the bishop asked Ashlee if it was okay with her if he said a prayer. You never ask Ashlee a rhetorical question like this because she will answer it honestly. Her response? "No, I think we should just save the prayer for the end." He was a little speechless, but he is really good with Ashlee and said he would say a prayer anyway. After that, the bishop was trying to explain to Ashlee how when we make good choices, we feel good and when we feel good then we continue to do good, etc. At this point Ashlee stops the bishop and says, "You know what I would call that? I'd call that a 'Righteous Cycle!'" The bishop thought that was hilarious and agreed with her that it was most definitely a "Righteous Cycle". Finally, as he was trying to explain about covenants and the promises we make when we are baptized, etc. Ashlee finally said, "Wow, you sure use the word 'promise' a lot in your sentences today, Bishop!" It was quite an entertaining experience. At the end, the bishop asked Ashlee, "Are you getting baptized because YOU want to get baptized, or because your mom and dad want you to?" Oh boy. I got nervous on this one. Ashlee thought about it for a minute, and then said proudly, "It's because I want to get baptized." Whew! I felt relieved...and then she leaned forward and whispered to the Bishop, "Is that the right answer?" Oh my sweet hilarious Ashlee.

Unfortunately, the week proceeding their baptism was quite rough. The girls got out of school this past Wednesday, and in celebration, we went to McDonald's for lunch. By that evening, we were all VERY sick with what appeared to be food poisoning. Everyone but Rob got it and everyone was very very sick, including me. How grateful we were that we had previously asked Grandpa and Grandma if we could do the baptism luncheon in their backyard instead of at our house. Due to my back being so bad, we didn't feel we could get our house ready in time for the luncheon. And after 3 full days of food poisoning, there would have been no way we could have done it.

Saturday, June 5, 2010 was a very special day for our family as our beautiful twin girls, Ashlee Jo and McKell Elizabeth were baptized and confirmed as members of our church. We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful spring day. Both of the girls have looked forward to this day for so long and it was another special moment for them to share together.
In typical fashion for our family , we of course were running late. It isn't easy getting TWO little girls all ready for their baptism day along with everything else needing to be ready. But we made it in time. As I was helping the girls into their baptism jumpers, Ashlee said to me, "Hey mom, did you wear a jumpsuit like this when you got baptized 100 years ago?" (OUCH!) I told her that I didn't know what people wore 100 years ago when they were baptized, to which she replied, "Okay, I'll just ask Grandpa." (Yeah, he loved that!)
It was so wonderful to see so many people there to support the girls on their special day. It was a stake baptism which means that children from all of the ward in the stake participate and have baptismal candidates. Each bishop gets to introduce the children from their ward. Bishop Gillette introduced the girls and shared how much he enjoys them and loves them. He shared the experience that when we were first made a new ward and he was newly made the bishop, he felt a little overwhelmed and nervous. And he remembers that on that first Sunday as a new bishop, Ashlee and McKell walked up on the stand before church to shake his hand and tell him hello. (This is something they have done since they were very small. They love to shake the bishop's hand before church.) Bishop Gillette shared how that gesture from two little girls made him feel so much more at east and welcome in the ward.
We were able to participate in some of the program. Grandpa Neilson gave the opening prayer and Rob gave a wonderful talk on being Confirmed and the Gift of the Holy Ghost. He did a great job and spoke right to the kids in a way they would understand. Caden DeHaan, a young man from our ward gave a great talk on baptism. After that, our family sang a song together. We chose a favorite primary song, "If the Savior Stood Beside Me." (It was a little nerve-wracking because we didn't have a chance to even go through the song before the baptism with Juliann who accompanied us on the piano. So when we got up to sing, we realized that she actually had a different arrangement of the song! Fortunately, it all worked out, but it was scary for a minute or two!) Our family was the last group to be called. We all went in to the Relief Society room. We let the girls decide who would go first and they decided that it would be McKell. This is so very symbolic of their whole lives - McKell going a few steps ahead of Ash to pave the way. McKell had a beautiful big smile on her face as she was baptized. After she was done, she stood on the steps of the font so she could watch Ashlee be baptized. Ashlee was overflowing with every emotion possible, but mostly nervous excitement. Ashlee makes this very distinct little giggle when she feels overwhelmingly happy. It is hilarious. So as she came down into the water, she had a huge smile on her face and I could hear that little nervous happy giggle very quietly. When it was time to go down into the water, Rob had to really push her down. Her foot came up, but not above water. It was so sweet to see Sadie out of the corner of my eye. She was fascinated by the whole thing. She loves her big sisters and looks up to them so much. She even had to wear a special white dress of her own today that Grandma bought her, so she could look like her big sisters.
Aunt Miriam helped me get the girls dressed and ready. I asked them both how they felt and their first response as they were shivering was, "COLD!" After that, I asked them how they felt inside and McKell said "Good." Ashlee said, "Um...pretty much just the same." I believe them both. We got them dressed and ready very quickly, in fact we were even faster than Rob. McKell thought it was so funny that Daddy took longer to get changed and ready than it did them. Ashlee told her, "I think it's because Daddy didn't have a helper like we did,"

Rob gave them both beautiful confirmation blessings. I am so grateful that he is so close to the Spirit and takes his Priesthood responsibilities so serious. Ashlee was so curious when McKell was confirmed and listened to every word. It was pretty cute because after they were confirmed, they looked at each other and McKell shook Ashlee's hand as if to say, "We did it!" It was a very special moment and the spirit was so strong. As I was sitting there, I felt so strongly that my grandparents were there in spirit to watch this special day. Even though the girls didn't know them, they have always loved hearing stories about them and are fascinated with their lives. I later found out when I was talking to my mom that she had the same experience and it was as if she could see them smiling as they watched these two precious little girls be confirmed.After the meeting, we went to my parents' home for a luncheon. They have such a beautiful back yard and it was perfect. It was such a nice time to visit, take pictures, etc. Both girls expressed how relieved they were thought to finally get to change out of their white dresses so they could play. Right before lunch, I played a special video that I had made for the girls to the music "In Heaven's Eyes". It turned out so great!
It was truly a wonderful and special day. We are so proud of Ashlee and McKell and are so grateful and blessed to have them in our family. At the end of the day, as I tucked them both into their beds, I asked them how they felt about the day. Ashlee said, "I am glad I have the Holy Ghost to help me. And I know that the bad news is that if I make a bad choice, the Holy Ghost will go away. But the good news is that he won't go away forever." McKell simply said, "Mommy, this was a perfect day. I feel so good and happy inside." I feel so good and happy inside as well.

Later in the day, we were able to have a baby shower for Jewels and Baby Miles.

Info: In attendance at the girls' baptism - Grandpa and Grandma Neilson, Grandpa and Grandma Peacock, Michelle, Jenni and Korbin, Jared, Jay, Paul, Miriam, Heidi, Warren, Ian, Jakob, Kaijsa, Lexi, Shawn, Jordan, Mary, Olivia, Tiff, Jaydee, Gage, Nate, Great-Grandma Lucille, Nena, Bryan, Isaac, Nathan, Hannah, Jon, Juliann, Anna, Andrew, James. Josie Holt-primary teacher, Aunt Kaye & Uncle Buck, Jen Sweet from our primary presidency, and Bishop Darren Gillette, and of course our family.
Witnesses to the Baptisms - Grandpa Neilson and Grandpa Peacock
In the Confirmation Circle - Rob, Bishop Gillette, Grandpa Neilson, Grandpa Peacock, Uncle Bryan, Uncle James, Uncle Jon, Uncle Shawn, and Uncle Paul.