Traditions

>> Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Two years ago we started a new family tradition of going to the Melting Pot as a family to ring in the New Year. Last year we weren't able to go but this year we are reestablishing this tradition!

Since we went a couple of years ago the kids have been begging to go again. They were SO excited when we told them we were going to go. :)

Last night we had reservations and we had a scrumptious meal, lots of laughs, and quality time together... It was a 2.5 hour eating experience! LOL!






I think those smiles say it all. Full bellies and a nice evening! They can't wait to go again next year! :D

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Alayna's Baptism

>> Sunday, December 28, 2014

Well the day she's been waiting for allllll year came on Saturday! She has been anxiously awaiting her Baptism date. Every time we'd go to support one of her classmates from her Primary Class as they got baptized she would get more and more restless!! LOL!




Her smile just BEAMED all day!






Our wonderful friends and Home Teacher's came. Sister Packard played the piano for us!


Grandma & Grandpa Morrison were so proud of her. 


 Jared's friend from Jr. High, Milt Lilly and his family came, and he was one of the Witnesses. 


You can't really see Chris (on the far left) and Ann Marie Watt. We have been friends for years and this past year have become very close. Chris was one of the other Witnesses. 

The Campbell's came too. 

You can see Alayna still grinning in the background greeting Emmy, one of her friends from Primary! So sweet!


The Switzer's. Charlie and Alayna are best buds!


Emmy and her Dad Jamie who serves as the 1st Counselor in the Bishopric. Bishop Hawk is on the far right of the picture. He conducted the meeting. 


Monica and her girls, Rayna (on the right) and Brisa (on the left), and Jen came too. Carlos and Natalie couldn't make it. They weren't feeling well. Robin and her kids couldn't make it either. We missed them!


Morgan, another friend of Alayna's from Primary came. That smile is still holding strong! :P


Morgan's family. Raigen, Chad, and Julie Palmer.


Jeff and Bea.

Boog and his family came late and I missed getting a photo of his family. 

Our Baptisms are always a family affair. We don't have any family that are members so we just put our shoulder to the wheel and get the job done the best we can. :) Walker gave a great talk on baptism. 

"What an exciting day it is for Alayna. Getting baptized. I was asked to speak to her on her baptism today. As I thought about how to teach her about the importance of baptism and what it means in her life, the idea of a treasure hunt kept popping into my head. So today I am going to liken her journey through life to a treasure hunt.
In the Preexistence she lived with our Heavenly Father. We had a spirit body and He had a perfect body of flesh and bones. We desired to become like Heavenly Father. Heavenly Father wanted that also, so He devised a plan that would enable us to learn the things we needed to learn so that we could become like Him and receive a celestial body.
The plan He came up with is called the Plan of Salvation or the Plan of Happiness. In this plan we are all given the opportunity to come to Earth and attempt to find that treasure that is eternal life or living with our Heavenly Father forever. The treasure hunt would not be easy. We had forgotten: (1) Who we really were —Children of God; (2) Why we were here —to get a body and be tested; and (3) Where we are going —hopefully back to the presence of Heavenly Father. To overcome these challenges God gave us certain gifts and hid upon the Earth maps, tools, and guides to help us return to Him.
Each of us is born with the Light of Christ within us. Some call it a conscience. Our conscience is like a sense of direction. It points us in the right direction that we should travel. This is very important for us because it helps us find the necessary tools to find the treasure. Our conscience leads us to them if we listen. It is also the part of her that recognized the truth when it was spoken to her or when she read the Book of Mormon. It is why Alayna is here today, because she knows that being baptized is the right thing to do. One of Heavenly Father’s guides, the Holy Spirit has spoken to her spirit and confirmed that this is true.
The treasure chest that holds eternal life is locked. The key that opens that chest is baptism. Many receive that key when they are eight and are baptized into the church. Others come later in life and find this key. The ordinance symbolizes the death of the natural man and his burial in the water, and the resurrection of the disciple of Christ as he rises from the water.
Having been baptized we have the key to open the treasure chest but how do we find that chest? The map or directions to the treasure are the very words of Christ. He has shown us the way. Has He not said, “Come follow me”? Has He not given us the scriptures and prophets both past and present that we might know where to go and what we must do to find the treasure? For those not in tune with the Spirit, these directions may be confusing. For those who have only the Bible, the true path is difficult to discern from the missteps and false trails laid down by men. But with the aid of the Book of Mormon and its second witness, the trail can be discerned by the honest in heart when they rely on the Spirit.
Not only do we have a sense of direction, the key and the map, but after baptism we also receive a compass that always points back to God so we need never make a misstep or lose the path. That compass is the gift of the Holy Ghost that you will receive after baptism. Though it always points to God, we must have the faith to follow its directions or else we will become lost.
When we take all that God has given us to find the treasure and distill it into a single thought, we get the following sentence: We must have faith unto repentance, baptism, keep the commandments, and endure to the end. Sounds simple, right? But there are going to be times in our lives when we lose the path; we commit sin and our key rusts; and our compass does not seem to work. We know we are in danger of not finding the chest and that a rusty key will not open it. Are we then all doomed to failure? No.
As our key rusts, and it will with sin, it is important that we do not overlook the greatest gift that God has given us, the gift of the Atonement through the Lord Jesus Christ. We clean that key through repentance and partaking worthily of the sacrament each week.
Alayna’s search for treasure in this life is like any other dangerous task—it requires the proper safety equipment. On our treasure hunt it is important that we securely tether ourselves to God through constant prayer. If we become lost, or think that our compass is not working, it is essential that we pray to God to find out how to get back on track. It is through prayer that we access the repentance process and can rectify our wrong turns.
Brothers and sisters, I know that God is happy with Alayna’s choice today. She has found the key and the compass and she is now ready to begin in earnest her search for eternal life. Remember that the map is contained in the words of Christ. That He has placed guides upon the earth in the form of family members and church leaders to help us stay on the path. Remember to pray always and partake of the Atonement, and she will find what she seeks and live with God forever.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."

After his talk Alayna entered the Water's of Baptism and Jared baptized her. I was standing in the wings and so I had a bird's eye view of the whole thing. :) Thankfully I was....her ponytail floated and the witnesses couldn't see from their vantage point and thought it was complete. I had to speak up and say she had to do it again...LOL! :)  It was pretty funny!

While we were busy getting dry and changed we played two videos. "Our True Identity" by Dieter F. Uchtdorf and "Glorious" by David Archuletta. 

Then Eli gave a sweet talk on the Holy Ghost.

"Wow Alayna I cant believe that you were just baptized! As I'm pretty sure that everyone knows you are probably the most excited person to be baptized ever! I was asked to talk about the Holy Ghost, I think that the Holy Ghost is one of the most important advances in your mission to become a pure beautiful lady that I know you will become.
Alayna I guess you’ve heard that baptism is a covenant right? A covenant a two-way promise. When you get baptized, you promise to be a witness of Christ and take his name upon you. That means to keep his commandments and always remember him.Well, when you make this promise to Heavenly Father, he promises something back. He promises to give you the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Now imagine Alayna you have a special friend which I'm sure you do that you really love to be around.
A friend who helps comfort you when you are sad or scared.
A friend who makes you have a warm, happy feeling in your heart.
A friend who encourages you to do kind things for others.
A friend who helps teach you right from wrong.
You’d probably want to invite a special friend like this to your home. You’d probably clean your house and plan some things to do that would make your friend feel comfortable and welcome. When your friend arrived, you’d listen carefully to that friend. You may even tell your friend how glad you are to be with him or her. So just like there are many ways I can communicate with you, there are many ways the Holy Ghost can communicate with you too. And the Holy Ghost will have a reason to speak to you.
The Holy Ghost is a special friend to you. The Holy Ghost can bring feelings of warmth, love, peace, joy, and can help you want to do good. When you feel the Holy Ghost with you, thank Heavenly Father for this blessing. The Holy Ghost is one of the greatest gifts Father in Heaven can give you.
Just as you’d like to nourish a good relationship with a friend, the companionship of the Holy Ghost can be encouraged in much the same way. We need to be our best and be worthy to have the Holy Ghost with us.
Keep our bodies and minds clean.
Have faith.
Avoid sin.
Pray.
Read and ponder the scriptures.
Once you have done all these things you will have the Holy Ghost with you the Holy Ghost will protect in the many ways I have explained before and more.
But how can he do these things? You can’t see him or touch him or talk to him, and even though we say he speaks with the still small voice, unless it is a very special situation, you can’t really hear him with your ears either. The Holy Ghost has many different ways of communicating with us, and as you grow up and learn and have experiences, you will learn to recognize the ways the Holy Ghost speaks to you.
There is one final thing I want to tell you about this special new gift you have. You can take it everywhere with you. Sometimes in your life you will feel alone, but you will not be alone. The Holy Ghost will be with you, and if you are righteous and keep the commandments, if you keep your part of the covenant you’re making today, you will be worthy to have his guidance, and his warnings, and his comfort. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen."


Jared and the other Priesthood holders in the room gathered around Alayna and conferred the Gift of the Holy Ghost upon her. The blessing was so special. My friend Ann Marie was so thoughtful and wrote down as much as she could and I've tucked it away in her Baptism Book for her to go back to and read whenever she wants to. :)


It was a beautiful Baptism and the Spirit was strong. I had so many family and friends tell me afterwards how much they loved it. It meant a lot to me and our family to hear that from them. We all did our best to invite the Spirit and share our faith with them. 

We had everyone come back to the house for a brunch. I think I made everything one could imagine! LOL! Everyone was surprised as I kept pulling things from the refrigerator, oven, pantry, or wherever. It was sort of like the scene form Mary Poppins when she pulls things from her carpet bag!!! Hahahaha! No one left hungry that's for sure! It's just my way of showing the people I care about most that I love them. I love to cook for them. :)



Congratulations Alayna! We are so very proud of you and your decision to be baptized. We know Heavenly Father is very pleased with you. We are amazed everyday with the young lady you are becoming. You are fearless in standing up for what is right. You are a faithful friend and you love unconditionally. You have so many talents and abilities... even in your short 8 years we have seen them bloom. Your artistic ability astounds us. Your sense of humor keeps us laughing, and your feistyness makes you unique! As we've watched your testimony grow it has warmed our hearts to see your love for your Savior increase. The excitement you've had over making this covenant with your Heavenly Father has been contagious and your friends have watched you and have taken on that excitement as well as they await their own baptism day! We are so thankful to be your parents. We love you so much and know so much more is to come. We are blessed to be able to share the things that will come in your life. We pray for you that you will continue to live the commandments and do what you can to nurture your testimony every day. We know you will do great things in your life and you will be a strength to those you meet! 
With all of our love,
Mom & Dad

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Merry Christmas!!!

Christmas came! 

We had a modest Christmas this year. I don't think anything will beat last year's Christmas with the outpouring of generosity we had from so many family and friends. But it was a wonderful Christmas just the same. :)



The kids were happy as you can see! :D




This picture came out horribly blurry, but Alayna got a journal that locks with a key (which she has been asking for for months) and a pair of boots (which I missed getting a pic of her reaction which was priceless!! Darn it!).

I must have been tired..this picture didn't turn out either...Walker got what most teenagers want. Cash! :P


Eli got his request of a recurve bow. He got a sweet bail of hay to go with it to practice his shot. :) He's been out there for hours every day!


I think Jared like the gift I gave him. His smile said it all. :) I gave him a copy of my journal entry of when we first started dating. I had a disclaimer that I was just 16 so be kind...LOL!


Did I mention she loves that animal baby from Grandma and Grandpa!?! LOL!

It was a relaxing day spent with the ones I love most. I am so grateful for my Savior and all that He has given to me. I'm thankful for this time of year and that we have the opportunity to think more about His life and what it means to us. It's so easy to get caught up in the ribbons and bows but the true meaning of Christmas doesn't come from a store. 

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Christmas Eve-2014

>> Thursday, December 25, 2014

As is tradition we went to Grandma and Grandpa Morrison's for Christmas Eve. 



My Step Grandma Morrison and her fellow Rod made it over this year too. It was good to see them. They will be moving back East soon. 



 Everyone was there this year except for Robin. She was sick and contagious so she was nice enough to not "share" with the rest of us. :) We did miss her though.


The kids were spoiled rotten as usual. Alayna LOVED this baby animal doll Grandma got for her. She wouldn't put it down. :)


We chatted, ate til we couldn't move and had a nice evening as a family. :)


My favorite gift from Grandma (Mom) this year were these super awesome light-up earrings that twinkled different colors!! LOL! She cracks me up!


We got home and tucked the kids in. Santa can't come if you're awake you know! ;)

A few hours later I heard a noise and went out to find the Jolly Guy had come. I took a quick picture and went back to bed. I knew morning would come even earlier than usual...as it does on every Christmas Day! hahaha!

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Say That Again.....??

>> Tuesday, December 23, 2014

I've put off writing a post about this until we had more of the facts. We've had several doctor appts. and I feel like I have enough info. to share what's been going on with Alayna now. 

Early in the school year the school tests the children for routine hearing screenings. I got a call in October from the nurse asking me if Alayna had any hearing loss. I replied no. She then asked if I've noticed her not hearing well at home. Again I replied no. She said that she had screened Alayna on 2 separate occasions and she failed the test both times. 

This was all news to me! I guess perhaps since she's the youngest of 3 kids and no one ever really listens to Mom I just didn't think anything of it when she said she didn't hear me ask something of her. LOL! The nurse recommended we follow up with her pediatrician. We did. 

I made an appt. right away and the doctor tested her hearing in the office. Again she failed the test. She recommended we put her on allergy medicine since her nasal passages looked inflamed and if it was in anyway related to seasonal allergies this was the 1st step to ruling it out. So we left and put her on the meds and made an appt. to return a few weeks later to have a re-test and see how she was doing.

We returned for our appt. a couple of weeks later and they tested her hearing again. Again she failed. The pediatrician then recommended we go to see our ENT that did her tonsillectomy in June to get his opinion and a more accurate hearing screening in his office from an audiologist. 

On Friday the 19th we had her appt. with the ENT. The audiologist tested her hearing in the sound proof booth. Jared and I were standing in the hallway trying to watch what was going on. We could tell the audiologist was getting frustrated with her. He would say point to the hot dog on the picture on the wall and she would point to it sometimes and sometimes she wouldn't. He'd say point to the cotton candy and so on. He held a folder in front of his mouth so she couldn't read his lips. He ran through different tests and  then we were taken back to see the doctor and get her results. 

As we were sitting waiting I had an overwhelming feeling and a confirmation from the Holy Ghost that I "know" she can't hear properly. The doctor came in and said after talking to the audiologist he didn't feel like there was anything really wrong with her hearing. He was suggesting that perhaps she was faking it. I told him I know my daughter and she wouldn't do that. He said, well sometime she would hear the directions and sometimes she wouldn't as if she was trying to manipulate the results. I started getting upset. I said, I know she can't hear. She is a good girl and knows this is important and there is now way she if faking this. 

He looked in her ears, nose, and throat and said the tonsillectomy healed great. Her ears looked clear and the eardrum looked perfect. He said her nose did look swollen. We told him she's been on allergy meds. He said the fluid that covers the nasal passage is the same that covers the eustachian tubes in the ears. We could take her off the meds and come back and have her re-tested. But he said it seemed like a lot of work but if we wanted we could...he'd be there either way. Jared and I aren't sure if he was trying to be funny or what, but it came across and flippant and like he didn't really think we needed to be there. It was pretty annoying. 

I asked if there was any correlation between the fact she's passed every hearing test in school until the year she had her tonsils removed and he dismissed that pretty quickly and changed the subject. Again...he really wasn't winning any points with me. 

Finally he said we could do the new born hearing screening where the computer basically tells us if she can hear or not. Taking her out of the equation and seeing what the results are from that. We jumped on that and set up her test for this morning.

Even though it's her bday today it was the 1st available appt. and we just want answers. We took her to another office with a different audiologist and she ran the new born hearing screening. It was super fast. She explained that the test works by when your ears hear sound they return sound out. The computer can read how they hear by the sound that is returned. The audiologist at this office was AWESOME she was so helpful and answered all of my questions. 

She then took us to get our results with the Physician's Assistant. She came in and handed me the test results and she said that Alayna's right ear is referring on some mid-tones and low tones and her left ear is referring on low tones. Confirming my gut feeling all along. She can't hear! The P.A. said that for low tone hearing loss there is nothing they can do. Hearing aides would normally be recommended but they do not help with low tones. Not very good news. :( She wrote her a note for the school so she can sit close to the teacher and hopefully they will be more understanding with her and make sure she hears the instructions given in class. She also wants to see her back in 6 months to have another hearing check in their sound proof booth. 

She was an excellent doctor. She really took a lot of time with me and explained things so I could understand. She didn't think any of my questions were dumb or ridiculous. I will be returning to this office from now on. We will have to follow up every year with the doctor to monitor her hearing to make sure it isn't getting worse.

So that leaves us really not much further ahead than we were before. I might have to fill out a 504 Plan with the school so that all of her teachers are aware that she has difficulty hearing.  For the most part she is doing very well. She's an excellent student and gets straight A's. She's actually in the top of her class. But she has had some behavior notes here and there....and now looking back with this new information...I know it's because she hasn't always hear the teacher. 

I'm still not convinced this isn't tied to having her tonsils removed. The P.A. also said she didn't' think it was related. However, the pediatrician said if anything it would/could help her if she was having hearing issues. So in my mind...if it could help...couldn't it hurt???? I'm not done looking into this...

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Happy 8th Bday Alayna!

The birthday she's been waiting for all year finally arrived! Alayna turned 8 today!



We had the cousins over for a sleepover and we had to leave early for doctor's appointment to check her hearing. More on that later....

Alayna was dying to go out and celebrate so we took Jen's family and ours out to lunch at Alayna's favorite restaurant.....Red Robin!



We had our traditional gingerbread cookie milkshakes which are Christmas in a glass!!! LOL! We stuffed our bellies full of grub and sang Happy Birthday! She was one very happy camper! :)

Happy Birthday Laney Bug!

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Mesa Temple Christmas Lights...with Cousins!

We had Jared's sister's kids over for a sleepover. We decided to take all of the kids to see the Christmas Lights at the Mesa Temple since we hadn't gone yet this season.

 It was a neat sharing our faith a little bit with them. They loved the vignettes of the stories in the Bible of the accounts of Jesus' birth.




We thought it was pretty awesome to find a "Hidden Mickey" at the Temple! LOL! 



Yes the children are wearing shorts in the dead of winter. I on the other hand was FREEZING! LOL! 

To end the evening we stopped by a family's home in our ward that lights up their house with music and synchronized lights. They really did a great job this year. Complete with Santa in the window! The kids loved it!

We came home and had hot chocolate, popcorn and watched the Nativity video from lds.org. It was a fun night!! 

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All Things Will Be For Thy Good.....

>> Thursday, December 18, 2014

The past 15 months has been a period of time in our lives that we as a family have been tested and tried to such a degree we felt at times we wouldn't be able to endure. With Jared losing his job at the end of August 2013, and then being out of work for 6 months, we prayed constantly for the Lord to show us the way we should go.

In March 2014 Jared was hired on at Dell SonicWall. The work Jared does at Dell is challenging. Calls come in back to back to back and cases pile up quickly. It’s a very stressful place to work to say the least. We were so thankful to be employed again, but the position just doesn't pay him enough to meet our needs.

Now here we are 15 months later….so much has happened. We've experienced things throughout this time that have been hard, devastating, scary, uncertain, and life changing. I think only through the prayers of our family and friends was it possible for us to bare it. Even as I write this and ponder all that has transpired my eyes well up with tears. We are not the people we were before. We couldn't possibly be. The Lord has been refining us with such focus. I know it has only been to mold us to be more of who He wants us to be and has brought us to our knees again and again.

After the trial they say the blessings come. And that is why I’m writing today.
We have some GOOD NEWS!! 

Jared was just offered a position at one of the top 13 Law Firms in the World, Greenberg Traurig, in Phoenix!! This position will be much different than what he’s previously had. He will not be “The Company IT Guy” anymore. His official title is Windows Server/Network Administrator. He will be mainly focused on their firewalls and global firewall reporting, etc,. Such as SonicWall & Global Management Systems. In layman's terms, he will be working in Securities which is what he’s been wanting to get his foot in the door for for quite some time. The experience he gained at Dell was the very thing that opened this opportunity up for him. (Isn't it funny how the Lord works? :) ) The salary should meet our needs, and there is plenty of opportunity for growth for Jared there. He just got his background clearance verified and they sent him his start date of January 5, 2015! We are over the moon thrilled!!!!

We never could have imagined the things that were ahead of us when this all started. I also know that just because Jared has a new job our troubles will not end. It's apart of life to be tested and tried continually. I know as we choose the Lord and turn to Him as we face each test He will bless us....in His own time. Today however, I want to take a moment and reflect and to thank my Heavenly Father for this blessing! We also want to thank each one of you who have continued to remember us in your prayers, who have served our family, and who have loved us every step of the way. We will forever be grateful to you for being God's Hands on Earth. We love you!


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Math Master!!!

>> Monday, December 15, 2014

 All school year long Alayna has been trying to achieve Math Master Status. She has been practicing her math facts like a champ and she finally reached her goal! 

She came home beaming with pride and flaunting her new Math Master t-shirt. Nothing is quite as sweet as when you see your children work hard for something they want and then achieve it!! :)

Here she is sporting her new digs...lol!!




I wish you could have seen her face when she came home that day. She was so excited and she couldn't stop jumping up and down! Then she said, "I'm so proud of myself!" 

We are so incredibly proud of you too Alayna!! Congratulations!!! Love you!!!!

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