The Love of a Child

I miss my kids terribly.

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology I still get to talk to them essentially every day, and I usually get to see them through video chat.  I’m not sure if this actually makes the whole thing easier or harder, but I enjoy it either way.

On my way to church this morning I called to talk to them as they would be in bed before I got home from church.  I was only really able to talk to my wife and one daughter as the reception was pretty crappy.  

About a half an hour after getting to church my wife messaged me saying that my oldest really wanted to talk to me.  Once they were in better cell coverage she called and I was able to talk to her.

She told me about the fun they had had at Lake Tahoe that day, and the good time she had with a friend the night before at a show for her birthday.  She also told me she missed me and she loved me.

It was a simple conversation that lasted barely five minutes, but I know it meant a lot to both of us.  It is important to connect, even if only briefly, with those we love on a regular basis.

She has such a tender heart and I am always in awe of the love she is able to express to me in so many different ways.  It is totally pure and unfettered by any of the cares of the world.  She has no ulterior motive other than wanting to share some time with someone she loves.

I am not around nearly as much as I would like thanks to work and these long absences, but I am eternally grateful for the love of a child that gets me through these challenging times.

What are you grateful for?

School Starting

So this gratitude is really just an extension of my wife’s gratitude, but as it brought her great joy, I too am grateful for it.

Our two oldest kids started school today!

While it is not a total break for my wife yet, she still cut her responsibility in half on a daily basis.  I am happy to report that the kids had a great time getting settled into their new school.

I remember being a kid and always being excited to go back to school.  By the end of summer I was generally bored and just wanted something to do so school was a welcome distraction.

I am so glad that my wife will have more freedom now, and I will be even more excited when the other two start in about a month.  I meant to pull the picture from her Facebook page to show how excited she was, but the computer is off so that will have to wait for tomorrow.

Some of the greatest joy we can experience in life is celebrating the joys of others, which is why today I am grateful for school starting so my wife can get a little break.

What are you grateful for?

Eternal Families

Ty Sealing Day FamilyFor those of you that may not know a lot about Mormons, eternal families are right at the heart of everything we do.  We believe that through the power of the priesthood we can be sealed together not just until we die, but that we can actually be a family even after we die.

In order to do that we must be sealed in one of the 150 or so temples that we have around the world.  Because my Queenie and I were sealed as a couple before our first three kids were born they are automatically sealed to us, but Ty is in a little bit of a different situation since he was adopted.

In order for him to be sealed to us we had to go to the temple again and have him sealed to our family for eternity.  The awesome thing about that is that all of our kids, along with tons of our other family, were able to be there for the actual sealing which just made the whole thing super special.

As we sat in the temple together surrounded by friends and family that love us, and I heard the prayer said to seal our new little wonder boy to our family all I could do was stare at him and his mom and take in the magnitude of the moment.  Three months ago this little guy was in a crowded orphanage with dozens of other kids not really receiving love and affection, a good diet, or much physical exercise.

Now he runs around with two sisters and a brother that love him, eats just about anything we put in front of him, and shares a room with a big brother that adores him.  Today he was surrounded by about 30 other people who also love him and will gladly take care of him for the rest of his life.  On top of all of that, he is now part of an eternal family that will love and care for him through thick and thin.

The magnitude of that reality is a little overwhelming.

In the 15 months or so since we started this process there have been plenty of ups and downs and trials along the way, but witnessing my newest son snuggle up to his mommy who was crying tears of joy as we were sealed together as a family will forever be etched in the most sacred memories of my mind.

The love of family is the most important thing that I have ever experienced, and continue to experience, and that is why today I am grateful for eternal families.

Simple Fun

It seems like life gets more and more complicated everyday.  Add entertaining youth to the list of things that seem to be getting more complicated.

I say “seem” to be getting more complicated because every once in awhile I am reminded of how simple it can be to bring some happiness into my children’s lives.

Today we got together with some of our kids cousins and went up into the mountains for some fun.  We had a nice little lunch, did an activity that lasted maybe an hour, and then had some ice cream before coming back home.  

It didn’t cost a ton, the drive was not bad, the views were incredible, and the company was outstanding.  Probably the best part is that this could be a memory my kids will remember for a long time.  It was also a chance to build memories with cousins that they don’t see very often, something I am trying to remedy.

The point is that we didn’t have to spend a ton of money or go to some exotic place to make some great memories.  We really just had to spend time together in a beautiful place with beautiful people.

There used to be old commercials my church made that were always silly little stories about parents being too busy or ignoring their kids and would then realize they should stop what they were doing and spend some time with their kids.  The catchphrase at the end was always, “family, isn’t it about…time”.

As cheesy as they were, the message really rings true.  We can always buy entertainment for our kids, not to mention using the TV as a babysitter when you just need to get something done, and on occasion that is understandable if not necessary.  

But the single greatest gift we can give our kids is our time.  Many successful business people will tell you that time is their most valuable resource because it is so limited, and that is even more true when it comes to our families.
That’s why today I am grateful for the opportunity I had to spend some time with my kids and their cousins and just have some simple fun.

Coming Home

I have lived a lot of different places in my life all over the world.  Every one of those places has a special place in my heart and I have loved them all for different reasons.

I spent most of my growing up years in Utah so that is where many of my earliest memories are from.  It is where I learned to love the mountains which is why as I drove back into the Salt Lake Valley I couldn’t help but smile.

Seeing the Wasatch mountains grow in front of us as we drove in from the west was simply awe inspiring.  The snow still sitting on top of the highest peaks shows just how much snow the West got this year.

As amazing as the mountains are, they are not what makes Utah home.  After all the places I have gone and all the trips I have taken, family is what defines coming home.

Driving into the Salt Lake Valley with my Queenie and kids, including my newest son who only became a US citizen and few days ago, it really dawned on me how important it is for me to come home and visit family.

They are the ones that have always been there for me when I needed them.  They have celebrated my triumphs and cried with me when I hurt.  

I know that not everything has been perfect over the years, but that is part of being a family: you love each other no matter what.

So while I am excited to be back in the mountains and enjoy the wonderful outdoors, I am even more excited to see my family, and grateful to come home.

Family Time at the Park

Man moving somewhere new with only two days to get settled in before leaving again can be trying.  As hard as it has been on my Queenie and I, it has been equally as challenging for the kids.

Sure they aren’t the ones forking over thousands of dollars for car/cell phone/house/etc. but they have gotten dragged all over the city and made to wait while mom and dad fill out paperwork or take care of stuff on the computer.  I always hate it when I have to say no to doing something with my kids, but sometimes you just have to get it done.

That is why it matters how you spend the time that you do have.

After we were done with all of the business of the day we were able to go and visit one of the many local parks here in Reno.  This one had some dinosaurs for the kids to climb around on and swing under and just run off some energy.  It was extra awesome watching little Hannah chase after the big kids and follow them everywhere.  She may be little but she is not to be deterred when she wants to do something.

After living in the South for so long, it is also refreshing to be able to be outside during the day and not feel like you are walking through a swimming pool.  The temperature was somewhere around 100 today, but we were able to be outside for well over an hour without anyone (including mom and dad) complaining about being hot.

I can’t wait to have more time and really get out and explore the remote mountain areas here, but for now I am grateful for the local parks we were able to enjoy as a family.

Snow

Is it weird that I am grateful for snow on June 29th?  I don’t know, but I don’t really care either.

After spending the morning in what was an incredibly disappointing search for somewhere to live, we took the kids up to the Mt. Rose pass to let them enjoy the mountains for a little bit.
The drive was stunning and the view at the top did not disappoint.  It made me happy when my daughter was disappointed that we wouldn’t actually be going on a hike.

The problem was the snow that was still all over the pass.  You may have seen how much snow the Sierra Nevada got this winter, and a fair amount of it is still up there.  The ski resort was even open still.

What it did allow was for some fun throwing of snowballs and a great way to wind down after a really frustrating morning.  As a bonus check out the video below of my new son’s first experience with snow.

That’s why today I am grateful for snow.