Truman and Eliza’s First Trip to Six Flags

Last fall, we got Six Flags season passes, good through the end of 2017, for Hannah, Abe, Max, and myself. Every once in a while, season pass holders are allowed to bring a friend for free and that day came last week. So me and Max brought Eliza and Truman as our friends. All three kids were very excited to go. It was great motivation. They rarely have done their chores and homework so well as when they were told they could only go to Six Flags if they got it done. :) Here are Eliza, Max, and Truman near the entrance to the theme park. While Truman doesn’t look very happy in this or many other of the pictures, he really was very good and very happy throughout the day. He just doesn’t know how to fake a smile, thus when he is told to smile for a picture, it never comes off as natural.

The first ride we went on was the Tea Cups. Eliza was in a tea cup with me, Daddy, and Max and Truman were in the tea cup next door. All the kids loved it. We did the ride two or three times.

We next went on the Sombrero ride. Eliza opted out of this one. This gave me the opportunity to snap some good pictures of Truman and Max while on the ride. When he’s not posing, you can see the natural joy and excitement on Truman’s face.

We next visited the Carousel per Eliza’s request. She loved it.

Next, we headed to Bugs Bunny Boom Town, a collection of about a dozen kiddy rides all together in close proximity.

We rode the Marvin the Martian Space Ship ride. While in line for this line, we were standing by some kids who were soaking wet. They said they got wet on the Daffy Duck Bucket Blasters ride, and Truman insisted that we go there next.

Truman said the Daffy Duck Bucket Blasters was his favorite ride. Of course, I think at one point or another he said almost all the rides were his favorite.

The last ride I have a picture of is the Harley Quinn Spin Cycle. This was the only non-kiddy ride we did all day. Eliza wasn’t planning to ride it, but when we got to the front of the line with Max and Truman, she decided to go. And she loved it, as did Truman and Maxwell.

Not pictured, but on our way out of the park we also did the Bat Wings ride, which Eliza really liked. And we stopped by the giant play ground in Bugs Bunny Boom Town, and the kids loved that. After three or four hours the park started getting really crowded and the kids were getting really tired, so we headed for the exit. Overall, it was a great day.

The Little Red Hen

The Little Red Hen

Last week Jimmy mentioned that he was weary of the kids having the ‘Not I’ attitude…
which was a perfect lead-in idea to read The Little Red Hen for a Family Devotional.
Ah-ha… interesting how often we sound like the ones who didn’t want to help that hard-working little red hen.

Jimmy shared the scripture in Galatians & D&C about not being weary in doing good for others.

I came across this parenting article which I quite liked for our family….

Posted on Thu, Aug 5, 2010
Parenting lessons from ‘The Little Red Hen’
By Annie Zirkel


In the story The Little Red Hen, the overworked and under-supported Mama Hen spends all her time cooking and cleaning while the rest of her household naps the day away. Finally fed up after getting no help in tending some wheat seeds she eventually turns into flour and then a cake, she answers the question of ‘Who’s going to eat this cake?’ with, ‘Not any of you.’

Of course in the story, losing out on cake is just the trick needed to get her lazy, and now hungry, crew to start pitching in – presumably living cooperatively ever after.

Especially when children are young, this deceptively simple story has some wonderful lessons to offer including messages about working together, planning ahead, standing up for yourself, and the power of consequences.

But, not all of the morals of this story are for children. Many parents fall into the trap of doing most of the work while their children spend their time lounging around, playing and socializing, or focusing on their own pursuits. In fact this dynamic is one of the core power struggles in countless families – who’s responsible for the work and who’s responsible for the leisure.

When my children were little, we came up with a phrase that worked well to address this dilemma. We called it Fun & Done as in: Let’s have fun AND get things done, too. Play and clean up. Cook dinner and then relax for a little while.

Or better yet, have fun while getting the chores done. I used to read to my kids while they folded the laundry. And while the laundry didn’t exactly disappear, it was a nice way of balancing the need to move the day forward with the equally important goal of engaging in the only opportunity we would ever have to enjoy that particular day.

Creating a spirit of family cooperation is the critical element for setting up a scenario where everyone can get better at both having fun AND getting things done. Talking to children about what it takes to keep a household running smoothly is a good segue into getting them on board for pitching in. And of course being ready with those calm consequences is a good idea as well.

But the other obstacle to this approach comes from Mama Hen herself who has to shift her expectations and be open to getting less done, putting away her checklists and re-learning what her children (and maybe even her partner) already know – how to relax and enjoy the moment.

This can be harder than it sounds. I know many moms who admit that they feel better when they do it themselves because it gets done right. Then there are those who may do a heck of a lot of squawking about not liking this setup but don’t insist that their clan pitch in. And finally there are those who acknowledge that they just don’t get the whole “fun” thing. Maybe it’s because they have forgotten or maybe they have gotten so caught up in their “To Do” lists that they don’t know how to stop planning the fun and start participating in it.

So if you would like more cooperation for getting things done and more moments of personal fun, you may enjoy this “To Do” list to get you started:

1. Get the book “The Little Red Hen” and read it to your family.
2. Talk about family cooperation and the importance of everyone pitching in. (For older kids think regular booster discussions.)
3. Besides Fun & Done, consider some of these sayings to get the point across:
Many hands make light work. Work hard, play hard. ~ Nike slogan Life’s not all fun and games. (But there should be SOME fun!)
4. Practice the When/Then technique as in “WHEN you’ve cleaned your room, THEN you can go to a friend’s house.” Though be prepared for lapses and have those consequences ready. 5. Both with and without your family, put some FUN into your day as well. (All work and no play makes Red a dull Hen.)

Finding that balance is challenging and fairly unlikely to stay that way for any length of time. But “time” is the crucial word here. Because before you know it, your kids will be gone and you really will be eating that cake alone. Which is too bad because, like chores, cake is so much better (and definitely less fattening) when it is shared.

Annie Zirkel, LPC is a parenting consultant and workshop presenter based in Ann Arbor.

This week in pictures

light room

We love the duck pond by our apartment. It’s so lovely. It’s a great walk and a mellow family activity (well… as mellow as things get around which actually isn’t very mellow). But it’s a pleasant atmosphere.

Autumn leaves falling! It’s arrived. The weather is perfectly lovely. And we’re enjoying it since we know summer at 110° might be a hard season. We’ve had plenty of rain over the past month which I guess has been welcomed by the people of Dallas as they had a dry summer. I don’t love driving in the pouring rain on The President George Bush Turnpike (yes, that’s the name posted everywhere… so long!). My anxiety picks up after those long drives especially if kiddos are restless and fighting.

Our Utah home was supposed to close Last Monday but for some reason it was delayed … paperwork-smaperwork.
But everything closed properly and we received the $ from the sale. Wahoo!
The unfortunate thing is that I was disappointed that the buyers weren’t a darling little family who would add joys and laughter and friendship to Oak Crest. But perhaps the Spirit of our home and the love of neighbors will touch these men in a positive way. Oak Crest will be so quiet without our noisy family. The Lakes and Condies will have to carry on and make more noise to make up for us being gone… And seriously… I’m still so grateful for the quick sale of our home. What a blessing for our family. I guess there is good that comes of it all.

Let’s see – what else. Hannah is doing great at violin. She has been allowed out of seclusion (sounds horrible… but really she had private lessons to catch up to the rest of the class). She’s musically inclined and catches on fast. Love that! She did a fund-raiser for their end-of-school-year field trip.

Best school news of the week is that Hannah made the basketball team. She missed the first day of tryouts because we went to Houston for Patricia’s funeral. The 2nd and 3rd days she missed because she had the nasty stomach bug from me and scotty. The school secretary helped us get in touch with the coach who was willing to have her come Friday during Girl’s Athletics… and then allowed her to use the first few days of practice as her tryouts. Coach Lee let her know on Thursday that she was on the team. Wahoo. She likes many of the girls and a few girls from the ward are on the team.

Also this week, Abe joined the Chess Club at school. A new friend, Jake, is also on the chess club. Abe said he’s a nice kid who seems respectful (a rarity for 11-year-old boys apparently). He’s excited to be involved in something and make more friends. He has had some interesting introductions to many types of people. He met a boy who is an atheist and thus we’ve had many conversations about religions and sharing personal testimony about what you believe.

Max is enjoying having a friend Jackson from the ward who is in his grade. He was able to go play at his house. He was so excited to play some football. Though he jammed his finger which was quite a big deal to him. We told him it was a good experience for him to deal with that. Our friends the Binns have been so kind and welcoming and helpful. Liza thinks Annie is her only friend, though she is Truman’s age. I’m grateful for Amy who has answered all my annoying ‘new person’ questions. Plus, she is nice to sit by me in Relief Society.

Eliza asks all the time if she can play with a friend. It’s sad to tell her we don’t have any friends yet and maybe when we move into our home, we can meet some new people her age. But I am doing preschool with her at home. We use The Moffatt Girls downloads that are so cute. Eliza mostly loves to paint. But she practices her letters and especially her name. I was proud of myself for letting her use scissors. That’s a big deal around here! She also has loved having the Disney Channel in our apartment which is new for our family. The kids are into PJ-Masks and Miles. Liza always loves Sophia the First and the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. She still gets on Youtube to find Peppa Pig though. haha. That peppa pig and her ice lollies and swim costumes.

Ok – I’ll stop with our daily random news. But as evidenced in the photos… isn’t it lovely here in Plano!

light room3

Field Trip to Hilti

2015 11 november1
Our family took a field trip to Hilti. We decided to do it on the weekend so we wouldn’t be a big loud family bothering Hilti employees.
The wall of saw blades spelling Hilti was cool.
The benches and counter top made of beautiful wood from the same Texas tree.
The boardroom of windows was fascinating to the kids and they sat down and had a meeting. I think Abe fired a few people as boss.

I loved the wall of values…
“We Live our Values
The Foundation of our culture is
integrity, courage, teamwork, and commitment.”

Sounds like a great place to be!


October 23, 2015 …
Jimmy started his new job at Hilti as Digital Marketing Analyst this week. We are in awe at all the blessings we’ve received the past few months especially… knowing that miracle after miracle have occurred in our lives.TE 70

Hilti Corporation (Hilti Aktiengesellschaft or Hilti AG, also known as Hilti Group) is a Liechtenstein-based company that develops, manufactures, and markets products for the construction, building maintenance, and mining industries, primarily to the professional end-user. It concentrates primarily on anchoring systems, hammer drills, firestops, and installation systems, but manufactures and markets an array of tools (including cordless electric drills, heavy angle drills, laser levels, power saws, and fasteners). Hilti, a registered trademark of the various Hilti corporate entities, is the family name of the company’s founders.

After losing his job with the stinkers at the company that will not be named, we were a bit devastated. We knew things would work out eventually but we wondered how long we would endure this trial. Our hope was that this was a necessary step to lead us to the best place for our family. Soon after parting ways with those who lacked integrity at his job, he was searching for the top companies to work at on the Forbes list. Hilti was on that list so he decided to apply. Behold… a job in his alley was available. He applied and received a call when we were in Maryland for Christine’s wedding the next week. The process took a month or so, but this job panned out. Who ever gets a random job without having any personal connections there. See… miracle!

We decided to move as quickly as possible and then list our home. Last minute we decided we needed to list our home before our home-finding trip so we could put an offer on a house. This meant 2-3 weeks of hectic decluttering, garage sale, home staging, cleaning. It was wild and tiring. But fulfilling too. It’s obviously something I’ve been trying to do for years. Yes, years!

I immediately was drawn to the home on Grandview in Texas… though it was far away from Jimmy’s work. It had the best of both our lists. In a neighborhood… on more than 1/2 acre. Close to good schools. Happened to have a swimming pool… which was both a positive and negative on my list. We looked at 12+ homes and decided to try an offer on that house. After a few days of ups and downs, we settled on a price and date to close. Yay! Miracle that we found a house we agreed on! Really…

Now we had to sell the Oak Crest home in less than 21 days or our funding wouldn’t go through. Home listed… and super tidy and clean (thanks to emalissa!). Open House date arrives and Heather is super sick and doesn’t get to finalize all those pleasant final touches. Neighbors are helpful. We receive a full-price offer that afternoon… after one showing. Miracle.

I’m sure I’ve gone over all this before.. but just for the record… in case.

Packers arrive the next week and do the entire home in 7 hours. Way fast… but we’ll see how many things are damaged when we unpack. They are having to load and unload all our stuff so many times to get on trucks and in warehouses and in storage.

Home is cleaned out thanks to Jimmy’s diligent work of taking care of the plentiful odds and ends. He works so hard for our family. I try to work hard. Sigh…

Off we head to a hotel on October 14. Hannah has YW in Excellence and Abe spends the night at Jacob’s as a last hurrah! Thursday the 15th we start our 21 hour drive to Texas. It’s long and we’re saddle sore. But we had fantastic hotels (thanks jimmy!) with lots of helpful people who got Scotty milk in the middle of the night. Drive went smoothly until Max threw up. But even then… we had a barf bucket and things worked out. Then mom threw up. Gross… We arrived in Texas!

Temporary Housing is great. Couldn’t ask for better… not perfect…not the home we are used to…but the best one could ask for. Seriously. So many people have helped make this move possible. They had everything all set up and ready for us to live here… from towels, to silverware, to soap, to bedding even for Scotty. So grateful for this blessing.

Church on Sunday (ok, so it’s so interesting how so many Christians are so amazed that we’ve already been to church. They assumed we’d have to shop around for a congregation. Nope. We are Mormons and we know right where to go! Love that!)

School on Monday. Oh, the anxiety of the kids. But they each did great. So many were so kind and helpful and welcoming. We have a long drive every day… 40 minutes each way… x4. That’s a doozy. And we’ll be so grateful to close on our home… November 20… 10 days earlier than our original date. So glad!

October 29, 2015… … Never did finish my thoughts on this one, but I’m going to publish anyways. I’ve felt so grateful for all those at Hilti and the relocation company who helped things go smoothly for us. Their generosity is humbling. But most of all, I recognize God as the one who has blessed us through it all. We’ve had a million hard things that make me feel so stressed … but 2 million blessings that bring us through. Thank you God for carrying us in so many ways.

p.s. Jimmy has worked for Hilti for 2 weeks now. So many good people. So many have invited him to lunch. Many international employees. He’s enjoying it and appreciates his boss.

Night Games: Relief from Stress

Today was stressful with d.i. runs…
to sorting out all our crud that needs to be organized or junked…
to broken sprinkler pipes x2.
To meeting with realtor.
To realizing how much work we have before Monday and our home is listed to sell.
to single-mothering over dinner and baths and bedtime.
[bless the souls who watched our children today though… major blessing!!!]

but … i’ll tell ya… best time of the day was about 7:30.
My alarm on my phone rang alerting me it was time for scripture study.
Scotty was in the bath and the rest of the house was quiet.
Very quiet.

After Scotty decided he’d walked around in the bath enough…
and tried to get out himself…
we went downstairs to find it dark with all the kids outside playing Night at the Museum.
They were happily playing together… yes, together. [one for the record books, people!]
It brought joy to my heart.
2015 10 October
We’ve had so much stress at home with all we need to do for the move and I know the kids feel it.
I’m so glad they took time to play and de-stress.
I felt especially glad that they finally got to play their night game.
This summer they wanted to but it was still light so late.
Tonight was the perfect time…
one last night-game hurrah before we move [on October 15th, by the way].

Childhood is good for everyone’s soul.

Lunar Eclipse

dallas lunar eclipse 2015
There was an epic lunar eclipse/full moon/blood moon last weekend.
Uhhh, I didn’t even poke my head out the window to see it this time…
but thank you to Mike Mezeul II for sharing this picture of the recent blood moon lunar eclipse over the city of Dallas.
He took the pictures about 10 minutes apart to make this composite photo.
Dallas is where we’re headed in a few short weeks.
So much to do… so little time.

The emotions of CHANGE

inside-out-heroI took the kiddos to Inside Out movie at Water Gardens as a reward for enduring and working at the yard sale. The kids have been wanting to see it, but no way are we paying to go to the expensive theater. Anyhoo… it was a once-a-year special occasion with popcorn and drinks. “Whoa mom! Thanks so much,” said the kids.

The movie is about a girl who moves from Minnesota to San Francisco. And then they go through all the emotions she feels. Joy always wants to take over and keep things running smoothly… but in the end, she realizes that Sadness is important to growth. In the end, LOVE of family helped combine JOY and SADNESS into a core memory. Obviously there was much more to the movie but that was the important part for our family.

It was a perfect movie for our family right now with our upcoming move. It helped me realize some of the emotions and stress the kids experience starting at new school and new ward.

This week I realized that my kids deal with the stress of this move so differently from each other. Hannah can communicate much of her stress and she cries sometimes. Abe just seems to be spinning and not sure where to land with it all. Max sometimes communicates, sometimes gets irritated with others. Tru and Eliza don’t understand how they feel and what the stress is all about… but they feel it. Mostly it shows in their behavior. Lots of whining and impatience.

I hope we can help them learn to deal with change in a positive way… to communicate in words to help resolve things inside. It’s okay to feel! It’s how we learn to deal with those feelings that might be tricky. It’s okay to feel mad… but not okay to hit brother because of that anger. It’s okay to feel sad… but not okay to bring others down by your attitude. It’s okay to feel excited… but important to understand that not everyone might feel the same as you.

Anyhoo… emotions. Good to understand and learn to communicate about… something that may take a lifetime (or beyond) to figure out with all our various relationships.

Texas, Here we come!

non-commercial prints for us
Looks like we’re moving to Texas, y’all!
Jimmy accepted a job with Hilti, an international high-end tool company.
They were listed on the top 100 companies to work for so we are hopeful.
The kids are anxious and a bit sad to leave friends. Lots of tears.
Jimmy is hopeful about the job and excited to have more land and a larger home.
Heather is stressed and overwhelmed by the busyness that accompanies moving…
and the emotions of helping everyone stay optimistic.
My hope is that in a few years we will be overwhelmed by the feeling that it was one of the best moves we have made.
I so appreciate our time in Utah… being closer to my parents.
Being amidst the mountains… oh, my heart! The Mountains!
Fresh clear water… the trail by our home… The spring and autumn!
And the temples… oh, how we’ve loved being so close to so many temples!
It takes me years to find dear friends and I have found many here.
I’m so grateful for their positive influence in my life.

But… onward we shall go. Pressing forward on this journey!

Jelly Belly Beans

This summer we bought one of the big Jelly Belly Bean containers from Costco. We enjoyed quizzing each other on mystery flavors. The worst was when we thought we had a chocolate pudding but it turned out to be a cappuccino. Bleh. Today we did a survey (not very scientific, I might add) about our favorite flavors. We had to throw out some of Liza’s answers because I definitely know she doesn’t like Black Licorice or Cinnamon. These were the overall favorites.

And for fun… found these jelly bean art pieces online.