Sunday, March 28, 2021

This and That in March

  I got to lead FiA again:

We had a lot of people this time!  I think it helped that the weather warmed up again...

Craig was stretching his calves before he took the kids to the bus stop, so they all had to join in!

And Ryder made this awesome self portrait for school:
See, it unfolds so you can see what's under the mask!  So cute!  I like his freckles, and that part of his personality traits is, "I like dogs"! 😄

For hiking club, we went to Blue Hole.  It's a swimming hole, and even though the weather was GORGEOUS, it still wasn't nearly warm enough for swimming.  Even just dipping the occasional foot in the river (or falling in, as Ryder managed to do) was pretty chilly!  But now that I know what to expect, I'm very excited to go back in July with swimsuits!

I didn't have any pockets to keep my phone handy so I told Adam to take lots of pictures for me and he did NOT disappoint!  I think next time we need family portraits I'll just hire him...
One of the best pictures I've ever seen of Camille...

But this one captures her personality!

Crossing the river!  We'd tried to wear shoes that could get wet, but that didn't mean it was pleasant!

THIS Saturday we had NOTHING going on and it was so great!!!  We really needed that!  Of course, this meant that my bored kids decided to do this:
And this:

Having teenagers is a weird experience.  If Bentley did this as a kid, it meant he was pretty sick.  Now it just means he's a teenager who has to get up early all week for seminary!

Saturday, March 27, 2021

More Celebrating and Hiking

After Colton's baptism, the next most notable event was probably Kendra's first day of school!  We were all excited for her to finally get to go in-person.  And I have been just a little sad to finally admit that she is taller than I am.  I suspect many of my children will pass me up, but this was the first one and it's a weird feeling.  I wasn't particularly emotional about it until I was looking at our family portraits on my phone from a year ago and I realized that was the last portrait where she was smaller than me!  Kind of bittersweet...).  Kendra getting to go to school ALSO marked the first day EVER that all my children have gone to school.  14.5 years waiting for that day-- Huzzah!

This was also my last day with my parents, so we enjoyed hanging out in a much quieter house until I had to take them to the airport.  {😢}

We'd had pretty good weather while my parents were here, but then it snapped back to being really cold and rainy, which made it hard to figure out what to do with hiking club.  So I finally decided to keep things close to home and we just hiked the trails at Monticello.  That's the only hike I'd done before this year, so it felt like cheating?  But the weather was cold and sunny and we had a great time, so who cares?

We had Beth and Sydney and their Yaya this time!  Adam took this picture and apologized profusely for the rainbow sun glare in the pic!  😂🌈

I think this bridge is so cool...

The weekend after this was INSANE.  We had some multi-stake training with Elder Rasband for a good chunk of the day on Saturday (Craig was in meetings from 10:30-12:30 and had to give the closing prayer so that was kind of stressful, and then I joined him for the meeting that was from 12:50-2:30).  Then we had a short hour to undo whatever damage the kids had done to the house during these meetings before Craig's parents arrived to celebrate Colton's birthday with us!
Hiding behind his pile-o-presents

He had been begging for MONTHS now for his very own Scout-- he is SO HAPPY here!

Very jubilant singing!

He'd also been begging for these dinosaur legos, and got them put together in just two days!

He was one happy birthday boy! 😆

Friday, March 26, 2021

Bentley's Talk

As promised, here is the talk that Bentley gave! Enjoy!

Good morning brothers and sisters, My name is Bentley Smith for anyone that doesn’t know me. When Heavenly Father was creating the plan of salvation or plan of happiness a few things he decided to give us were agency, thoughts, emotions, and trials or adversity. While trials usually have a negative connotation and are thought of as bad, they are actually very important. With trials we learn, grow, and are ready for the future. When you look up adversity in gospel topics it says that some people will have trials because of not living righteously but others will have adversity even when following the church. Even Jesus Christ, the only perfect person in the world, had trials and temptations. In fact, he had the worst trial of all so that we could be resurrected one day. 
        Trials help us grow in many ways. Physically, spiritually, and mentally. For example, this summer I started doing cross country. When I started I couldn’t run more than a mile without feeling incredibly sore and not being able to walk smoothly the next day. Now, I average at least 4, and usually more, miles and don’t feel that sore the next day. Trials aren’t always physical sometimes it’s mental like depression or anxiety. Other times it might be a spiritual trial like struggling with the word of wisdom or not keeping commandments. Trials are always meant to help us in the long run and the worst thing you can do is give up because of a trial. 
        If you keep working you will be proving yourself to god. In D&C 121: 7-9 it says “ My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.”  In the October 2011 talk by Elder Carl B. Cook, he tells the story of how during his first week as a general authority he was leaving the office completely exhausted and just staring at the ground when President Monson walked into the elevator. On the ride down president monsoon asked him how he was. He responded tiredly by saying that he was fine. After a brief pause, President Monson smiled and  said “ It is better to look up!” I like this story because it is short and simple. 
Although it’s important to beat your trials, it’s a lot harder when your in the middle of a trial. For example, when I’m in a cross country race, About half through I will start to think about how I will never be able to move again because I’m so tired. In the last 100 meters or so you are supposed to ‘kick’ or basically sprint with all the energy you have left. Usually the things going through my head at this point are something like “ I need water” “ I am not breathing enough” or “why did I come here?” Whats funny is that the whole time I’m thinking about how I’ll never walk again and then within the next 30 minutes I feel fine. Similarly, during trials you will feel like its the end of the world and hopefully after some time you will feel better and know that it is ok. 
        While everyone has trials some people’s trials will be more difficult than others. Others might have lots of trials others might only have one big trial. In D&C 24 verse 8 it says “ Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many; but endure them, for, lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days.” When I was younger I would hear talks about trials and how people overcame them and I used to wish for trials so I could ‘prove myself’ or become stronger. Now that I’m a little older I realize that I wouldn’t mind not having trials. However, in the gospel topics, it says when you have a trial you shouldn’t think “ Why does this have to happen to me”, you should ask “ What can I learn from this” or “What blessing do I have”. 
        Some of my favorite stories in the scriptures are about people that had trials. Stories such as Nephi and how his brothers did everything they could to stop him. I love how even when he was tied to a ship in the middle of a storm that would have sunk them his first instinct was to pray. Then, when he prayed for forgiveness and mercy the storm stopped and it was ok. While your trials probably won’t end that quickly they will end eventually and you will be happier because of it.  Another moment I like is the story of joseph smiths life. While in seminary and come follow me we have been studying and learning about joseph smiths life. He was a man called of God and he also had some big trials such as when he was put into prison. I love that through it all he stayed strong and believed in the gospel. 
        Without trials, no one would ever grow or learn. Because we have trials we figure out solutions. When it was hard to travel long distances we created cars and planes. When we didn’t have a good way of communicating we created phones. All of these things were made because of trials. Without trials, nothing would happen. Trials aren’t fun but they are vital in the plan of salvation and also vital in progressing as the human race. 
        I want to let you all know that I know this church is true and that trials are a part of Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation and will help you in the long run. I leave these things with you, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Colton's Baptism

As you all know, March 13th was the year anniversary of our Covid lockdowns.  But MUCH happier than that, it was also the day that Colton turned EIGHT.  And eight years old is a big deal in our church because that's the age when a child is old enough to get baptized!  And this-- the real reason my parents and Rachael had come to see us-- was on Sunday!

We started out with regular (for Covid) church, and Bentley was the youth speaker so it was nice getting to have everyone hear his talk!  He did a great job on it, too, especially considering we didn't help him AT ALL.  (I'll probably print it here later-- it really was well done!)  We were pretty squished in one pew but after a year of social distancing, it was kind of nice sitting elbow to elbow for a little while...

After church we had time for lunch and Relief Society and naps and then we headed back to the church.  Brother and Sister Steed had stayed filling the font for us (and apparently it had given them fits-- our sad, old building!) so we had plenty of time for pictures!

For reasons I don't understand, Craig was using a weird lens here so the people on the edges look disproportionately bigger.  Grrr...  But it's still a nice group photo...

The actual baptism was lovely!  Donna gave the opening prayer, my Dad spoke on baptism and Ian gave the talk on the Holy Ghost.  Kendra and Bentley got to be witnesses and Craig got to welcome Colton to the ward as the bishop.  And, of course, his comments made me cry.  My Mom played piano (and it was fun hearing her play some of her favorite classical music during the interlude), and I gave the closing prayer.  AND, I even remembered to have Bentley run into the changing room and remind Craig to pull the drain on the font BEFORE he'd changed into dry clothes!  (AND Craig did NOT have his cell phone in his pocket this time around.  Phew!)

So it was all just really nice.  Afterwards, we all went back to the house and Craig and I made dinner for everyone and my mother-in-law had brought about a billion cupcakes for the whole crew, and it was so fun just hanging out and eating and enjoying one another's company.  

It was a really special day!  We're so proud of Colton!

P.S.  A few days later, I found this in Camille's homework folder:
I love her drawings!

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Hiking with Grandparents (and More)!

These last couple weeks were so busy and awesome!  

My parents arrived Wednesday evening and then Thursday was Ryder's and Bentley's first days going to real school!  Yay for things starting to open back up! 

At the bus stop with Camille (Colton had a sore throat and stayed home)

His teacher sent me this!

Yay for my oldest being in high school now!

We didn't do a whole lot else that day so my parents could get adjusted to east coast time, but on Friday, I made them come along for hiking club!

We'd had a Women's Conference a few weeks ago, and one of the speakers owns a bakery in Lynchburg, Mrs. Joy's Absolutely Fabulous Treats.  Ever since I heard her speak I've thought it would be really fun to visit her bakery, and with a little bit of research, I figured out that there's a river walk super close by!  So Craig arranged to take the afternoon off and another family met us there and we all hiked and ate goodies!  Tarsha was there at the bakery, so I even got to chat with her for a few minutes.  And man, everything we got from that place was AMAZING.  Best (and biggest!) cinnamon rolls I've ever had.  The only problem now is that I want to go back!  The weather kept threatening rain, but never really delivered, so that was a relief.  And Tarsha even pointed us to a lovely sitting area where we could enjoy all our goodies before heading home.  What a great day!

I look like I have a halo!

The lovely James River!

Really, I should have taken a picture of the cinnamon rolls-- each one was the size of FOUR cinnamon rolls!!!  And they were crazy delicious, too.

Rachael and Ian arrived late that night, and the next morning-- Colton's birthday!!!-- we hiked the Crozet Tunnel again!  I was very worried about finding parking, but it turned out just fine!  And I was very impressed that we didn't lose any kids AND that my mom managed to keep up the entire time!  Another hiking success!

Any guesses as to who's birthday this day was?

Ian carrying his mini-me, Clayton!

My children are part mountain goat!

What you don't see in the pictures is that this was a logistics nightmare.  Bentley also had a cross country meet that morning, and due to a bunch of unfortunate mistakes, the youth were ALSO going snow tubing at Wintergreen.  Craig's parents graciously offered to help out, and so Craig dropped Bentley and Kendra off at Panorama Farms for the meet, and then Tom and Donna took them snow tubing and brought them home.  It was an incredibly complicated morning!

After that we mostly relaxed and enjoyed Colton's birthday for the rest of the day!

This time Craig was in charge of the cake.  He was following MY instructions, but his turned out way better than mine, I have no idea why.  But it was awesome!

Opening presents

Cousin jumping time!  I love the action shot of Colton here!

Colton had requested Dutch babies for his birthday dinner (nothing like eating a dinner full of sugar and syrup before you move on to cake!)

And, of course, trick candles!

We wore out Clayton!

It was a wonderful day, with more excitement planned for the next day!