Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Card, 2013

It came without ribbons,
It came without tags,
It came without packages, boxes, or bags.
Christmas can't be bought from a store...
Maybe Christmas means a little bit more.
-Dr. Seuss-

A silent night, a star above, a blessed gift of hope and love.
A blessed Christmas to you!

The Armstrong Family

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Tournament Time

Race, Witt and I competed in a tournament in November. It was such a good experience for us.

The tournament was very overstimulating for Race. It was loud and tons of people in a confined space. He wondered all over the place and I kept losing track of him... he would jump from mat to mat watching different things. He loves Tae Kwon Do.
He did so well in his bow-staff competition. He got third place! 
Race makes me so proud. He is always the first one to congratulate the winners even when its not him. I love the sportsmanship he is learning because if Tae Kwon Do.

Witten discovered something about himself at this tournament where the competition was really intense. He loves to compete! Our goal for 2014 is to take him to more tournaments because he loved it so much. Witt got third for his nun-chuck routine, and second in his sparring division. He's quite a little athlete!

And for me, I got third in my sparring division. Can I just say that like Witt, I love competition. I always have. Sometimes it's ridiculous how competitive I get. And I have found out since starting Tae Kwon Do, that I love kicking people. It's very therapeutic. Here's a little clip that John took. But the ref kept getting in the way of him filming, so see what you can:

Here's us with all the other intermediate belts from our studio. Witt competes as a little dragon still.

Go KC's Tournament Team!
The three of us qualified for the state tournament in January!
We love Tae Kwon Do.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Lil' Man's Giant Tonsils

My baby turned four a few months ago. 

Yes I know he's spoiled.
I've even been told I coddle him.
I deny it.
But he is pretty dang cute isn't he?

Since he's four, he gets to be in Tae Kwon Do. He's been waiting for a very long time to be a little dragon.

 Witt shows him how it's done.

He's small, but he's fierce!

Well, my lil' man got his tonsils out two weeks ago. Isn't this the saddest picture?

John and I were so nervous to have Lane's tonsils out after the horrible experience Race went through six years ago (another story for another day).  But for Lane, the procedure went good. Very little bleeding and came out of anesthesia like a champ. I am so glad it's over and done. Dr. Andrews said, "I don't know how such a little guy could have such huge tonsils."

The nurses loved him. They didn't want him to leave. They got a kick out of him when he'd use the call button and order more ice cream. He bossed them around just like he does everybody else, and like everybody else, they did what he said... I don't know how he does it.

Spoiled little stinker.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013, Pilgrim Style

We had Thanksgiving at our house this year with the Bailey side.
It was so great.

Papa made the grandkiddo's pilgrim hats,
We played flag football,
And frizbee.
And ate outside in beautiful weather.
I made the turkey (which always makes me go vegetarian for a week afterwards).
Sis forgot her pies (you owe my stomach some Bumbleberry and Pecan).
Nanna's pumpkin pie is always the hit of the day.
Baby brother brought his girlfriend...
And the kids were covered in cattails by the time it was time to leave.

It was so great.
I love my family.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Zombies, Dragons, and Ninjas

Halloween was super fun.

We made yummy spiders.

The javelina's didn't eat our jack-o-lanterns this year.

A crocodile and ninjas... so funny, they get to be ninjas three days a week at Tae Kwon Do, and still they want to be ninjas. Funny.

Us and the Ragan's went to the trunk-or-treat in Cottonwood and met up with our friends the Bazzill's. Love our Cottonwood friends.
Jadon, Race, and Sister Anderson

Witt and Nathaniel

I think this is the funniest picture ever. Everybody's all out of sorts. Every time I look at it I'm laughing!

Me and Baby Jeffy Dragon.

And in honor of Halloween and all the rediculous zombie craze that's been happening this year, I took a picture of the bathtub after Lane got out. He pulled all the arms off his guys... 

Hope you had a fun Halloween.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Grief Hill

There is trail in Camp Verde called Grief Hill. It was the first road made for travelers to cross the range from Fort Verde to Fort Whipple, before there was a road up Copper Canyon. It is a rocky, narrow climb with sharp corners . Much different than today's I-17 that now climbs Copper Canyon.

It was originally called Grief Hill by miners who had to unload their wagons and carry their supplies and belongings down the hill because it was so steep, and the turns too sharp that wagons needed to be light as possible. So the settlers and miners would carry their belongings down the mile stretch, then walk back up again to get more of their things and head back down.

Later on, Grief Hill lived up to its name when wars between the Native Americans and the Fort broke out. Grief Hill was the site where many people died on both sides, and there are stories told of what the solders referred to as the Grief Hill Massacre.

Today, Grief Hill is a beautiful hike. From the top, you can see the red rocks of Sedona, the Colorado Platue, and the San Fransisco Peaks; each at a different level of view. It is breathtaking.  And in our Tae Kwon Do Studio, running the hill is part of black belt training. The black belt test is in April for many of our friends who have already started running the hill to prepare for the timed test.

We are not training for our black belts yet. We still have a few years before we are at that level... but I've been dying to see the trail. To see if it compares to anything I ran for MCC; South Mountain, A Mountain, the Superstition Foothills. So, after dropping Lane off at school, the boys and I have been going up here and there to get familiar with the terrain, so we can start looking ahead to black belt testing.

I knew I would love it, and I did. Trail running has always been my favorite. But Race, well he hates running. He is clumsy, and awkward and sometimes shuts down when things get hard. I knew this was a push for him. And it was.

The definition of grief is: deep mental anguish, trouble or difficulty, even annoyance and frustration.

I think Race experiences much grief in a melt down. Which is what happened when he got tired of running.

So we walked. And I gave him one of my fabulous inspirational spiels that went something like this:

"Race, it's ok if you walk. We don't need to run it all today. A little today, a little more the next time.  No we're not going back to the car. We're going to get up this hill. We don't just quit when things get tough. Tough things make us tough. We're supposed to do tough things, that's what makes us better, stronger.  It's what makes us leaders. Yes, Race it hurts. Tough things hurt sometimes. But I promise, when we get to the top, it's not going to hurt anymore, and you're going to see how beautiful it is up there. You can see forever. Yes, clear to Canada I'm sure..."

So he walked with determination. And he walked ahead of me because he was mad at me for making him do it. But he just looked forward and walked. To the top. And he loved it once he got there.

And as I watched him walk ahead, I thought of the long speech I gave, that was more for me than him. It was more for me to say out loud than for him to hear. Because as we've been going through our financial difficulties these last months, I have hated it. I have been tired of it, and wanted to go sit in the car instead of walk up another hill. I didn't want to experience the grief, the challenges, the frustration of not having money needed to pay bills. I wanted to ignore the phone calls instead of face them head on. I didn't want to unload my wagon to get up and down the hill. I wanted to go forward, not take steps backward, not rearrange my plans again!

I was reminded once again that every great man and woman who I consider a hero, didn't wake up one day and was all of a sudden a hero. It was because they were tested. They were thrown in the refiners fire, and they fought.  I was reminded of the early saints and everything they had to go through to become a faithful people. I thought of Joseph Smith and my favorite scripture heroes. I thought of my favorite athletes and historical figures I admire. I thought of my parents.

So that weekend after our hike, the dryer broke, the freezer broke, I got pulled over and was given a very large ticket from a very unmerciful police officer, and then the car broke...

And I am being humbled, I am currently experiencing miracles that are taking care of these obstacles in my path, I am being given opportunities to make the most of things, and I am learning more and more what sacrifice really is. And I really feel my family and I will be stronger, more faithful because of these experiences.

I just can't wait to get to the top so I can look down with pride at my experience.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Bear Grills

Cowboy turned seven this summer. He is such a boy! He makes me laugh and pull my hair out all in the same day.

Here's some of my favorites of him the last few months, enjoy and get a good laugh:

"Go over there with that thing so nobody gets hurt."

"Well, that's what happens when you sword fight."

"Put out that fire now!"

"Get away from the cliff!"

"Keep it out of the house!"

"Throw it away from the house!"

"Shoot it away from the house!"

"I said shoot it AWAY from the house!"

He taped his mouth shut himself so I wouldn't have to. :)

"Get down from there!"

"You want a 4-wheeler, earn some money." :)

This is the conversation Witt and I had today.

"Mom!" He yells as he comes running in from outside. This is how most of our conversations start because the kid lives outside.


"Mom that hawk in the tree is scoping out the chickens. I need to get my air soft."

"No you're not."

"Mom, I'm not going to kill him... just scare him off so he doesn't get the chickens."

"Witt, you can't shoot the gun without Dad." (Before I go on here, you need to know the air soft guns are kept in a secret place where Witt doesn't know...)

So the conversation goes on. He doesn't let it go. And ignoring him isn't working. So finally I say, "Witt if you shoot that gun at a hawk you will go to jail because it's endangered." (I have no idea if that's true or not...)

He doesn't believe me. The next thing I know, he has called John at work and explained why he needs to know where the air soft is.

A pause.
Then a click of the phone without a goodbye.
And the look of defeat on his face.

"What'd your Dad say?"

"He said if I shoot that hawk, I'd go to jail."

John and I don't always agree on everything when it comes to raising boys. But I'm glad we see eye to eye on shooting hawks in the neighborhood.

Got to love this kid. 
Watching Witt grow reminds me of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. I can't wait to read these books with him. 

I am so grateful we live where we live, so he can be who he is.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Star Wars Fan Club

We love Star Wars.
All of us.
Not just the kids.

This year we put Harry Potter Party on hold and had a Star Wars Party instead.

So much fun.

 Here is Luke Skywalker, Yoda and Han Solo fighting off the evil Mrs. Darth Sidious.

Yum, carbonate Han Solo (except we didn't have a Han Solo toy, so it is really Obi Wan)

The night before the boys helped me make light sabers.

Han Solo and Luke Skywalker #2 (Witt's buddy Gavin) wearing the remains of the Jedi Training prob (aka the pinata).

Here we have all the kiddo's... why I didn't get a pic of the adults I don't know...
Left to Right: Han Solo, Padawan Jedi Jeffy, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia from Return of the Jedi, R2-D2, Yoda, Little Princess Leia, Darth Vader, and another Luke Skywalker.

These two boys have a special bond. We watch Aunti Adriane's little Jeffy once a week. Witt plays so good with him... kinda makes me want another one. :)

Many thanks to the Freeman's who hosted the party this year. 
Theme parties are so fun.
Especially if it's Star Wars.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

School Days

I love having Race and Witt home with me for school. Here's some random pics of our days this fall:

Due to our personal economy, you've heard me talk about it in past posts...we have three rooms in our house that are not quite finished, so, we turned our not finished bathroom into a classroom for the time being... it's worked out great. It has sat as unused space for over a year, so the boys and I are making the most of it:

Witt spelled his version if the longest word in the world. Can you sound out the word?

In Connections Academy, one of the things I like about it is its clubs. Race gets to be in Julliard Music class and music club, and Witt was invited into the science club... the only first grader in his group (such a smarty pants). So every week he gets to study something specific and write up his hypothesis, process and outcomes. He loves it. He wants to be a geologist when he grows up.

I love homeschooling. We do "article of faith" work every morning... Bell work. :)

Oh the fabulous jacuzzi tub that has sat unattached and unused for a few years... now it's our reading tub.

Every once in a while we join our friends at the home-school group in the area when they've got cool stuff going on.

And so while Race, Witt and I get to spend our days at home, this little guy gets to go to Montessori in the mornings! We absolutely love this little school, and he's been waiting a long time to go.

There have been plenty of days this fall when looking at our personal finances, I have felt that going back to work would solve a lot of our trials.  I have been offered a few positions in the schools here, and the temptation has been great at times... but when I look at the amazing things that are happening within the walls of my home, and the small steps of progress and growth I get to see every day in my boys, I whisper a little prayer of gratitude to my Heavenly Father for my great blessings and responsibility I have as a mother.