Sunday, August 2, 2015

Preserving Agency, Protecting Religious Freedom

Elder Robert D. Hales

Last week we discussed marriage and family.  We know what we believe, however, not everyone believes the same.  There have been many times when my beliefs have differed from someone else's.  Sometimes as we've discussed these difference there has been a mutual respect for each other, but other times, there has not.  

Elder Hales said, "As those around us make choices about how to respond to our beliefs (and might I add, how we respond to other's), we must not forget that moral agency is an essential part of God's plan for all His children. . ."

God gave us the opportunity to choose and to act for ourselves. 
"Our exercise of agency to keep the commandments enables us to fully understand who we are and receive all the blessings our Heavenly Father has - including the opportunity to have a body, to progress, to experience joy, to have a family, and to inherit eternal life." 

"To keep the commandments, we need to know the official doctrine of the Church so we are not diverted from Christ's leadership by the ever-changing whims of individuals."

If we are living righteously and keeping the commandments of God, we are able to have access to the gift of the Holy Ghost.  "This gift provides knowledge and understanding, guidance and strength to learn and gain a testimony, power, cleansing to overcome sin, and comfort and encouragement to be faithful in tribulation.  These incomparable blessings of the Spirit increase of freedom and power to do what is right, for "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
(2 Corinthians 3:17)

This is the key to preserving our agency and protecting our freedom.  If we want to remain free, having the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint, we need to be living righteously and keeping the commandments.
We are given agency. but we are not given power over the consequences of our choices.
We all know that if you break the law, you lose your freedom by going to jail.  The same principle is true with everything else as well.  If we want to continue having religious freedom, we need to use our agency righteously.

"As we walk the path of spiritual liberty in these last days, we must understand that the faithful use of our agency depends upon our having religious freedom.  We already know that Satan does not want this freedom to be ours.  He attempted to destroy moral agency in heaven, and now on earth he is fiercely undermining, opposing, and spreading confusion about religious freedom - what it is and why it is essential to our spiritual life and our very salvation."

Elder Hales then goes on to list 4 Cornerstones of Religious Freedom we must rely upon and protect:

1.  Freedom to Believe - "No one should be criticized, persecuted, or attacked by individuals, or governments either, for what he or she believes about God.  It is very personal and very important."
Many, many times on social media posts, I see individuals attacked, and criticized for posting something they believe in.  Honestly this bothers me. Some of these people are so mean.  If you don't agree with what someone is posting stop following them or being their friend. No one should be criticized, persecuted, or attacked for what he or she believes.

2. Freedom to Share our Faith and Beliefs with Others - "As parents, full-time missionaries, and member missionaries, we rely on religious freedom in order to teach the Lord’s doctrine in our families and throughout the world."

3. Freedom to Form a Religious Organization, a Church, to Worship peacefully with others.

4. Freedom to Live our Faith - free exercise of faith not just in the home and chapel but also in public places.
"Some are offended when we bring our religion into the public square, yet the same people who insist that their viewpoints and actions be tolerated in society are often very slow to give that same tolerance to religious believers who also wish their viewpoints and actions to be tolerated. The general lack of respect for religious viewpoints is quickly devolving into social and political intolerance for religious people and institutions."
The keyword here being RESPECT.  Respect others beliefs. See #1 above.

How can we safeguard these sacred freedoms and rights for ourselves and our posterity?
What You and I Can Do
1.  We can become informed. "Be aware of issues in your community that could have an impact on religious liberty."

2. Join with others who share our commitment to religious freedom. A great example of this is the Vatican Summit that happened just this past November.  There were 14 different faiths from 23 countries who all assembled to discuss marriage and family.  (Read more about the Colloquium on Marriage and Family HERE.)

3. Live your life to be a good example of what you believe - in word and deed.
"How we live our religion is far more important than what we say about our religion."
Don't be a hypocrite.  Live what you preach, and preach what you live.

Friday, July 31, 2015


Last weekend we moved Gram into an Assisted Living Home.
(There are actually 9 of us plus a large luggage cart in this elevator.  Thank goodness no one suffers from Claustrophobia.)
She'll be living in this lovely one bedroom apartment.
(This is a itty bitty photo.  Click on it and it should enlarge.) 
 Gram told us which of her things she would like from her house, and it was our job to load them up, move them over, and decided where everything should go.
For not having a degree in interior decorating, I think we did a pretty awesome job.
 There is a small fishing pond on the property where the kids spent most of their time fishing. 
Grandma spent most of her time trying out Gram's new bed.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Celebrate Summer

Summer vacation has gone by way too fast!  We've been having so much fun, I've hardly had time to blog it all.  What have we been up?
 Last week Clint dusted off his cowboy boots and extra large belt buckle and took #2 and #4 to the Rodeo.  They all had a boot-scootin', rip-roarin' good time.
 We've also gone to a baseball game or two.
Apparently, selfies are a must at baseball games (basically selfies are a must for these two anywhere)!
 So are photos with the team mascot.
We also had Clint cousin, Samantha and her fiance stay with us for a few days.  They're getting married in September.  And yes, I made sure there was no hanky-panky going on.
wink wink
One nice sunny hot day, we took them up to the local reservoir to work on their wedding tans.  As soon as we arrived, the clouds rolled in and the wind picked up.  We were only there for 20 minutes.  It was awesome!  Oh well. . . 
 We've also done some car repairs (when I say we here, I really mean #1).  He super mega talented when it comes to fixing stuff. If you ever need something fixed, he's the man!
 We've also spent a lot of time reading on the sleeping porch/patio (whatever you want to call it).
(When I say we this time, I really mean we.)
 We've also spent most Wednesday at the library where they play a movie, and serve popcorn, all for Fah-Weeee.  Yep, our library is the bomb-diggity!  
We've also sought refuge in the bathroom for an hour when a huge thunder storm rolled in during one of Clint's games.  They eventually ended up canceling the game.
And last but not least, this summer recap would not be complete without me mentioning that we've also shucked a lot of corn (when I say we here, I mean #6.  We took a vote, and crowned her the family's official corn-husker).

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

FHE Fire Side

 For FHE last night, we decided to switch things up.
We packed up dinner and all the kids (well those who weren't working), and headed off into the mountains.
 I think they were pretty stoked!
 Instead of having a typical lesson, we decided it would be fun to have a Q&A-type discussion.
We asked the kids questions, and they asked us- all while sitting around a warm, cozy fire.
We talked about a variety of things- same-sex marriage and The Proclamation, the Sacrament, temples, Jesus, the Book of Mormon, and dating.
It was so much fun, I think maybe we'll do it again next week?!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Don't You Quit!

Do you ever feel like you're stuck in a whirlwind?  You keep spinning and spinning hoping that on the next spin you'll pop out on top.
This year, I'm working on Spiritually connecting with a bunch of things (you can read about that HERE).  As I've been working hard to better myself, the Adversary has also been working hard to thwart my plans, my hopes, my goals, my desires, really any little thing he can.  There are times when I feel so accomplished, content, and happy with where I am and how far I've come.  I feel like I've finally 'got it all together'.  I'm doing good!  Then that whirlwind comes around and sucks me back down to its pit of discouragement, frustration, doubting, and even at times, sadness.  

For the past six months I've been going around and around in this crazy whirlwind.  I'm hoping by year's end I'll end up on top a better, stronger person.

We all have tough times, moments of discouragement, and occasions when life seems to be beating the crap out of us. This, my friends, is the Adversary at work.  He's good at what he does, after-all he's had several 1000s of years to perfect his skills.  How do we beat him at his own game?  How do we make sure we end up on top?  We trust God, and center our life on and around His son, Jesus Christ.

And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall. - Helaman 5:12

Having a life centered on Jesus Christ means that we keep trying. We must trust that God knows what is best for us, and then keep doing the things He has asked us to do, no matter what.- 
We pray even when we feel like we're not being answered.  We continue to read and study the scriptures everyday.  We get up and exercise, and feed our body healthy foods even if we're not physically getting the results we want.  We strive to be kind to those who don't deserve out kindness.  We continue to serve others.

As long as we keep trying, no matter how hard the devil tries to keep us at the bottom of the whirlwind, Christ will buoy us up and we will end up on top.

I love this quote from Elder Holland:
 “Don’t give up. . .
 Don’t you quit. 
You keep walking. 
You keep trying. 
There is help and happiness ahead. . .
You keep your chin up. 
It will be all right in the end. 
Trust God and believe in good things to come."
And that is exactly what I plan to do.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Defenders of the Family Proclamation

by Bonnie L. Oscarson

". . .There is a war going on in this world in which our most cherished and basic doctrines are under attack.  I am speaking specifically of the doctrine of the family.  The sanctity of the home and the essential purposes of the family are being questioned, criticized, and assaulted on every front."

Recently the Supreme Court of the United States of America has civilized same-sex marriage.  This decision definitely attacks the sanctity of the home and the family.

The Church had this to say:
"Changes in the civil law do not, indeed cannot, change the moral law that God has established. God expects us to uphold and keep His commandments regardless of divergent opinions or trends in society. His law of chastity is clear: sexual relations are proper only between a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife. We invite all to review and understand the doctrine contained in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”

"The Family: A Proclamation to the World" was first read 20 years ago!  This was two years before homosexuality began to make it's way into Hollywood, and transgender became normalized and acceptable.
"Little did we realize then how very desperately we would need these basic declarations in today's world as the criteria by which we could judge each new wind of worldly dogma coming at us from the media, the Internet, scholars, TV and films, and even legislators."

There is so much goodness and truth contained in this one page Proclamation.  It outlines God's plan concerning gender role, how to have a successful marriage and a happy family.  It also lists each member's role in the family. The Proclamation ends with a warning:
". . .we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets." 

"The proclamation on the family has become our benchmark for judging the philosophies of the world. . ."

". . .be defenders of "The Family: A Proclamation to the World.". . .We need to boldly defend the Lord's revealed doctrines describing marriage, families, the divine roles of men and women, and the importance of homes as sacred places - even when the world is shouting in our ears that these principles are outdated, limiting, or no longer relevant.  Everyone, no matter what their marital circumstance or number of children, can be defenders of the Lord's plan described in the family proclamation.  If it is the Lord's plan, it should also be our plan!"
Sister Ocsarson list three principles taught in the proclamation she thinks are "especially in need of steadfast defenders"-

1. Marriage between a man and a woman 
"For anyone to attain the fulness of priesthood blessings, there must be a husband and a wife sealed in the house of the Lord, working together in righteousness and remaining faithful to their covenants. This is the Lord’s plan for His children, and no amount of public discourse or criticism will change what the Lord has declared. We need to continue to model righteous marriages, seek for that blessing in our lives, and have faith if it is slow in coming. Let us be defenders of marriage as the Lord has ordained it while continuing to show love and compassion for those with differing views."

2. Elevating the divine roles of mothers and fathers
"Do we also teach our sons and daughters there is no greater honor, no more elevated title, and no more important role in this life than that of mother or father? I would hope that as we encourage our children to reach for the very best in this life that we also teach them to honor and exalt the roles that mothers and fathers play in Heavenly Father’s plan."

I love the story of Sister Oscarson's daughter defending the role of Mother by practically fighting for the opportunity to teach the children at her elementary school about the career of being a mother.

Remember this DEBATE?

3. The sanctity of the home
"All of us—women, men, youth, and children, single or married—can work at being homemakers. We should “make our homes” places of order, refuge, holiness, and safety. Our homes should be places where the Spirit of the Lord is felt in rich abundance and where the scriptures and the gospel are studied, taught, and lived. What a difference it would make in the world if all people would see themselves as makers of righteous homes. Let us defend the home as a place which is second only to the temple in holiness."

"Let us help build the kingdom of God by standing up boldly and being defenders of marriage, parenthood, and the home. The Lord needs us to be brave, steadfast, and immovable warriors who will defend His plan and teach the upcoming generations His truths."

Why Marriage, Why Family

by Elder D. Todd Christofferson

I am so grateful for prophets and seers who can see the future and prepare us and warn us for the things that are to come.  This conference had 6 different talks on the importance of marriage.  Not too many months after, the United States Supreme Court ruled, legalizing same-sex marriage.  The six talks on the subject of marriage was no coincidence.  

This talk was powerful.  It listed plainly why same-sex marriage doesn't work.
Elder Christofferson begins with a quote by Dietrich Bonhoeffer that teaches us the difference between love and marriage between a man and a woman.

"In. . .love you see only . . .your own happiness, but in marriage you [become] a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind. . .Love comes from you, but marriage from above, from God."

To help us understand why and how this is true, Elder Christofferson reviews with us "THE PLAN" (which is known by various names, including "The Plan of Salvation, "The Great Plan of Happiness", and "The Plan of Redemption") .

We first existed as intelligences, that were given form, or spirit bodies, by God. God desired for us to have the privilege to advance "like unto himself".  "THE PLAN" was for us to go down to earth to be tested to see if we would be obedient to everything God commanded us to do.  "THE PLAN" offered us a way to complete or perfect our spirit.  If we agreed to participate in this plan, we would "be added upon" with a physical body.

If "by our choice we would demonstrate to God (and to ourselves) our commitment and capacity to live His celestial law while outside His presence and in a physical body with all its powers, appetites, and passion" we would "have glory added upon [our] heads for ever and ever", which included a resurrected, immortal, glorified physical body.

Elder Christofferson then teaches us that "At least four things are needed for the success of this divine plan":

1.  The Creation of the Earth as our dwelling place.

2.  The Condition of Mortality- "[The] Fall created the conditions needed for our physical birth and for mortal experience and learning outside the presence of God.  With the Fall came an awareness of good and evil and the God-given power to choose.  Finally, the Fall brought about physical death. . . "

3.  Redemption from the Fall - ". . . the plan would become void without some way to overcome death in the end, both physical and spiritual.  Thus a Redeemer, the Only Begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ, suffered and died to atone for Adam and Eve's  transgression, thereby providing resurrection and immortality for all.  And since none of us will have been perfectly and consistently obedient to the gospel law, His Atonement also redeems us from our own sins on condition of repentance."

4.  The Setting for Our Physical Birth and Subsequent Spiritual Rebirth into the Kingdom of God-   "For His work to succeed to "[exalt us] with Himself," God ordained that men and women should marry and give birth to children, thereby creating, in partnership with God, the physical bodies that are key to the test of mortality and essential to eternal glory with Him."

"Knowing why we left the presence of our Heavenly Father and what it takes to return to be exalted with Him, it becomes very clear that nothing relative to our time on earth can be more important than physical birth and spiritual rebirth, the two prerequisites of eternal life."
"A family built on the marriage of a man and woman supplies the best setting for God's plan to thrive - the setting for the birth of children. . ., and the environment for the learning and preparation they will need for successful mortal life and eternal life in the world to come.  A critical mass of families built on such marriages is vital for societies to survive and flourish.   That is why communities and nations generally have encouraged and protected marriage and the family as privileged institutions.  It has never been just about the love and happiness of adults.

I love that last part- It has never been just about the love and happiness of adults.
 I recently had a frank discussion with an acquaintance about same-sex marriage.  She was voicing her opinion that she was in-favor of it, because "doesn't everyone deserve to be happy"?
Elder Christofferson answers this with a resounding No.  Marriage between a man and a woman is part of "The Plan".  It is of God. It is what we agreed to in the preexistence.   It is our duty, our "responsibility towards the world and mankind." 
"Neither we nor any other mortal can alter this divine order of matrimony.  It is not a human invention.  Such marriage is indeed "from above, from God" and is as much a part of the plan of happiness as the Fall and the Atonement."

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Almost Famous

My little girls love watching YouTube videos.  I think they would watch videos all day if I would let them. For months, they have been begging me ("pretty pretty please with a cherry on top" begging) to allow them to post their own videos on their very own YouTube channel.
So without further adieu, may please present to you,

You can find their first YouTube premiere video HERE.
Thanks for watching. Don't forget to hit like and subscribe, and have a nice day!

Monday, July 20, 2015


#3 had a successful ENT visit, and a successful birthday.
The Otolaryngologist removed the extremely large and painful packing up his nose. (Yes, that sponge went clear up his nasal cavity.  See how red and swollen his eye is from all the pressure?  #3 will probably die if he knows I took this photo of him and posted it.)  Shoved more cotton balls soaked in Lidocaine up his nose.  Once his nose was numb, he cauterized all the places that were still bleeding, and re-packed it with a smaller, non-visible pack.  This pack is made out of gelatin and will dissolve within a week or so.

He chose wait until his swollen nose and blood-shot eye are gone before getting his driver's license.  He wants to look handsome in his photo not scary - I told him all driver's license photos look scary.  It's just DMV protocol.
He is back up at work, which is a good sign that he's feeling much better and has some energy back.
This morning I will pick him up and we'll try the whole driver's license thing again.
  Friday night we celebrated his birthday.  I asked him what he wanted for his 'special' birthday dinner.  He said food.  I asked him specifically what type of food.  He said he didn't care as long as it didn't come from the freezer like all the meals he's been eating for the last couple months, and he wanted potatoes- any kind.
So, we had grilled hamburgers and homemade potato wedges.

For his cake he wanted BTS Cake, which seems to be the Number 1 birthday cake of choice around here.
 Then we partied like it was 1999 all over again.
Okay, not really.  We had to keep it toned down, doctor's orders.
 We basically ate cake, and opened presents.  See that weight in his hand? That's Clint signature birthday move.  He's always done it.  He thinks if he adds some weight to a light-weight present, he can trick the recipient into thinking they're getting something huge!? 
It's classic and it happens every time he's in charge of wrapping the gifts.
 I think his favorite present was this cellphone.  We are strange parents and won't get our kids a cellphone until they can pay for it themselves.  He was stoked!
As he was opening up his last birthday gift, it began ringing "All I Do is Win"- you know the song.
It was his dad, complete with a selfie pic and his own personalized ringtone.
Here he is practicing asking for a girl's digits on his sister.  Not really, but it sounded good.
I'm so happy his birthday ended well, and he actually felt well enough to celebrate it.  

Now to go get that coveted driver's license. . . .

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Blessings of the Temple

by President Thomas S. Monson

This talk was short and sweet with a powerful message:
"The Blessings of the Temple are Priceless."

"As we enter through the doors of the temple, we leave behind us the distractions and confusion of the world.  Inside this sacred sanctuary, we find beauty and order.  There is rest for our souls and a respite from the cares of our lives.

"As we attend the temple, there can come to us a dimension of spirituality and a feeling of peace which will transcend any other feeling which could come into the human heart. . . .Such peace can permeate any heart - hearts that are troubled, hearts that are burdened down with grief, hearts that feel confusion, hearts that plead for help."

It's amazing that there are 147 operating temples (144 when this talk was given), 12 under construction, and 14 announced.  That's a total of 173!  My mom recently shared with me a goal her and my dad had when they were first married in 1975.  Their goal was to visit all the temples in the world.  They had a poster illustrating all the temples hanging in their bedroom.  They planned to one day visit them all before they died - all 16 of them!  Needless to say, now that there are closer to 200 temples, their plans have changed.  There are 17 temples just in Utah alone!

President Monson promised us that 
"As we go to the temple, as we remember the covenants we make there, we will be better able to overcome. . .temptations and to bear our trials.  In the temple we can find peace."

I love the following quote from President Gordon B. Hinckley
“I hope that everyone gets to the temple on a regular basis. I hope your children over 12 years of age have the opportunity of going to the temple to be baptized for the dead. If we are a temple-going people, we will be a better people, we will be better fathers and husbands, we will be better wives and mothers. I know your lives are busy. I know that you have much to do. But I make you a promise that if you will go to the house of the Lord, you will be blessed, life will be better for you. Now, please, please, my beloved brethren and sisters, avail yourselves of the great opportunity to go to the Lord’s house and thereby partake of all of the marvelous blessings that are yours to be received there.” 

I know this to be true!  Satan knows how good going to the temple is for us, and for those we serve there.  He will try everything in his power to persuade us and distract us from going to the temple.
We must not let him do this.  A friend of mine, years ago, said she would wake up, put on a dress, and immediately leave for the temple.  If she planned a time, or really put thought into it, something would always come up.  This was her way of outsmarting the devil.  This may not work for everyone.  Some of us live too far away from a temple to do this.

I try to keep a set day and time.  This works best for me.
What do you do to make time for the temple? 

The Priesthood - a Sacred Gift

The Priesthood - a Sacred Gift
by President Thomas S. Monson

I chose to study the words of the prophet this week.  His Priesthood Session talk, this one, was about 

drum-roll please

The Priesthood

Speaking to the priesthood brethren he said, 
"Come, all ye sons of God who have received the priesthood, let us consider our callings; let us reflect on our responsibilities; let us determine our duty; and let us follow Jesus Christ, our Lord."

"Let is take most seriously the callings, the responsibilities, and the duties which come with the priesthood we hold."

Today, my second son will be ordained a Priest in the Aaronic Priesthood.  The stories and counsel President Monson shares in this talk will be a great FHE discussion as we teach, remind, learn, and discuss his new priesthood duties.  

I especially love the following quote:
"I cannot think of a more worthy goal for a young man to have than to be described as were the valiant and righteous sons of Mosiah."

I also love President Eyring's October 2009 talk Be Ready, and this follow-up story HERE.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Sweet 16

 Do boys have Sweet 16's? Maybe they have Smooth 16's, or more likely Sweaty 16's.
Whatever it's called for the male species, this boy is having one.
I am so glad this boy is in our family.  We love him to pieces.  He is smart, hard-working, fun-loving, and funny.  We just can't get enough of him!
The plan was to pick him up from work later this afternoon, drive him to the DMV to get his Driver's License, quickly have some sort of birthday celebration with him before running him back up to work later tonight.


At 11:00 Wednesday night we received a phone call from the scout camp #3 has been working at this summer.  They were taking him to the Emergency Room and needed us to meet them there, which we did, of course! The cause for this visit?  Epistaxis, which is a fancy medical word for . . . . .

a bloody nose.

His nose began to bleed around 9:00 and wouldn't stop.  He went to the camp doctor, who also couldn't get it to stop.  It was gushing blood out both sides.  2+ hours later, they decided it was probably best to take him to the ER before he ran out of blood (I'm totally being sarcastic here.)

The ER doctor, numbed his nose, looked inside, and diagnosed him with  posterior epistaxis, a nose bleed occurring from a broken artery in the back of his nose.  It was a doozy. Along with the gushing blood from his nose, he also had blood clots all down his throat, and was nauseous from all the blood he had swallowed.  Finally the doctor shoved a huge long rectangle, make-up looking sponge up his nostril all the way to his brain.  A little after 1:00 am, we were discharged.  #3 swore he'd wasn't going to sleep because he was afraid of rolling over and hitting his nose, which would hurt incredibly bad.  Not 10 minutes after arriving home, I went in to check on him and he was out like a light.
He slept all day yesterday while his nose oozed and oozed.  Since the nose is also connected to the eyes, his right eye is swollen and crusted constantly with mucus, something that is common in this situation. He seriously looks like he's been in a fight!  When we tell him that, he replies in normal #3 fashion, "Yeah, You should see the other guy!"

 I feel so bad for him.  I wish I could turn everything back to normal for him.  He is out of work for the rest of the week.  Today, on his birthday, instead of going to get his driver's license, he will be going to the ENT to have surgery.  Isn't that what everyone wants for their birthday?

I think instead of Sweet 16, we'll definitely call this one Bloody 16.

Happy Birthday!!!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Summer Camp

One of the fun things about summer vacation is Camp!   
 #4 was the first to pack up and leave me for a week of Scout Camp.
He left the Monday before we left on our family vacation to Yellowstone.
He and his troupe attended Tifie Scout Camp in Mt. Pleasant, UT.
The week was a success and he was able to complete several merit badges, and stay out of trouble!
The day after we returned from our vacation, #3 left for a week of testimony strengthening, games, and girls at EFY.  He had a blast!  We picked him up just in time for our 4th of July festivities.
Last week, #2 deserted us for a week up in the mountains.  This was the last year she could attend Girl's Camp, as she'll turn 18 and graduate this year (How is that possible?)

With #3 gone all week, and #1 working a lot, I already feel like my house is empty.  The weeks that I only had 3 kids at home was quite depressing, and boring.  I told my kids that they aren't allowed to ever leave me again.  And I mean it!!!