Monday, December 22, 2008

Orlando's Story

I asked Orlando about a picture he drew.   Here is what I was told:

I was in a race.  We were racing in a maze. I was going super fast on my fire-car skateboard!  Dad and I we was racing fast around and around and around.  Then a shark was chasing us so we had to go faster and FASTER!
 Smiling SharkSo then BLAST-OFF!!!  
We went to outer space. We went to a planet. (He said the word planet with a lot of feeling something more like "plahnnnehtttt" so super wow, awesome, and cool were all inferred.) 

Me: On your skateboard?

Lando: Ya.  and  then we had to come back and we was going faster and faster and then (deep exhale)  We Won!!

Not too bad for a kid who didn't speak hardly at all until after his 3rd birthday.  I'm so thankful for his progress! I love the story because it has all the elements: a beginning, a middle and an end. I also love it because of the picture he drew--big big spirals and then some fuzzy stuff that I guess is the "blast-off" smoke.  There are a couple of faces in the spiral maze--him and his daddy.  

Too cute.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Music 'n Me!

For the last ten weeks we have enjoyed going to a music class.  The class is taught by our friend Valarie Robinson who we  met at church.  She also is a music therapist and  named her first daughter Lara-so she is obviously cool!  What I really enjoy though is her voice.  It doesn't ever get old or annoying.  She plays the guitar and sings a variety of songs we also do fun rhythm chants and play instruments. In addition to that we have "free dance" time. I took the camera last week and thought I'd grab a few pictures.  Above is Ammon-he is just so cute, looks kinda like a fairy or imp to me.

Here's the other two, anything they can bang or make noise with is a win, win situation for raising three boys!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Stephen B. Blaylock
Published Thursday, December 18, 2008
Funeral for Stephen B. Blaylock, 33, of Decatur will be at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 18, at the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints with Bishop Joey Harrison officiating. Burial will be at Bethel Cemetery following the service. Visitation was to be from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Coker-Hawkins Funeral Home.
Blaylock died Monday, Dec. 15, 2008, in Decatur. 

Born May 1, 1975, in Bowie to Elsie Travis and Brenda Jean (Bradford) Blaylock, he married Laura Lee Bigley April 23, 1994, in White Settlement. He was a registered respiratory therapist for Wise Regional Health System for eight years and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints in Decatur.

He is survived by his wife; sons, Brevon, Christian, Lane and Cason Blaylock; daughter, Miranda Lee Blaylock; his father of Justin; his mother, Brenda Garvin of Alvord; brothers, Chad and Brad Blaylock of Justin; grandmother, Betty Bradford of Decatur; great-grandmother, Arlie Weadur; and numerous nieces and nephews. 

Pallbearers are T.M. Bigley, Babe Bigley, Gary Bigley, Cecil Bentley, Tim Warren and Billy Garvin.

Monday's News

(Stephen Blaylock pictured above.)
Monday my sister, Sara, called.  As soon as I said, "Hi.  What's up?"  She was in tears.  She then told me that her brother in law had been killed that morning on his way to work.  He was driving in his lane, someone crossed over and hit him head-on.  He left his wife, Laura, and their five children.  I have met this family a few times, but obviously don't have the relationship my sister does with them.  Still, news of this kind is hard to swallow.  The irony was that their oldest son turned 16 on Monday as well.  You can imagine (or at least try) the extra painfulness that brings.  They youngest child is five.  I have cried several times on their behalf and I think human nature leads most people through a series of thoughts.
1. why
2. how, again?
3. No.
4. why
5. how again exactly?
6. no
7. I'm so glad it wasn't my spouse,parent,child,etc
8. survival guilt for having above thought(s)
9. help, help, help!!  Is there anything, anything I can do?

So, as I went through this I really wanted to do something.  I offered some money and a card, but I wanted to be there, to make food, clean their house, something.  So I prayed.  I then got the sweetest feeling that things were being taken care of.  And good thing since I'm in Ohio and they are in Texas, so not very plausable for me to be there.  

I talked again to Sara that night.  Here is what she shared:
They could hardly get the refrigerator closed it was busting with food.  Relief Society sisters had been scrubbing the house clean.  2 Buckets of chicken, 5 Pizzas were still out.  Large container of tea (who cares we don't drink it?  it's the thought that makes me teary eyed).  Toilet paper, toothpaste, more food, etc etc etc.  As she shared this with me I remembered the peace I had felt earlier and it made me so thankful. Thankful for good people everywhere.  People that love and serve that are members of my faith (the R.S. sisters) and those not (iced-tea).  I love them all.  I'll continue to pray for this extended family member, and if you are inclined, please join me.  The funeral is tomorrow.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Counting Smiley's

Ever since moving to Ohio my boys haven't gone to bed well.  They've gotten up for any and every thing.  They destroy all of their folded laundry which I really can't stand -and do other mean and unnecessary things to torment their poor mama.  All while smiling, giggling, and genuinely enjoying themselves.

Finally, I decided gee, people use charts.  Why don't I use one?  This actually resulted when in a moment of desperation I promised them if they would just please, please stay in bed and not get up, turn on the light, etc I would get them a surprise for the morning.  Well, they responded great and didn't get up!  So I had to think of something.  I knew I shouldn't give them a super big prize or anything since this behavior should continue.  Right? Right.  
Anyway, here is the chart:
(The chart was the surprise the first morning with another prize(toy) after 10 smiley's were earned). 
The pictures represent: get dressed, brush teeth, bathroom, read scripture, pray, and STAY in bed.  They are on Velcro so I can take them off and change the order or just let them hold them or put them on themselves if they need a reminder of what they are supposed to be doing.
The new toy???  ANYTHING from the Dollar Tree.  Yes, we took the chart.  This was to be a BIG deal, they needed to know why and how they earned this great opportunity.  So even though cold and windy, we took a picture!
Don't think that's cool enough?  Think again.  These boys were in heaven.  They counted down the days and worked super hard.  It took about two weeks to earn the ten smiley's.  We are now working on numbers 11-20 and then they will get another trip to the dollar store.  When we get to 30 the chart will be full and I'm considering a big splurge like Chuckie Cheese!  What did they choose?  Ammon: race cars package of six.  Orlando: a four wheeler car and Ivan was a bit more creative: He chose a wand.  Like a twirling wand.  Except he called it a dragon sword and was off to fight dragons with it.  It blinks on both ends.  Exciting indeed, and the smiley's on my face are now also adding up!

Have you bloggled yet?

I think this looks like a good idea.  I wanted to eventually turn some of my blogs into a book anyway.  Plus, the idea of them being lost is depressing.
The best thing is that this is free for your first blog.
Plus, today there are some pretty cool prizes.
Check it out.
Oh ya, and it took about 5 minutes--my kinda project!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Stories Behind my Nativities

I wanted to share some Nativities with you.  I love nativities.  I would have one from each and every country and state if I could.  I love the endless varieties that they come in.  But most of all, they represent one of the most profound stories ever told.  And one that I believe.  Our Savior was born on this earth!!!  

Sorry, the pictures don't do justice.  This one was made by my great great grandma.  (only part is shown here)Laudie Lorraine Bachelor.  She did ceramics and was pretty good at it as you can see.  This is the first year I've had this one to display.  My mom gave it to me when we moved to Ohio.  She was pretty attatched to it, but wanted me to take it as an heirloom.  I love it!!  Always have.  I can remember postioning all of the statues just right, walking by and changing them again.  I just can't say how much this classic white Nativity means to me.
This Nativity was given to me when I was a Spanish teacher.  I taught Elementary Spanish (which is good 'cause that is as good as yo hablo.)  Anyway, it was a gift from my secret-santa that year.  It is from Mexico.  Isn't it cool?  I especially love the red lips on the cow.  

This one probably never will make it to heirloom stage.  Each year I seem to throw more and more pieces out as they break.  Josh and I made it with friends our first year in Little Rock.  I like it because we made it and well, that is enough reason.  

This nativity was cut out by my mom-in-law, Kathryn.  She had it for years and never painted it, so she finally just gave it to me.  I loved it!  Seth (my brother) was living with us at the time, so we painted it together.  He did Joseph's robe in that bold plaid.  I didn't have the nerve, but he could see it.  It looks fabulous. 

Finally, this last one is from Brazil.  Oh, I love Brazil!  Just can't get over that place.  Anyway, this was a gift given to me on my mission.  It is so simple in this little gord, but I adore it.  

I'm glad I wrote this out.  In my opinion the "write" perspective on Christmas decorations should be: 1. something you have from family 2. Something from friends/experiences or 3. If that isn't an option make it so.  I was thinking of buying a cheap Nativity and just letting the boys paint the shepherds wise-men, animals, etc.  Then I could put their names on the bottom and they could be responsible each year for deciding where that shepherd, sheep, etc stands.  

As much as I appreciate and enjoy the Martha Stewart or Better Homes and Gardens Ideas and beauty-it just isn't Christmas if it doesn't have a story behind it.  After all, the story behind Christmas is the very BEST story of all!! 

Sweet Sweet Puffy Lips, the Zoo, and Peppermints

There is one sure way to know if I am upset.  Even when I try to hide it--I puff my lips out.  I remember my sister, dad, mom, anyone saying, "go look in the mirror, you are upset, your lips are giving it away!"  I guess it is true, though I still try to deny it.  Still, looking at this picture of Ammon--made me laugh!  He was upset over getting his hair trimmed.  

Of course, I haven't cut it much, just trimmed it.  Afterall, my lips might puff if I were to see it all gone.

This is my husband.  He is either 
a. an animal lover 
b.  a surfer 
c. a doctor
Which seems most believable? 

I had to include this one of Katie and Ivan.  We were glad to have some company over Thanksgiving and we enjoyed seeing the Christmas lights at the Columbus Zoo.  They are absolutley fantastic.  But, our pictures of those don't look so great.  This one was endearing. 

These last two pictures are more from preparing for Candy-Land Christmas.  See the sash Josh is modelling.  We made 11 of those for the "king candies".  Then with scraps I made the peppermints.  These were original ideas.  Unlike most of my ideas which are stolen from friends and the internet world, these just came from my little mind.  So while they are not the coolest thing you've ever seen, I'm quite happy to see an idea bare fruit.  I mean bare peppermints. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Candy-Land Christmas

Candy-Land Christmas has been in the works for months.  I'm the activities chair in our wonderful Worthington, OH Ward and I have to say I had a BLAST working on this.  I really mean that.  Certain things were stressful, but it all came together so well.  As soon as the idea was formed, it just started falling in place!  
Gingerbread Tree: Gym
Peppermint Forest: RS Room (decorated red and white and where the food was-special thanks to the Gales!  We had pulled pork sandwiches and hot dogs, there was also a pot-luck selection of sides and desserts)
Snow-Flake Lake: Primary Room  
Chocolate Swamp: YW Room
Lolli-pop Woods: North Foyer

Enjoy the pictures!!

Here is Lando on Santa's Lap.  He asked for yet another train.  Ivan was scared of Santa, now he thinks he won't get anything!! I've assured him that I'll talk to Santa!  
This is Snow-Flake Lake.  There were snowflakes all over the walls.  Kids could make snowflakes, do a sticker activity, or play a board game--like Chutes and Ladders or of course, CANDY-LAND!!  Primary leaders decorated this area--great job!
Signs around the building really helped direct traffic and let people know where to go!

Santa did come for a visit in the end.  Our Bishop also gave a short spiritual thought after we sang "Away in a Manger"--and before Santa.  Ammon was nervous, but participated! 
Singing songs and waiting for Santa in the "Gingerbread Tree"
Two of our high-priests as "King Candies".  Josh and I made these sashes with a pocket.  They passed out candy throughout the night.  We had about 10 high-priests participate. It was fun to watch them interact with the kids, and for the kids and adults to realize who had the candy!  I made the peppermints with scraps from the sashes.  The peppermints are also seen in this photo if you look on the wall, and on the floor.
Lolli-pop Woods: This was the north foyer of our building.  Sarah Jackson did an amazing job decorating and several people played the piano or stopped to sing songs in this area.  When you walked in the building, "Christmas was in the air".  Perfect!
So one family in our ward owns this super huge "jumpy-climby" thing.  We borrowed two more from a preschool.  All of these were in the gym along with tracks and trains and cars for kids.  It was the "Gingerbread Tree" area.  It was just a play area and visiting area.  The kids had a blast and I'm so glad no one was hurt besides a bump or two.  We did have signs posted with some clear rules.  They were for the most part obeyed, and I think the lines on the floor helped.  Note: If you need to make a line, or tape anything to the gym floor:  Electrical Tape!! It will not hurt the floor, or the walls!!! We used this on all our signs and the floor, etc.
I wish I had a photo from the chocolate swamp at the beggining of the night.  These were after some of the "prettiness" was gone.  Let me assure you, there were plenty of yummies.  Our youth, especially the Young Women headed this area up.  I think it might have been the favorite with many.  We kept this area for 12 and up to stay and play games, visit.  Young children could come accompanied with an adult, but then were to leave.  This worked well, b/c the youth and others w/out young kids could get away from some noise and enjoy each other's company.  I am happy with how well this event was attended by our youth!

Isn't this awesome!  Reed, Tom, and the Gibby's made this awesome gingerbread tree!  It was also in the gym in front of the piano.  This blocked the piano off, and let everyone know they were in the gingerbread tree area!
The Candy Castle is thanks to Josh, Russell, and Blake.  THEN, the Valentinos painted it and glued candy around windows, etc.  It looked amazing!! It is made of wood, so I'm storing it in my shed for future uses.  The chair actually came from the Elders.  They are teaching someone who just happened to own this chair!
We had signs throughout the building letting you know where to go.  This is gloppy.  He directed the way to the chocolate swamp.  I have to say I am very happy with gloppy, since I do not draw or paint.  Of course, it is a chocolate blob, still I think it looks great!  Orlando also helped me paint.  This is his "King Candy"  I really like it too.  
My family had sooo much fun planning this.  
I'm so happy and thankful it turned out well!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Just a Shirt?

Certain dates mean things to certain people.  Certain material things mean much to people due to their sentimental value.  Such it is with me.
Today is December 4th.  That is the day my daddy died.(1997) And this is a picture of a shirt.  The last gift he gave me.  
I remember almost everything of that day.  It was an unexpected death and very difficult for all of us.  My sister and I lived together as roomates in Fayetteville.  I remember the details of the 30 minute drive to Siloam Springs.  I remember I was speeding and I had the speech prepared for the cop if he pulled us over.  I remember I didn't drive fast enough.
We didn't say bye.  Saying bye is important.  That part is still hard.

But, I do have lots of good memories.  Not many pictures though.  My family didn't take many pictures.  In their defense, this was before pictures became so easy to take with digital and all.  Anyway, I have one of me and dad when I was turning 4 (I think).  The other is of me and dad walking, I am wearing this shirt.  He had just given it to me.  It is a nice cotton and  a Pantagonia- a very pricey brand.  I don't know why or how he afforded to buy it.  That was dad though, buying something to spoil us and giving it to us for no reason at all.  Well, I can't say that this is my favorite-super-stylish-slimming-my-color-shirt.  
But it is my favorite. 
It is super.  
It was in dad style.  
It is not slimming!
and the color--well I think of it as my personal "coat of many colors".  Just as in the Bible, given from a loving parent to a beloved child.  

I don't part with it.  I've moved 7 times.  I've changed sizes probably more than that.  This shirt has missed all the good will donation bags, and garage sale piles, it always makes the cut.  
When do I wear it?  Well, this may sound silly to some, but I wear it when I want to remember my dad.  I touch it, and I know he touched it and hugged me while I had it on.  And, I wear it on Christmas morning.  Cute matching pajamas would be fun; but my preference is a large colorful shirt.  I just like remembering sometimes.

I love you daddy!  
Writing this nice and warm in a certain shirt,

Monday, December 1, 2008

Our Turkey Dinner

Ammon's "age appropriate" Turkey.
Here is Orlando working tediously.

One night in November I didn't want to cook.  It was about a week before Thanksgiving.   I decided to have an early Turkey dinner with all the fixins.  Raisins, pretzels, marshmallows, Doritos (for beaks) choc. chips, etc.  The boys really took this seriously.  I laid my beak flat, but Orlando stuck his right in, giving it more dimension.  Lando also asked for additional "feathers" and covered each one with precision and exactness.  Ivan too worked hard, and Ammon---well, his is more age appropriate. 
Oh, and one day maybe I'll learn how to get fotos correct in my blog posts.  Until then. . .enjoy!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I'm Thankful to be Me!

A children's song goes like this:

"At night when I'm in home at bed, I close my eyes and see the many things I'm thankful for that God has given me.  I see my friends and teachers too.  And others who love me.  These many blessings make me feel so thankful to be me." 

I remember singing this as a child and actually wondering if I was thankful to be me.  Obviously I struggled with self acceptance and knowing that I was loved.  Today I feel differently.  I am very thankful to be me!  Who am I?  Well here are a few of the titles I have been privleged to be:

Eternal Companion
Love of my Life
Lady friend
The Missus
Mrs. Mack
Suagah Mama
Sister McElderry
Just a McElderry
Still a Balsters
Goodie Two Shoes (thanks Sara!)
Good Friend
Close Friend
Best Friend
Sister in Law
Daughter in Law
Child of God
Daughter of God
as in "Seestah Balsters!"  with a thick Brazilian Accent
as in "Meesus Mcjdiej;y" by my ESL kiddos
Larry (thanks Jacob!)
Lara Lee
or better, "Lara-Lee-Chick-a-dee"

Thanks to all of you, who have helped me have these titles and made me "Thankful to be Me!" I love you.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Mother of the Week

I was selected as mom of the week in the Mom's and Munchkins of NW Columbus -my mom's club-.  So, I win a romantic get-a-way for two to . . .okay, just kidding, but I did get to answer the following quesitons.   Thought I'd share:

Name: Lara McElderry
Other half: Josh
Kids: Orlando 5, Ivan, 3.5, Ammon 2
Birthday: Jan 28, 1977
What is your middle name? Lee-my mom named me after her dad. My parents divorced before I was born, my stepdad (my mind real dad) entered my life before I was two. His mom’s maiden name was Lee---a name he wanted to pass on to one of his children. Pretty cool, huh?
Do you have any pets? Nope.
Where did you grow up? Texas and Oklahoma until high skl, then Arkansas.
Where did you go to school/college? University of AR-Fayetteville
What is a good movie you have seen lately? Wall-E
What is a good book you have read lately? FableHaven

Your favorites:

Color? So hard to choose, Red I guess.
Food? Even harder…Mexican
Season/time of year? Fall
Holiday? Kid’s Birthdays
Day of the week? Why? Sunday-we try to do family stuff that day.
What is your favorite thing to do on weekends? quilt
Do you drink alcohol? If so, what is your favorite? No alcohol.
What's your favorite non-alcoholic drink? Root Beer.
Sport? To play, basketball. To watch, college football.
Who is your favorite actress/actor? Harrison Ford, Tom Hanks
TV shows? Office
Author(s)? I’m drawing a blank here-Sandra Cisneros is fun, Rowling is amazing
Musical artist/group? I love the Pandora website-I choose Brazilian stuff.

A little deeper:

What is the first memory you have? Sitting on a phone book so I could see out the window of our old station wagon.
Do you play any instruments? If not, would you like to and what? I can play simple songs on the piano—I would love to play the guitar.
Describe a hobby and what inspires you to do it. I like to quilt b/c of the finished product.
What has been your favorite place to travel to? Brazil for sure.
Do you volunteer or donate to anything? I am the activity coordinator at church (yes, I’m planning a Christmas party for a few hundred people!!) I donate tithes to church, and give to Salvation Army and the homeless guy outside the store.
How many times have you moved? Several.
Are you a good cook? Yes! And that goes straight to my legs, or my thighs, or my hips. 
Are you a morning person? Only if I’ve had enough sleep and no one hit the snooze bar.
What's the last thing you bought yourself, just for fun? A nice spatula. (stainless steel, thick rubber---it was only 4 dollars!)
What is one thing that makes you happy, besides your kids/DH? Compliments.
What is one thing that irritates you? Snooze Bars and kids that miss the toilet when they pee.

Other people in your life:

Who is the person you admire most and why? My mama—it’s a long story.
Who is your very best friend and why? Liz- (a sister in law) she understands me.
What is one personality trait that really impresses you in others? Kindness and not gossiping.
What is one personality trait that really irritates you in others? Gossip.

Your values:

What is the most unselfish thing that you think you have ever done, besides giving birth? Spending 18 months on a mission in Brazil.
What is the one thing that you'd like to change about yourself? I would say the birth defect on my left hand, but I’m so used to it (having it since birth and all.. hehehe). I guess it would be the large ugly mole on my legg (lol!).
If you had one day to live, what would you do? Just lay in bed and gather family. Share memories, and express love.
What would you want people to say about you after you had passed away? I’ll miss her.
Are you superstitious? I do “knock on wood” when I say things are going well.
What is your biggest fear? Ivan’s cancer returning.
What is your dream job? I had it once—teaching 8th and 9th graders English as a Second Language. 
Where is the one place that you want to go and why? Estonia—my husband lived there.
What would you do if you won the lottery? Replace all my clothes!

List 10 fun facts:
1. I love to make birthday cakes.
2. Josh and I met, dated and married in under 3 months.
3. I know how to call the hogs.
4. I make homemade laundry soap and bread.
5. My oldest had speech problems (almost overcome).
6.My youngest had ear infections (tubes fixed that).
7. My middle survived a brain tumor and surgery (much better, still recovering).

8.I am Mormon-that has gotten a myriad or responses from people.

9. I love, love, this site

10. I started a blog this week!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

We are SO from Arkansas

Yesterday was the first snow.  It was an Arkansas snow.  Light dusting, little accumulation and gone by 10 AM.  Still that didn't stop the excitement.  The kids were in my room at six-thirty.  It snowed!  It snowed! It snowed!  We need gloves, hats, scarves, coats, socks, boots, mittens, lots of shirts, etc etc etc.  They bundled up with everything we owned. (by now the temp is probably above freezing).  They go out and play.  It isn't even 7 AM yet.  I looked around our neighborhood.  A few getting in their cars for work.  No one playing.  Except yep, the Arkansans.  I mean snow is snow, right?

Josh tells a story of when on his mission in Estonia it snowed and he started bombing his companion with snowballs.  The companion was from Idaho.  WHAT was Josh doing???  Hey, it's snow!!!

What Rhymes with Mosquito?

So today Ivan says mom,  "I want a mosquito".  

Hmmm.  What could he be talking about.  I know it is lunchtime.  

A mosquito?

Ya, a mosquito---think. think. think. 


Taquito, not mosquito is what he wanted!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A is for Acorn or Apron!

When Josh is on call I sometimes have trouble sleeping. Here is what I did last night:

I love the fall Thanksgiving-ness about these simple acorns!

These acorns are fabulous. The original idea came from another blog called Little Nummies. They used mini Nilla Wafers. I couldn't find those, but I did find mini Nutter-Butters!! I used extra peanut butter to help put the "shell" on and a little touch for a stem. Super fun and super easy! 

Can you tell I couldn't sleep? 
After the acorns, I decided to have fun with some Christmas material. This idea is from my friend Becca who does great work. This apron is far from perfect-but here is the miracle: I sewed something that wasn't a quilt or a receiving blanket! Yay! A big milestone for me, and I enjoyed it! I used a fat bundle of Christmas material so they came coordinated. I did have to piece a few pieces (like the strings) to get the right size. I just couldn't buy fabric by the yard with three boys at JoAnn's. Still, it was worth the trip in the rainy cold to get to make something fun! I used some extra red ribbon around the waistband just cause I had it and thought it was pretty.
So Ruff-i-lee and Christ-mas-ee!

Thursday, November 13, 2008


I have used facebook to "blog" occassionaly, and thought some of you might enjoy reading these if you are not on facebook.  Plus, it kind of updates my blog and tells you more about me and my family.  

Originally Josh was to have the entire day off. He asked several weeks ago and I thought that was so nice-we planned to have family pictures made:a gift for both of us. Awww how sweet. Okay, here is what happened:
Josh didn't get the day off. He came home after 6 and was very tired. He asked if he could lay down for just a minute, but assured me he really wanted to take me out for dinner. So, I let him get a little shut-eye (he has worked over 100 hours in 10 days). I take the kids to a friends house. I warn that Ammon didn't seem to be feeling well. I was somewhat concerned, but really wanted a night out. I went back to the house to pick up my date who was asleep. A few minutes of debating, and I decided to call his name, "Josh, hey Josh, did you still want to go out?" He jumps up with a start, afraid he had missed it, and really did want to go. We decide to try a place not too far, called MACA. It was Spanish Cuisine. It wasn't a very busy night, so the service was good. They told us upfront, the portions were small, so order 3 or 4 things. We chose Croquettes (described as puffed cheese pastries with a variety of sausage), Paella (a traditional rice dish) and Ribs. 
Croquettes: these were okay, but only 4 for 8 dollars, that is two dollars a piece, and well the sausage: remember the school lunch line salad bar? The ham cubes for salad? Yep, that is what we found inside!
Paella: This dish actually tasted great (although it was way too small -like 1/2 C a person) and we were eating and Josh is telling me about his day. "I got to operate today!" 
Oh good, honey what did they let you do?
"I took out an ingrown butt hair!" 
Yeah, I'm so glad I asked. 
So a bite or two later, there is a hair in my paella!! Yuck. I'm grossed and want to complain. But Josh just says, just let it go and let's enjoy the night-I agree. I'm just really looking forward to the ribs by now.
Ribs-They were okay. Not great, but fine-the problem I think they were from a pigeon or some other small herbivore certainly not a pig raised in the South! So small! 
We decide to leave and go somewhere else for dessert. As we are driving down the road my friend calls and says Ammon has thrown up. I feel terrible that she is dealing with this so we go and pick up the kids. We're home by 7:45. We put kids to bed, (my friend bathed Ammon-thanks!) so then what do we do??? 
Fold Laundry of course. It really was nice to have some company during this mundane task-and it did endear Josh to me for at least another seven.

The End!

I woke up and almost immediately told myself, “self, today you will not eat any of those perfected cookies-yes the ones where you use dark brown sugar and extra pecans.” “No matter what, NO cookies.” After all, it is the Sabbath and you should treat your body better. All those cookies, and well…
About this time Orlando enters my room exclaiming that he needs, needs, NEEDS his “Batman” clothes. His Batman clothes are the old ratty Batman t-shirt two sizes too small and a ridiculous pair of yellow cotton shorts—both of which were in the laundry and dirty with sand from his sand angel. (Yes, like a snow angel, only you put your face in the sand and wave your arms and legs.) Anyway, they were dirty, and since it is the Sabbath I didn’t feel like doing laundry. “No” I insisted. “you’ll need to wear something else.”
20 minutes later….
I’m carrying the Batman clothes and some dirty towels (there are always dirty towels) down to the basement to start a load. He is still whining about how he just can’t wear anything else. Finally, I say, “Then stay in your pajamas until this is clean and dry”. “Okay”, he says, easily. That is when I realize he had never actually thought about staying in his pajamas…
So we go to church from 1 to 4. Ammon usually naps about 12-2 or if I’m lucky 3. With Josh on a 30 hour shift I knew I’d have to start early. By 11:30 I had lunch on the table. (Mac & Cheese and chicken nuggets—it is the Sabbath after all, why should I cook much?) I had also started a crock-pot dish for the “linger longer” after church. Yummy BBQ Pork-easy and good. A practical choice in my opinion.
Two bags, a stroller, 3 blankets, a lion, five books, and two back-packs of “special quiet toys” later-we were on our way to church. I unload and we actually claim a row before church starts. Not too bad. Until after the second speaker. The beautiful violin disturbed Orlando’s nap and got Ammon moving-right out of the chapel. Followed by his brother Ivan with no shoes. (don’t judge me here, the kid has recently outgrown his ‘church’ shoes so this morning he wore his clogs-yes the Lighting McQueen” shoes his grandma bought him—he put them on himself and was almost to the van by the time I noticed). Okay so I’m in the hall with Ivan chasing Ammon, and Orlando is in the chapel getting increasingly cranky. I go back in, Ammon cries, but Lando does fade back off to sleep-a rare miracle. Then, Ammon bolts he has discovered the water fountain and the stool. A scary combination. O ya, before this Ammon and Ivan had each strapped a bright red clog to their hand and made a parade beating them by slapping their hand and the clogged hand together, down the isle. So, we’re back in the hall, I’m trying to put Ivan in “Time Out” (a vague parenting concept that I hear works for some, but I have my suspicions). When I get back to Ammon he is soaked. Not a little damp, soaked. “Oh, well” I think, “I am not going home when I’m getting ready for my two free hours of babysitting. I twist his shirt and get a substantial amount of water. By the time he is semi-dry I’m trying to find Ivan, who of course, is not in his “time out” spot. No, he has just woken Lando up in the chapel! So, I take a wet baby, a hyper Ivan, and a very cranky Orlando back to the hall. I really do rejoice in the singing of the last hymn (whatever it was) and set off to the nursery. I laugh when I notice it is warm and they have plugged in fans. I put Ammon in front of it, and run. After smiling at my Relief Society President who asks how I’m doing. “Fine” I say. And I go, for the next two hours I veg. I suppose I heard some concepts, but mostly I’m just sitting and asleep exhausted from my children. By the end of Relief Society I do feel a little more pumped, well, not “pumped” by maybe not quite so deflated, so I go and get Lando, who is talking happily about the pot-luck. I decide to brave it out. We ate and things went relatively well. I took 3 tired boys with BBQ stained shirts home. Ammon fell asleep on the way, and I was trying to minimize trips, so I had, five books, two bags, and a crockpot, plus my keys. A book fell on the way to the door, “oh well” I thought, then I dropped my keys on the porch. “Ivan, please get my keys.” “What, mom?” “Get my keys, please they are up here, on the porch.” He finally gets them as the weight of the bags and crock-pot weigh on me. I get in the door miraculously juggling my junk, turn to sit the rest of the books down-when the crock-pot slips and runny red BBQ sauce goes all over my new carpet. Not somewhere that can be hidden with a furniture arrangement. Right inside, where every friend, neighbor, and pizza dude will see. “OH NO” I yell. “NO, NO, NO!” Ivan is right behind me, “uh-oh Mommy, big mess. Then Lando enters the scene, “who did it mommy?” “I did, Lando. Mommy made a big mess.” Ammon was put to bed and cleaning began. I”ll help you said Ivan, grabbing the nearest thing (a baby wipe) “Look” he says a few minutes later as he proudly showed me his stained cloth, “I got some!” Lando says he’ll help too. So, down on our hands and knees we scrub. I find myself apologizing, but the boys don’t seem to mind. “It’s okay, mommy,” says Lando, “it was just an accident.” “Yeah, “says Ivan, “its okay, we’re helping”. They did too. We scrubbed with the wipes, then the water, then the carpet cleaner, and mom even used the magic eraser. It actually looks okay now. But, what I loved best was my kids showing love to me. It really was okay, and in their own little ways, they did everything they could to help. So, tomorrow I’ll get up and my day will start again-and I will love these boys, and I will be exhausted each day, but first I’m going to have a cookie. Good Night! 
I wish I could post pictures, but those will have to wait: Here is a little of what has happened

Well, we've eaten eaten and eaten--how I love Brazilian food.
We have swam in the ocean, we have seen the most beautiful temple in the world---the Curitiba temple (yes, I have a new favorite!). 

I believe the Lord is helping me find people I knew. I have several examples-=-here is just one quick one. There was an elderly woman that alway gave lunch to the missionaries. She made lace by hand and rarely gave it away. ONe day she gave me a small piece to use in my scriptures as a bookmark. She only asked that I write her after my mission. I said I would and then of course---lost her address. I have felt bad about this for 8 years! When we went to the temple open house who do you think was working at the desk. .. 
Sister Bevenutti!!! I started to cry and FINALLY could apologize for not keeping my word. It was so great.
Later, I will tell the miracle of how I found a girl I gave the discussions to.

Now, Josh and I are on our honeymoon about 10 hours from Curitiba. In Foz do Iguacu. Everyone should visit here at least once in your life. I hope you look at picutres on line, but they really don't do justice. I said to myself the first time I was here that it was so romantic I would one day bring my husband here.. I can't believe it has happened. Last night we went to a show and saw many Latin dances and had an all you can eat churrasco. It was soo fun. 

I just can't express how much Joy I have to see people I worked with and to share all of this with Josh. He is picking up lots of the language--oh and that is another thing--somewhow (a gift of the spirit, actually) I'm speaking again. As well as the last day of my mission. Maybe better-it seems everyone is impressed and no one more than myself--since a week or so before I left I couldn't remember much at all.

I guess I'm in missionary mode-but I want everyone to know the Lord loves you personally! I hope you know and feel that!!

We still have a mission reunion, a cultural celebration expecting 25 thousand people and a temple dedication to go...
plus the parks and souvenir shopping to go--today we are going to Paraguay to the market--it is going to be a new experience....let's see how our Spanish goes---then the next day Argentina--then back to Curitiba for mission stuff.

Love to all of you!
A year ago.
Pilocytic Astrocytoma.
A tumor. Golf Ball. Brain.

You did.


Operation in three days.
Shouldn't be bad.
Home at the end of the week.

Wait.. .

Can't walk.
Isn't talking.
Won't accept affection, my Ivan? 
Won't eat. Won't play.


I'm scared.

A year later:






Jumps, runs, kicks, laughs, eats left handed,


No signs of the tumor last MRI!

This week: two appointments.
Therapy on Tuesday, MRI on Thursday.

I'm still scared sometimes.
I want 100%
Afterall, I am a mother, and he is my child.

I thank our
& Our God.

And I work and pray for his continued improvement. 


For those of you who missed it, you might enjoy the text!

The following was on Channel 7 news. If anyone is interested, we need lots of people to come and count the crunches we do, or/and give a couple of dollars. It is a great cause.

One week from Saturday, Little Rock will be a part of a unique challenge for a very special cause and participants can get a 6-pack while giving back and we're not talking about a favorite beverage.

It's crunch time at the Lady of America Fitness Center on Rodney Parham. And these ladies are getting pumped up for a very special challenge benefiting St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis.

(Jami Hutton, Lady of America Fitness Instructor) "All the Lady of America's, on March 29th, across the country are going to do a crunch-a-thon. So we're going to crunch for an hour and you get paid per crunch. The more you do, the more money you can raise for the children. Get a 6 pack while giving back."

They're so serious about their mission, they've been going through endurance and strength training since January, preparing to meet the special goal.

(Lara McElderry, Little Rock) "I can't do an hours worth of abs, I'm not going to pretend that I can, but it's a good enough cause that I'll try and I plan on hitting at least 30 minutes."

And for Lara McElderry it's also a personal commitment.

(McElderry) "My son had a brain tumor about a year ago this time, I get emotional when I talk about it, but he's great. He's doing wonderful. But, I know there are a lot children who aren't as fortunate but need help."

The McElderry's have gone from tragedy to triumph, and while Ivan was treated at Arkansas Children's Hospital, his mom knows what it's like for families and is willing to endure the slight discomfort to make a difference.

(Lara) "It's nothing compared to what the parents go through when they have a child with needs. It hurts a little but if you're even semi-healthy, it's worth it. It's good for yourself and for the kids."

(Jami) "It's open to members and non members alike, it's open to men and women, so anybody can come in and crunch as much as they can and raise as much money as they can. Every little bit helps."

Hutton says St.Jude never turns away sick children regardless of the family's ability to pay. Ab crunch participants also hope to make the Guinness World History for the most crunches done by a group in one hour.

They're still looking for sponsors and participants and you can get more information by access through ours at KATV. COM.
Email To A Friend
First, to explain match day if you are not familiar with it. It is 150 graduating medical students finding out where they will live the next 3-5 years of their lives. It is emotional, high-stress, and is fun to see everyone's hard work paying off.

Those of you from Little Rock will want to know where the Dixons and Dylan are headed, but that is for them to tell.(congrats on great matches to both!)

For the McElderry's we have great news. Josh matched in general surgery (what he chose) and also got his number one pick in this competitive field---where? Columbus, Ohio!!!!!!!! We are thrilled, and I am so glad for him. 

It was torture, they call the students up to read aloud in a microphone their match, the problem was, the mic. was terrible, so all I heard was general surgery...blah blah...I was then pushing threw the crowd, trying to find him as he was politely congratulated by all these people, not knowing where he matched....the longest seconds...but now we know and all is well.

already missing so many of you..
Match Day 2008
You're killing me...where? where? WHERE?
Dad, you're our super hero! Way to go!
See how content we are. Good job, daddy!
I wrote this all out---tried to upload a picture, and lost the whole here is the shorter version:

1. We really like South Carolina for the cheap beautiful homes and Ohio for all the fun stuff (Germantown -creampuff picture) and etc. 
2. We also like Dallas, Wichita and Little Rock.
3. We're running out of money, so to avoid debt we're moving into my in-laws rental property in Jacksonville, AR for the next few months. Josh is rotating in Fay'ville again, so we'll be up there some of the time as well.
4. Saving the money will allow us to go to the Curitiba, Brasil Temple dedication (where I served my mission) this summer! Woo Hoo! 
5. Huge moving sale this Sat. Food Storage (like eggs, wheat, milk, tvp etc) also clothes, furniture 100 dollar piano that holds a tune, etc. Be sure to come by for the "I-know-you-so-I'll-basically-give-it-to-you" discount. 
6. Ammon has an ear infection AFTER getting tubes a few weeks ago. I'm not happy....he sure is content to be so sick (he's wheezing again as well)...
7. March 3rd is our last Sunday in LR ward unless we match and come back to LR.
8. Anyone want to help pack?
Ivan was so helpful when we made his cake. He told me with no prompting, "Mom, I love my dinosaur cake!!" This of course made me nothing but excited to be his mom.
Here it is!!
Orlando was also thrilled and was a very good big brother!
It's your birthday, shout "hooray!"
A closer look.

On another note, we're feeling better, check out this photo Josh got of the rest of us last week!!
All in a day's work!

Okay, final note: Josh is going to match in general surgery after all. The pathology was a short-lived affair. He will be much happier as a general surgeon and I'm glad he is going after his dreams. We will be in South Carolina and Ohio next week. I haven't travelled with Josh in ages-almost never without kids, and I'm getting excited..
Josh's handiwork after his brother sliced his arm last week...see, he loves to sew!