Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thursday July 28, 2011

What a wonderful past few days it has been! Our family was blessed with the opportunity to go to Yellowstone National Park with my entire family (siblings and parents and grandkids). We left last Friday morning for Idaho Falls. Idaho Falls became our rendezvous point. We all stayed at the Red Lion, which was across the street from the beautiful falls. We met David and Alisha for dinner and then we all headed back to the motel for swimming and fun. The kids were dying by that point to swim. I think that was the funnest part of the trip for them. Ha ha ha ha! We had the pool all to ourselves, which was good considering we filled it up. (0: We did have an interesting experience while in the pool which I feel is worth mentioning. We met a family who was visiting America from Japan. They were part of a tour group, traveling to Yellowstone on a bus. They had two children. Their daughter was jumping into the pool while spinning in circles. At one point, she missed her jump and fell. Her chin hit the side of the pool and split open. Amy rushed over to help the mom. The split itself wasn't really bad. We gave the mom a butterfly bandage, which closed up the wound pretty well. The problem was, the little girl kept crying. She was unable to move her jaw. At that point, the mom felt she needed to take her daughter to the hospital. Amy and I were both concerned there could be an injury to her jaw. Of course, being in a strange country, and without a vehicle to transport them, the mom was very worried. We would have helped her in a heartbeat, but the motel staff offered to shuttle them to the emergency room. What really upset me about the whole situation was the way the hotel staff talked to the father of the little girl. He had gone to the front desk, trying to see if there was any way the hotel would help pay for the expense of the ER visit. They informed him they were not responsible for her accident. They said she broke the rules and that made them free from responsibility. While that may have been true, there was no reason for them to be so rude about it. You can say that without making the other person feel like a idiot. I was not impressed with the front desk staff. They were rude to my parents when they asked for an ice bucket which was missing from their room. They were rude to my sister when she asked for an extra towel, since her towel had blood on it. We never did find out what happened to the family. I hope they were alright. They were super nice people. I just wish the stupid hotel staff wouldn't have been so rude to them.

Saturday was our first day in the park. We drove to West Yellowstone, where we again gathered as a group and then headed into Old Faithful. Grand Geyser, one of our very favorites, was set to erupt around 4:00 p.m. We arrived with only minutes to spare!! Grand gave a great show!! It was awesome! Then we walked around the boardwalks and headed out to Morning Glory pool. We also hiked past Morning Glory to another geyser located back toward Biscuit Basin. That was fun too! It was a long walk back in, and by the time we got back to our cars, the kids were tired and hungry. We ate a quick dinner and then split forces. Some of our group went to watch Riverside Geyser. Some of us waited for Castle Geyser. We took our kids for ice cream and then to the new visitor's center. We saw Old Faithful as well. We took the kids into the Old Lodge and looked around in there. It was fun! By the time we drove back to West Yellowstone, it was after 9:00 p.m. It was cool because all of our rooms were in a row, with the exception of David and Alisha. They were downstairs. The kids loved going from room to room. I will point out, we were exceptionally cautious about keeping them quiet. With that many children, it was a challenge.

The next day was Sunday and our first stop was Midway Geyser Basin. Then we went to Black Sand Basin and hiked the loop there. We also hiked to Artemesia Geyser, which is a short hike into the woods across the street from Black Sand Basin. It was so enjoyable to be in the woods. I loved the smell of the pine trees and the gentle breeze. The weather wasn't too hot or cold. We were so blessed while we were there.

After our hikes, we drove to a darling picnic site and had lunch. The kids were quick to find a trail which led off into the forest. We hiked the trail for a little way before it was time to depart. It was only a little ways until we reached the West Thumb Geyser Basin. I love West Thumb. The first time we saw that basin, it was ugly. The pools were brown. It was desolate. Only a couple of years later, there was a shift in the hot spot. Two of the pools became bright blue. One of the pools started erupting enough the boardwalk had to be moved back. It was like the basin came to life. On this visit, the basin was equally beautiful. West Thumb sits right on Yellowstone Lake, and the lake was spectacular this year. The water was very high and deep blue. Just gorgeous! There was a pleasant wind coming from across the lake, so the loop by the water was refreshing. It was fun!

After West Thumb, we drove to Grant Village. There is a darling gift shop there, as well as yummy ice cream. Let me tell you, there is nothing more revitalizing to children than ice cream! Ha ha ha! They ate up and then we all spent a while looking around the gift shop. Then it was back on the road. We all regrouped at the Fountain Paint Pots, hiked the loop there, and then headed over to catch Great Fountain Geyser. Great Fountain is another favorite of our family. The crater it is located in is spectacular, but it also has an amazing eruption. We arrived just in time to see the geyser erupt. By that time, it was dinner time and we had some hungry troopers. So we all decided to head back to West Yellowstone for dinner.

Monday was another great day. Unfortunately part of our family had to head for home. Poor Chris and Jessica ended up with a very sick little girl. Annie threw up five times in the night. Poor Alexis woke up in the middle of it all and cried for almost two hours. Jessica was beside herself by morning. They decided they better head back to Burley to care for their sick one. We were fortunate in that we got to keep Burke. He is such a great kid, it wasn't a problem at all to keep him. (0:

Our first stop was Norris Geyser Basin. I was always a fan of Norris when I was younger, but this year, it wasn't great. Many of the pools were dull. There were tons of people and it was very hot. But even with the setbacks, it was fun to be a family, walking around and laughing together. By the time we finished our hikes at Norris, the kids were starving. I have to admit, I was hungry too. We found a really fun picnic area with a creek. We stayed there for a while and let the kids play in the water. They had a blast! They could have gladly stayed by that little creek all day long. But reality set in, and it was time to hit our next destination: Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Our first stop was Brink of Lower Falls. You get to hike about half a mile down to a viewpoint right at the edge of the falls. It was amazing! After all the hiking we had done thus far, the kids were tired. They did not want to hike anymore. Dawn and Jaxon have a favorite hike they like to do every year, which was an additional three miles. My parents decided to take the children to the visitor's center in Canyon Village while Dawn, Jaxon, Tammy, Jason and I hiked the North Rim Trail. David and Alisha, Kris and Amy decided to drive the Mammoth/Tower Falls Loop and meet up with us later in West Yellowstone. Our little group set out for our hike. It was truly beautiful!!! We did end up on the South Rim Trail. We saw the area where the man was attacked by a bear and killed only a week before we were in Yellowstone. They have the trail closed and have bear warning signs posted all over the area. It was scary to be in a place where we knew a bear had killed someone. We didn't see a bear on our hike, but we did see a deer. I figured with a deer in the area, there was not likely to be a bear, so we were safe.

After our jaunt, we went back to the visitor's center and met up with our parents and children. Of course, it was ice cream time again. Ha ha ha! (0: Then we left Canyon and drove to Gibbon Falls. The new overlook there is spectacular! They did a wonderful job! There were lots of big rocks there, so you can imagine where the kids played. After Gibbon, it was back to West Yellowstone for food and souvenir shopping. At the end of that day, we were all tired. I don't think the kids have ever slept so soundly!

Tuesday morning it was time to head for home. Part of our family decided to head to Jackson. I didn't have a good feeling about making the trip, and it was a good thing we didn't go. Our van has been acting up for a while now. Unfortunately, the mechanic has been unable to narrow down the problem. He tried, but when he drove it for three days, it never had any problems. Anyway, Jason and I took our little family and headed to Mesa Falls. I have seen the sign for Mesa Falls before, but have never been there. It was so fun! We stopped at both overlooks and visited the Visitor's Center there. I had a special experience while we were at the upper falls overlook. I was standing, looking out over the river. I had been thinking about Ashley the entire trip, remembering what it was like to have her with us. She had been on my mind a great deal that morning as well. As I stood there, I had the most happy, peaceful feeling come over me. It was like she was telling me she was alright and that she didn't want me to be sad. I knew she was near. I am so lucky to have been her mom. Every day it seems like I find another blessing that came from having her as part of our family. I wish I could tell her just what she did for me, how she changed my heart and my life, how she brought such unity to our family. She was my princess, and she always will be.

On the way home, we stopped in Idaho Falls to eat. Right after we got back on the freeway, the van died. It did restart after a few minutes, but after that, it ran rough all the way home. We ended up coming home through Downey. It seemed to do better at slower speeds. I am so thankful I listened to the prompting I had earlier that morning. Had we gone to Jackson, I am not sure we would have made it. Who knows where we would have been stuck, with a van that wasn't running well, and not up to traveling over mountain passes. The cool part of this story is that we had no trouble the entire time we were in Yellowstone. I know that was not an accident. We were blessed. We were blessed with the financial means to make the trip. We were blessed with good health. In the time I needed to know my angel was close, I felt her.

I am so grateful for this wonderful world we have been given to live in. Looking at the beautiful and breathtaking sights around us, there is no way one can deny there is loving Father in Heaven, who loves us, who is always near, ready to help us in times of trial. I feel right now like I am in the eye of the storm. Life this summer has been so peaceful. I haven't felt so much peace in a very long time. While the storms of life continue to rage on, I have learned to dance in the rain. And it feels so great!!!!!!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday July 15, 2011

Okay, so now that I have expressed some of my feelings, I want to update everyone on the Winn Family and our doings over the past month. We have been enjoying our summer very much. The boys took swimming lessons and made great progress. We have had several outings with the cousins, (mostly swimming), and have loved spending time with them. Spencer and Preston both went to day camp not long ago. It was a blast to get to be with both my sons this year. I actually went to Camp Fife two days in a row. The first day was for Wolves and Bears. The second day was for Webelos. I learned so much at camp and found myself enjoying the chance to learn and re-learn several things.

We were also blessed to attend Freedom Fire at Utah State. Diamond Rio came this year and performed before the firework show. They also had a wonderful chorus and orchestra who sang and performed with Diamond Rio and on their own. It was a spectacular show! You never know what will make you sad. I find that out every day. At the Freedom Fire celebration, Diamond Rio sang the song, "One More Day". I have heard that song many times before, but for some reason, the words hit my heart like a sledge hammer. I have to post them here so that you can read them too. It made me think of my beautiful angel and how very much I would love one more day with her!

Last night I had a crazy dream
A wish was granted just for me
It could be for anything
I didn't ask for money
Or a mansion in Malibu
I simply wished, for one more day with you

One more day
One more time
One more sunset, maybe I'd be satisfied
But then again
I know what it would do
Leave me wishing still, for one more day with you

First thing I'd do, is pray for time to crawl
Then I'd unplug the telephone
And keep the TV off
I'd hold you every second
Say a million I love you's
That's what I'd do, with one more day with you

One more day
One more time
One more sunset, maybe I'd be satisfied
But then again
I know what it would do
Leave me wishing still, for one more day with you

Leave me wishing still, for one more day
Leave me wishing still, for one more day

As you can see, the words are beautiful! It touched my mommy heart and made me long to hold my little girl again!!!

Last weekend we had a wonderful opportunity to attend the Merrill family reunion in Sandy, Utah. All of my mom's sisters were there, as well as almost all the cousins. We ate great food, visited our hearts out, and took our kids to the Classic Fun Center. Then it was back to a beautiful park for more food and a special program for Grandma Morgan. I loved the chance to get together. There is nothing like gathering with family members whom you love and who you know love you back. My family, these wonderful people, were the ones who stood with our family when we lost our girl. They sent notes, flowers, emails, care packages, etc. during that awful time. I couldn't have survived without their love and support. What a wonderful opportunity to be with them!!

Yesterday was my 36th birthday. I can't believe I am that old already!! Crazy!! Jason spoiled me rotten, as usual! He bought me my favorite breakfast sandwich from McDonalds. And yes, I do love McGriddles! After swimming lessons, we went miniture golfing with the boys. We were able to play two rounds and our boys did great! They take after their dad: natural golfers in the making! Ha ha ha! Then we went home and ate lunch and rested for a bit. Jason and I left for a while and ran some errands together. It is always so neat to get one on one time with my sweetheart! (0: Then we came home and gathered up our little troopers. We went to dinner and then went shopping at the mall. Then it was to Casper's for dessert. We LOVE Casper's. They have the most delicious brownie delight EVER! That was what I wanted for my birthday treat. We came home and got our boys to bed. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect day. Jason made me feel like his queen. He always does.

As for Jason's job, we are in total limbo. Corporate has not decided what they want to do with him. They are threatening to fire him, as well as all the management team. The whole store hasn't produced the numbers corporate desires. The stupid thing about a company like Verizon is that is doesn't matter how hard you work, or what a great asset you are to the store, or how many customers adore you, including management. If you don't hit their quotas, you are gone. The general manager of the Logan store has been with Verizon for 6 years now. He is a great worker, and has done Verizon well. But now, the store numbers aren't good enough, so the big wigs are threatening to replace him. He says this is the first time in the past six years he has ever stressed over his job. He has a new baby. It is crazy!!! That is the breaks of working for such a corporate giant. They don't care about their workers. All they care about is numbers and money. Years of good service and outstanding work ethnic mean nothing if you don't hit the numbers. I am not sure what to pray for. I don't know if Jason should stay with Verizon. I am not sure I wish for that. If at any time they aren't pleased with his numbers, despite his outstanding work ethnic, they will replace him. You can never feel comfortable. We have lots of praying to do over the whole situation.

Life calls. It is time to begin dinner. I am so grateful for my life. I have much to be thankful for. Logan has been good for us, despite all the hard times. If there is one thing I have learned over the past few years, it is to never fear a challenge. I will face those challenges head on!! With faith in every footstep and a constant prayer in my heart, our family will survive. I will survive! With God, all things are possible!!!

Friday July 15, 2011

I decided I better repent and be better about writing in my blog. I have had so many wonderful experiences over the past couple of months. I have felt a strong urge to write them down, but haven't done it yet. So here goes.

Living in Logan hasn't been easy. I have expressed that in this blog numerous times before. But despite the challenges of our move, I would be so ungrateful if I didn't write about all the good that has come with this change for our family. I learned a great lesson last week. I had the opportunity to attend scout camp with my little cubs. You have to understand, being cubmaster has been the most challenging calling I have ever had. It seems at every turn, something goes wrong. Most of my pack meetings have been miraculous in themselves, simply because of all that has gone wrong. Almost all of my pack meetings have been planned and executed by me and me alone. I have not had good support from my den leaders. They are great at weekly den meetings, but when it comes to pack meetings, they are not helpful. When we held our Blue and Gold Banquet, not one leader helped decorate. My wonderful visiting teaching companion and her friend helped me set up. Only one of my leaders helped me cook that night, and she came 20 minutes before the event started. I thought I would have more people offer to help in the kitchen, with the cooking, or help put food on tables. But no. That did not happen. Instead, I had people criticizing me because we were late starting. I am sorry, but you can't be on time when you have no help. One person only has so much strength and ability. The person who saved me that night in my kitchen was my sister. She sacrificed her entire night to help. Her and my niece, Katriel, ran the kitchen for me. Every pack meeting has been like that. I come. I set up. No one else helps with anything. They don't even make assignments, so I have to scramble last minute to assign flag ceremony, prayers, skit, etc. I do it all alone. I got even more frustrated when it was time for our pinewood derby. Due to track scheduling problems, we were forced to move our derby to April. I okayed this change with my bishop, thinking all would be well. It wasn't. As it turned out, the other ward in our building reserved the gym the same night as our derby. They had a huge activity planned. Instead of telling me about the problem, the ward counsel decided to move our derby to the priesthood room. I only found out through a co-worker about the change. I was upset they didn't tell me there was a problem. After some research, I discovered our track would not fit into the priesthood room. The whole thing would have fallen apart and I would have taken the heat. As it was, I talked to my bishop two days before the derby. He make some calls and the other ward gave up the gym. It came together, but it was a miracle. I, however, came away feeling deeply discouraged. Last month's pack meeting was just as bad. I had scheduled the fire department to come speak. They called me two days before pack meeting and told me they could not come. I had two days to come up with an alternate plan. That was no easy feat!! I had fasted and prayed before this last pack meeting because I was so discouraged. Up to that point, I dreaded every pack meeting. I knew I would be alone and left to fend for myself, and I was tired of feeling like a failure. It seemed like my prayers were unheard. Everything went from bad to worse. The pack meeting seemed to crumble around me. Nothing went as planned. I came home and cried for a very long time. When we went to day camp, the peace I was seeking finally came. As I drove my van full of boys to Camp Fife, the spirit filled my heart. I knew this calling was where Heavenly Father wanted me to be. I knew I would not be alone. No matter how inadequate I am to fill it, he would help me to do my best. With that reassurance in my heart, I knew all would be alright. It was a testimony to me that Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers. It isn't always in the way we think, but He hears us. He blesses us to do what we are called to do. The scriptures are full of wonderful stories about prophets who were asked to do great things, often things they felt were impossible. Yet, with faith and prayer and fasting, all of them succeeded. They did not fail. And I won't either. I just want to serve. I want to do my part and do what the Lord wants me to do. He has given me so many wonderful blessings. I want to pay Him back. I want to keep growing every day, becoming the best person I can be. I want to be with my little girl one day, and I know to get where she is, I have to keep working to be the most righteous woman I can be.

Okay, went off on a tangent there. Back to blessings. I can't tell you how many blessings have been given to our family. We have a wonderful home to live in. We are comfortable and happy here. The boys have the perfect place to explore and play. Our neighborhood is nice and safe. I love my neighbors. They are kind and caring. I got a great job. My job last year was a lifesaver for me. Heavenly Father knew I needed that job. I got out of the house. As you know from previous blog posts, I have struggled with depression. Last year, it got so bad at times, I was in a state of complete and utter despair. I would get so down, I felt like I contributed nothing to this world. I felt no one cared. I felt alone and worthless. It was awful!!!! One of my biggest pick me ups were those kids I was blessed to teach. They were delightful. I came to love each and every student. They were a perfect distraction for me. They made my aching heart feel a little better. There were so many days when I felt such sadness. They helped me to see I had something to contribute to this world, however small it seemed.

Since moving here, we have been blessed numerous times by family members. My sister has been amazing and we LOVE living near to her and her delightful family. It has also been a huge blessing to be closer to Jason's grandma. She has been a mother to him and has helped us so many times, I can't count them all. She is as generous as she is kind. It has been a perfect opportunity to give back to her. At the same time, when we help grandma, our boys also learn the blessings of service.

Jason and I have also grown so close since moving here. Nampa was not good for us. We encountered many hurdles while living there, and it was a blessing to leave those in the past. Last year, we were able to get up every morning and spend the morning getting ready for work together. We had weekly lunch dates, which we both loved. We also have found joy in exercising together. We love to take long walks through the beautiful streets of Logan. Through my schooling last year, Jason came to my rescue so many times. He helped with the house and with the boys. He listened to me when I was down and let me cry when my heart was breaking. When he became ill, it was the perfect opportunity for me to give back to him. The one thing I am really good at is caring for sick ones. I have had lots of practice in that area. So when Jason was sick, it was my privilege to care for him. And I must say, I think I did a pretty good job! (0:

I have also been blessed to attend the temple weekly. I never knew how much weekly temple attendance can bless your life. Now I do! I can't believe I lived for so many years without the temple in my life!! Serving in the temple has given me such peace! For the first time in a long time, I feel like I am truly a worthy, important daughter of God. I have come to appreciate all the trials in my life. A day doesn't go by when I don't thank Heavenly Father for Ashley. I thank Him for every day I had with her. I thank Him for every tear we shed, for the change her sweet life wrought upon my heart. She changed my life. She changed my heart. When I am in the temple, I feel so close to her. It is the one place I can talk to her, I can thank her for letting us be her parents. I wish everyone could feel what I feel when I am in the temple. My heart fills with pride when I think of those great pioneers and my own ancestors who worked so hard to build the Logan temple. My personal connection to it has also brought a special love of my ancestors to me. I feel so happy right now. I love being on the Lord's side. When you put Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ first in your life, there is such peace that comes. Even amidst trials and tribulations, you KNOW you are not alone. You can feel the divine purpose of each and every challenge. I have come to appreciate all the hard times. I want nothing more than to do all I can so that one day, I can be in the Celestial Kingdom with my family. I love my family so much! I love my parents, my brothers and sisters, my aunts, uncles and cousins. I have such a rich heritage, and I will not fail it!!!