Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ammon's Baptism... the Small and Simple Things

For Ammon's baptism back on August 7, I got him a baptism memories book. I've tried several times to get him to write in it, but it wasn't until two nights ago, that all on his own, Ammon pulled out his book and sat down to write about his baptism. If there's one big lesson I need to learn with this child, it's that even though he does need some prompting and prodding, he really likes to do things on his own time schedule! Anyway, after reading his sweet remembrances, I did some of my own pondering. And now, the writing...

About a year ago, we took Ammon to a gathering called "Eight is Great," in which all the children who would be turning eight during the next year were taught about the importance of baptism and some of the things that they could do to prepare themselves. We walked away from the evening with a little booklet of activities that we could do with Ammon to help him prepare. I had all the best intentions... I did pull out the packet several times and we certainly talked a lot about baptism during the past year, but I also did not complete some of the things I'd wished to do before it came time for Ammon to make his decision. Therefore, when it got closer to August and his 8th birthday, I started to feel a little bit of stress. Did I help him really prepare? Does he understand the significance of such an important step? Does he have a strong testimony of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ? What if he decides that he doesn't want to be baptized?

Well, Ammon did decide to be baptized and it was a simple and beautiful experience for him and for me. I let go of all of my grandiose and magical expectations for my first child's baptism, and instead I realized that Ammon is an eight-year-old child and that he has an eight-year-old understanding of the Gospel and a beautiful eight-year-old testimony to go with it (when he wrote in his book what his feelings were after he received the Gift of the Holy Ghost, he described it in perfect eight-year-old terms: "My whole body felt like handwarmers" [I'm thankful for the inspired primary teacher who described the feelings that the Holy Ghost gives us in these terms because Ammon testifies that this is really what he feels]).

I also realized that this is but a beginning for him. He has entered the gate which will lead him back to his Heavenly Father (2 Nephi 31:17). This certainly does not make him perfect, just as I am far from perfect. We both need our Savior and His redeeming Atonement. We both need to plead for forgiveness when we make mistakes. We both need to make this part of our every-single-day lives. I've stopped stressing about whether I sufficiently prepared Ammon for his baptism. Instead, I feel grateful for inspired Church leaders who teach me the small and simple things that I can do with my family to assure that Ammon, and my other children as well, are prepared for life and its many challenges.

Sometimes, when I hear the giggling during a family prayer or the fights during Family Home Evening, or the apparent inattentiveness during scripture study, the natural man in me just wants to throw in the towel and call it hopeless (and I'll admit that I have done just this more than once). However, deeper within me is a strong and fast testimony that if I continue to make these small and simple efforts, my children will gain the firm foundation in Jesus Christ that will carry them through this life's many storms (Helaman 5:12).

Many small and simple things that happened before, during and after the baptism all added up to make it a perfect baptism day. The booming voice of Brother Franz teaching Ammon that his name was being recorded in Heaven twice on that day. The soft but sweet voices of all of Ammon's cousins (on the Zavala end) singing "When I Am Baptized." The inspiration that flowed when I prepared for the talk I gave. The wise words from Aunt Coyo telling Ammon to actually "receive" the Holy Ghost. The beautiful authority to act in God's name, the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood which Jacob holds and with which he was able to baptize and confirm Ammon. The support of all three of my sisters, their families, and especially my parents. The sweet words from a primary president testifying to Ammon that he is literally a child of God.

One more small and simple thing for which I am grateful: I was at Deseret Book about a month after Ammon got baptized and I bought a really cool plaque that now hangs on my my boys' bedroom wall.

I hope that it will serve them as a small and simple reminder of some very important ages and events in their lives. Eight - the age at which they can be baptized and make sacred covenants with Heavenly Father; Twelve - the age at which they can become holders of the sacred power to act in God's name, the Aaronic Priesthood; and Nineteen - the age at which they can become Elders in the Holy Melchezidek Priesthood and full-times missionaries who preach the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.

It continues to be the small and simple things that will help my children to reach these important milestones. It was a beautiful experience and blessing for me to see Ammon reach the first of these important steps.

I'm thankful to have a husband who was able to worthily baptize
our son with the sacred authority and power of the Priesthood.

My big little son.

I want to share my life with them through all eternity...

Ammon loved having his best buddy cousin, Isaiah, here from Utah.
Isaiah got baptized just one month later.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I'm Number One!!!

I won't go into details right now except to say that Ammon is testing me and we seem to butt heads a lot. Sometimes it makes me wonder just what he feels for me. My answer came while we were reading scriptures a few nights ago. He wouldn't participate and I was about to get mad because I thought he was just sitting there drawing. Something told me to just let him be. Thank goodness Jacob was on the same page because this is what he was actually working on.
1. mom
2. dad
3. brothers
4. sister
5. food
6. scriptures
7. roller coaster
8. Halloween
9. birthday
10. Star Wars

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Help

I read a really great book called The Help by Kathryn Stockett... and although I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good read, it's not what I want to write about today. I've had what I'll call a little mothering paradigm shift and I want to write it down 1) so that I'll never forget these sweet moments and 2) because I'm sure that it won't be long before I'll need a reminder. What I want to write about today is the help that I receive each and every day as I go around doing my stuff.

Ziya's new favorite thing is to help me with whatever I'm currently doing. Whether it be cooking something in the kitchen, folding laundry, making my bed or scrubbing a toilet, she wants to be right there (actually, being there is not enough; she wants to be totally involved). She knows how to measure flour in a cup, lock and turn on the mixer, change laundry from one machine to the other, sort socks and pile them according to what room they will go in, and wash and dry dishes among many, many other things. The curious thing is that she'd rather be doing any of these things than playing with her dolls, puzzles, or any of her other stuff.

I love the way she carries her stool into the kitchen so she can reach things.
She does this at least five times each day.

My dilemma is this: she slows me down, way down. I found myself getting annoyed by this a few days ago (I felt like I spent the entire day in the kitchen with her on that particular day) and I was complaining to Jacob about it at the end of the day.

Still thinking about this, the very next morning, I purposefully woke up early so that I could make my bed and bake the breakfast muffins without any help. I did feel a little guilty about my stealthiness, but I thought it was worth it. Sure enough, my bed was made in a record two minutes and I didn't spill a single ounce of flour or make a huge sudsy mess in the kitchen sink. My new annoyance was that I couldn't help but feel guilty as images of my little "Z" popped in my head... her wriggly little body squirming around under the covers that she has jumped under "just one more time" and the cute way she holds the stool to carry it into the kitchen so she can reach things. Not only did I feel guilty the entire time I was working, I also found myself actually missing my help. I decided to add scrambled eggs to the breakfast menu just so she would have something to help me with when she came downstairs. And yes, one egg was splattered on the counter top... but I was o.k. with it.

This happened on Saturday morning. It's only Tuesday, but I've been a lot more patient with my help. I'm thankful for my help. I love my help. And even though there will still be times when I will ask my help to go and play so that I can get my stuff done, I hope to always appreciate and love my help.

P.S. I have thought about writing this post ever since Saturday, but I only had the one picture to post with it. So today I thought I would get a picture of my little help on her stool. By the time I remembered, Kenai had dragged this bucket of wheat from the pantry to the counter so he could wipe the counters for me. Now I have two helpers. I'm especially glad I've written this because now more than ever, I'm sure I'll need the reminders that this is a good thing, a really good thing!

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Just two more cute pictures of the partners in fun.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I've Been Busy

Since my blog posts seem to be so few and far between for the past oh, two years or so, I always feel like I have to start my posts by explaining or justifying my absence. This time, I'm not going to... except to say that I'VE BEEN BUSY. One day, I may, or may not, go back and write in detail about the rest of our summer. This very long post would include the following: Disneyland and Legoland and then another fantastic week in California with my in-laws, including a fabulous visit to Long Beach, our old stomping grounds; then back to Idaho and three straight weeks of refurbishing an old dilapidated play structure, then building an area in our yard and finally installing the beast; caring for my very busy, very imaginative and very comfortable with my family nephew Diego; first time ever summer baseball for Ammon and Abraham; working and fighting hard in an attempt to get a half-way decent lawn; running and biking in a 185 mile race from Spokane to Sandpoint; Ammon's 8th birthday, a very special BAPTISM, and the beginning of his career as a scout; an activity and adventure filled two week visit from my sister Elisa and her very energetic family (kids' triathlon, Silverwood, swimming in lakes, bike rides, sails on Lake Coeur d' Alene and many cousin sleepovers); camping with our ward; a huge end-of-summer yard sale; a quick three-day trip to Utah for my nephew Isaiah's baptism; starting second grade for Ammon, first grade for Abraham and home pre-preschool for Ziya; a new job at a middle school for Jacob; fall soccer for Ammon, Abraham and Ziya; teaching my MiaMaid class about three times per month; trying hard to improve my volleyball game once every week; trying to get back into my book club; and all this while preserving the life of my 17-month-old climbing, walking then running, eating dead flies, cute curly-headed and ever mischievous Kenai! Whew, it makes me tired just typing it all out. So yes, I've been busy. Here's the evidence:

Our Legoland photos are lost in cyberspace but we have lots of fun Disneyland pictures. Great fun with Little Grandpa and Grandma! Ammon and Abraham loved riding the fast rides with Little Grandma, Ziya loved the princesses and Kenai just loved all the activity! What a memorable experience!

We got to spend some fabulous time with our beloved Long Beach friends. Just like everybody else, we're trying to convince them to move to Idaho, too! Jacob also got to see some "kids" that he grew up with!

It was impromptu, but the Munyers pulled it off... a quick reunion at Friendship Park in San Pedro!

Little Grandma and Grandpa really went all out making our trip an amazing memorable one. As you can see, there was never a dull moment... whether it was playing in cardboard boxes, doing snail races or dressing up...great times were had! It was also great fun to see Aunt Sheila - she had never met Ziya or Kenai. Thank you so much Pam and Angel!

As soon as we returned to Idaho, it was straight to work for us!!! This is the beast that we dropped of on our friends' property. Every day, we packed our PB&J, fruit and water and spent the day working at their house. We power washed it to get the old stain off, bleached it, sanded the entire thing, and put about seven coats of stain on it! The kids helped a lot... they also jumped on the trampoline, took naps in the car, watched movies on the trampoline and had fun being kids in the woods! That was only the beginning. Then we had to prepare the ground for it in our own yard, make a retainer for the pea gravel, reassemble the beast and finally shovel 8 yards of pea gravel! BUT OUR KIDS LOVE IT!!! It was all worth it!

This was the boys' first time playing baseball. Abe and Diego played on the same team, which was fun. Our camera was broken by this time, so I don't have good pictures of Ammon... but my sister does!

My Ammon turned 8 and got baptized! What a special day shared with the entire Zavala clan! Once again, the special pictures of Ammon dressed in his white clothing are on my sister's camera... I will definitely share those as soon as I can!

Ammon, Abraham, Isaiah, Asher and Diego all participated in a kids' triathlon. They swam in the lake, biked and ran and had a fantastic time! Ammon had the mishap of losing his bike chain so he wasn't able to finish, but we learned our lesson for next year!

It was really fun to hang out with all of the cousins! We just hope that one day (soon) the Packs can move closer!

My dad bought my mom a nice beach cruiser for their 40th wedding anniversary. So we all celebrated by going on a family ride together... all 20 of us!

Jacob and Brian took the boys to Silverwood, where Aitana and Acasia met them. These are some brave children! They went on some pretty scary rides.

Ammon turned 8 just in time to go to a 3-day Day Camp for scouts. What a great introduction to this amazing organization! He got to shoot a rifle, climb a rock wall, tumble in a barrel, make a marshmallow shooter, go fishing and canoeing, learn to shoot with a bow and arrow and have lots of good ole' boy fun! Jacob got to go with him... they both had a blast, earned a bunch of badges, learned a lot and had terrific father-son time.

We went camping with our Ward at Camp Peine! Brother Rivera took us out on his boat. My kids love the water.

Ammon, Abraham, my mom and I made the 11 1/2 hour trek to Utah on Friday, spent Isaiah's baptism day with him all day Saturday and then drove back home on Sunday! It was exhausting, but worth it! Again, I don't have the good pictures of Isaiah on his baptism day... I was playing the piano and missed the photo opportunities. On our way back home, we stopped and spent a while at Temple Square. The boys have been there before, but they were very young and didn't remember it. It was beautiful to see their excitement about the Salt Lake City Temple and to learn a bit about its history.

First day of school! Ammon is in second grade and Abraham is in first. Their cousin Diego also goes to the same school and is in kindergarten! They feel like such big boys this year because I let them ride the bus sometimes.

This is Ziya's first time playing soccer. She has watched her brothers pretty much her whole life, but she is still taking her time getting used to being on the field. Thank goodness she has her bestie, Payton, right there beside her! In today's game, I ran on the field with her to encourage her along. She scored her first goal! Jacob is co-coaching Ammon and Abraham's teams. They are having tons of fun and definitely get lots of energy out!

And then there's my Kenai! My goal with him every day is to keep him alive. He climbs and dances on high surfaces, runs into the street, eats dead flies, plays with poisonous spiders, unravels toilet paper rolls... all while flashing his cheesy smile the entire time. Here are pictures I captured of him discovering that one of his brothers had opened the bag of Bugles from Wal-Mart. He was so tickled with himself!

Monday, June 28, 2010


Exactly two days after Jacob's last day of work, we packed our bags and flew to California (prounounced Cal-i-for-nigh-aye) for a 17-day vacation with Jacob's mom (AKA Little Grandma and her husband Angel (AKA Little Grandpa)! We haven't been in this great state for about five years. It's so good to be back.
The Flight(s)...
We stopped twice, once in Boise and once in Reno, but fortunately, we didn't have to change planes. It was nice to do the trip in three legs, but the boys were unhappy that once they finally got into a movie, it was time to put away their DVD player! It was fun to watch them sitting together from across the aisle. They were so mature as they "ordered" their sprite and peanuts. Kenai just crawled all over our laps and Ziya enjoyed pretending that the little button that reclines her seat was really a "power" button for the entire airplane. My little three-year-old was controlling that huge airplane all by herself!!!

My mother-in-law is amazing. She has been preparing for this trip for a long time and the kids are soooo super-excited to discover all the "preparations" she made for them.
Ammon and Abraham got a spy bag, complete with all sorts of spy gear (old remote controls with their pictures on them), clue games, spy tools and journals for recording their discoveries. This alone kept them busy for our first day here.

Ziya had fun gluing puppet scenes with Little Grandma... so much fun that later, Grandma's lap was as far as she got for her nap!

Kenai had a great time exploring his new surroundings.

The hot tub was a huge hit. We haven't been "swimming" in a long time, so this was quite a treat. Yes, that's a princess floatie that Kenai is in. We want him to be comfortable with his masculinity.

Litttle Grandma created themes for our daily parties. The first night was a birthday party to celebrate everybody's birthdays that she and Angel missed this past year - gifts and all! Jacob's gift was the restored version of these funny little shell guys that he bought while he was a missionary in Jamaica. They've been broken for years and she fixed them for him!

The next night was movie night: popcorn, 3-D glasses and two movies. My kids are having their dream vacation!

For animal day, there were cute hats and glasses for the kids to wear. We went to the park and tried to collect bugs, but the jungle gym provided more immediate entertainment!! The kids also got to go to Grandpa Angel's friends' farm to see and pet lots of little animals. I stayed home with my napping baby, but there were lots of fun stories to hear about when they all got home. Apparently, the little white goat took a real liking to Ziya!

We went to the beach in Ventura for a couple of hours. There's a really fun area right on the sand that has a jungle gym and swing sets. The kids had fun going back and forth from the water to the toys to the sand.

Little Grandpa is so smart! He packed a huge umbrella and pulled some MacGyver tricks to get it propped perfectly for our shade.

Kenai really enjoyed the water.

At first the cold water scared him, but then he didn't want to be picked up anymore!

He also loved the swing. I think we could have spent hours there and he would have been a happy swinger!

Ammon and Abe had fun jumping waves... and running from them, too! The water was quite cold.

Ziya had fun running from waves, too.

She did NOT have fun when one knocked her over!

But that was nothing Little Grandma's hugs and kisses couldn't fix!

Drying off after the cold water.

Of course we had to play the burying game. Kenai was easy to do since he is so small, but he wouldn't keep his toes under the sand!

Abraham was a bit more cooperative!

Here's Genius Grandpa enjoying the big umbrella.

And then taking a nap under it, too!

While Little Grandpa held down the fort, the rest of us walked down to the end of the pier.

We watched as some fishermen caught a small shark (thank goodness we don't surf!) and brought it up!

Once again, the fun and excitement was too much for little Ziya!

I'm obviously getting spoiled on this vacation! I haven't had time to write a long post like this one for quite a while (the kids are being entertained by Little Grandma, even as I type). I'm grateful to both Pam and Angel who are making this all possible for us. I'm loving it and so are my kids!!!

Side note: Jacob actually flew back home for a second interview with a high school in Spokane. They agreed to do a phone interview when we first got here, but since they selected him to be one of the final two candidates, they wanted to do a second interview in person. He flew back Sunday morning and will return tonight. Then on to Legoland, Disneyland and three resorts (all with awesome swimming pools!) crammed in between. Fun times!