Monday, August 6, 2012

Keaton's last mission email ~

well everybody- they tell me that im going home this week. Im not sure if i believe it yet, but I've reached the end of my mission. I cannot adequately write how i feel about my mission and what it means to me, but it is the best thing that i have ever done- and it means everything to me. I have learned and grown and succeeded in ways i didnt think were possible. Looking back i can see that im a completely different person. My desires, thoughts, and intents have all improved and are more aligned with Jesus Christs. Nothing could have helped me achieve this like serving Him for 2 years straight. Its been awesome!
My testimony of Jesus Christ and His gospel are sure and strong. Nothing could persuade me to disbelieve the things that i have witnessed and that this church is Christs true church. I know it more now than ever before! People have objected what i believe often these past 2 years. They tell me im wrong and why they feel that way, they shout at me, they curse me, they hate me. But those circumstances have only strengthened my testimony. Christ has sustained me through my trials and made me stronger. He has shaped me into someone He can trust and count on. I will never look back on these 2 years as a waste or ever wish to replace them with anything else. No scholarship, sport, girl, or anything can compare to the value of my mission. It has been difficult but so worth it.
Im grateful for the opportunity i had to serve and I thank all of you for your love and support. Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and we have a prophet called today to lead and guide us-Thomas Monson. We have the priesthood authority of God and I hold it.The Book of Mormon is the word of God and will help us through these challenging times as we study it. God loves all of us and is there when we need Him. He will never give us a challenge we cannot handle- They will all make us stronger as we turn to Him. Jesus is the Christ. Nothing can ever take the testimony i have from me : ) I have earned it and will treasure it like a golden trophy for all my life. I love you all and look forward to seeing you this week. 

Monday, July 9, 2012


Today my baby is 15-years-old.  Holy cow! 

I remember your birth more vividly than most because it was very different. You were my only c-section delivery, so we saw your tiny toes come out first.  They were so cute!  It was soon quite clear that I finally got myself a bona fide red-head.  That hair is a connection to my sisters, my brother, my mom and my grandma.  It is symbolically divine and I love it!

Garrison, you are my nurturer.  You have been so good at looking out for me.  You're the first to offer to rub my shoulders when you can tell that I am hurting.  You have a sensitive little heart that keeps you keenly aware of others' feelings ... and you love to serve.  You do not sit still very well!  You love to stay active and you don't like to waste a moment of your day.  You are fascinated by the universe and what's out there ... I hope that one day you get that big telescope you want!  You're an incredible cook!  Your missionary companions are going to be super lucky to have you in their kitchen!  You are an awesome student.  I never have to tell you to get your homework done or to work harder on your grades ... you just get the job done!  And most importantly, you are obedient.  You keep the standards of our home and of the Gospel.  

I am so proud of you and I am so lucky to be your mom.  Have the happiest of birthdays today!

Love, Mom

Monday, May 14, 2012

Just call me Grandma Shaker

I have had too much going on around here to have a neglected blog.  I have PLENTY to talk about!  First and foremost, I am a Grandma.  I feel like I have planned and prepared for this my whole life.  I had some excellent examples and I hope to become just a fraction of what they were to me.

This is Rowe.  Rowe Taylor Reed to be exact. 

He is literally perfect ... in every way.  And he will continue to be perfect to me, because just as he dares to scoot close to that edge of imperfection, I'll bundle him up and pass him onto his Mommy ... even when he's 15-years-old.  Seriously, can you think of anything more perfect?

I have to remember that I am still a Mommy myself.  And luckily, I have two teenage boys to consistently remind me of this.  Like the other day, while I was daydreaming of my new maternal role, I received a text from Jake that read:

"You had a stress ulcer when I told you about my headphones being stolen.  I had to drive you to the hospital because Dad is out of town.  I can't get my license now until I'm 18 'cause I forgot my permit at home.  We couldn't call an ambulance because we can't afford it.  I was up all night with you in the hospital."

Let me just tell you that the only true portion of this text is that we can't afford to call an ambulance.  Oh Jake.  I never did find out who this big fat lie was told to, but I always give my kids points for keeping me in the loop ... no matter what they are up to.  So until I get a call from a teacher or the law, I've learned to choose my battles and giggle an awful lot.   

And then there's G.  This little bundle of red hair has more energy than I've ever had.  This past weekend was our annual Fathers & Sons camping trip.  In addition to hours of Capture the Flag, fishing and running around the wilderness, he was bound and determined to build himself a raft ... modeled after the many episodes of Survivorman that we should have memorized.  

It turned out something like this ...

So this is my life. 
 I can't believe how much it has changed
 over the past 3 years. 
 And you know what? 
 I like it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Getting to know you ...

Tonight, the ladies in our church are having a little get together with the theme of "Getting To Know You".  I don't want to go.  I have a crummy attitude about getting to know people.  What is my deal?  

We've had a lot of new people move in around me and I'm sure they're swell.  But throwing me into a mix of people I don't know and suggesting that I'm going to get to know them by playing games (PLAYING GAMES)  is my definition of pure agony.   This combination of characters and events is the main reason I don't attend most baby showers or Bar Mitzvahs.  Can't we all just wave from our front porches and call it good?

I need to figure out why I have such an aversion to strangers.  We'll see if I figure it out before 7:00 p.m. tonight.  Until then, maybe I'll learn something here ...


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sweet Sixteen!

As we wait for the arrival of the new baby in our family, I've had the day to reflect on one of my own babies.  It certainly doesn't seem like it was 16 years ago that he made his first appearance, but the calendar tells us otherwise.

Jake McKinnon Shaker, you are as strong as your name would imply.  Carry on and enjoy this time that you are about to embark on.  You've been given all that you need to be a contributing member of society while you keep a positive spin on your efforts.  Enjoy your life, work hard & go get 'em tiger!

We're very proud of you!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter 2012 ... D I V E R S I T Y

Easter dinner at my house included the following:

My little family of 8 - Mormon folks (1 was even barefoot and pregnant).
My in-laws from across the street - Born Again Christian.
My sister-in-law, niece & great nephew - A little mix of Catholic,
Baptist and Christian.
The missionaries - Straight-up white shirt & tie Latter Day Saint boys.
The Wilson Family - a single mother of five children,
baptized into the Mormon church just Saturday!
Dre's Family - 5 little black kids (one of them Mormon),
who are without parents right now.
Gay Couple - Yep ... both of them.

This scene was spontaneously choreographed 
and filled with humility, gratitude and the Spirit.   
I think it might have been my favorite Easter yet!

Happy Easter week!

From our crazy house to yours!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Happy Anniversary to me & Gary!

18 years of marriage ... and my own show!
What more could a girl ask for?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Rock on Grandmas, rock on.

Last night I was lamenting about the aging process and how old I am looking.  
Then Kacey sent me this picture ... 
and oddly enough it made me feel better.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Happy Birthday little Momma ~

Today is Kacey's birthday.  My only female offspring has turned 23 years old ... in the blink of an eye I might add.  It seems like this picture was taken just yesterday.

Let's face it ... 
I mostly just posted that picture because I look really good.

Anyway, my little girl is all grown up and it really did happen very quickly.  I recently remembered a day when Kacey was just days old.  My Dad came over to visit the wee one and he was holding the swaddled gem all snug in his arms.  We were standing in my kitchen, and I turned around to see him crying ... tears streaming down his naturally red cheeks.  I promptly asked what was wrong, and this was his sweet reply ...

"I just know that your Mom played a role in sending her down."

Of course he was right!  Of course my Mom would get to meet her grandchildren before they were sent to earth for a season.  I consider myself to be one of the most blessed recipients of such an incredible gift, and I thank all of those heavenly hosts that played a part in it.

Fast forward 23 years and here is that gem now ... 
carrying a gem of her own!

I got to see my little grandson today.  As his Momma rested on the doctor's papered table, the ultrasound tech gave us a glimpse of this boy and we got to watch him play.  He is already amazing.  This whole cyclical story is amazing.  I know that he is making mortal preparations to take on this world, and I'm sure that my mom and sister and concourses of angels have helped introduce him to this crazy experience that is about to take place.  He's going to rock it.  

So Happy Birthday little Kacey!  
But I'm afraid that I got the present today.  
And here he is.

 He's going to like me.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

To infinity and the John!

I was just in the "ladies room" doing what ladies do and I had a memory I thought I'd share.  I've been having lots of flashbacks lately, so maybe I'll post a few this month before I forget all about them and become like the old lady in "The Notebook".  Then when Gary comes to visit me in my fancy nursing mansion, he can read my blog to me every day.  Super!

Anyway, when I was a youngster, we lived on a very tight budget.  My Dad worked very hard for what we had, and my Mom & Dad both worked even harder at pinching pennies.  We never drove new cars or ate at fancy restaurants, but I never felt like I was lacking in anything ... I even remember owning a pair of Jordache jeans.  Sexy for sure!  As soon as I was old enough to babysit and make my own money, I was taught the same frugal lessons that my parents lived by ... and it worked.  

One night, when I was at one of my babysitting jobs, I was once again in the ladies room.  Shortly after assuming the position, I heard two little people outside of my door.  I wondered for a minute if they were needing something or if they were just anxious for my return.  Pretty soon, one of the little people spoke.
Little Person: "You know you can only use two squares!"
Me: "What?"
Little Person louder: 
Me:  "Okay!"  
As I tried to re-roll the surplus that was already in my hand, fully aware that the squares were probably marked and tracked on a T.P. Chart
 in the food storage room.

As I recalled this story tonight, I was grateful ... because I am not a two square kind of girl .... and honestly, I don't think two squares is enough for anybody!  I may never have a butler, by I had/have all of the toilet paper a girl could possibly hope for.

New definition of rich = infinity of squares

Enjoy your squares, ladies.  Enjoy the heck out of them!  

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Weekend of Sisters ~

Here's the deal.  When one sister dies, you cling tighter to the ones that are left.  That's just the way it is ...  pure and simple.  Ever since Kristi passed away, there has been a grip on my sisters that nobody could possibly breach.  Our need for each other is relentless as it takes priority over most things in life.  We defend one another and we take nothing for granted.  A bit pitiful that it takes a death to create such a connection, but we're making the most of it now.  Don't get me wrong, I've always been super tight with all of my siblings, but the sister thing is just a little bit more divine now.

One thing that we have started doing is "Sister Weekends!"  It's just as delightful as it sounds.  We pack it up, leave our husbands and children behind, find a sweet hotel and we do sister things.

Last weekend was one of our finest!  Our cousin was leaving to go on his mission, we had family running in the Color Run and we had hair and nails that needed to be done.  Since Julie is pregnant, we knew it could be awhile before we get to leave our little ones again ... so we took it all in and basked in its glory.

We decided to go "out of town" about 20 miles up the road to Chandler, AZ.  We stayed right by the Chanlder Fashion Square Mall so that we could be within close proximity to F-U-N!

This was our humble abode for the weekend ... and it was lovely.  Julie was very patient as we traveled to 5 different hotels until I felt the right "energy".  I have issues.  Moving on.

The first morning, we watched our little family members cross the finish line just as colorful as can be.  If you've never heard of the Color Run ... here you go!

They raised a chunk of cash for our local Cardon Children's Hospital.  Great job ladies!

Then we went to Monti's La Casa Vieja and ate a lovely meal as we tried to wipe off the colorful powder that would remain in our cracks, crevices and eyebrows until our next shower.

Then we went to our favorite place in the whole wide world.  Grandma's house.  We knocked and knocked on her door, but she didn't answer.  We finally found her sitting on the back porch reading a book.  It was a lovely day to sit on your back porch and read a book ... or to stay in a hotel with your sisters!  Have you heard of our Winters?  Bravissimo!

This was followed by some shopping, some eating, some laughing, pedicures, manicures, hair cuts, a movie and just some good ole' sister time.

I love these weekends and I love the tradition that we've created.  I think I'll start planning the next one ... but for now, I'll just keep this one close to my heart.  Kristi is still teaching us.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Well we blew it. WE DID NOT MAKE AN SNL WITH THE AUSSIE.  I'm sorry.  We tried!  He was over there and then we were here and she was there and it just never worked out.  Darn it!

So Bryce is gone, and we will miss him forever.

Now, onto my newest phase.

I need a vacation.  A REAL vacation!  A place that will whisk me away from work and worries.  This place will have to supply me with amazing food, incredible lodging, preferably a beach and a pedicure that will knock my socks off ... pun intended.

I LOVE to dream of these vacations.  I've even been known to have them perfectly executed on paper.  And then ... I browse them.  That's right.  I find these magnificently perfect get-away packages and I pull them up on my double monitors and press 'NEXT' all night long.  Eventually I get tired of clicking ... and I'm done with my phase, without even having to pack a bag, find a sitter or take a sedative.

So help me out ... where should I go for my next web-cation?
And what was your bestest real vacation ever?

I've been here before ... maybe it's calling my name again!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dear Friends & the Australian parents -

We've been having a blast!  As soon as Jake met Bryce, he turned to me and asked "Can we keep him?"  I will never get tired of the accent.  Try as I might to perfect it, I just can't do it justice.  He says that I sound British.  I'm afraid that's as close as it's going to get.  

Poor little Bryce (who really isn't little at all) has had a cold or allergies or something that is creating some serious discomfort since he landed in our fine country.  He's allergic to America!  But this kid is a rugby player and he doesn't let anything slow him down.  Tough as nails I say!  (I typed that in British).

He has been to a hockey game, go-kart riding, touring Tempe, checking out the high school, tasting American food, hiking Sedona, viewing the Grand Canyon, shooting guns, experiencing our family and all the while making sure to leave his shoes outside the front door (even though we don't).  He's a very well-mannered bloke!

He calls me Mummy and pats my head.  We've grown to love him and we are so glad that we signed up for this experience.  I really hope he gets feeling better so that he can enjoy his last weekend in the states.

... and you can all look forward to an Australian Sunday Night Live 
coming right up!

Until then, here is a little glimpse of Bryce the Australian.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

I heart 2012!

Good grief!  
A friend came over this morning and stated ... 
"you need to stop having your twinges!"   
Oh dear.  
I suppose it did look like I was having twinges all through December.  
Don't be silly.

Actually, just like December in every home, 
it's just been very busy.  
Busy, busy, busy.

I had a lovely Christmas!  
My favorite part of the day was getting to Skype with my son.  
Oh Keaton.  
I can't wait to see your face again 
and get a big bear hug in August.  
Hooray for 2012!!

But first things first!  
We have an Australian student coming to our house tomorrow!  
I'm feeling a bit frazzled.  
I don't know what to cook ... 
I don't know how to entertain ...
 I don't even know how to throw a boomerang!  

But the boys are SO excited and I'm sure it's going to be an adventure that we won't soon forget ... mates.  I'll be keeping you posted as we experience a bit of down under.