Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Recap of 2014

Me Towards the End of This Year
There are only a couple things that have remained consistent in my life, and those things are The Gospel of Jesus Christ, and change. I am always going through change.

As a teen, I put a picture of a caterpillar and a butterfly in my journal to represent what I felt the purpose of life is. The more life I live, the more I think I understood, even then, as a teen.

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.  ~Author Unknown

This year has been a very full year. It is amazing to look back at it all and look at what we have accomplished as a family. Just looking at the achievement wall that we have in our kitchen, I cannot help but feel blessed to be part of such a great family. The wall is literally covered in certificates and certifications that each family member has achieved.

This year has been full of trials and heartaches as well. I have come to accept that this is just the pattern and cycle of life. We have trials and heartache, and then we have blessings. Everything is in perfect order, and opposition to each other. And I have found this year that focusing on what I can learn from each experience to much more beneficial than wallowing in it.

Aulora on New Years
In January, Aulora Mae told us all about her first big New Year's Dance. I knew when I saw her that my little girl was not so little anymore, and I knew that she would start dating in the fall. I couldn't believe that my life had already reached this point, but there she was in all her beauty daring me to deny that she is now a young woman.

New Year's also brought the First New Year's kiss for Josh and I. We had not yet been married for a year, and had already experienced so much together as a couple. Married just over 7 months, we had already experienced, unemployment, sacrifice, resistance to us being married, relocation and many many other things.

I truly enjoyed spending the first hours of New Year's with my husband and the other three children that did not go to the New Year's Dance. We had fun masks and noise makers. It was an exciting New Year's party even with it just being the five of us since family was so far away.

Josh on New Years Day
We watched movies as a family, and looked at pictures and talked about all that we had experienced since we met Josh and invited him to become part of our lives.

One of my favorite pictures is just after midnight where Zion, Zachariah and Josh are banging pots and pans in the street and saying Happy New year!

They are running around so fast, that they all just look like blurs across the picture. There were some neighbors that were hollering Happy New Year's back at them, so they seemed to fit right in. Josh also got his very first certificates from school this month!

Anniversary of the Day We Met
February was a VERY full month!! It was the Anniversary of the first time that Josh and I met online, Valentine's Day, AND the girls were being given chocolate roses at school from boys!  I could not believe that both of my daughters were getting so many chocolate roses.

Of course, Zachariah had a crush that he wanted to make gifts for and so we helped him do that. Alma decided that he didn't want to have anything to do with any of that, and I was ok with that! :)

In the picture to the right, you can see what I did to celebrate that day that Josh and I first met. I slowly gathered everything over several months and hid them in the girls room so he had no idea that anything was being planned. We had a great dinner, and he had a lot of surprises. There were balloons all over the floor that Aulora helped me get ready before Joshua was out of school for the day. Josh also had planned 12 days of Valentine's and so we both got a lot of fun little gifts. One of my favorites was a Hot Pink extension cord that I had told him I wanted on one of our window shopping dates that we had gone on months before.

I was still doing freelance writing as a ghost writer at this point, but things started to change, and financial struggles began again. I started looking for other options for income. Because I could tell that the cheese was moving. (Love the book "Who Moved my Cheese?") During the week of Valentine's the Kids' schools had them dress up different ways each day. One of my favorite pictures was of Retro Day.

Retro Day at School
Everyone's outfits went over really well, except for Aulora's. A lot of people made fun of her to the point that she requested to come home. She learned a lot about what it was like to be made fun of and bullied that day, and determined to make it a point to stand up for other kids that day.

We went on a Family Vacation in February as well. We saw a lot of family, and picked up my sister's cat Meowie to care for while her and her husband were house sitting for their in laws while they were on their mission.

We stopped at the Big Red Barn for Ice Cream and we enjoyed taking pictures at Yuba Lake, visiting the Filmore Museum and finding pictures of our relatives on the walls.

While the kids were visiting their father and paternal grandparents, Josh took me to see a few places that I had wanted to go and tried some chocolates and he also bought me a watch. We did a lot of window shopping, and reliving some of the moments that we enjoyed when we were dating.

Zion's Hair Prior to Chopping It Off
March brought even more changes. Zion had been growing out her hair to donate it to Locks of Love. She reached her hair growth goal on her birthday, so she went ahead and had me cut her hair to donate it. With the amount of hair she wanted to donate, it brought a new hairstyle and new clothes for her birthday for her. And it seemed that her true personality became unleashed at the same time! She went from being quite and shy to being known as "Camp Giggles" during the following months.

During this time, Josh also got more certifications, his A+ Certification and shortly after that his Network+ Certification.

I started a new contract, and my old one faded into the distance. Money was really good for awhile when I was doing grant proposal writing and research. Sadly, it only lasted a short time.

Zion's New Do!

In March, my hair went back to being dark, and I got it cut shorter than Zion's. I had fun playing with my hair color for the next few months as I continued to lose weight and determine who I was going to be. Who "Me" really was.

Zion loved the movie Frozen, so that was the theme for her birthday party. We had a cake and ice cream bars, and she had a lot of presents that were focused on horses. A horse necklace, bracelet, books and other horse items. She is definitely still an animal lover.

The very end of March, I was one of the Wise Virgins in the Ten Virgin Parable Musical that we put on. It was a wonderful and beautiful event. I was very grateful to be part of it, and still will say hi to the other sisters from all the other wards (congregations) that were in it that participated too.

And if that was not enough cool things this month, Aulora, Zion and I got to attend the First Young Women's and Relief Society combined conference!

I knew that it was a significant life event, and with being so new in the ward, I was grateful to have both of my daughters attend with me!
Charity Right Middle Ten Virgins Parable Musical

Aulora Getting Her YW in Excellence Award
After a wonderful April General Conference, we were excited for Aulora to receive her Young Women in Excellence Award.

Aulora achieved her goal of getting this award before she even turned 16. Most girls do not get it until they are about 18! So naturally, we were very proud of her. And once again, I was confronted with the fact that she is becoming quite the young lady, and I will have to have her dad keep a watchful eye on her and all those boys that keep pursuing her.

I dyed my hair to a very bright red this month, which some people really loved and others really hated. Later I added blonde highlights to it. I really was having fun experimenting with different looks. 

Also in April, we got to attend Zachariah's orchestra concert. He has been doing so well with the learning the bass. He does a really great job. Joshua was so great about reminding him to practice every single day except on Sundays, and it really paid off. Zachariah has always had a great sense of humor and I love how much he makes me laugh. I couldn't help but smile when I came into the living room to check on him rehearsing and being greeted with the mysterious mustached Stranger playing the bass.
Zachariah Playing the Bass

In the picture of Zachariah playing the bass, you can see our paper service chain on the wall. We each did random acts of service, wrote what the service was on pieces of paper and attached it to the chain. It was awesome to have a visual representation of all the good that each of our family members were doing for each other and our neighbors.

Also in April, I went to the County and State conventions as an elected delegate. It definitely was an interesting experience. I have been a delegate before, but not in this county. And this was the first Utah State Convention that I attended. (As a side note when you are a delegate you get Christmas cards from local and state office holders, so that was a first).

My Wild Red Hair For Convention
Later in the month, Josh and I got to enjoy the lunar eclipse together. We got up early in the morning and drove up the mountain to an area where there are no city lights.

It was a really cool event, and I loved sitting with Josh in the truck waiting for it to happen. He gave me a blanket to keep me warm, and we enjoyed sparking cider in the Anniversary Inn goblets that we got on our honeymoon.

For Easter we did lessons from the book a More Christ Centered Easter like we have always done, but this year, we added Lamb Stew to try, and we had a lot of watermelon!

Josh also got me a new camera as a very early birthday present. I was so in love with it!! It was my favorite color (purple) and had all the features that I wanted and then some! Josh has made it a point to slowly replace everything that I have with something new that is a gift from him. 

As the school year started to wind down, the kids joined me for nature walks, that built up to 5 mile walks. We started going in the mornings and the evenings. 

Since I gave my old camera to Aulora, the girls often took pictures a long the way right along with me. We truly enjoy all the nature that we can experience in this new area that we live in. 

The boys started running far ahead of us and trying to beat us. This was when I discovered that Alma can really run, too bad the track coach and I are not able to convince him to do anything with that talent yet!

Zachariah and Alma at Elizabeth's Wedding
In May we had a very full month. We were able to attend my sister Elizabeth's wedding. The timing worked out well with traveling for my new job as a Personal Assistant. 

We also were able to be at my nephew Peter's baby blessing and Josh was able to meet and hold his nephew Slade. 

We enjoyed being with a lot of my side of the family. It was hard to fit in everything, but we pulled it off somehow! It was so nice to see everyone again!
Right after we got back, we had another orchestra concert to attend for Zachariah. He was very busy the entire year practicing, playing, and attending other orchestra concerts.
Mother's Day 2014

Mother's Day brought with it snow. My boss was shocked when I posted this picture on Facebook wondering where in the world I was. She had not looked out her window yet to see the winter wonderland. I got a ton of balloons and gifts from Josh and the kids. 

Aulora got the lead in Guys and Dolls, and she did amazing! She was Sarah Brown, and her singing and acting talents really shined. She made a lot of new friends, and gained more confidence in singing on her own instead of just singing with the choir and in duets. It was amazing to see her do things that I used to do at her age, but do them even better, and get better parts. Naturally, I was very proud of her.

Flowers Josh Got Me
The end of May brought our First Anniversary. Josh and I talked a lot about how tough the first year had been being newlyweds and having four teens. It is not the easiest way to start a marriage.

But, we were thrilled that we made it through the first year, and all the trials, tears and tribulations that came with it. Of course we reflected on our blessings as well and the Hand of the Lord in our lives. 

We went out for breakfast, and went to the temple in St. George to do proxy sealings. I had gotten him a ton of personalized gifts that had the Jordan River Temple on it since that is the temple we were sealed in. I also got him a popcorn machine like he had wanted since he was a little kid. 

All I wanted was flowers, because I had not been given them very often. I told him I wanted $100 in flowers. He went over budget, but the flowers that he chose were absolutely amazing. And I loved all the little balloons that he got to go with them. :)

Josh Grilling His Father's Day Steaks
In June, Joshua had his second Father's Day with us. The kids got him a lot of t-shirts and other thoughtful gifts. We also got him really large steaks to grill because he said that was something that he really wanted to do and missed doing. 

Because finances had been so tight, we really hadn't done anything like this since we got married, and when he was single he used to do it all the time with his friend Will and others. So, we worked hard and did some extra work for my boss so that we had extra money to get him this steak and the gifts the kids wanted to get him.

June also was the month that I released the first book in my series "Mending Angel's Wings-Based on a True Story" Aulora helped me do all the filming for the promotional videos, and I did all the editing. We had a lot of fun and I loved combining with so many friends and family members to have 21 days of giveaways! And we had some great prizes! One of my favorite ones was tickets to The Salt Lake Pops Orchestra American Hero's Concert.

In July, I started to go ULTRA blonde. And we also had Joshua's birthday party. And the kids and I chose a Captain America theme, so his t-shirts, cake and cards were all about that. Little did we know how much later in the month our lives would change. 

We went on a business trip to SLC with my boss and learned a great deal about the products of our business. Even tho I had been using the products for a couple years, I really did not know that much about them. 

We spent Three days up there learning a lot about all the oils and ways to use them. We also got to see family, go to the Aquarium together while the kids saw their father and grandparents. 

We also went to Clark's Planetarium and got a membership because it was more affordable than paying for the movies that we wanted to see. 

Later that month, we started our 26 day detox. We had started to prepare for it by giving up sugar and having green smoothies everyday so that it would not be as big of a shock on our bodies. Josh had a break from school part of the time, and I was getting ready for my first semester at SUU. I lost 16 pounds during those 26 days and Josh lost 20. It was an amazing experience, and it changed our taste buds forever!

Zachariah's birthday was the beginning of August, and his birthday theme was the color blue since it is his favorite. He got a ton of coupons from Josh and I that allowed him to have free movie nights, time with parents, and to get out of chores and a lot of other things. 

He was given some of his presents early and late, but with doing the detox, Josh and I did not eat anything that he had, so the ids had a lot of blue raspberry popcorn and play dough ice cream and a whole bunch of blue corn chips! 

The very end of August both Josh and I started school before the kids did. And so that was an adventure, but they quickly followed. 

The beginning of September Aulora and Alma turned 16!! It was a crazy day, but they both got what they wanted. 

Because we had changed our diet so much, they requested to have a 100% raw key lime pie, and Alma wanted to make sure that it had golden raisins on it, which it did. 

We had a small family party, which was not what they kids wanted. (They wanted all family up north to be there) but it just wasn't working out. They were still happy with all that we did and they enjoyed going to the movies and eating out as a family. 

Everyone wondered if they would go out on their first dates now (outside the family), and were shocked when they were told that they wanted to wait. Aulora wanted some time, and Alma said he doesn't think he will date until he is back from his mission, so we will see! We also discovered that we love artichoke hearts together in September. The twins had it as part of their birthday dinner as well.

I think that the biggest thing for me this month was seeing Alma ordained a priest by Bishop Stapley. It was such a touching experience. And then to see him sit up on the stand and bless the sacrament was also touching. It was a huge moment for all of us. Alma had been practicing the sacrament prayers since he turned 15. And he did them perfectly. He was a little quiet at first, but then later he got more comfortable. I love seeing his smile every time he gives service preparing the sacrament table and then blessing the sacrament. 

I have also enjoyed seeing Zachariah pass the sacrament. This ward does it different than the one we lived in before, and watching him adapt has been great. He really loves to serve the bishop the sacrament. It is nice to have two sons holding the Aaronic Priesthood and using it. 

Josh and I During Convention 2014
Toward the middle of September, my boss had Josh and I attend Convention with her. The events were incredible, and we learned even more. By this time, Josh had fallen in love with essential oils and he was even more thrilled to think about sharing oils with others and making this our business.

Before convention was even over, Josh and I decided that we were going to make this our business, and that we would do it together. This picture taken during convention we used on our business cards to remind us of that day. 

Before we headed home from convention, we stopped at my brother's home, and he and his wife became our first team members. We were so excited! We knew we had a lot to learn about building a team, but the momentum had already started. All the opposition that we had been having started to make a lot of sense at this point. We realized the positive affect we could have on other's and their lives by simply improving our own. 

Josh Holding Our First Check
By the end of September, Josh and I had earned our first check. While it was a small check, we knew that we were on to something, and it was going to be big and life changing.

I tried to stay focused on school while building our business at the same time. It started to become hard to balance the needs of a husband, four children, my business, my schooling, two callings, and being a personal assistant. 

On the weekends, I would take my children to work for my boss too so that they could have extra money and learn additional skills. I have always wanted to teach  my children how to work, and that has been a great focus, but all the work that I was doing and helping them to do started to take its toll, especially as life's trials began to rain down on us. 

I knew the pattern of life, and I just kept trying to hang in there, trying to keep my grades up and trying to fill the many roles that I had. By the time October came, I can't say that I was surprised when during General Conference I felt the spirit tell me that this was my last semester at school. That I needed to focus on being a wife, mother and work  and not do anything else. 

Despite the many stresses that we all were facing, Joshua was named the National Technical Honor Society Student at SWATC.

I was also admitted and invited to join several honor societies. 

All of the children also had high GPA's, and continued to excel in all the extra curricular activities that they are involved with. 

We attended an Eagle Court of Honor for a family friend. And Josh got to sit in the Eagle's Nest for the first time. He was so touched by it because it was something that he had always wanted to do. I was especially touched that he got to have this first experience with us, and that I was able to share it with him too. 
Josh in The Eagle's Nest at Kyler's Court of Honor

We were able to attend Aulora's first choir concert this month as well. Aulora auditioned for the choirs and was able to get into the all girls choir. A lot of people were surprised that she was able to get into it as a freshman because that usually isn't the case.

The amount of growth that she has had vocally this year has been phenomenal. I often will hear her rehearsing and wonder who the vocalist she is listening to is. Definitely thrilled to see her blossom in this way. Zion has started branching out with singing as well. And I am sure that she will do a lot more of it! She is becoming quite the humorous ham, I would not be at all surprised if she spends some time in drama in the future.

Aulora and I Before Her Choir Concert
Grandpa Anderson returned to Heaven this month. It was really hard for us to feel that loss. The kids and I had been so grateful to have a grandfather and great-grandfather involved in our lives again.

Whenever he saw us, he was always so happy to see us, and he always told us how wonderful we are. I will always remember the last time that I saw him, which happened to be at the end of a business trip after following a prompting to go see him, and we found out he was in a care center. 

While we were not sure that he knew we were there, we knew that eventually he would know that we cared. We put some essential oils on him to make him more comfortable and told him we loved him and said our good byes. It was not long after that he passed away.

I had to finish projects early for school to make it to the funeral and arrange to take tests at times outside of their scheduled times, but my professors were very understanding. I cannot praise them enough. They were supportive through this and many other events that happened during the semester that were trying.
Grandpa's Casket and Yellow Roses He Wanted

Halloween was different this year as well. With the kids being older, they all took off different directions, some of them went with each other, and switched off doing different events. 

However, one of my favorite moments was making Zion's Maleficent costume with Josh. We sacrificed to get the supplies that she needed to make it, and we worked together through the night to create it. I think it was one of my most cherished memories this year because he was helping me so much. 

Zion as Maleficent

For the middle school, they had the kids dress up all week long during Halloween based on different themes, so Zion was not Maleficent for Halloween, but it was still my favorite costume. Zachariah chose to be a knight one of those dress up days and made his own shield and sword.

Josh and I took some time after we got home to go to Kolob Canyon together. Josh was really close to his grandpa, he was like a dad to him. So he needed to take a lot of time to deal with his emotions.

I was grateful to attend his funeral and learn all I did about his life that I did not know. It was so cool to hear about all the indexing that he did, and because of his example, Aulora and Alma especially are focused on beating grandpa's record.

Favorite Picture From Kolob Canyon Date

As October came to a close, all I could focus on was that my birthday was coming, Thanksgiving, and the end of the semester. I started to hope that I could make it to the end and still have good grades. I really began to struggle with all the assignments and responsibilities that I had.

A friend, that I had met at school, and her husband came to my rescue. They took me to a sacral cranial energy life coach, and she helped me release a lot of negative energy and move forward with my life. It was an experience that I will never forget. It helped me feel more like myself, free from everything in my past and all that I was struggling with.

Certificate of Being Directors
Soon after that, business picked up rapidly. Josh and I were promoted from Manager, to Director. I started to push the business harder and we followed many impressions that came.

I learned about removing financial blocks, financial principles that people I admire live by and a whole new way to look at my life. I started looking at my life through the lens of gratitude again, and thanked my Heavenly Father for blessings that were to come that had not arrived yet, and saw incredible things happen.

Aulora and Kyler
Aulora went on her first date and had a wonderful time. I loved hearing about their night long after it ended. The group came by after their date and talked to me for awhile. Sadly, I was so out of it, that I was more like a zombie I think, but I was thrilled that they came so I could get a picture of her first date. :) 

Josh and the kids focused on making my birthday great this year. Instead of having a cake, we had a gingerbread house miniature town and a train that we made together. I loved having that kind of family time. I got frosting all over my hands, and had sugar for the first time in months. While it did not taste good, I really loved all that they did. They made me cards, art, a special seat at the table, and so much more. 

Joshua got me a very large Christmas Snoopy for my birthday and kept putting it up different places in the house. It was SO big I could not take a selfie with it LOL. It was a great birthday!

During this time, Josh transferred schools to one that is 100% online. It offers a lot more certifications, and also a job at the end of the 17 months he has left if they cannot place him. It was a struggle to get everything done, but anything that is worth it takes work!

Some Oragami Art For My Birthday

Shortly after my birthday my focus shifted to all my finals. I wanted to make sure to get as many of them done as early as possible because I knew that some of the projects were larger and would take more time. 

I am very happy that I did this, because the larger projects were able to have much more of my focus, and I got very good grades on them. 

I turned in many of my assignments early, so I literally was just waiting for time to pass so I could take my finals.

Thanksgiving Dinner
We enjoyed our second Thanksgiving together as the Kerr Family. I found a lot of recipes that used  essential oils in them, so we tried them. We had pumpkin pies, sweet potato pie and other dishes that were made with all natural ingredients. Even the mashed potatoes had essential oils in them. They were my FAVORITE!

Keeping with tradition, we put up the Christmas tree after Thanksgiving was over and turned up the Christmas Carols and Hymns! I also got Holiday Joy essential oil, and loved diffusing it All Month Long!! And into December!

Picture I Colored During Finals
SUU has a really cool Rock Finals event that helps keep stress low. You can get free massages, pet a dog, color in coloring books play with legos and a lot of other fun things. 

After one of my finals I decided to take advantage of the free scantron, vegi's and dip, and spent some time coloring. It really did lower my stress.

My final grades were awesome! I ended up with an overall GPA of 3.811. With all that happened, I feel that it was a very successful semester. But, I am glad that it is over, and that I am not going back in the Spring.

Our Business has grown so much that it takes a lot of time to help team members, customers, and do marketing. But, I know that it will be worth the time invested in the end!

Rehearsal at Sister Hedgecock's House

December has been a flurry of musical events. I sang a solo in Sacrament meeting one week, and then the next week sang with the choir and a duet in Sacrament Meeting. 

Josh and the kids are all in the choir too, so they have been in rehearsals after church all year round. I was released as Choir Director in November, but I am still a primary teacher. They will be combining two classes together for me to teach next year. 

Josh is still a teacher in Elder's Quorum and he also is the Weeblos Scout Leader. A couple of the kids are in the presidencies of their YM and YW groups, so there is always a lot going on.

Aulora, Zion and Zachariah and I got to go and enjoy the Messiah this year. Josh, Zachariah and I went to a Christmas concert at CVHS and we also attended Aulora's Christmas Choir concert as well.

Josh and I went on a date together to see all the Christmas lights in town. There were some very decorated houses! One of our favorites ended up being in our own neighborhood. It was still romantic to drive around together listening to Christmas music, holding hands and looking at the lights.

Josh and I also advanced this month to Executive, and we are focused on becoming Elite. We are just $200 in sales from reaching that level, so it is totally possible that it will still happen this month, which is two months sooner than we set our goals for. 

We have been very blessed this last year by friends, family and church members. We have gone through many struggles this year, but there has been someone to be Angel's on Earth for us at almost every turn. It is each of these angels that I am most grateful for. They made it possible to get through this year and helped each of us grow in so many ways. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!


Josh and I did advance to Elite before December was over!!! We surpassed our goal as well! :) On To Premier!!!

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