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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Something for the Future?

I mentioned on Facebook the other day that all of my family will be in school for at least some part of every weekday this school year. A friend commented and said that I could take a college class or two now. Wow! I hadn't even thought of that. I guess I'm a bit skeptical after last year's tough schedule if I really am going to have some time to myself.

I had totally planned it last year. It was, I thought, a foolproof plan, but budget cuts messed me up when the morning kindergarten schedule I had planned for was changed to afternoon. I ended up with no time to myself. I had at least one child with me at all times.

I traded some time with a friend, but that time became volunteering in the school time. My fault? Yes, but that's such a high priority to me. I couldn't see not spending time in my younger kids' classrooms.

I had mentioned earlier on that we were contemplating homeschooling one of our children this year. That plan, too, changed. Once we knew who his teacher would be, we knew he would thrive and public school would be great. The Warden and I met with the teacher and laid out a plan together. I have no doubt this will be a good year for that child.

So, although we will have all of our children but one in school full-time, I'm still not trusting that I'm going to have time to myself. I have made no plans.

When my friend made that comment about taking a class, I have to admit, I was intrigued by the idea. I
figure now that I have my bachelor's degree, a masters is somewhat alluring. I took a little peek at what was available in my area. The thought of being a grown up with the education to really do something with is SO intriguing. I decided that there are two things I'd like to do in the future....I'd either like to major in linguistics and maybe use it to teach English as a second language or have some kind of certificate in genealogy research.

I know that this kind of thought is out of the question for now. Even the thought of being alone for a few minutes a few hours for a few days a week is past my comprehension at this point, but next year....who knows. Maybe I'll go for it.

Monday, August 26, 2013

#1's Weekly Email: Week #10

It's been an interesting week for us as #1's family. According to the Philippines News Agency, Masinloc was announced to have been in a state of calamity on Tuesday. Knowing that these are the last days and that things are going to be this way, but also knowing that she serves the God who created this earth and knows all, we trust Him. He will do what is best for her. We have waited patiently all week to hear to know if everything has been alright. This email was a breath of fresh air.

I was unable to connect with #1 as she emailed last night, so I wasn't able to get the details from her about who she's teaching and other specifics of her week; however, Sister P's mom forwarded me a photo of the MTC crew reunited, so I have included that as well.


Magandang umaga po!

Sister Hess here with your local news from Masinloc, Zambales, Olongapo, Philippines :) 

This past week has been very interesting. I've learned a lot. The language is becoming easier to understand but when I speak it, my grammar is horrible.... I am constantly working on it.... 

I've really tried this week to really listen to the people and try to understand. It really is becoming easier. 

There hasn't really been any flooding in my area. We're high up. The only adventures this week has been more mud. But! I bought a pair of pink rainboots so I can walk around without any problems now :) YAY! I love those boots. 

So this week, we had follow-up training. I got to see all my sisters from my district in the MTC and it was amazing to see them. We've all grown so much. It was kind of like when Alma runs into the sons of Mosiah to see them again. 

It's crazy to think that we've already been here a month. It's gone by so fast. But I'm still loving it and still working hard and because of that I can feel Heavenly Father and the Savior's hand in my life. I've never felt closer to them than I do now. I know that they really help their missionaries. 

The people are still so amazing. I really want to become like them. They care about EVERYONE even if you're a different religion or just are different in general. I really hope that can rub off on me. 

Sister C. and I are working hard together. She still tells me ways to improve every night and I'm really working hard to make sure that those things happen.

So today, we have a zone activity :) I'm so excited. I get to wear jeans! Sister C. thinks I'm crazy because wearing jeans is my favorite thing ever. I just hate wearing skirts constantly. And she still thinks I'm like a boy because of how I act. But when you grow up with tons of boys and hang out with boys all the time, you're bound to get some boy-like characteristics. hehe I think it's really funny.

The food is still amazing. I eat everything. Even if I don't know what it is. The food is definitely not a problem for me :)

Ok so yup. That's this week. Thank you for all your prayers. I know that this is where I'm supposed to be right now and I know that the church is true. I love you all! 

Mahal kita!
-Sister Hess

Magandang umaga po = Good morning
Mahal kita = I love you

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Story Where I ROCKED It

Okay, so I've just got to share one story about Portland-to-Coast.

So, if you read my last post, you know this was a new thing. If you haven't, now you know.

My first leg was fraught with an isolated path and some homeless men with grocery carts. Other than that, it was AWESOME! Beautiful! Wildflowers grew on each side of the path. The weather was PERFECT--cool, a bit overcast. LOVELY! I saw a deer and her fawn grazing on the grass. Oh, and I passed two women ("road kill"). Considering I left with I believe eight women from the starting line and three started out behind me, that put five behind me and two in front of me. During the next leg, my teammate put those two behind her.

We became really pretty good friends with the team that took the lead during our "heat." Is that what they call it? We met up with them at every exchange point and chatted and hung out. SO fun! We passed them. They passed us. We passed them again.... You get the idea.

Our second van of teammates was full of PtC veterans. They'd been doing this for years. Their team's van 2, from what we understand was full of those just out to have fun (like us), so I think we lost them in the second part of the race. Sad! We never saw them again.

So...now, to the story....

My second leg was in the middle of the night. We had pulled my van into the major exchange point where we would end up meeting our van #2 after their legs were all done (literally and figuratively) and slept until 12:30am-ish--if you can call that sleeping.

We had taken a bench of seats out and put a big sleeping pad there. We put another one in the way back, so four of us "slept" on seats and two "slept" on the pads. It worked out nicely, and I think, considering what we woke to after midnight, we were all happy to be inside.

I threw my clothes on, went to the port-a-potty, went back to the car and ate a bowl of cereal, and met up with my buddy Julie at the exchange point. After my earlier 7.31 mile leg, this one at 3.75 was going to be fun.

I took off in the dark with the drizzle (like only the Pacific Northwest knows how to hand out) coming at my face. Only bad move? I had worn my glasses. Visibility was bad particularly if cars were coming.

Right off the bat, I passed two girls. WeeHAW!

You could only see the blinky lights we were all wearing on our reflective vests, so I took off for the next one and the next one and the next one--five in all over the course of about three miles.

At this point in the race, the runners had caught up to us, so I was passed by like a million of them, but it's all good. The thing that mattered to me was that I didn't want to be passed by another walker.

So, here we go....

Just past about three miles (I'm guessing here), I'm heading toward a slight incline and a curve, and I hear footsteps. It's a WALKER! Where'd she come from? She's right next to me. I hear her footfalls, and they're twice as fast as mine. Ugh!

I match her footfalls.

Now, mind you, I wasn't cruising when I first met her, but I was going at a comfortable pace for me. I was maintaining. Well, now the arms are going, but then she doubles again. Ugh!

There's definitely a method to her madness.

I match her again. By now, my arms are cranking and my feet are going faster than I thought I had in me.

She falls behind. PHEW!

Just about this time, a runner comes along behind us. The runners don't usually talk to us walkers. We're some form a low-life. I  know because I drove runners last year. But this guy says, "Wow! Now that's some race walking." I'm puffing so hard, I say nothing, but the girl behind me says something to him like a labored "Thanks." As he passes me, he says, "Nice job." Then he hollers, "Less than a mile left."

I was so glad to hear these words. We took the incline, rounded the corner, and in the distance, could see the exchange point. I kept the pace until we got there and the exchange was made. Phew!

What a kick in the pants! I CAN do hard things.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Racing for the First Time

image: seabythecity.com
I've never raced before....Ever. I was never really involved in sports as a kid except for one year on a volleyball team. Epic failure! I was "the most improved" player at the end of the season, but I think that was just given out of the kindness of the coach's heart. I was HIDEOUSLY terrible.

image: ov-rothist.ch
I was much more into music. That was my thing--flute, piano, clarinet.... Learning to play the oboe continues to be on my bucket list.

I was also in a drama production of The Diary of Anne Frank and played Anne's mother. That was a BLAST! Yup. Drama and music are much more my thing.

So, tomorrow is my first race of my life. I will be on a walking team for the Portland-to-Coast relay. This weekend is the Hood-to-Coast for runners who run in teams. Each runner on a team runs three legs that vary from three miles to nearly eight miles. With the walkers and high school-aged runners, it's the Portland-to-Coast. We jump in on the Hood-to-Coast's leg #13. Walking teams only take two race legs per walker.

image: commons.wikimedia.org
I will be walking that first leg through the waterfront area of downtown. It's 7.31 miles. My second leg will be in the middle of the night and will be 3.75 miles.

I was given this opportunity by a friend about a month and a half ago, so the training began. I figure I've been walking most of my life, so we're good, right? Well, speed walking is a completely different ballgame.

The other day, I had the opportunity to go with the captain of our team and walk that first leg. It was pretty brutal as far as length goes, but it was nice and flat and very beautiful. I'm happy to know where I'm going.

image: flickriver.com
Now, on the middle of the night leg....Yikes! It's out in the middle of nowhere, but how lost can I get in 3.75 miles. Wait....Don't ask that. I'm figuring I could actually get pretty lost.

I'm so excited for this opportunity!

When we finished the practice leg on Monday, the moment I turned around after reaching the end, I felt lightheaded and within an hour I had a migraine. I know...wah, wah, wah! I'm hoping not to die after that first leg tomorrow. I'll have some time to recover and went out and purchased everything I could think of to get me up to speed again. I'm also hydrating like crazy today.

I ran into a friend at the high school that other day who had run the Hood-to-Coast before. She said to just take regular food along like I'd normally eat, so I did. Actually, you wouldn't believe the feast I've packed for myself.

image: flickcast.com
At the sporting goods store yesterday, I was talking to the cashier as I was buying a pair of sunglasses. She advised me to take along Skittles or Sour Patch Kids to help keep my mouth hydrated during the race, so I decided to take the "kids" along.

Four of my kids claimed the colors as theirs, so as I eat them, as I walk, I'm supposed to think of them--#2=orange, #3=yellow, #5=green, #6=red. I also figure that the Queen Anne's lace that's growing along the trails so abundantly right now will represent #1, who quite awhile back claimed that as her flower. So, there are two kids unrepresented as yet. I figure I'll wear my purple socks to represent #4, and my new shoes have pink swooshes which will stand for #7. There, everyone will be present and accounted for.

So, tonight, we decorate the van and then tomorrow morning at 9:30, we're off to the starting line.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Flooding in Luzon

#1 is on the island of Luzon. Right now there is flooding going on. The news says that some of the people are evacuating their homes. From what I understand, this isn't an all that rare occurrence.

Just in case you were wondering, here is what things look like right now.

I'm not all that well-versed on my Philippines geography. That class just wasn't offered in my high school (darned budget cuts--even back then), but I tried. This is roughly how things stand. #1 is in Masinloc. Iba is where she sends her weekly emails from and Olongapo is where the mission home is. On the left is the current map of the flooding in Luzon and on the right is just a map of the towns and villages in her mission.

Iba and Olongapo have had some pretty hefty rainfall in the last 24 hours. I don't know about Masinloc, but I guess we'll know within the week.

Hurry! Count Your Blessings!

Here are my gratitudes for today:

image: louisville.com

  1. Summertime - I'm having a lazy morning. It's payday, so I'm getting the budget all set for the month. I'm grateful for the chance to just sit here and get it done and not have to hurry about getting kids out the door. That's coming sooner than I'd like. It's been a great summer. We didn't plan a big vacation because of our Spring Break trip, but we've done little jaunts here and there. There have been lots of trips to the fountains in the area, a couple runs to the beach, a trip to Seattle for the Warden and me, and the vacation will end with the Portland to Coast relay for me and something yet-to-be-determined for Labor Day. #3's birthday is the day after school starts. For her, that means, the first day of school. The Freshmen go on the actual first day. She and #2 will go the day after. Happy birthday to her!
    image: theskinnyms.com
  2. Good food - I've been struggling with stomach problems for months now. I believe I've mentioned that before. It's not been fun. I started by cutting out white flour, sugar, and other processed foods. It helped quite a bit. I'm now down to whole foods. It makes me happy to be at least trying to get healthy things into my body. I'm hoping it will pay off over the long run, and I'm sure it will. Cooking so simply is a bit of a challenge. For some reason, in my mind, I feel like making dinner has to be so complicated. Chicken breasts, broccoli, and quinoa just doesn't seem like it can be difficult enough to be considered dinner.
  3. People who say it how it is - Maybe I live in the wrong culture, but I LOVE people who will just come up and tell you what's up even if it's something they know you don't want to hear. My brother that was just here is that way. I love that I never wonder where I stand with him. If there's ever a problem, he'll tell me, and we'll work it out. I love people like this.

For today, I need to take a three mile walk and get some new socks for this weekend's face. The budget is almost done, but of course, it doesn't quite add up, so I have some more slicing and dicing to do. I need to go get the cash and set up the kids' accounts for the new school year.

We, in the next couple days, will all write to #1, and I need to start getting her birthday package ready.

Our temple is now open, so I want to get over there.

I think for this new school year, I'm going to undertake a plan to have a freezer cooking day once a month or so. I've read about this but have never done it myself. Now that we're eating so much simpler, maybe this is something I can do.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

#1's Weekly Email: Week #9

Wow! Look how quick I am this week. I only got to email with #1 for a very short time today. She said her computer wasn't working very well, so no photos this week either. I'm hoping for some next week. We shall see.

She mentions the package I sent her. I think I've mentioned it before, but just in case I haven't, the fact that it was full of feminine hygiene products is significant in this email--just a little fact you might want to know before you read what she's written here.


So this week, because of the flood, EVERYTHING is muddy.On Tuesday, we decided to be geniuses and visit the investigators in Santa Rosario which is full of rice fields.... So! We had to march across the rice fields and I am an extreme klutz here so I kept getting my shoes stuck in the mud and ended up walking barefoot for most of it. It was actually really fun. A definite adventure if I do say so myself. 

We had mission prez interviews this week. They were fun. I love President Q. I know that he is called of God and I feel the spirit every single time he testifies to us. He's an amazing man. I'm so grateful that he is my mission president. 

I also got the package that you sent, Mom :) Thank you for it. It got here really fast and no one got into it. Funny story, the elder that handed it to me told me that I was expected to share the contents hahahaha I don't think that would be a good idea.... (wink*wink*)

Yesterday, I had to give a talk in church. Totally impromptu and it was about praying with faith. One of the sisters came up to me afterwards and thanked me and said that it was very inspirational. Cool :) 

It's very interesting here. We try to teach families but the couples are usually not married. It's very hard for people to get married here because it's so expensive. It's very sad for them.

Yesterday was weird in the teaching department. We taught a man who was so prepared for us. That was really cool. I asked him to be baptized and he said he would! YAY! But after we went and taught two other investigators. The first is a 14 year old boy. He reminded me a lot of G. Not a lot of enthusiasm for anything. We asked him to be baptized too and he say maybe. The last people we taught was the weirdest. They were very friendly but they were also very into their religion. They're Baptist. We tried to teach them but one of the men kept interrupting us and wanting to teach us the words of the Bible. He was very well versed in the Bible. He didn't want to hear what we had to say. He just wanted to debate. It made us very sad. I hate when people are hard-hearted and closed-minded. We just keep praying for them. 

So yup. That was this last week. The food is still amazing and we're still good and happy. The main thing that I'm learning is that I have a lot of things to improve on in myself. I am proud and stubborn and I have a very strong personality. I am working on becoming more humble this week and more teachable. I'm trying to become more patient. I am constantly praying that I will be able to be humble and start focusing on the work right now. I need to learn to forget myself. So that's what I'm going to work on this week. 

I know that this church is true with all my heart. I know that Heavenly Father will help us with whatever we ask him for. 

I love you all and I miss you!
-Sister Hess

Friday, August 16, 2013

Good Things Going On

I've been working so long on that cleaning post that I refused to do my gratitude post until it was done. Well, this is long overdue, so here we go....

  1. An exercise buddy - I'm getting ready to walk the Portland-to-Coast next weekend. Am I ready? Not even. I'm getting slower with every trip out. Whatever! I'm just going to go for it and hope it all works out. I have a great team, so I hope they'll make up for my lack. Regardless of all this, I have some great workout buddies. One night, #4 went with me on his roller blades. It was my fastest time so far. Other times, #3 has gone with me. We went seven miles the other night. KILLER! It is so fun to go with them. We, by the time we get home, have all the world's problems solved. So GREAT! So glad I don't have to search very far to find someone to go with me.
  2. The recent visit of my brother's family - Wow! So many great times this past few days. I was sad to see them leave. There is so much gratitude all wrapped up in that five days, I don't know where to begin. Here's a short list--having cousins spend the night, barbecue with the family, Seaside and lots of time in the sand and the water, Lost Lake and pedal boats, raspberries and gravenstein apples, impersonations in the back seat of the car that had me laughing to the point of tears. This list could go on and on and on. I look forward to their next visit.
  3. My presidency - Oh wow! These three ladies are SO wonderful! Last night, although we've been planning this for a long time and were hoping to do it to celebrate the year being half over, we met up at Moonstruck Chocolate for milkshakes and held our meeting right there. I love working with these women. Each brings something different to the table, and we seem to complement each other so well. I couldn't ask for better. Being with them is one of the highlights of my week every week.

So, here's the scoop for the day....
  • #2 gets his senior portraits taken tonight. We'll be taking a trip out to beautiful Dallas, Oregon to meet up with Julia Shinkle. We love her!
  • #5 has a soccer tournament this weekend, but because they've moved him to a different team, I need to go get the appropriate jersey and shorts today. **Sigh**
  • I've got to get some groceries.
  • I have some articles to finish up.
  • Maybe a trip to the fountain is in order for the day as well. It's a bit overcast, but it's still plenty warm.
  • I've also set a goal to have each family member write #1 a Dear Elder letter once a week and then write her an email on the weekend. We'll see if I can persuade them to do that.
  • I started reading the Percy Jackson series to #5 and Sideways Stories from Wayside School to #6. I'm looking forward to moving to the next chapter with both of them today. Fun times!

Seven Methods to Get Kids to Clean

My house has been clean for five days straight. Not a big deal to many people, I'm sure, but HUGE to me. Maybe we're hitting that stage. Maybe that's what comes after diapers are diminished because the last child is potty trained. Wow! I wasn't expecting that, and I can only hope that that's the case. Five days....Let me say that differently...FIVE DAYS gives me hope.

Here's the new challenge....It used to be that "cleaning the house" on a day-to-day basis meant tidying the house. We'd do the heavier cleaning, scouring, etc. on Saturday mornings. Well, the house is tidy. Lovely! Tidy. I'll take it, but I still want my kids to learn to work and contribute to the household daily, so it seems that the kids' daily jobs (I refuse to use the word "chores") will take a turn. Instead of "straighten the front room," it will have to become something like, "dust the front room" or something. I don't even know. I'm really going to have to look at this from a different angle. Of course, there will always be dishes and counters to wipe and things to sweep on a daily basis; it's just that that "straightening" aspect has somehow disappeared.

The other day, I had the joy of driving with my wonderful sister-in-law opposite me in the car. She rode "shotgun." I LOVE talking to her. She is mother to eight. My other siblings have two and three children, and I love them all dearly, but I relate with this sister-in-law very well. We see life very similarly.

As we drove we shared notes on how we clean house. It was so fun to hear how we had done similar things without ever consulting each other on the topic before.

Here are some ways we get our children to work:


  • Magic Scrap: This is a game my husband actually played with his students when he was a teacher, and I've heard my kids talk about playing it in their classrooms. Here is the premise. I will sometimes play this around the entire house and will go from room to room trying to find something that's out of place or a single job that needs to be done. I will write it down. Sometimes I'll even choose three or four things and write them all down. I invite the kids in and have them clean. The whole purpose is to find and put away (or do the job) that is written on the paper. If they do it successfully, the game ends for that room, and we move onto the next room. When all the magic scraps are found or the jobs are done, the people who found the magic scraps get a prize for each scrap they found.
    image: photo-dictionary.com
  • Timer: My sister-in-law will take her kids to a room and ask them how long they think it would take to make the room look perfect. The kids choose a time, and she sets a timer. She will then dole out the jobs ("You've got floor boards. You've got garbages...."). If they get it all done before the timer goes off, they reward themselves.
  • Top to bottom: This one is my favorite. I meet my kids at the farthest point in our house. I start delegating jobs to them as we proceed through the house. For example, we start in our upstairs hallway. I start out by asking one child to straighten the bookshelves. The next child is to pick up any scraps of paper or whatever off the floor. Another child is to go get the vacuum. We continue in this way as we work our way through the entire house. When a child successfully accomplishes one task, they are given another in another area. The child who is cleaning up items from the floor may next be assigned the scouring of the toilet in the upstairs bathroom. It goes on. As we finish one area, that is declared and we move to the next. I'm not sure why I love this way so much, but I think it must be because we're all working together for a common cause and no one is above another. I have found this one works best if I'm giving myself jobs too.
    image: creativeclings.com
  • Job chart: This is my least favorite. We had a job chart for a few years and rotated jobs weekly. Everyone had an area of the house to clean as well as a job for before dinner and one for after. The kids did a really good job on these and everything got done unless someone was out of the house. The only problem I had with this system was the "But it's not my job" problem we ran into more frequently than we enjoyed. Actually, we never enjoyed it, so if it EVER happened, it made me crazy.
  • On the fly: This is how I started teaching my kids to do housework. I wanted them to be the kind who, when asked, would jump up and do. I don't know if we ever perfected this idea, but remembering how this was made us abolish our job chart. From a very young age, I started teaching my kids how to do various tasks around the house--emptying the silverware from the dishwasher, rinsing dishes, folding towels, making beds, etc. As they grew, their abilities grew. I knew that if they knew how to do something it wouldn't be as overwhelming, so I taught them little by little until they knew how to do everything I did. My one rule in this method was that I was NEVER to ask my kids to do something I wouldn't do myself. Along with this, my kids were taught that using the word "no" toward their parents was as bad as a swear word. If they use it, they get an additional job. Too many jobs and logical consequences become a bit more serious. I try to keep track mentally of who has been asked to do things most recently, so I don't end up calling on the same kid or kids over and over again.
    image: dobsonfloors.com
  • Pick and choose - This is the method we used to get the house clean this most recent time. I will go through the house and create a list of the jobs that must be done. I count them up and divide by the number of workers. Each worker must then choose that number of jobs. This time it was six for each person. They go through the list and we go around the circle over and over again until the jobs are all claimed. They then get to work on the jobs that they've chosen. I will list each family member and just what jobs they chose and keep that master list. I then make a list for each individual and hand it to him/her.
  • The next step - We are implementing a whole new system here now, but so far, I don't like it at
    all. It exposes too much of human nature for me to be comfortable with it. I believe in rising above human nature and hope that my children will soon be up for the challenge. This requires them to serve with a generous heart. They must go around the house and find the area that needs the most attention and then do it. Unfortunately, as I've thrown this at my kids, they have gone for the area that can be done quickest and with the least amount of effort. Thus, human nature. Wouldn't you agree? I mean, if we can be lazy, we will, right?

I'm sure there are a million and a half ways to get kids to work. These are a few of the more successful ways we've tried around this Madhouse. We've also had lists and page protectors and dry erase markers and notebooks, but I'd love to hear of more ways. It seems that with nearly every way we've tried, a time limit, some type of accountability, and a reward goes a long way; although, I try not to do that every time. Sometimes, I think kids need to work just for the sake of work and with a feeling of pride in their abilities and in their surroundings.

I have also adopted the perspective that some effort is better than no effort at all. Take what you can get, and be happy with it. If you're not happy with it. Teach them how to do it in a better way. A good old positive pep talk goes a long way as well.

I must admit that sometimes I'm really up on getting my kids to help around the house, and sometimes I'm a HUGE slacker. Things seem to ebb and flow around here in nearly every way possible. Housework is no exception.

I'm sure we're not done exploring new ways of cleaning a house. Especially now that our situation has changed. I honestly feel like I'm in a foreign place. There are no dishes in my sink. There are no toys on my family room floor. SO strange!

And now that I've written this, you know I've just jinxed myself....

...A little game of Magic Scrap, anyone?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

#1's Weekly Email: Week #8

my kasama and me out tracting. Aren't we cute? hehe oh and it's also raining...

Sorry this is coming so late but it's kind of been flooding over here. haha mom, you know that picture of that one sister that you saw online where she's up to her knees in water? well that was us yesterday. We were told to stay home so we kind of got a day off... but not really. 

Since we stayed inside I wore a t-shirt and jeans that whoooole day. It felt so good :) 

This might be really short but I'll try to make it as full of stuff as I can.\

First of all, the language is coming along pretty well. It's still really hard pero because I'm immersed in it I've learned more in the last week than I did my whole stay in the MTC.My kasama is really helping me too. She still gets a bit impatient but she's pushing me and that's really what I need right now. We trade off in taking turns talking in the lessons. Most of what teach is in Taglish but that's ok because my kasama has my back. She takes good care of me and is always pushing me to talk to EVERYONE. Haha but she gets really annoyed because everyone stares at me. I'm so white! They think I'm beautiful. They will randomly come up to me and tell me that and they always want to touch my hair. The boys here are the funniest though. They will stop what their doing and just stare with their mouths open. Sobrang funny.

Sister C. says that if she had my beauty she would have thousands of investigators.

It's been a bit frustrating this week because a couple of our investigators have decided to stop listening. I hate Satan. He always finds a way to bug us... Pero I know that Heavenly Father is in charge and he will make sure that everyone gets a chance to hear his gospel. \

Ummm what else. The food here is still good. It's raining a ton. I miss you all so much. I hope you have a great week!

I'll talk to you again on Monday if the rain permits :P

Mahal kita! The church is true, just so you know ;)
-Sister Hess

Kasama = companion
Pero = but
Sobrang = really; very
Mahal kita = I love you

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


This gratitude list thing is kind of magical.

My list, this morning, will be SUPER easy. I feel overjoyed. I'll share why in a minute.

image: flickr.com
Over the weekend, I had an interesting experience. I had an opportunity to get hung up on something negative and useless. For some reason, my gratitude list popped into my head just at that moment, and I realized that with so much good in my life, why should I give time to something so negative? What good would it do me? So, I chose to let it go and dwell on the good.

Magical, huh?

Okay, as promised, here is my list of gratitude for this morning (easy, breezy):

My siblings and me
  1. Family - my brother and his family are in town. I picked them up from the airport on Saturday evening and they spent the night here. We spent Sunday afternoon at my oldest brother's home having a barbecue. Most of us were there. Yesterday, we went to the beach together--three brothers, their families and me and my kids (the Warden had to work--it's go time in the world of a school administrator). It was so great to be around them all.
  2. Being wanted - I thought, after spending so much of their vacation time with us, they'd want to have just some our-own-family time. This morning I got a phone call. My brother said they'd meet us at a certain exit on the freeway. It wasn't a question of did we want to go or anything. It was a "we'll meet you." I LOVED this. This was the happiest thing I could have heard. He WANTS us to be there. Oh, how I love to be wanted. With a big family, that is a rare occurrence--something that hasn't happened in a long time.
  3. Missions - We received #1's email a day late. The town she's in was experiencing some flooding, so she and her companion spent their P-Day indoors. It was great that she was able to get out and write us. In the email, she mentioned "struggles." I will share here what I shared on Facebook. I figure there are people who read my blog who aren't my Facebook friends, and I think people need to know this fact. For those of you who are my Facebook friends, forgive me for the repeat:
A friend just wrote to me about receiving an email from #1. He mentioned "struggles" that she'd mentioned. I love #1's honestly and frankness, but for those who haven't served a mission and see those happy, smiling missionaries out there, this might come as a surprise--that they struggle. Here's what I shared with him....

"Love it! So glad she wrote back to you. Thank you for writing to her. Every missionary goes through a rather brutal tough patch in the beginning. She is no exception, so I'm sure your email was a HUGE lift for her--knowing that there's someone else out there rooting for her. Thanks...."


Having served a mission, I know how tough those first few months can be as you adapt to the job at hand. She is definitely having to step outside her comfort zone day in and day out. Learning a new language, adapting to a new culture and weather conditions all hit you at the same time.

I have no doubt she'll come through with flying colors, but she, like every missionary out there, has to learn to look past herself and her own needs and learn to fill the needs of those around her. So different from the life of most 19-year-olds out there.

She isn't unusual. She's just like every missionary you meet on the street. That's what they go to do--
struggle, stretch, and serve.

I have shared with her many times as she was growing up just what that was all about. I didn't want her to get the impressing that a mission was all sunshine and roses. You only ever hear the missionaries who have returned home tell you all the wonderful experiences they've had, so you get the impression that that's all that happens. It's not. It's totally different when you're actually living it. The successes come, but not without a lot of struggle and sacrifice.

She will struggle, and it will be great. That means she's not holed up in her apartment reading books. She's actually out there living it and doing it and pushing herself and reaching out and seeking to serve. YAY!!!

Although I hate to read that she's struggling, that really ends up being the happiest news of the day.

image: pacificcreststock.com
I will post her latest email later today. For now, I've got to get ready to go to the lake. I'm wanted there. YIPPEEEE!

Monday, August 12, 2013

And Now for a Commercial Break

We received no email from #1 last evening. While watching the weather, we learned that there was a rather large typhoon going on there, so that could have a lot to do with that. Considering that she and her companion live in a coastal town, and also the fact that they have to go to a town up north in order to use the internet, it really is no wonder an email didn't come.

So, for your reading pleasure, here is the email #7 sent to #1 this past week (I transcribe whatever she tells me to):

"I have a Tinkerbell. You love me, and I love you.


"Note: She just wants to hurry and get all of that stuff done, so she can 'write' you herself. Here you go.....

uryuytruikty4uyr485448y54y5758y788   ¢∞§∞ ∞368
575616537657t7iu09uoiruyuetyut786478657 8467875557847674454∞¢c"

Please keep #1 and those in the Philippines in your thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Life is Good

Like my new look? I thrive on change....Absolutely LOVE it. That's one thing I love about blogging--I can change the layout and look any time I want to. It's better than painting a room or rearranging furniture. It's just so great to have something different.

Three things I'm grateful for today....

That's him to my left.
We may have changed just a touch
since this photo was taken.

  1. Air flight - grateful that my brother and his family were able to arrive here safely this evening and that they are in my very house at this very moment.
  2. Grocery stores - seriously, could you imagine having to produce all the food you eat? No WAY! It's so great to be able to walk in, pick stuff up off the shelves and pay a few dollars for it rather than going out and milking the cow, sowing the seeds, etc.
  3. Inspiration - had a chat with three of my kids in regard to the use of their time. I love it when words come out that I haven't planned that end up teaching me some important lessons too.

It's been a good day, but tomorrow'll be an even better one. Tomorrow, #1's email will come in. I hope no one plans anything for 7:30 on Sunday nights for the next year and a half cuz I won't be there.

Potato salad's all ready for tomorrow night's family get-together (Did I ever tell you? I make one mean potato salad), and things are all set and ready for church.

My house is clean--yay for guests, and I'm feeling good!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Just Happy

My second daughter is turning 16 soon--actually, the first day of school. To avoid the first of school craziness, especially in an educator's family, we decided to have her "sweet 16" party tonight.

She wanted to have a murder mystery party. This is the third one we've done. My favorite, by far, was the one we did a couple years ago for our son. There were all kinds of extra activities you could do. One of the things the kids did was make up a rap. It was just so entertaining. I wish I could remember the company that produced that party. I'd buy from them again.

image: oregon.gov
This morning, before we went and prepared the last of the things for the party, #3 and I ran out to the DMV to get her permit. She was successful. While we were there, we ran into one of her good buddies from EFY who was also getting his permit. It was fun to sit and talk to his mom. It's funny how some people you can meet and feel like you could just sit and talk for hours? Well, that's how this was.

After we finished at the DMV, we ran to the mall to return a pair of jeans #3 had purchased. It was so fun being with #3. We went and got the food for the party and returned home.

image: photos.oregonlive.com
The Warden took the younger kids to dinner and to the park with the fountain. #5 stayed and played "servant boy" for the party. He did a nice job serving everyone.

Tomorrow night, my brother and his family fly into town. I'm so excited to see them and to get to spend some time with them.

So, here's tonight's list of things I'm grateful for:

  1. My kids' friends. They really do pick great people to hang out with. With some of my kids, I marvel at just how perfect their friends are for them--almost like they're hand-picked.
  2. The ability to drive and to have other drivers in our home. As I've been walking more and more
    in preparation for the race coming up, I'm learning how much I value my car. I drove #1's car with the top off this evening to take one of the girls home from the party. The sky was super gray, and I was pretty sure I was going to get a bit wet. Sure enough....just after I dropped her off, it started. It was funny, though, as I drove I didn't get wet at all. When I'd have to stop for a light, I'd feel a few drops on my forehead. I just tilted my head back and enjoyed the rain--just like a born and raised Oregon girl, I guess.
  3. My supportive husband. #3 and I were able to clean the house without little ones running around. It was great. I love that he will step up and do whatever's necessary to help all of the rest of us in our home be successful. What a great man!

Tonight, I'm wanting to write to #1 and tell her all about life. I'm so looking forward to hearing from her Sunday evening. I had a chance to chat with one of her friends who came to the party this evening. Made me not miss her quite as much.

I'm so glad my kids have such good friends, and I love having these people in my home. It was a really fun night.

What I'm Learning About Cheerfulness

I believe I wrote in my gratitude post this morning that I've been struggling lately. But seriously, what would life be without struggles, right? Anyway, I took a different stance this morning. I got up and felt the same as I have for days. I decided to pray about the specific things that are concerning me--yet again. There have been no answers lately, but when I got up off my knees, I decided that maybe I needed to keep better track, so this post is a compilation of today's thoughts and lessons. These are the impressions that popped into my mind and heart as I went about today's work.

Looking back now, I'm surprised at just how many answers there were.

I kept my laptop on the counter in the kitchen as I did the dishes and made pancakes for breakfast. As I did something that made me happier, I jotted it down quickly and then got back to work.

The things listed here are what occurred prior to 2:00 this afternoon. After that time, I decided to run the kids to the park and let them run through the fountain. I guess we could add run around and do fun stuff  to the list, but life got to bustling after that, so here's my list of cheerfulness:

A little lesson for myself.....

  • Music matters. Something peppy--sing along and sing loud. Dancing's even better.
  • image: vinylartsa.com
  • I decide the weather. It doesn't matter what my situation, but in my home, it is of particular importance. You know the old saying, "If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." Well, that's true. The converse is also true. If momma's happy, everyone's happy.

image: wobm.com
“I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate.It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration, I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming” (Haim G. Ginott).

  • Appearance matters. Wear something that makes you look good. Today, I wore a blouse and my happy green sweater with the white polka dots. I put my hair up and now I'm in search of some happy earrings.
  • Have a routine.
  • Pray--on your knees out loud.
  • Pray more--in your heart ALL the time. Any time you speak with someone, pray in your heart right before.
  • Don't get sucked in. Stick with your routine. Don't get caught up on the small stuff--like finding those happy earrings. If you can't find them, put on a glittery necklace or bracelet and call it all good. Now, on the other hand, if a child wakes up or one leaves the house, leave what you're doing to be there to greet or send him/her off.
  • Tell yourself "It's good."
  • Keep counting your blessings. When you see something good, cling to it.
  • No excuses. Recognize those excuses and rationalizations for what they are.
  • Insist that the kids help out. If they've left a mess and you know who left the mess, make sure they clean it up.
  • Don't get overwhelmed. Use a timer.
  • Don't fall into the habit of yelling across the house for any reason (unless the house is on fire, of course).
  • Don't EVER let them see you sweat. NEVER raise your voice. Keep calm and give logical choices.
  • Have a list. Prioritize. First things first.
  • Know when too much is too much. Don't be afraid to ask for help or delegate.
  • Let them handle their own problems, but again, pray.
  • Low tones.
  • Enlist the energy drain mentality.
  • NEVER let a tender mercy pass you by--like those happy earrings that just showed up, literally,
    See 'em? Thanks, Gayla!
    on my doorstep. Recognize every little blessing for what it is and give thanks for it.
  • Clean as you go. If you make the mess, clean up the mess, no matter how small.
  • Surround yourself with happy people and happy things. Don't seek out icky things--I find myself looking at pictures of Ariel Castro's house. STOP!
  • Don't return to your bedroom during the day--except to use the bathroom because who wants to use a bathroom where the kids have been? Wow, am I snobbish or what?
  • Be nice to yourself. Give yourself a break every once in awhile. But remember, breaks are like dessert, not the main course.
  • Be in control--stop something you like doing just to prove to yourself that you can--control the situation.
  • Feed your spirit.
  • Sing through the jobs you hate--sing even when, and especially when, you don't feel like it.
  • Listen to lots of Taylor Swift and as you do so, be SO grateful that the dating days are long gone and that you got the guy you did. Phew!
  • Wear an apron to cover those cute clothes--you don't want to have to change.
  • Look at everyone who talks to you. Restate what they say to let them know that you're really listening and for clarification.
  • Lower your voice. Do the opposite of what your urge is.
  • Enforce respect--have little people clean up after themselves, help them/remind them to look into your face when they talk to you.

Inspirational messages of the day:
  • "Courage is fear that prayed." --Thanks, Julia!
    image: tumblr.com
  • "This is a time of faith, not fear" (Ensign magazine)
  • "Be not afraid, only believe" (Mark 5:36)
  • "Faith, to be faith, must walk to the edge of the light, and then a few steps into the darkness" (Boyd K. Packer)
  • "Look up" (Thomas S. Monson)
  • "God never leaves us alone, never leaves us unaided in the challenges that we face" (Jeffrey R. Holland)
  • "Rapids are a part of our journey." They're the best part of the trip and add a sense of
    image: movingforward.net
    accomplishment and exhilaration.
  • "Answers to prayer and the solutions to our problems generally come as we begin to act, not while we are on our knees praying."
  • "There is nothing in this world that can defeat us."

image: fanpop.com

In short, this list is a lesson to me that answers come continually in many ways. If I seek for them, they will be found. And if, next time, I'm not looking in the right places, I can always come back here.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

What I'm Grateful For

The top three things I'm grateful for this morning....

image: delish.com
  1. Flexibility - I love that I can take what I'm not liking about life and turn and change it and do whatever I think might remedy the situation. I love that the kids are out of school and that if we want to drop everything and run to Ikea for a good ol' dose of Swedish meatballs, we can.
  2. Books - I'm a huge stickler, during the summertime, about
    image: ah_coo.tripod.com
    my kids having screens in front of their faces. It just REALLY bugs! We have so many months of rain here that for the kids to sit holed up in front of a screen just really seems like a slap in the face of sunshine. When it's so gorgeous outside, I believe that's where they need to be. I love, though, that their brains can be fed and they can escape to other places through good books. Those can be taken anywhere. I love reading to my kids right now. #7's really into fairy tales. Her favorites right now are Goldilocks and Cinderella. To be honest, I'm kind of getting tired of reading them, but at least she wants to be read to, so what's another 46 times, give or take? #6 is reading the Magic Treehouse books, but I don't feel like we've really come across what he LOVES to read. I hope we find it soon.
  3. image: hooping.org
  4. Prayer - I'm trying. I really am. These past few weeks have been tough ones. I'm not gonna lie. There is so much to do and so little motivation. The reason I undertook to write this list was that I'd hoped it would cheer me up a bit. I'm still waiting for it to do that. I'm trying to look at the bright side of life. I've been on my knees a lot lately without a lot of apparent answers. I know that I need to keep at it. For today, my goal is to keep a prayer of gratitude in my heart at all times. You know, my life isn't terrible. It's actually pretty darned sweet. It's just a few things that are bogging me down, and they're things I can totally control, but part of that control is the ability to look at them from a different, more positive, what-can-be-learned angle. That is my goal for today.

Today, there's a party to prepare for, we've got guests coming for the weekend, and I've got a walking relay to prepare for. I think I have a new walking buddy, so that should make this preparation a lot of fun.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Preparing a Missionary for the Philippines

This post could also be subtitled: "What I'm Learning as We're Going Along."

image: mormonnewsroom.ph
A friend sent me a message this morning. Her daughter will be going to the Cebu East Mission very soon. She asked about everything from Permethrin to umbrellas, so here's how I answered. As I did so, I thought this might not be bad information to share here for others who are preparing daughters to serve in Filipino missions and happen across this blog, so here you go....

My daughter has been a week in the mission field now, but it's just a fact that as the time gets closer to send a missionary off, it gets to the point where there are so many things to think about. 


#1 purchased a big container of permethrin through Amazon. It was a concentrate. I believe she did soak her sheets as well. She ruined one of our measuring cups during this venture, so you may want to purchase one of those as well.

Missionary Moms

If you haven't joined yet, Missionary Moms is a great thing to be involved with. If you want to know more, message or email me.

Power Converter

image: ebay.com
My daughter took a camera with batteries. I didn't send a converter. I'm assuming that if she needs one, a former missionary would have left one behind. That's one thing you probably wouldn't take home with you and when it comes time to leave, believe me, you leave as much as you can. I remember taking home one pair and shoes, the clothes on my back and just a few other things. I bequeathed the rest to those who would follow.


#1 chose not to take her iPod. She didn't take anything music-wise with her. I did, however send her sheet music. She asked for it; no, begged for it. I sent it to her while she was still in the MTC.


I'm sorry to say that I can't remember where we purchased her umbrella. I believe it may have been someplace like Fred Meyer, so it's probably not that sturdy. Being an Oregon girl, I'm thinking that umbrella might just stay packed. Rain is her friend.


Okay, I need to revisit the package-to-the-MTC idea here for a moment....
image: hip2save.com
I sent #1 two packages while she was in the MTC. The first cost me $16 to send. The second, $22. They were full of all kinds of thingsand were in boxes that you'd purchase cases of paper in. They were huge.

I sent my first package to the Philippines last week. It was dinky. In it, I had placed, two deodorants, a new toothbrush, and a 16 packages of the thinnest pads you can find. Needless to say, this package was SUPER light. The price to ship....$57.

image: postcalc.usps.gov
Last Saturday, just following a baptism, I mentioned this to a woman in the ward who has sent children on missions to Chile and Brazil. She shared that the best thing to do is use a flat rate box, the longer, flatter one. I guess there are two sizes that can be shipped at the same price, but that longer, flatter one (like the size a dress shirt might be packed in), she did the math, is better volume-wise. You can put anything in it up to 20 pounds, and it will only cost $40 to ship anywhere....HaHa, "only."

In the email we received from him, #1's mission president said to use USPS to ship things. So, that's what I'll do next time. My friend also said it takes FOREVER to get there, so Christmas items will need to be shipped by the end of October. #1's birthday is in November, so it sounds like I may be sending a monthly package for the next little bit. Fun stuff!

In short, if at all possible, send as much as you need to while your missionary's in the MTC.

Emails on P-day

For the Olongapo Mission, P-day is Monday. That means #1's emails come in on Sunday night. With the time difference, it was about 7:30pm. They had to go to a town north of where she's serving in order to find an internet cafe, so whatever day P-day is, expect emails at about that time of night the night before.

I happened to be sitting at my computer with my email inbox open, so when her email came through, I was able to respond quickly. We were able to send emails back and forth for a bit before she had to go and get on with her laundry and grocery shopping. It was wonderful and very reassuring. She answered all of my questions. I was happy to learn that she wasn't overly hot (94 degrees but with humidity, 120 and not hot?!), there is no flooding, that they had filtered water and she has a filtered water bottle, and that she had already written her letter to her mission president (something I was TERRIBLE at when I served all those years ago and totally regret).

Technology is Your Friend

Technology being what it is, this really has become an adventure to be shared. A phone call from the Salt Lake airport, flight trackers, and an email from the Mission President the next day have taken a lot of guess work out of the whole experience.

One last important detail...
image: essentialapparel.com

Clothes and Shoes

In our little email "chat" the other night, I asked #1 about her
image: romystyle.com
shoes and clothes. The shoes (Crocs) are awesome, she said, but she took some Shades-type shirts with her. The short sleeves are considered "sexy," so they're inappropriate. She purchased two" very light cardigan-type t-shirt material (I don't know what you'd call them) jackets? Cardigans? at Romy's before she left. She's been wearing those over her shirts. So, she was going out to buy some new tops on P-day.

In regard to those cardigans, one of the last things we were warned about by a friend who served previously in the Philippines, was that sometimes the churches are air conditioned and when you've acclimated to the heat, it's a good idea to have a light sweater or blazer on hand for such cases. Thus the purchase of these cardigans.

There you have it. I'm sure I'm not done learning yet, but if this information can help somebody else out there, so you don't have to make the same mistakes I have, I'll be a happy woman.

Best of luck as you prepare your missionary!

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