Dear Kids: Go to the Temple

Dear Kids,

So things have been crazy lately. Our time here in Australia is coming to an end, so that means figuring out what our next step is going to be. Even though we're getting closer to finalizing our plan, the process from the beginning has been frustrating for me. I'm a planner and not knowing where we'll be living in the next two months makes me twitch. Sadly, that and the Australian winter now in full swing has prevented me from enjoying our time here and in turn, just makes me want to get it all figured out even more! Argh! It's a nasty cycle I unnecesarily bring upon myself.

We had talked about needing to go the temple. Especially since we probably would't have another opportunity to go to the temple here in Sydney. It's also been awhile since I've been able to go to an endowment session with Hazel nursing...but with our current state of limbo, I just figured we'll get around to it sometime and if we don't make it, no big deal. 

That was foolish.

Well, then, Nana had to have surgery this last Friday. She was scared and nervous and I felt helpless over here on the other side of the world. After talking to her about this on the phone one morning, I thought why not go to the temple this Saturday?! (Since we're a day ahead, it would be the same day of my mom's surgery). Hazel was finally at a point where I could leave her for a longer amount of time...the only thing stopping us was a babysitter, which was quickly taken care thanks to our wonderful friends. 

And so we went. 

I don't think I've had a temple visit affect me so profoundly up to this point in my life. I felt abundant amounts of peace in regard to our future and was able to feel comfort for and in behalf of my mom. Aside from our personal life, there are crazy things going on in today's world that always leaves me sad and uneasy. However, in the temple everything is right. It was as though I could only feel peace and hope (no feelings or worry or confusion allowed, thank you).  And it felt so good.  Almost like a relief.

There was a cute person there who took our photo in font of the temple, but in order to make more room on my camera I accidentally deleted it to make more room for images like this beaut. So sad, but it was a rainy day and it's all we got.

My sweet babes, it seems as some of the times I've been the most profoundly blessed by things of this gospel, such as temples or visiting teaching, were during times in my life where I didn't think I needed it. Don't miss out on blessings of living a righteous life sitting right there in front of you because you weren't willing to reach out your hand and grab it. The temple is one of those things that we always need. It is a huge blessing we have available to us that is free for the taking. So go. Go whenever you can.

Love you forever,


<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

I'm trying out Bloglovin' now the Google Reader is passing away. So far, so good. I have yet to find a way to "mark all as read" during times I get behind, but other than that, I think its a great replacement if not way better.

In specific regard to layout and networking, I feel it works very similarly to Pinterest.

Has anyone else tried anything different that they've had success with?

Sydney Vivid Light Show

The last two weekends we went to the Vivid light show in Sydney. The first Saturday we went to the goings on at Darling Harbor, but sad to say it was a little rainy and cold.  It ended up being a fun time, but not so fun that when Phil wanted to go again the next weekend, I wasn't so jazzed.

However, this time it wasn't rainy and cold and we went to the light shows over by Circular Quay (by the Sydney Opera House). This was quite a bit more fun with cooler things to see. I had so much fun taking pictures, because it's probably the one of the rare instances that taking pictures in the dark actually works, since, you know, you're taking pictures of light.

Second time around at Circular Quay:

A couple of weekends ago at Darling Harbor (The second photo is an accurate portrayl of the everyone's feelings toward the end of our evening):

Hair of Fame

So the other day (actually, it was more like the other month...sometime back in March, I believe...) I sat awake in my bed thinking of a new hair-do to try on Penny. Apparently, I do that. Doing my daughter's hair is something I enjoy quite a bit more than the average mom, I'd say, and probably quite a bit more than my daughter...HAHAHA! What? Whipping her head around while yelling at her to hold still is good bonding time.

In an effort to get her excited about what will probably be a "do" that takes more time than usual, I excitedly say, "Hey Penny, let's go do your hair. I have an idea for a cool new style." She gets that expression on her face (since that girl communicates just as clearly if not more so with her facial expressions than her words) that if it could talk would say, "okaaaaay". And a half-hour later, we ended up with this:

What I hadn't anticipated was an observant 5-year-old boy who standing on the sidelines asks me, "Do you have a cool new style for me mom?"


You bet.

And that's how Ryder ended up with this "do":

Ya know for a long while I wasn't quite sure what direction I wanted to take my blog. Do I want to make it more about lifestyle and design? (however, that would assume I knew something about those things...)  Do I write strictly about motherhood? Do I try to get a following with some give-aways and tutorials? Naaah. Too hard. It was about over a year or so ago, where I let go of any sort of blog expectation for myself. (Ya know, since it was really about to take off and all.) And it was then I decided the goal for my blog was simply: anything my kids would want to know about me and our life. Everything from the serious to the funny. Not just vacations and family outings (even though as I look over my last few blogs that's ALL I've been writing about), but the little stories from the day-in and day-out of things (AKA pretty much anything goes). I know this isn't a novel idea by any sorts, but I feel the need to explain why I post about random things like hair-dos. And in this particular case, that we named this style from the other day: Fireworks.

G&G Shorten Visit: Cairns

People. Prepare yourselves for photo overload like you've never seen before! It's got animals! It's got people! It's got tour guides wearing nothing but paint and a loincloth! Introducing! Our trip to Cairns! (Or Kens as they say it here.)

Cairns: Scene I

We begin at Macca's because let's be honest, the only way to start a vacation off right is to head straight to your nearest McDonald's for a milkshake and a kid's meal. And where else does one go while you wait for two hours until you're allowed to check in? 

Ahhh...the pool. In a kid's world, any vacation with a pool equals success. Many hours were spent here.

How many men does it take to cook a frozen lasagna? Well, in this case, two. And efforts we appreciated as the lasagna turned out quite tasty.

And of course, Hazel and her daddy, with a little Queensland flora on the side. 

Cairns: Scene II 

The plot thickens as our plans to explore the Great Barrier Reef were thwarted by swift winds and tumultuous waves. A little bit disappointing. But we rallied and given the information we had about the weather decided it was now or never (which was the wise decision since every excursion for the rest of the time we were there got cancelled), so we took a half day excursion to Green Island.

Aside from everyone (except Phil and his mom) getting sea sick, thanks to those rockin' waves, we ended having a nice time chillin' on the beach and getting in some snorkeling. 

Cairns: Scene III

We end our story with one last adventure to Daintree Rainforest and a little town named Kuranda. On our way there we drove past miles of sugarcane fields which filled me with an overwhelming feeling of nastolgia. Either because it made me miss the fields so familiar to my own roots, or it just gave me a hankering to go spend 7 hours watching The Thorn Birds. Or both. I'll never know.

And now, what you've all been waiting for...our 2013 Christmas card photo:

This day was one of my favorites. We've seen a lot of these animals before hanging around or at the zoo, but it was fun to get close up to them, learn more about them and in some cases, (very gingerly) pet them. 

However, we did not pet Jack. This 15 foot long beast is lovingly named "Jack the Ripper" because instead of mating with any female they put with him, he killed them instead. Nice fellow.

 Okay. Now what you've really been waiting for. The loincloth-wearing tour guide. Who told us how a didgeridoo was made and then played it for us. Demonstrated how to throw a boomerang and then let the rest of us give it a whirl. And  finally, did a little spear throwing, which was pretty awsome.

And then, what does this man of many talents do? He grabs a few of friends and does some tribal dancing for us. I eat up this sorta stuff! And as if this whole experience couldn't get any better, before I know it who is volunteering to go up and dance? Phil. It made my day. Totally made my day. I have it on video and I'm charging $5 per viewing. 

We also took a little tour of the rainforest and learned about ferns. 

I liked the dancing better. 

Kuranda was a small town filled with fun shops, markets... and hippies. There is something about a hippy town that makes me feel at ease. Ya know, go with the flow, man. So much so I ended up dropping a few bones at one of the said shops because I just found it so entertaining when the almost 50-year-old salesman said anytime he visits anywhere with central heating nowa days it just like"totally spins me out".

Oh, and just a little tip. Be careful when you order a burger with everything. Because then they'll reply, "The lot"? And kinda confused, you just go with it (because you're in hippyville) and say with your Aussie accent slipping out, "Yeah, yeah--the lot". And then, my friend, you get this:


Phil's parents had one more day with us before they hopped on a plane back to WA, so we took one last run down to the beach, ate some fish n' chips for lunch. 

Thank you Grandma & Grandpa for coming all this way. We sure had fun with you!