Sunday, July 27, 2008

July 26, 2008, Happy 11th Birthday Brad!

Happy Birthday

to my #1 boy!

(my firstborn)

Who Truly Brings me so much joy!
11 years ago, yesterday, I was walking around the "Happiest Place on Earth" with Danny, Kierstin & Danny's brother and his wife and kids. I was 2 days away from being nine months pregnant (I was due in 2 days). I figured, what was the big deal, the hospital is close and maybe it would help Bradley decide to come on time....

Boy, was I right. I started having contractions on the way from Disneyland to meet my family at dinner in Anaheim to celebrate my grandfather Junior's birthday at our favorite restaurant...

I thought, these contractions are getting pretty regular and strong. So, after dinner we take my sister Mary home with me. She was the one to watch Kierstin while we welcomed her new brother into the world...

Sure enough, a few hours later, Bradley Christian Baak blessed our lives by entering our family one day early, July 26, 1997 (he was actually due on Junior's birthday, 7/27/97, which would have make for a fun rhyme for your birthdate but he had his own idea).

Bradley has always had a sweet, loving nature from the beginning. He had a great tempermant and loved to snuggle. I love this picture of him and dad just home from the hospital.. He was the smallest of my 5... 7 lbs 9 oz. but still long at 21 inches.

(Brad snuggling dad, just home from the hospital)

My happy little boy!

After big sister Kierstin's

initial shock at having to share the spotlight, they could be found side, by side

getting into all sorts of mischief!

I couldn't have asked for a better example of an older brother for 3 younger bros than Brad. He is sensitive, caring and considerate. He is patient and helpful with his younger brother and considerate of his older sister.

Where do 11 years go to? It seems like yesterday I was 11 years old watching all the deacons passing the sacrament, in particular watching the ONE I had a crush on. Now, my boy will be up there passing the sacrament in only 1 year! What an important year this is! Middle school, hormones, (girls looking at my boy that way, NO WAY!) Too fast for me. I want to savor these memories!! (that's why I'm blogging)

Dad and I are so blessed to have you in our lives. We learn a lot from your example!

and every day, Bradley!!!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Over the last year and a half, our family has become regular's of the Nickelodean's series, AVATAR. It is really such a great series. I can't really explain what it's about but I really enjoy it because it teaches good moral values.

This week was the very last episode. Kierstin had a party with her friends. They all dressed up and I sent the boys to play video games in the trailer and they had a blast watching the episode together. (I must apologize to the neighbors for the big scream fest!) It was fun watching them have a good time watching something actually uplifting!

The Main "Avatards" The rest of the "Tard" crew
(Kierstin, Natalie, Renee, Kelsey, Kyra & Alexa)
Renee Kierstin Kelsey
(hippe from secret (Aang) (fire nation)
tunnel episode)

4th of July traditions

4th of July in Huntington Beach is so Patriotic! We have the largest parade west of the Mississippi. I'm ashamed to admit we've never actually attended. Danny and I don't have a long enough attention span and needless to say, neither do our kids. We don't really relish the thought of sitting out in the sun. However, it's nice to know it's there and it's fun to see the whole city riding their bikes downtown to see. it. This year, the grand marshall was Noble Waite, from our ward. He was the first Bishop for our church in Huntington Beach. He has served in the Stake Presidency. But he has also served on the City Council for a number of years as well as on the school board. We were all so proud of him that he was chosen.

Our Stake puts on this incredibly patriotic 4th of July production. There is a showing then night before, on the 3rd (for those who want to catch the parade); and then 2 shows the morning of the 4th. We have a multitude of talented people who sing and dance and volunteer their time to do this. But most importantly, we have 2 amazing women who actually do productions for a living that our the brains and force of this incredible show; Diane Christensen & Kathy Buzby. They work for the Children's theatre and currently for the high schools. But they've been doing this production for the past 20 years. It is NOT some little church thing but a full on amazing PRODUCTION! People in the community can't believe it. We also put on a big show, once every 3 years that has a hidden moral theme that many non LDS people participate in. It's such a great bonding experience for the members of this stake.

In any case, Bradley, Bryce & Brian all participated in the children's portion this year. Brad & Bryce sang in the children's choir and had individual solo parts, and Brian was part of the 5 and under parade. This year's theme had them dressing up as a sports figure. Brian chose karate.

It is really a patriotic way to start off the day.

After that, we usually host a BBQ at our house. We start off at the park playing soccer or kickball and end up at the house BBQing. This year, we were unfortunately to busy to host it so our sweet friends, the Sprowls, offered to host it. They have a pool which my kids did not get out of until the bitter end. Even when most everybody left to the nearby park to play soccer, they swam. I wish I would have got pictures, but I was too busy being in the pool with Tyson who LOVES the water. the other half of the time, I was making sure he didn't go for a "swim" by himself.

We end the day watching the fireworks from the Pier. Last year, we actually walked down to the beach from our friends, the Ritters, but this year we watched it from their roof. We saw them really great.

When we came home, dad lit off a couple that he smuggled in across the border from Costa Mesa who IS allowed to do all sorts of fireworks although H.B. isn't supposed to do ANY. Go figure. It was a fun day for all, except dad, who stayed home to work on the bathroom. Sorry dad but we are grateful for your hard work!

The Wise Man and the Foolish Man

Ever since Danny has been called to be ward mission leader, we have
had the blessing of getting to know all the Elders in our ward

better. They are so great and so hard working. They stop by often. I think they like the pep talk they get from Danny. He is so enthusiastic about missionary work. He is truly like the apostle Paul and "not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ." He asks people to take the discussions almost on an every other weekly bases.

In any case, the Elders will always leave us with a spiritual thought before they leave. This time it was Elder Lamitz's turn. He is such a devoted Elder. He had the kids play this game called "The Wise Mand and the Foolish Man." Like the primary song.

You take a cup of flour and compact it into a small saucer or other shallow bowl or cup. It comes out all shaped like a sand castle. You then put a bean, M&M or other small object on top. Everyone takes turn with a knife cutting away at the flour. The object is to make sure you don't collapse the flour underneath the M&M on your turn.
The one who knocks it down (in this
case, Brian, has to fish out the M&M with his nose!)
(Elder Lamitz helped out).
The objective lesson of this activity is that if we build our lives on a sandy foundation, it may collapse from underneath us. However, if we build our lives upon a rock, or testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we will be firm, and unmovable.
It makes for a great family home evening lesson.
Thanks for the fun Elders!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I can't let the 4th of July go by without giving it tribute! Everyone who knows me knows how much I love this country, the land of promise. Every since we studied American History in the 5th Grade I have been just facsinated by all aspects of it. I would secretly read my history book during the other boring subjects of school.

This portrait was a valentine's day gift from Danny to me several years ago; it is called "Prayer at Valley Forge." Of course it is of George Washington kneeling in prayer before the big battle at Valley Forge that changed the whole course of the Revolutionary War. I can sit and look for long periods of time at this picture. I never can look at it without tearing up and feeling such immense gratitude in my heart for the founding fathers of this nation.

The birth of this nation truly was an act of God. Historians are always amazed at how so many brilliant free thinking and forward thinking political minds were together in the same place at the same time. They marvel at the wonderful Declaration they made and then the founding of such a marvellous Constitution from which most every other democracy in the world has since based their own polictical deomcracy on. Reading history after history I know that these men felt inspired of God. They truly were religious men who felt compelled to do what they were doing by God and had the courage and fortitude to risk EVERYTHING to do so.

President Woodruff's account of the founding fathers appearing to him in the St. George Temple solidifies to me the divinity of the birth of this nation:

Think of it, the Founding Fathers of this nation, those great men, appeared within those sacred walls (of the St. George Temple) and had their vicarious work done for them. President Wilford Woodruff spoke of it in these words:
“Before I left St. George, the spirits of the dead gathered around me, wanting to know why we did not redeem them. Said they, ‘You have had the use of the Endowment House for a number of years, and yet nothing has ever been done for us. We laid the foundation of the government you now enjoy, and we never apostatized from it, but we remained true to it and were faithful to God.’
“These were the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and they waited on me for two days and two nights. …
“I straightway went into the baptismal font and called upon Brother McAllister to baptize me for the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and fifty other eminent men.”
These noble spirits came there with divine permission—evidence that this work of salvation goes forward on both sides of the veil.
At a later conference, in April 1898, after he became President of the Church, President Woodruff declared that “those men who laid the foundation of this American government and signed the Declaration of Independence were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits … [and] were inspired of the Lord.”
4 We honor those men today. We are the grateful beneficiaries of their noble work.

This particuliar exerpt was taken from a talk that Ezra Taft Benson related in a BYU conference address. It just gives me chills.

I also have to acknowlege all of those brave and noble soles who served in the ranks of the battlefields to fight for the freedom of this country. I can not imagine what they had to endure; brutality of human nature at its worst, starvation, sickness, inadequate supplies, no shoes or coats in those frigid conditions (especially at Valley Forge). My dad has told me stories of my own ancestors who gave up all to fight for the freedom they felt they, and their posterity (me), deserved. One was even hung when captured by the British. Yes, I feel immense gratitude for them. Who can deny that God must of had a hand in the biggest underdog victory in the history of the world.

And all of this why? So after over a thousand years, the people of this earth living in spiritual darkness, could prepare a place where the gospel could be restored. The United States of America where less than 50 years later a 14 year old boy would be free to ask the question to find the truth and it could be restored.

Yes, I am so GRATEFUL to live in this land of liberty and freedom to worship the Lord how, I may because it is my unalieable right! However, I do recognize the fact that freedom isn't free. I am truly, utterly, grateful to live in this land of Liberty! May God Bless the USA as we all remember that it is God in whom we should place all trust!