Saturday, February 28, 2015

2014 Year in Review

I thought it would be appropriate to send out our Hough Family Highlights of 2014 (since December wasn't happening) on the one year anniversary of the week that our 2014 changed forever. After 10 years in Oregon...we realized we'd need to leave. We lost our family medical benefits and sadly, it was not fiscally possible to keep our employment with Dr. Hicken. While chances were pretty good Jared could have found another job in Hillsboro, we had always said that if anything changed with Dr. Hicken, we would find a loan repayment job. And that's what we did. You can read all about the juicy details in these previous blog posts. Details about other events and happenins can be found by clicking on the links through out the post.

New Job 

Hunt for a House

Search for temporary housing and selling the house

We spent exactly half of 2014 in Oregon and the other half in southeast Texas. Lots of adventures! Lots of memories to cherish. Lots to look forward to.

JAKE (15)-- Passed his Eagle Board of Review at a "young" age--just 2 weeks past his 14th birthday.

Enjoyed rock climbing with his friend Dallin Marsh. Received his Patriarchal blessing (an incredibly powerful experience for Jake and his parents!) on a Sunday in February where church had been cancelled due to snow!

Was invited to participate in an elite young pianists group. His Parks/Rec basketball team won the championship game with a 9-1 season--his mom was waaay more nervous at his games than Jake was. He was known only as Jimmer (Fredette) to his teammates and coaches and the other player's families. He played point guard and had some sweet assists.

His mom ran over his left foot on Valentine's day with the car. Fortunately it was after his basketball tournament and it wasn't broken! Upon hearing of the family move to Texas, he responded with "Life is 90% attitude, 10% what you're given." Went on an 8th grade field trip to Seattle, WA in April. Had a great time, until weeks later, his parents realized they were missing their digital camera and since they actually asked him about it, he fessed up that he lost it in Seattle. Had his Eagle Court of Honor on 4/19. It was a great success and we're super proud. This was most definitely Jake's Eagle--not his parents'! Set two personal records (PR) in track: 5:26 in the 1500 and 2:43 in the 800 (even though now he says those are awful times!) A dream came true TWICE when our friend and neighbor, Richard Gorton, took Jake up in his private plane, a Commander 112 TC, and handed the controls over to Jake who flew it unassisted both times, including a banking turn! Marched in Portland's Grand Floral Parade with the high school marching band and lettered in band as an 8th grader. Performed "Hall of Fame" on the piano in front of the entire middle school staff and student body and nailed it! Had several saxophone solos, most of which were his own composition or improvisation. Performed in the Portland Regional Dance Festival as a Russian Dancer and had the unique opportunity of having two female dance partners :)

Was given a tremendous gift of an airline ticket from Texas to Oregon from the McCulloughs so he could participate in his first year of High Adventure. Due to the timing of our move, he would miss H.A. in Texas before we arrived and miss H.A. in Oregon after we left. Went white water rafting the day before we moved with one of his running buddies, Brother Dickinson and his family--lost his BYU hat, but had an amazing time. Came .10 point away from straight As his entire Middle School career. Darn that advanced math :) He's an academic giant in our book no matter what! His current schedule as a high school freshman gives me anxiety but he totally owns it. He's taking honors world geography, honors English, preAP biology, preAP geometry, intro to engineering (elective), basketball (elective) and Spanish 1. All As and a B in preAP geometry :) Not bad since there are no test retakes allowed in honors/preAP level classes. Oh and he has early morning seminary too. However, for the last few months of the year, he did home study because of early morning basketball practice. He made the Freshman B boys team in basketball. He would rather be on the A Team of course, but he is grateful to be playing (because he wouldn't have been in Oregon) and continued with the position of point guard here, as well. The team ended 2014 with a couple of losses only to the JV teams they had been matched up with and only by a few points! In December, Jake managed to land 2 or 3 different jobs with people in our neighborhood. He made almost $300 the second week of Christmas break. One of the jobs was with a guy who has his own construction company. That job has the potential to be very lucrative and good to him during the summers as he strives to build up his mission fund (only 40 more months!!) And I love any job my kids have that requires hard, physical labor! While he still loves his Legos and builds with them in his spare time, he has moved on to big boy tinkering materials that he orders online such as valves, brass fittings, CO2 cartridges, adapters, and 3D printing for a personal engineering project he and his buddy, Mike are working on in their secret lab :) He's devastated that the engineering class a year ahead of him is building a real 20 foot sports plane with a piston engine and he's missing out!

Jake was called to be 1st Counselor in Teacher's quorum just two weeks after we moved here. Then three months later he was called to be Teacher's Quorum President and was set apart the same day Cooper was ordained to be a Deacon. In this case, both sets of Grandparents were there as well! We felt bad for monopolizing the Bishop's office that day. Jake also serves on the Stake Youth Planning Committee and is one of two High Adventure Coordinators.

Is a self-proclaimed "athletic geek" :)

COOPER (12)--Enjoyed a float-tube fishing trip with Jared and Jake in early spring to the Vernonia Pond. They caught and released many rainbow trout!

Continued to tear it up as an awesome chess competitor! He hopes to continue playing chess through the schools here in Texas.

Was cast as George Washington in the 5th grade musical "Our 13 Colonies" and did phenomenal! He stole the show at many times. His natural abilities on stage and in front of a crowd are simply mind blowing. The musical was in conjunction with the 5th grade science fair. Cooper's project explored which type of chip would burn the longest. Very interesting findings that one might find helpful when camping, fishing or building up a year's supply of food and resources :)

Sang Owl City's "To the Sky" at the final End-of-Year school assembly--before he sang it, he said farewell to the student body and staff likening our move to Texas as if he were taking to the sky on a new flight and new life. (Who is this kid??)

Continued with Tae-Kwon-Do and made it all the way up to green belt before we had to quit. His masters were sad to see him go. We loved and appreciated The School of Respect in Downtown Hillsboro.

Finally got to meet his only living Cooper relatives who reside in Dallas, Texas--which, by the looks of this picture, should explain a LOT ;)

Was called to be the Deacon's quorum secretary and is now the 1st Counselor. He and three other young men (Jake included) rotate as the Priesthood pianists in opening exercises. Additionally, he's joined the ward choir with his mom and seems to be enjoying the music--as well as some of the young women :) Jared got a real treat as a dad when he took Cooper out for his first experience receiving Fast Offerings and Jake was his "senior companion."

As a 6th grader, Cooper's getting a taste of middle school in an intermediate school setting. He has a locker and 7 periods. When I went to Parent Night at the school and introduced myself as his mom, all of his teachers lit up and told me how much they LOVE having Cooper in class. He loves science and social studies and his ELA teacher, Mr. Zehnder--who, as a fun fact, won a Mustang on the game show "The Price is Right" several years ago :) Coop LOVES football--plays it and watches it any chance he can get and is trying to convince his parents to play in 7th grade. (We shall see...)

Thanks to the efforts of his Scoutmaster, Cooper was able to catch up a bit in scouting and recently earned his Tenderfoot rank and his First Aid Merit Badge.

Hates being short and loves "organized" chaos, aka his side of the bedroom!

KARCYN (8)--Kicked off the 2014 year by proposing to the McCullough's 24-year-old son when we joined them for an over night at the beach! That didn't work out for her, but she did win the dance contest at the Daddy-Daughter school dance :) Loved sleeping with Madi our kitty (who did not make the move to Texas).

Got her chin slammed into the chair rail in our dining room by her younger brother Calvin, requiring 4 stitches--consequently her new bed became the hide-a-bed in the living room and Calvin lost his roommate. Celebrated her 8th birthday at Pump It Up with six of her friends--had a blast as only these girls can!

Sadly, one of her little friends, Mary, was jumping on her trampoline at home the next day and broke both of her legs! But it was a great opportunity for Karcyn to show compassion by making and sending cards and taking flowers and a meal and visiting her friend who was stuck in her bed. Karcyn was baptized by her dad on Sat. 3/29 and afterwards she and I attended the 1st General Women's Broadcast to include girls ages 8 and up.

Karcyn "Put on the Ritz" at her final dance recital with Heidi's Creative Dance and took her role as an exotic bird from "Rio" very seriously! We miss that place SO much!!

Karcyn really took to the water this summer. She's almost to the point where she's not afraid to swim and has hands-down mastered the back float. She will float like that for hours! Okay, not hours, but many, many, many minutes. So many in fact, she got sunburned on the front part of her body (in Oregon!)

With some extensive tutoring help, she brought her third grade math grade up from a 68% at the end of September to an 83% by the end of January. Chose to do her "Grandparents" project on her Great Grandma Nina all on her own. She was able to interview great-grandma Nina over the phone. It will be a cherished project as Grandma Nina passed away a few months later. Karcyn excels at reading (they've stopped testing her because she's so high), spelling, social studies and loves science! Her switch teacher Mr. Rhine said Karcyn's "as bright as the day is long" and a special young lady.

She continues to write stories, play the piano, and loves having her own set of Legos. She can build amazing creatures and structures just by looking at pictures in books or thinking of them straight from her head! She loves to reading and often she falls asleep buried in books!

She learned how to ride a small bike in Oregon and is trying to learn how to ride a bigger bike she got for Christmas.

Is a great JJ interpreter :)

CALVIN (6--going on 20)--Had his 2nd tooth pulled out by future dentist, Dr. Robby McCullough (and Karcyn's future husband if she has her way :).

His rough-housing landed his sister in the emergency room to get stitches. We think he felt bad about it--for a few minutes. Continued to do well in Kindergarten--is a great reader and good at math, but hated writing--whether it was practicing handwriting or writing other things--and resisted reading at home. Regardless, his sweet teacher told me at the end of the year that she felt Calvin would be very successful in 1st grade. So far, so good! His teacher, Ms. Latone, has been great for him this year! He actually LOVES to write stories, draw, make cards or notes for other people--which is really exciting and a relief to see (even if those notes say "Cooper, you're stupid. Love, Calvin"). I don't know how his reading level stays as high as it is--because he never reads at home. It's a battle I choose not to fight. I just take what I can get and will continue to be grateful that he's at least got the skill down.

Loves to be a monkey and climb or swing or do other parkour-type moves. We should probably get him into gymnastics...

Swims like a champ! It really clicked with him this summer in Texas! Like Karcyn, he learned to ride a bike in Oregon. Now he just needs to learn how to ride a bigger bike that Santa brought him. Only forgot to get off the school bus once this year :) He was too distracted and didn't notice it was their stop. Fortunately, once he did notice, he let the driver know who looped back around and brought him home! He didn't cry or fret or worry. This kid is all about "Hakuna Matata" :) Is loved by all of the primary teachers he's had and can throw a spiral football pass like nobody's business. Jake is convinced he'll be a quarterback one of these days. Calvin is always thinking about things and stating facts, just in case we missed the obvious and the not-so-obvious. He enjoys swiping mom's phone and taking selfies or other pictures and videos and whenever there was a plan executed or attempted by the younger kids, Calvin is 99.9% of the time the mastermind behind it all and denies it every.time.

He loves to build, not up, but out and across, with blocks

and has recently shown an interest in Legos as well. He is a silly and very bright young man. Before having kids, I had a hard time believing the plausibility of an eight-year-old being left behind by his parents and having to fend for himself in the movie "Home Alone." After raising Calvin, however, I get it now. He's not even 7 yet, but he could totally survive on his own for a few days--no problem! He is very much like Kevin McCallister.

Is a big help to mom---when he wants to be!

JJ (3)--All of his speech services basically came to a screeching halt a year ago when we found out we were moving. Everything we had been trying to do went down the toilet. And we had to wait until the end of August just to get him evaluated and then wait another two months for the assessment results before speech services started up again in Texas. That was NINE months with no speech--almost a year of nothing. I tried not to panic and was so pleased when JJ's speech didn't plateau or even regress. He continued to move forward, naturally on his own, slowly but surely. Seemed like he would add a word approximation or two per week before we left Oregon and he had at least 50 words by that time. And the words kept coming. When he has a lot to say, it still comes out in a jumbled mess, where we can catch a word or two that we recognize. But sometimes, the first time we hear him say something, it comes out crystal clear. He was about three years old (this fall) when we noticed him finally saying his siblings' names. Jake=yay. Cooper=upper. Karcyn=T-Reh (T-Rex because they like to play dinosaurs together). Calvin=pal-vin. He still can't say "I love you" on his own, but his initial thank you was so sweet. "Tay-oo." He also says, "Oh ay" for okay and has learned the Texas response of "yes, ma'am" when he's told to do something. He gave his mom a heart attack when he slipped out of the Oregon house undetected the beginning of April. I couldn't find him anywhere! I ran down to our neighbor's house and they graciously dropped everything and joined the search. He had actually circled around the house and gone into the backyard--thankfully! He gave his older brother a heart attack when the police came to our duplex in Texas the beginning of August to ask if we were missing a little boy. Jake didn't even know he was gone because, again, JJ slipped out of the new duplex and fenced backyard undetected! That was a potentially bad situation that had a very good ending! JJ started his first round of swimming lessons in Oregon before we moved.

I was cautiously optimistic, but he did SO great. Too bad the pool had issues and they only got about half their lessons in before we left. JJ likes to wipe off all my mommy kisses and exclaim, "Yucky!" Recently, he has started saying more of "Tank you" followed by the name of the person who did something nice for him or helped him. I love a grateful child! Sometimes he talks about himself in the third person. He eats "PB and breh" (with no crusts) at just about every meal. PB is easier for him to say. We cannot be without peanut butter for one day. In fact, we ran out unexpectedly and I texted Jared an APB for the much needed PB! All I said was, "We're out of PB!" His response, "I"m on it!" JJ still loves his blanket and calls it "Ah-ee"

as well as dinosaurs and his biggest blaspheme is throwing pizza crusts on the floor! I think he's really bored having to be alone with just mom during the day. He misses his siblings and playmates. So it was a double blessing when, at the end of November, JJ started participating in the district's speech preschool program. He goes T/TH from 11:30-2:20 and is picked up and dropped off by the bus at the end of our driveway.

His speech has really exploded into more phrases and sentences since he started attending. He loves playing with his siblings and cuddling with his mom. He has really exerted his independence the last six months by cutting his banana snack into slices or making his own PB and Bread or buttoning his church shirt.

He's not afraid of the dark, is really, really good at hiding (and staying hidden) from mom

and still has not mastered the art of sitting through Sacrament meeting without being disruptive.

Is a fan of the old, cheesy Godzilla movies!

JENN (37)--Loved our family retreat in Manzanita with the McCulloughs right after the new year. Jared and I witnessed one of the most beautiful sunsets we'd ever seen in Oregon.

Spoke at a baptism seminar in January for the second time--this go around was for Karcyn. Soaked up all the time I could volunteering at Butternut Creek once a week before the school year was over. Loved my time there. Miss the teachers and administration. It's hard starting over in a school twice the size with quadruple the amount of teachers...Continued tutoring (as best I could) a 6th grader on Wednesday afternoons in math, both of us treading water with the common core textbook. [From my limited experience I am going to state for the record that I am NOT impressed with the Common Core. As a teacher who used to teach elementary math, this textbook looked and acted like one you'd use in college. It was tiny, less than half the size of previously used books. It was black and white. No color, very sterile. There were no formulas or easy to follow step-by-step examples nor were the examples anything that a normal child would see or use in real-life, let alone have an interest in. I have never felt more incompetent--like I was trying to decipher another mathematical language. I can't imagine how the kids must feel. I have a college degree and was completely frustrated that I was never sure of the ambiguous questions, let alone the answers. Best of luck to anyone who has to put up with it.] Basically spent all of March getting the house ready to put on the market. After seven years as a biller, then billing manager, then staff manager and finally office manager by default for Dr. Hicken, I quit working my one day a week at Hicken Medical Clinic. It was a really good experience. I learned a lot and I'll always be grateful to Dr. Hicken for having enough confidence in me to seek out my help in making his office run a little more smoothly. Basically spent all of April keeping the aforementioned house on the market clean and "show ready." It was exhausting and I cannot believe I managed to survive 6 weeks of running a household, keeping up a spotless house and living on the whim of possible phone calls all while making moving plans, wrapping up the school year and other loose ends. Flew to Texas with Jared the beginning of April to find a new house--and secured a lot for one to be built. Happily accepted an offer on our house on our wedding anniversary :) Spent all of July and the beginning of August as a single mom with 5 kids in a small duplex in a new state. Was finally reunited with Jared again on August 6th after he finished his job in Oregon. Enjoyed Labor Day (a school day in Texas) with my two Jareds ;) Accepted a call to serve as a primary worker and two months later was released and called to teach Gospel Doctrine, every other week. Learning even more! Had a sweet reunion with my parents when they came out for Cooper's ordination after they completed mission #4 in London, England. With Jared's full-fledged support, I was able to represent the Hough Family at Elissa McCullough's wedding in Utah the second week in October.
I enjoyed staying and visiting with Jared's parents, Great Grandma Nina (my last time with her), my niece Emma and Jared's sister, Nicole, who happened to be visiting at the same time. We closed on our new house two weeks later!

During the school year I'm up at 5am (give or take 15 to 30 minutes) each morning to get lunches and breakfasts underway for the family and to wake kids up a few times! Hoping to get back into jogging/exercise in general in a couple years when JJ's older. It's just so hard to find the time for it while the kids are in school with the schedule we keep. I enjoy participating with the ward Book Club which has been going for 2 1/2 years strong and attending Institute for mommies each week. Once JJ's speech started, I began volunteering in Karcyn and Calvin's classrooms each Thursday afternoon.

Happily adapting to a new life in Texas :)

JARED (41)--In January, had the unique opportunity to go on a medical mission to the Dominican Republic (where he served his 2 year mission for the church) for 10 days with the G3 Foundation. He had a great time and hopes to return (with our kids!) in the future.

Began teaching the athletic training students (who LOVED him) at Pacific University (where he went to PA school) and was offered an adjunct faculty position the middle of February. Sadly, he had to turn it down a week later when things shifted at the office. Three weeks after beginning the search for new employment, Jared was being flown to TX (all expenses paid) for an on-site interview with the St. Joseph Regional Health Center. He had no problem securing the job. It just took a different twist than we expected. You can read about it in those other posts :) He continued working with Dr. Hicken through the end of July while jumping through hoop after hoop to get licensed and credentialed in Texas. He took a few days off from work the end of June to move the family 2500 miles away. He flew back (a super generous gift from the Tawzers) and stayed with the McCulloughs for the last month of employment. Jake flew to Oregon for High Adventure the end of July and the two of them were able to drive the car to Texas together. (A total of 5,000 miles for Jared in 4 weeks time!) Jared started his new job on 8/11--JJ's 3rd birthday.

The first 6 weeks of his job are chronicled here. The beginning of September, Jared was able to take Jake, Cooper and another young man from our ward to the BYU vs. Texas football game in Austin. They even rode over with our new Bishop and his son. They had a blast and I was very relieved they were not lynched while in enemy territory!
Jared was called to be Cubmaster over all three College Station wards. Is working diligently at obtaining the appropriate fishing gear and a hunting license in order to get our freezer stocked up again with some wild fish and game. After a month of hopes-up and let-downs, he was finally able to trade his brand new 2013 Honda Civic for a 2012 Hybrid Honda Civic--for about $25 more a month than what we were paying. Gas prices had plummeted here (all the way down to $1.69/gal) but are slowly creeping back up so having the Hybrid will continue to be helpful in one way or another with his 500 mile weekly commute. Jared picks up extra urgent care shifts whenever and wherever he can (up to an hour each way in any direction) to keep his skills up since he's more specialized now working in occupational medicine. Has been able to break in his road bike a couple times since the move and has learned that what looks like a decent ride on the map in Texas is really much, MUCH farther in real life!

Is a rock star dad and hubby for sacrificing so much to make way for a better future for our family!


To say 2014 was full of change for our family would be a complete understatement. I distinctly remember when I was preparing the 2013 Year in Review the beginning of February 2014, I had the thought "I wonder what 2014 will hold for our family?" (I don't think I'm ever going to wonder that again! :) We never anticipated changes of this magnitude but we are so grateful for the blessings we enjoy, most especially our testimonies that we are children of God. That we are important to Him and that He has our best interests at heart. We know we will accomplish many wonderful things if we will trust Him and His plan. We are still in the midst of several unknowns and are keenly aware that there remains challenges yet to be. We are grateful, though, for the peace that comes from our faith in the Savior and through righteous living. We are also grateful for the strength and clarity we attain from performing ordinances in the Lord's holy temple.

Life is crazy. Life is not always predictable. Our life in Oregon was really, really good and while a part of our heart still remains in Oregon, we feel that life is good in Texas, too! Happy 2015!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I'd like to buy a vowel, please!

I have this affinity for the Wheel of Fortune. I love letter and word games. When I was around 10 living in Georgia, we were visiting my Uncle Richard who was on a business trip in Alabama. He taught me how to play a word game that I don't recall the name of, but is similar to LINGO that appeared on the Game Show Network. Someone thinks of a 5 letter word. The other person guesses 5 letter words hoping to see which, if any, of the letters in the words they guessed, match up exactly in the same position with the mystery word and that's how you guess your letters. So fun! I also enjoy playing the card game Quiddler with the family and "Words with Friends" with my mom, sisters and Jared. I'm not a master at solving the puzzles or coming up with scrabble-type words, but I enjoy the challenge and can usually hold my own. Unless, of course, I'm playing Words with my friend Alison. She plays words I never knew existed let alone could spell or define. Saying she's a tough competitor is a complete understatement. She annihilates me every time! But I keep going back for more because it's a past time that keeps my brain on its toes!

When Karcyn was a few months old, I discovered the Wheelmobile was coming to Lincoln City, Oregon on a contestant search. I was utterly stoked!! This was the closest I'd ever be to the Wheel and I was not about to pass it up. At this time in my life as a mommy, the kids and I would watch the show together in the evening. The boys thought they were watching a game show with mom and while that was true, unbeknownst to them, it also had the added benefit of practicing identifying letters and spelling words, thinking of different blend possibilities, and learning the syntax of sentence structure, etc.

Jared was awesomely supportive of my longtime albeit silly dream to be on the Wheel of Fortune :) We drove over to the coast together that Saturday morning in July 2006. He dropped me and little Karcyn off (because I was still nursing her) at the casino where the event was taking place. Then he took Jake and Cooper to the beach while I waited in a very long line. There were three different sessions for auditions. I had missed the morning one but got in line for the second. At one point, I was holding my baby with a blanket draped over her so I could nurse her in one arm and had a diaper bag slung over my other shoulder while pushing the stroller with that free hand. It was a little cumbersome, but we managed. We waited for over an hour, but Karcyn was a hit with the other contestant hopefuls standing in line with us. Karcyn and I even had matching shirts that said,  "I love the Wheel!"

Once the doors opened, we ended up sitting in the WAAAY back of the humongous room--one of the casino rooms, I'm guessing. I had the stroller so I needed to be on the end of a row to park it and the back just seemed the easiest spot. In case you're wondering about these contestant auditions, it's all completely random (see the Wheelmobile link above). While waiting in line, we had to fill out a page answering questions and listing facts and other interesting things about ourselves and then dropped them in a big box when we were done. THIS--was our ticket to audition. When it was time to get contestants, the people running the show would reach into this box and if they drew your paper, you were up on stage!

Before our show got started, I snuck up to the front of the room and had someone take my picture with Pat Sajak. He was a lot taller than I expected! :)

After the festivities began, the lady that stood in line directly in front of us got her name drawn. (Ohh!! Sooo close!!) And I couldn't believe what she did next. She got up on stage and the first thing she said into the microphone was, "There's this mom and her cute baby out there in matching shirts that say they love the Wheel!" I jumped up and cheered, holding Karcyn over my head in Lion King fashion for all to see and reveled in our 10 seconds of recognition. We never got up on stage, but it was totally thrilling to be there and feel the electricity of the event.

Jared and the boys came to pick up us girls and before we drove back to Forest Grove, we got our picture taken in front of the mega Wheelmobile.

Three years ago, the Wheel of Fortune came to tape a week's worth of shows in the green city of Portland, Oregon. I scored tickets to one of the tapings. Oh my heart!! While I totally wished it were ME on stage (I think I'd make a good contestant--I can totally show them personality and energy!), that experience was even MORE thrilling than the first--to actually be IN the audience, watching real contestants spin the big wheel, and try to solve real puzzles, watching Vanna walking in front of the big letter board, solving the puzzles under my breath before the contestants (which is totally normal, right? I'm sure I'd choke if I were actually on the show trying to figure them out), being in the same room as Pat and Vanna and watching how it all works "behind the scenes." Such a rush! Maybe someday I'll be on the other side of the cameras :)

This past Friday afternoon 2/20, Karcyn became our fourth child to come down with strep in the last 2 months. She was better on Saturday, but JJ's cold was intensifying. We didn't want to subject any other primary children to his germs on Sunday, so Jared stayed home with Karcyn (so she could rest) and JJ. Jake, Cooper and Calvin came with me to church.

After passing the Sacrament, Cooper took his place on the stand as the Bishop's messenger, leaving just me and Jake and Calvin in the pew. Calvin started a quiet game of tic-tac-toe on the church program with Jake. All three games were a tie. Then Calvin wanted to play hang man with me.

He was being quiet, so I played along with him while listening to the speakers.

The first puzzle had four letters. I got an 'E' in the 4th position and then it took me seven other tries before I realized it was J-A-K-E.

Calvin did a round with Jake. It was J-E-S-U-S.

Then back to me. Three letters only. I got an 'O' in the middle position. I suppose, because it took me so long to guess my firstborn son's name, Calvin gave me a hint and pointing to Jesus said, "It's his Father." Thanks, Buddy. G-O-D (At least he was going with a Sabbath theme....)

And another one. Six letters. I got __  __  S H __ P

Again, thinking I needed more help, Calvin quietly whispered it was someone sitting on the stand. (Yes, I know--Bishop). I guessed an 'O' and he wrote it off to the side indicating there wasn't one :) When I guessed 'I' he put one in both the 2nd and 5th positions. I solved it and then explained the actual spelling.

Then Calvin produced one more puzzle. This time--two letters only.

Hmm. I was thinking perhaps "HE" or "ME."

The one thing I've learned watching Wheel of Fortune, is that buying vowels can be very advantageous in taking command of and even solving a puzzle. So I started with those. I guessed 'E'. Not there. I guessed 'A'. Not there. I guessed 'I' and 'O' and 'U'. None of which were there either. Considering my experience with word games--even though I haven't watched the Wheel in years--I told Calvin in a sweet mommy/teacher voice that every word has to have a vowel. And that's when it dawned on me! The little saying from my early elementary days "A, E, I, O, U and sometimes Y." I had forgotten about 'Y.' So I called it. Calvin proceeded to record it in the "used letter box" and added one more body part to my guy--who was all but hanged.

By this point I was stumped. I was just about to lean into Calvin to tell him that I give up when Jake looked over. He had been reading in his scriptures but noticed I wasn't making any progress and leaned over to tell Calvin the same thing I did. "Buddy, there's got to be a vowel or it isn't a word."

Calvin looked at Jake, then slowly turned to look at me and smiled knowingly. He knew he had won! He wrote two consonants.


The name of his youngest brother. You've got to be kidding me. Yeeaah, about that rule of the vowel...

He smacked us down good! Jake and I got a quiet, hopefully reverent, chuckle out of that. Well played, Calvin!