Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Grandparent visits are the best!

I guess since Grandpa and Grandma Larson are back for another visit, I should blog about their visit this past May. We LOVE when they come, and feel so luck they come so often! Here they are pictured at Adam-on-di-amon. We had a lot of fun touring the LDS Church History that is around the area!
We started in Independence, which is about 50 miles from the Air Force Base. This is where the Saints settled after leaving Kirtland, and before being exterminated from Missouri, and forced to Nauvoo. The Prophet Joseph Smith had dedicated this site for a temple, but they were forced to leave before a temple could be built. It is believed Independence will be "Zion" when Christ comes again to the Earth.

Not far from Independence, on the North side of Kansas City, is Liberty Jail, where Joseph Smith was a prisoner on false charges. It is so neat. They have the original jail, surrounded by a Visitor's Center. A very spiritual experience to learn about his trials while in prison, and what the Lord revealed to him about how we can deal with our own trials (D&C 121-123); that they will be but a small moment, and if we endure them well, we will be blessed.

Then we traveled to some of the grave sites of the special witnesses of the Book of Mormon. Those who saw the gold plates, and bear testimony of it in the preface of the Book. There is the "Monument of the Three Witnesses" in the private cemetery, which the church owns. David Whitmer was buried in the public cemetery not far away. There are many other familiar early church members buried in these cemeteries.

We also visited Far West, MO. This is where the saints had settled for a short time after leaving Jackson County. There was this site, dedicated for a temple. They even laid the 4 cornerstones, which are still in place. But, had to leave before the temple could be completed.

Then it was a short distance to Adam-on-di-amon. Although there are no buildings, or guided tours, this is one of the most sacred places I have ever visited. It feels so calm there. This is believed to be part of the Garden of Eden. Also, there is a small marker where Joseph Smith said there once stood a Nephite alter. It is now mostly farming land, however, it is beautiful, peaceful, and amazing.

Along with our church history sites, we also had did a lot of other fun things with Grandma and Grandpa! We went to the Deanna Rose Farmstead. This is a free place where you can see animals, fish, ride donkeys, play on the playgrounds, visit an Indian encampment, watch a cow get milked, ride miniature tractors, walk through the gardens, etc. It is fun! We actually ran into the Mormon missionaries there... they volunteer there 4 hours a week. Grandpa even got to get a smashed penny to add to his collection!

We made sure to hit a Royals game!
Our boys LOVE the new Outfield Experience. They can bat, ride a carousel, mini golf, pitch, race, etc. They love it... and we use it as a bribe to get them to sit well through the first 5 innings!

There are fountains across the outfield. I didn't know that Kansas city has the 2nd most fountains of any city in the world.... I think Venice is #1. Some are small, but all are neat.

Thanks to our good friend, Brad Cochran, we were able to get a private tour of the B-2 Stealth Bomber! These things are INCREDIBLE! Driving out the flight line, we also saw the A-10s, and the T-38s on the runway, as well as the visiting F-15s. Also, got to see some inert nuclear bombs! Pretty fun to be taking pictures while standing on a line that says "photography is prohibited". :)

Next, we visited the National WWI Monument and Museum. Gpa, Gma, Dad and Cooper toured the museum, then we all went up to the top of the monument, which gives you a great view of downtown Kansas City.

This is a neat picture inside the museum, of the reflection of the monument onto the glass floor. Under the floor are the fields of poppies. I never knew why the poppy was "the" flower of WW1. It is because in the bunkers and war fields, amid all the artillery and dead bodies, the poppies would continue to grow as wild flowers all over!

View from the top of the WWI Monument.

Instead of driving the hour back to base, we decided to stay the night in a hotel in the city. They boys had fun swimming. Cooper is our daring swimmer, and Gunner loves to chill in the hot tub. :)

We walked around The Plaza, and outdoor shopping area. It is the OLDEST and FIRST outdoor mall in the United States! The architecture is really cool. Lots of painted tile. It also has lots of fun fountains. The boys thought this one was funny, cause it looked like the little boy was peeing on the frog. Oh, the sense of humor of little boys! We made sure to eat at the Cheesecake Factory. Yum!

And, of course, some of the best memories from Grandpa and Grandma visits... reading stories, playing board games, going on walks, lots of staying up late and missing naps, getting lots of treats, "10-count grips", smears, and wrestling with Grandpa, a short-order cook who makes anything you want to eat, and more! For Andrew and I, it means, NO changing diapers, NO having to give baths, lots of help, and endless good conversation. We love you guys!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Baptism for the Browns!

I hope I never forget what a neat experience to be a part of Roxanne's baptism... from the beginning to the end (Wait! There is no end... it is and eternal gift!).

I had finished coaching a soccer game, and Roxanne came up to me and asked, "Can I talk to you for a second?" All I knew at the time, was Roxanne was Taylor's mom. :) She said, "I have some experience with this with my ex-husband's family..."

I thought she was talking about something I'd done wrong... like abused her son or something. :) You just never know as a coach what the parents are thinking!

She continued... "and I've been meaning to ask you for a long time... are you Mormon?"

Phew! Much easier to answer than the abuse fear! :)

"Yes!", I said. "Are you?"

"No... but, I want to be!", she answered. (the conversation continued about Taylor having gone to church for about a month while she and her husband's deployments overlapped... ya, can you imagine?! Basically, Taylor talked about how much he liked church. Roxanne was ready to make big changes in her life, and she noticed our garment lines and BYU apparel. :))

What?! Was it really that easy... missionary work, I mean. But, I've come to find out through Roxanne's conversion, that IT IS really THAT easy for those who are prepared to hear it.

We just happened to be having the missionaries over for dinner that week, and invited them to come.

"Really?!", she asked. "You would do that?!"

She acted surprised at the invitation... I was thinking, "Are you kidding me? I dream about missionary opportunities like this!"

The rest is history. :) Elder Barnes, and Elder Gallegos taught Roxanne in our home over the next several weeks, and on May 9, she was baptized! I should mention what a neat feeling there was in our home as the missionaries and Roxanne visited frequently!

I am so happy for Roxanne. She has never looked back. We have become very close friends, as well. We even had the opportunity a few weeks after she was baptized, to accompany her to the temple in St. Louis, where she was baptized for the dead, including some of her own deceased family whom she remembered. It is amazing what the Gospel can bring into people's lives. Throughout the whole process I realized all the blessings we have through our Savior, Jesus Christ. And, the blessings of eternal families... and even the "harder commandments" don't seen hard when you realize the blessings that come through living righteously. For instance, Roxanne expressed concern that as a working mother, Sundays had been her only day to get housework and errands done, so keeping the Sabbath Day holy sounded hard... but, later said, "Just like tithing, I know that if I give the Lord something, he'll give me back even more!" It is SO true! Sacrifices bring such great blessings.

Baptism is such an amazing blessing... a chance to be washed CLEAN! A chance to make promises to our Heavenly Father that you will live your life for Him... but, also a chance to get unlimited blessings for your sacrifices.

Roxanne, I love you. Thank you for making me realize how special the Gospel is... and, how blessed we are to have "the plan". To know what we are battling through life's challenges for a reason. To remember how important it is for us to always be working at being better. To realize how important it is to be examples to those around us, so that they too can come unto Christ.

So... it continues... and because of Roxanne's example, her mom is getting baptized tomorrow! Seriously SO cool!

Monday, September 14, 2009

He did it... AGAIN! {13.1 miles}

We are so proud of Daddy... who did it again! Andrew ran 13.1 miles in the Warrensburg Half Marathon (the town about 10 minutes from base). And, not only did he run it... he ROCKED it! He had a time of 1:47! (He'll argue it was 1:48, but he didn't look up until AFTER he crossed the finish line. :)) That's just barely over 8 min. miles! He beat his time from his half marathon in April by about 10 minutes! He was so fast, he didn't even get to here the last few songs on the surprise playlist I made for him! AND... drumroll...... he took 2ND in his age division! (He claims there were only 2 in his division... which IS NOT true...)

We loved being Daddy's support crew! Cheering him on at mile 6, and at the 10/11 1/2 cross street, and of course the FINISH LINE! The boys couldn't wait for him to get to the crowd... they ran down to meet him, just coming over the hill (Yes, the last mile was a big hill! Actually, the last 7 miles were all big hills! Supposedly it's a pretty hard course!).
There were lots of people we knew who ran... this is one of them, Rich Reed. Rich was the YM president, Andrew is 1st counselor, at church. He is also the head coach of Cooper's U-7 soccer team, and I am the assistant coach. The boys LOVED that DQ was a sponsor! The "ice cream man" was a hit at the finish line.

I wasn't able to run this race for various health reasons (no, I'm not pregnant :))... but, lots of my running buddies did it! I was so proud of all of them! (Jayne, Michelle M., Pat, Christine, Julie, Sarah) I would try and run about 6 miles of their long runs with them... We have a running group called W.O.W (Women of Warrensburg Running Club). I LOVE having good running buddies at the gym, and on my weekend runs! I was especially proud of Jayne (in black), who recently moved into our ward. She was my facebook friend prior to coming, and had said she didn't think she could do it, but she trained hard, and did it!!! Pat (in the hat) is one of my idols too... she has run several ultra-runs (I'm talking 100 mile races!). She runs to meet us, runs with us, then runs some more. What an inspiration! She says she can do it cause she didn't start when she was young. :) She said, "We're just like chicken, we get tougher as we age!" All of these ladies are just such great people, and I feel lucky to know them. There are several others, who didn't run this race (some worked the aid stations and registration though), who I have grown to be great friends with too. Michelle S., Jaime, Megan, Amber, Deana, Rebecca... sorry if I forget anyone! I'm so lucky!
p.s. I can't believe it's been so long since a post again... I need to start doing better! I promise to start doing better!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Updates - I love post-dating

So I know it's been a while since we've updated things. I am working on getting up-to-date, and have done some post-dated posts to fill in some blanks. If you're bored, you can find new posts called:

8/14/09 I DO love you
4/30/09 All I could have wished for on my birthday...
4/20/09 Summer Buzz
4/12/09 E A S T E R
4/2/09 Shayden Jancee Bell
3/23/09 Sweet Emberlyn
3/22/09 More of March
3/16/09 Colorado!
2/28/09 A few more things February

Friday, August 14, 2009

I DO love you!

Back in February, for Valentine's Day, I responded on a blog post of one of my dear friends, Sarah Blamires. She is an AMAZING mom of 5 kids under the age of 7, who makes it look EASY! She was promising a homemade gift to the first 5 people who commented on the post, and I was lucky enough to receive this ADORABLE, useful, recipe holder. Thank you SO much Sarah!
As sort of a "pay-it-forward", I offered to do the same for 5 of my friends... as well as to answer one question they have for me.

Unable to come up with anything creative on my own, I resorted to something I AM really good at... copying! When Gunner was an infant, and severely allergic to milk, I went on a milk-free diet for 9 MONTHS, so that I could continue breast-feeding. It was not easy, especially in the beginning. My sweet friend, Adrienne Lee, made me this cute little life-saver of a recipe book for my birthday. It came in handy many times! I still use a lot of the recipes!

So, my copying skills at their best, I came up with "7 Larson Favorite Meals... To Get You Through the Week". I did promise these by the end of March, although I didn't get them mailed until later... and now, I am FINALLY getting around to posting about it, and answering your questions. Better late than never, right?!
The questions, with answers:

(Tom Gatten) Didn't ask a question... except for "is this for real?" My answer was, yes. :) I just love that Tom is always on top of checking blogs, and keeping in touch. He is my oldest brother (I have six... and two sisters). He is an amazing vice-principal/athletic director at Brighton High School in Utah, a loving husband and father to 5 adorable kiddos, a marathon runner, dead-eye hunter, x-BYU baseball pitcher, and a caring Bishop. So lucky to have him to look up to... and for my boys to look up to as well!

(TiAnn Finn) What program do you use to create the adorable collages of your adorable children? Is it easy to do? I love them, it's very creative, and makes your blog look extra nice! I use Photoshop to edit all my pictures, and make the collages. Photoshop is expensive, for the full version, but you can get great student discounts if you know any students. Or, you can get Photoshop Elements, which has all the basic features you would need. I think it runs around $90, but Costco periodically does a $20 off coupon. Basically, you create a "canvas", crop your pictures, and put them on the canvas. It is very easy. I like that I can fit more pictures in a post, without making the entry a mile long. Thanks for the compliments, TiAnn, and if you ever get the program, or need help learning how to make the collages, just let me know!

(Mikin Morton) Cassie, what do I want to know about you?? I want to know what you do to relax when you get the chance? Do mom's ever get a chance to relax?! I actually love editing pictures during my down time, either ones of my family, or ones I've taken for others. I love to read photography blogs, couponing blogs, parenting blogs, etc. I also like to do my own blog, read others, facebook, write lists (yes, I'm just like Dad!). It is VERY hard for me to not do anything, but I will watch my favorite TV shows (a lot of times with the computer on my lap), or nap. LOVE my girls nights out too. Can't wait to live closer to you, sis, and hang out with you more often! :)

(Amber Harris) I want to know how you find the time to do everything you do? Your boys always look adorable, you seem extra organized and your blog is always so fun to read. As you can tell, summer has significantly decreased my blogging. :) I am a "go-er". But, not sure I would call myself overly organized. Maybe organized chaos. There are definitely things I wish were more organized... like my desk, my craft area, etc. But you are sweet to "think" I'm organized. :) But, I am a "lister", always have things to check off my list, and organization is always my goal. Sometimes, I wish I could slow myself down... because I have created "go-ers" of my kids too, who always think they have to be doing something. Thanks for the compliment on my kids too... yours always look adorable too!

(Kendra Wirig) If you were to have a girl someday in the future, what would you name her (sticking with your theme)? Oh, Kendra. As your mom of 4 boys yourself, it's nice to see you have hope that there would be a girl in my future. :) Although, I do think we'll try to get one at least one more time. :) Not sure everyone knows we have a "theme" for our names. So, an explanation...We have stuck to a baseball theme thus far (Cooper after Cooperstown, NY where the Baseball Hall of Fame is; A Gunner is a player with a good arm, or go-getter in baseball, and my oldest brother, Tom, the baseball pitcher's nickname was Gunner; Beckett from "Beckett Baseball Monthly"... the magazine that puts a value on baseball cards). I am definitely not obsessed with sticking to the theme in the future, but it just seems like it's worked out that we've liked those names. If we are lucky enough to get another baby... and it were another boy... we like Easton, Wrigley, Parker, Cutter, Mitt. Girl? Jersey (like a baseball jersey), or Summer (the season when MLB baseball is played). But, there are still plenty of other girl names I like outside of the theme. :)

Friday, June 5, 2009


We definitely have a house full of boys who LOVE sports! Any kind!

SOCCER: Cooper played soccer (indoor) for the first time this Spring. His team was the FIREBALLS. And, I got to be his coach! It was so fun, especially to see the kids improve and do things in the games that we would practice. What fun, energetic, kids! Cooper is such a natural athlete, and he even had a hat-trick one game! (3 goals) One super cute thing, is they don't keep official score, but Cooper always knows the score! The other thing I loved is when he would score a goal, he'd run back with is "rock on" hands in the air. He definitely isn't very humble! One time, we were winning by a lot, and he asked me why no one is cheering anymore when we'd continue to score goals. :)
Coach Chad Farris, Kovy, Sawyer, Taylor, Ethan, Eric "Q", Coach Cassie Larson
Tyler, Madison, Sterling, Cooper

Here we are at the post-season party. The Youth Center rents out the bowling alley, and each team has a few lanes. They give them pizza too! 
Cooper loved being the #1. Below he's pictured with his buddy Taylor. We've been able to get to know Taylor, and his mom, Roxanne, really well. She recently took lessons from the missionaries at our house and joined our church!
BASEBALL: The town close by has a college, University of Central Missouri. We went to a handful of their games this year, and the boys LOVED it. They loved chasing foul balls, and rolling balls off the roof of the equipment shed to catch. One player once asked Cooper if he was a Mules fan, and Cooper said, "Yes!". For days he talked about how a "real baseball player" talked to him! Cooper always made sure to have his baseball pants on too. :)

Coop hasn't played any organized baseball yet (we are sort of an anti-tee-ball family... Andrew is afraid it can put a bad taste in kids' mouths). But next year, if Andrew coaches, he can do coach-pitch on-base. We have hit the batting cages, and play LOTS of wiffle ball! 

We just love this little guys open-mouthed kisses!

BASKETBALL: UCM also has a pretty good basketball team. We went to one of their games on military night... and, it was nationally televised!  It was pretty cute to see Cooper really watching the game, and cheering at the right times. I guess he did learn something from playing basketball. We sat by our friends, the Bells.

Gunner got to play "Smart Start Basketball" for 3-5 year olds. They bring a parent, and do lots of drills and fun games to learn the sport. He loved having something that was all about him!

Cooper did great at basketball this year! He was the point guard, and a good little ball handler!
Again, the end-of-the-year party was at the bowling alley. He LOVES his trophy
He is pictured above with his two buddies Sawyer and Ethan. 

FOOTBALL: All winter the boys LOVED playing tackle football in the basement with Dad! It's always ok to tackle and wrestle with Dad, right?! I try to tell him it'll go beyond the field! 

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Preschool Graduate!

Sacred Heart Catholic Preschool Commencement
May 15th, 2009
Teachers: Mrs. Lesa Carroll, Mrs. Lowry

COOPER attended an amazing preschool this year! We were so happy with how he learned a grew throughout the year. 

He went from hardly being able to write his name, to knowing his first/last names, phone number, address, and everything in between! He went from drawing a person as and head with 2 legs coming out, to drawing a "real" person with a body, and even eyebrows.

We are also so happy he was able to go from VERY talkative (not always at the right times), and very physical (not negative, just lots of "look here and see this" pats), to knowing how to better behave and wait for his turn, and the right time, to talk. I've heard he's a lot like his mom was when I was in preschool. :)
This graduation ceremony was really over the top! It was a CIRCUS. From the adorable invitations, to the AMAZING decor, and the popcorn and cotton candy machines; it was really a fun night!

All the kids were introduced and came out of the circus car (as if they were all fitting in there). :) It was neat to hear the names all the clowns chose for themselves. Cooper was Lightening the Clown! 

The sang so many cute songs! Cooper is always really involved in the acting and singing! So outgoing, and a real leader... for better or worse. :)

Each kid did a different circus act, from tight rope (balance beam) walking, to balance acts, elephant shows. Cooper was a lion in the lion tamer's act. Ironically, with some of his best friends! He even jumped through the hoop! It was fun to hear all the "ohhhs" and "ahhs". :
Cooper made SO many great friends this year... and so did Mom! We were lucky to have 4 other LDS kids in his class, and one in the afternoon class. Besides the cuties listed below, Cooper also really likes Luke, Zach and Mark. The only sad part is none of these kids live on the Air Force Base, so he will have to make all new friends when he starts Kindergarten this fall. He does know some kids from his sports teams though, and making friends doesn't seem to be his weak point. :)
We were SO LUCKY to have Grandpa and Grandma Larson in town for the graduation! They helped a lot watching brothers too! We had a fun "after-party". Cooper got some money from them, and a new backpack, lunch sack, and some bakugans from us. He LOVED his card, which sang "Bad to the Bone", as he's obsessed with cards that sing! In the picture below he's pretending he's the bulldog on the front of the card. 
We are SO PROUD of you Cooper. You are learning and growing everyday, and you help out so much with your younger brothers too! We can't believe you'll be starting Kindergarten! You'll do great, we're sure. Continue to be a leader for good!

Gunner and I got to go on the last fieldtrip of the year. We rode the Amtrak train from Warrensburg, to Sedalia (a town about 30 miles away). It was so fun!
We were able to play at a park by city hall, and the kids at some cookies they had helped make at school. This was the first passenger train I've ever been on too. We've been on LOTS of subways, and tracks, but no trains. It was fun, but smelly in some cars! :)
Then, coming home, we got to ride a school bus! Wahoo! :) Cooper actually LOVED it, as it was his first time on a school bus!