Sunday, June 9, 2019

Don't let failure diminish prayer

My mother taught me to seek after truth wherever it is found. I think for this reason I have always loved religion. I believe truth, both secular and spiritual knowledge results from a curiosity of things. As a father, I hope to instill this same curiosity into my children. Prayer, scripture study and pondering are invaluable tools for acquiring spiritual knowledge. I have discovered that sorting out spiritual knowledge can be a complex process; spiritual truths, emotions, traditions, habits and experiences get mixed together and make it hard to see. But occasionally I come around a bend where I can look back upon the vista and all the pieces come together and I realize how simple it is. I was recently pondering the chasm that exist between my righteous desires and the reality of my behaviors. From time to time, while in heartfelt prayer a feeling of peace and renewal has washed over me. It is hard to describe but there was this sense of an emerging new person. However, after arising from my knees I have often found myself disposed to fall back into my old patterns, sometimes within only seconds of pronouncing amen. It was troubling. A deep sense of guilt would sweep across my soul. It caused me to dismiss and cast out those sweet moments in prayer. I mislabeled myself a hypocrite. But then I came to a vista that allowed me to see that my failed attempts were acceptable in the eyes of God. Sanctification comes through practice and practice results in a multitude of mistakes and failures. I have a few favorite general conference talks that speak on this subject: Until Seventy Times Seven and Latter-day Saints Keep on Trying. I love these words from the title page of the Book of Mormon, "Now if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgement-seat of Christ." In other words, sanctification comes through a process of overlooking faults or failures, even those faults found within me.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Henry's Faces

Thanks to Grandma Richins each of the kids got a new outfit, an good excuse to do a photo-shoot.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Easter at Aunt Michelle's

We spent Easter with Aunt Michelle.  The kids had fun.  Michelle had all kinds of activity plans, all of which were way more fancy than we usually make Easter.  Sara and I listened to general conference via ByuTV and while the kids played outside.  It was nice because we could actually listen. Meanwhile, Michelle made meal preparations, though I think by default she caught some of the conference talks.  The kids totally got caught up in all the hoopla. The message of Christ's resurrection was lost but hopefully that message will become more pertinent as they mature, for now they created some great memories, thanks to their Aunt. 

The kids dyed eggs, melted crayons over hot eggs, painted bird houses, went to an Easter carnival at the park where they ate cotton candy, pop-corn, donuts, cookies and collected a few of the 10,000 eggs that were part of the not-so-hidden Easter egg hunt.  All-in-all they got more candy than Halloween.  They also met the Easter Bunny, Maggie was convinced it was not the real thing.

Michelle made a ham, deviled eggs, potato casserole and green beans.  She also made giant chocolate covered peanut butter eggs (which are currently only half-eaten).  Even with all the good food, I think I ate more candy than real food, which might explain why I can't lose weight.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A simple observation

At least four days a week, I leave the house for almost twelve hours. Those twelve hours are mine, sure they belong to my employer but they feel more like me time. If you think working with an egomaniac client or a demanding boss is hard, try raising a child. Nothing will prepare you better for the work place than raising children. The pace is non-stop. The work is tedious. It is humbling and emotional.

The worst moments are when you break. It is almost always over something benign, like when a child demands the pink cup instead of the yellow one. Suddenly, I've found myself screaming at my kids until they are all crying. Those are surely the worst moments.

But the best moments are simple. They happen more frequently than I realized when I was the stay-at-home dad.  It is hard to see them when you are in the throes of life.  But just watching a child's amazing curiosity over a rock or their enjoyment of simply being. My favorite part of the day is sitting outside with Emma in my arms watching Maggie and Henry run around.  Emma is my little observer, she enjoys watching her siblings with me.When she is not watching, she is climbing.  It's amazing how much joy she gets from her accomplishment. It's these moments that are easy to miss, when there is always something else that needs to be done but I've never regretted spending time with my kids, free from distraction and just learning to enjoy being.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Henry's first T-ball game

Henry's first T-ball game.  The coach was all business.  Most of the kids were more interested in drawing circles in the sand but they focused long enough to play two innings.  The boys all got to hit and run the bases.  Most days you can find Henry with his friends playing in the front street. Sara orchestrated it so that they are all playing on the same team.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Unworthy Sea Vessels

We walked around Cornerstone Park and tested our plastic boats in the water. Unfortunately Henry's and Maggie's boat sank.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Maggie with Grandma Richins

Since the beginning of 2014, I have taken about 4,400 picture, which actually isn't a lot.  I have been trying to slowly filter through them.  In the process I found this these shoots of Maggie and Grandma. They made me laugh and smile.  I love seeing photos I have forgotten, it helps me remember the events of my life and to be grateful for my family.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Frogs & snails & puppy dogs tails And such are little boys made of...

Little boys and girls are not made of the same things and Henry is definitely our little boy, although it is funny because Maggie is much more willing to pickup crawling insects and play in the mud. Henry loves sharing and being social, he loves to play rough and it takes something serious before he will cry over a bump or scratch but he will break instantly into tears if your reprimand him.

We celebrated his third birthday with a dirt cake and worms... courtesy of Mom.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

First father-son campout

Henry was the youngest boy on the father-son camp out. All the other boys were very inclusive, they gave him the name" King Henry" and gently led him on all their explorations on Mt. Potosi.

Friday, August 22, 2014

We are...

a mid-way destination and rarely the soul reason for a visit to Las Vegas... but occasionally it does rain here and a spectacular rainbow stretches across the desert valley, this summer Paige's visit was one of those rare occasions.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Setting up camp

For the last five years we have gone camping with the Donovan family almost every summer.  I wish you could see both of our vans stuffed with kids and camping gear.  Gone are the simple camping days, where I would forget one of my two camping items, a sleeping bag or food.  Now we have scooters, air mattress, cots, luggage with multiple outfits for everyday, flashlights for everyone, including Emma, stoves, cookware, boxes of snacks, drinks in the cooler, card and board games, tent and floor mat, matches and firewood, chairs, sunshades, sun screen, hammocks and we would bring the other half our gear if we could get it into the car.

The Donovan's magically are able to put more into their car and more amazing unpack and pack their stuff in half the time it takes us.  Any suggestion for how we could improve our setting up camp time?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

To Grandmother's house we went...

and returned... a long time ago, but I am play catchup with my collection of images.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Hemenway Park

While the Michelle was visiting, we took the kids to Hemenway Park, in Boulder City. In the evening dozens of big horn sheep come down from hills to eat the grass. We (the adults) ate lunch while the kids ran about.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


Saturday we dyed eggs.  Sara gave a fun lesson on the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  This morning the kids woke up and found their Easter basket that was filled with some candy and a toy.  I feel like we really toned things down this year, which was so nice.  I hope we can continue to focus on the true meaning of Easter.  Sara's lesson made all the difference.  Thanks.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Family update

Emma was perfect for the first two hundred pictures, while I chased down kids. I was determined that my children were going to listen to me. I reminded myself not to threaten or scream, the fatal error most parents make during the stressful event of a family photos. At first, I playfully coaxed them into the photo but it quickly turned into my kids are going to listen to me and be well behave. Eventually everyone stopped crying and then Emma burst into tears.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Emma's Blessing Day

Remember that group picture... the one where we all sat in front of the camera while it snapped a hundred pictures or so... well, the images were all over-over-exposed. Unfortunately, we didn't get picture of the whole group which included the Donovans, Uncle Blake's family, Grandma and Grandpa T, Aunt Michelle's family, Aunt Tonya and Uncle Dale with and Taylor and Grandma Richins and my good friend Andrew Bonomo.

Emma was given her blessing in the Bishop's office because Grandma and Taylor got in an auto accident on their way to church. Young man had basic run into them out of road-rage. Fortunately no one was hurt, just the pride of the other driver.

Unfortunately, it wasn't the only accident on her blessing day. That night I backup into Uncle Blake's car as I was leaving for California. No pictures included! But despite a few misfortunes, it was a great day. We got to be with family and Emma didn't cry during her blessing, which for me made it perfect!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Two hands three kids

My favorite times is when all three kids are crying and Sara is taking a shower. Welcome to chaos... yes, tempers flair from time to time. Everyone gets to have a few melt downs everyday, parents included, of course.Eventually we will grow out of this stage. I am counting on the fact that I don't remember much of my life before five years, so there is still hope that we can turn this ship around. At the end of the day, we love each other and that is all that counts... Right?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Maggie and her paper creations

When Grandma Richins came to town she showed Maggie how to cut animals out of paper. Since then, our house is littered when unicorns, dogs, horses, monsters and other paper creations along with snippets of confetti. Everyday she spends a few hours entertaining herself drawing and cutting things out.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Emma's Baby Blessing Dress

Grandma is amazing.   Every little baby should get there own handmade dress. We feel very blessed.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Maggie's 5th Birthday

We took Maggie to Disneyland for her 5th Birthday. Let me just say, I am not a fan of Disneyland, but maybe that's because it doesn't have any childhood nostalgia for me. Also let it let me add, the first time I went there was the same day my Dad had his fatal stroke.

"The greatest place on earth" slightly improved when we took our kids but the whole experience would not have been remotely enjoyable without Sara's Mom, who dutifully held little Emma, not quite one month, the entire day.

Uncle Blake, Aunt Whitney and Tyler came out in evening.  I feel we experienced one of those tender mercies of the Lord when Maggie and I got lost from the group.  My phone died so I borrowed a stranger's phone to text the group where we could meet up but right before we about to leave the spot, everyone showed up. I later discovered they had never gotten the text, which explained Sara's frustrated face. That said, we got to end the day with the parade and a pretzel.  Of course, the adults were exhausted but the kids, minus Emma, seemed unfazed.

When everyone came out for Emma's baby blessing we got to celebrate Maggie's birthday again.  For the first time I bought a cake.  Maggie, who makes a request for cake every time we pass the bakery finally got to hear me say, "yes."  I suddenly got struck by the brilliance of buying a cake. Nothing beats a sheet cake when you have big group to share it with.  I am glad we had so much family over.  It was nice that everyone made the long trip to be with us.  Thanks.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Emma Paige Richins

1:04 pm Sunday, January 26th 2014 8lbs 14oz, 19.25"

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Best friend visits

 I can't tell you how much I love Jared.  He dropped by with his family on his way to Disneyland.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Our day in the rain

I was trying not to be too paranoid as the kids were throwing rocks and whatever else they could find into the swift moving water.  I kept playing out scenarios of what I would do if one of them slipped in.  I hate to even think about it but these are the things you think about sometimes.  I was relieved when they lost interest in throwing things overboard.  They seemed quite oblivious to the danger but at least they listened to me when I told them not to step into the current.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Fire Department

Henry and Maggie took a tour of the fire department.  I can remember taking a tour of the fire department in Utah when I was a boyscout, I almost forgot how fun it is to explore where all our tax dollars go.  I believe Kirsta from our ward set everything up.  The kids had a lot of fun!  They showed the kids all the layers of clothing and equipment they wear (50-90lbs).  I can't image how hot that is in the summer time.  The guy who was showing us was sweating bullets and it was a nice cool day.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Second Interview

Sara and the kids came down to California with me for my second interview.  Despite the expression on Henry's face, he had fun with Grandma and Grandpa, it work out perfect because their cousins had the day off from school so they came over on Monday.  All-in-all a good weekend.  The following week I got an offer and we decided to take the job.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Let it rain

It has been raining for the last few days, which never happens in Las Vegas.  After spending most of yesterday indoors we decided to venture into the rainy outdoors.  On our way to the park, Henry fell asleep, so while he was sleeping in the car, Maggie did a little photoshoot. She told me I could take one picture, this is her unscripted.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


This morning Henry poured his own bowl cereal without any supervision. Somehow he got the entire contents of the cereal box to fit into his bowl.  When I found him he was enjoying his cereal with no milk.  Although if had poured milk, I am sure he would have emptied the entire milk jug in too.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


We visit California again this weekend for a second interview. The kids had a lot of fun with Grandma and Grandpa, aunt Tasha and cousins.  After the park Grandma took them to get frozen yogurt.


Monday, October 7, 2013

Henry's Shoes

 Awe, our little baby is turning into a little boy.  Let me paint one of the many pictures I have missed lately.

"If you want to get pumpkins," I announced, "go get your shoes!"  With that, Henry came running around the corner wearing his shoes.  Mom looked over with excitement, "Henry put on his shoes on all by himself for the first time today!"

Monday, September 30, 2013

Maggie's first day back to preschool

About a dozen blog posts are well overdue. Since we last talk Maggie started school, Henry started his potty training... very successfully I will say, we're currently expecting another girl, Emma Paige, we had another successful Richins family reunion, Henry got his first stitches, I learned how to braid Maggie's hair, we got a new van, Maggie started liking superheroes, Henry started sleeping in our bed at night, Henry and Maggie became best friends, I became very serious about finding a full-time gig, did I mention we're having another child... Sara and I got a new calling, as the emergency preparedness experts or not-so-expert, life is good, we feel very blessed... we can't imagine life getting any crazier, but I pretty sure it will. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Camping with the Torgerson Reunion

Sara and Tasha basically planned this camping reunion.  I couldn't believe it. I have been teasing Sara about the last camping trip she planned, which somehow I ended up planning and packing for.  But this time I hardly lifted a finger and it was actually the best camping trip.  We landed in Bryce Canyon National Park, although that part wasn't exactly planned.  But it all worked out perfect.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

TV the gateway drug

One evening we sat down as a family and decided to begin a grand experiment.  We decided to turn the TV off on Fridays and Sunday.  I thought it would be hard for the children but it has been infinitely harder for me in particular.  The beginning was the hardest.  I realized Maggie was accustomed to constantly being entertained.  So if the TV wasn't entertaining the responsibility fell on me to occupy her free time.  What exactly had I gotten myself into?  But after a few weeks I began to see miraculous changes.  Maggie began to self-play more.  Henry who was too young to care about TV anyway, now had a role model and began to mimic some of Maggie's self-play.

Over the months and now years it has become a lot easier.  The rules have been broken from time to time.  One Friday, I asked if we could break the rules and watch a movie.  I didn't have a single descending vote.  Of course, when Sunday arrived Maggie to proudly proposed that we should break the rules and watch TV.

Part of this rule has helped us keep the Sabbath but it has never been strictly about Sunday.  Unknowingly we create a rule that didn't plague Sunday with another "thou shalt not" but since in typical week it spans two days, Friday has been met with more disagreement than Sunday.  Looking back it was smart.  I think our kids enjoy Sundays with no TV.

The rule has only increased in spectrum as I have seen the positive effects over the years.  The break from TV has helped our children have learned to play more with each other, although not always so nicely.  We also do not turn the TV on until 10am and typically Maggie does learning time on the computer before she can watch TV.  Due to her example Henry loves learning time too.

TV really is a gateway drug.  Maggie could watch TV every waking hour.  She love it that much.  If I didn't pause it she wouldn't eat or even take bathroom breaks.  She still has fits of rage when I turn the TV off.  Sometimes I think she might start foaming at the mouth.  It is a good reminder that TV must be cautiously rationed.  No TV days actually now go smoother now than TV days.

As far a TV content goes, Maggie has a lot of shows that I dislike, such as Scooby-Do and Spiderman.  Most TV has no intrinsic value but I try not to over regulate her TV content.  There are few shows like Sponge Bob that I refuse to let her watch but for the most part I let her watch her Strawberry Shortcake.  It allows her to make her own decisions.  At first, the fact that her Dad didn't like Spiderman made it more appealing but its amazing what your children will do with a little agency because I think she has started making better and better media decisions.  It has also allowed us to talk about what makes a TV show good.   Now when I am watching a TV show without the kids, I think of her example regulating my own TV consumption.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Miss Mini Marsha Preschool

Maggie enjoyed her first year of preschool.  She just had her preschool program.  You might think she is a total ham in front of people but she often becomes a shy mute on stage.  But it just shows how much she loves her teachers and classmates because she was her natural crazy self on stage.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Maggie's moods

Some of my favorite mood swings can be found in the early morning or right before bedtime.  Maggie is an addict of TV, flipping the switch off is like stripping a tree of its limbs.  She is a social animal. At the park an older girl tells her she no longer wants to play. She curls into a ball with tears of rejection streaming down her face.  Maggie is a synchronize swimmer. After shadowing a group of teenage girls at pool they magically let her into her circle.  She is a rainbow of smiles.  She is a clown.  Dancing and sketching her face to the amusement of her brother.   She is a task master, frustrated by the late hour her family wakes.  She is censor. Demanding that her Dad not sing songs early in the morning.  She is a dancer.  Performing ballets between the pews while the chore sings.  Maggie is all moods, tears and laughter, smiles and indignation, screams and whispers of I love you.