Thursday, May 28, 2015

Warning: May Cause Disease

In this day and age, my parenting peers are discussing the effects of screen time on their children, how to manage it, how to work around it when parents aren't home, what time restrictions to place on it, etc. etc. etc. I always assume that people think I am exaggerating when I tell them that we really don't have any rules or regulations about screen time. (Duh-of course we do about appropriate sites, etc.) But time limits? Not at all necessary. We have the absolute opposite at our house. We have to set limits and regulations on their imaginations. 

While I ran a billion after-school errands with Megan for her upcoming Carnival Fundraiser this Saturday, I returned home to this:

"We're making home-made rafts." ~ said one child

"Did Dad give permission for the wood to be used?" ~said the parent

"It's old wood." ~said another child

"What exactly do you need rafts for?~ said the parent

"To play in water." ~ said a child

"What water?" ~ said the parent

"Water in the pasture. And when that dries up, we'll take them somewhere else to use." ~said the same child

"What is going on?" ~ said the other parent who arrived home minutes after the first parent

"Did you ask permission for the wood?" ~ said the other parent

A short time later, we could hear laughter and happy squealing all the way across the field to our pasture. Megan, being the first to ascertain where the laughter was originating from suddenly declared, "They look like neglected children."

To which my eyes wander to where she is looking and I behold this sight.
Neglected children?
Not really, they actually get a lot of attention.

Imaginative children?
(See the broken wheel on the red wagon? That would be from it being used to descend the hill and ride into the water.)

I walked over to get a closer look, and though all my responsible, clean, uptight personality traits wanted to yell and tell them to get their clothes on and get OUT OF THE MUDDY WATER immediately, the part of my personality that understands they are only young once, and the soft, motherly part of my personality that heard, "Mom! Are you mad at us? This is the best day EVER." simply took some photos, and told them to come home in 10 minutes.
I didn't get any "after photos" of the mud strewn across their faces and bodies, or of them standing in their underwear in the back yard while I hosed them down with a hose. To which they complained about the temperature of the cold water. To which I responded, if you can play in mud puddles, you pay the price of a cold hose squirted at you before you're allowed into the house to shower.

Megan is concerned they are going to catch cholera. My BFF is concerned they are going to get ticks. My only concern is what will they think of next!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Thoughtful Gift for Mother's Day

Megan just gave me a Mother's Day gift a day early. It's one of my favorite gifts ever. So thoughtful, so poignant and so real. Really, it's a gift for mother's everywhere.

It's further proof that really, it's about the little things...

Happy Mother's Day

Monday, May 4, 2015

Good Women in a Matter of Days

Wow! What a wonderful few days I have had. I am quite in awe at the quality conversations, moments and time I have spent with some of the best women life has to offer.

Back in November, my dear friend Koni asked me if I would be her assistant for a hospitality committee for the annual BYU Women's Conference. I've never attended the conference before, but after a couple of weeks of really thinking about it, I accepted her offer. Last week, all the trainings and meetings regarding our hospitality roles were put to the test. I've opted to leave my conference experiences to my personal journal instead of here, but suffice it to say, it was an amazing two days.

(We were soooo busy on Thursday. We were responsible for the guests at the Marriott Center, which is a LARGE venue. We spent the whole day on our feet running from here to there, and this was the only shot we got of us looking official in our "uniform." Too bad Koni's eyes are closed.)

I loved spending time with two dear friends, Koni and Allyson. Our paths met through Power of Moms, but it was fun to work with them in an entirely different women's venue.

(I think this is a picture of a picture--thus the blurriness.)

I LOVED running into this friend of mine from high school. Sharie was my best friend during much of my 10th grade year. I have fond memories of countless hours spent at her house. Sadly, as high school girls sometimes do, our friendship sort of fizzled at the beginning of 11th grade. I'm not sure I've seen her in person since high school, but when I looked over and saw her and her sister at a nearby photo booth, I couldn't contain my excitement. Loved seeing her!!
(Sharie and Tiffany)

This is a dear friend of Koni's. She is originally from Spain, and now lives in Washington. She came to Utah to help with the conference, and slept at Koni's house the same night as I did. Koni fell asleep early, and Mayte and I were left to visit with each other. I'm so grateful for the few hours of conversation with this lady. Wow! Truly, a woman of faith. We woke up on Friday morning, and each went into a different bathroom to shower and get ready for the day. When we met for breakfast, we were dressed as twins!

Friday night was the Power of Moms board meeting in Park City. I love the opportunity I have to work with so many top notch ladies. I will be forever grateful for my association with Power of Moms and the friendships it has given me.
(This is by no means all of the board--just the ones in attendance on Friday night.)

Not sure I could even begin to describe my feelings for these four ladies. I'll just say I love them. Truly, and deeply I love them. There are some lives whose paths are just meant to cross. These are some of them for me.

I have no idea why my face is tilted the way it is, and with a fake-looking smile. Rest assured, everyone laughed at me (with me?) when Rachelle showed it to us on her camera. We got NOWHERE near enough sleep on Friday night, but our time together laughing until our bellies hurt was well worth the hangover the next day.
(Koni, Rachelle, Allyson, Alisha, Tiffany)

(Shout out to my friend, Cheryl who took the above photo. She's one of my favorite women too, I just didn't get a photo with her THIS time.)

Proof we didn't get enough sleep on Friday night. Why yes, these naps just may happened to have occurred while speakers were speaking on Saturday.

Completely separate from my time at Women's Conference or at the Power of Moms retreat, was the lunch I had with this friend on Monday. In full honesty here, for a few specific reasons, I have never been a big fan of the visiting teaching program in the LDS church. But I think my opinion of it is slowly changing. If it wasn't for that program, my life would never have intersected with this dear friend.

My friendship with Breeanne began just shy of a year ago. Our lives are so very different, yet so strikingly similar. When I think of the time I have spent with Breeanne, our conversations and our text exchanges, I think of two women navigating through life, and the importance of women supporting and loving each other. Breeanne no longer lives in my neighborhood, but when we met up for lunch on Monday, I was reminded what a blessing she is in my life.

(Breeanne and Tiffany)

As much as I would love to do a great blog post about the influential women and friends in my life, I likely never will. But believe me, my personal journal and my gratitude journal are filled often with  mention of women that I feel blessed to know and love. I'm really not much of a chit-chatter. I'm not as friendly as I should be with those I don't know well, but I'm trying to do better at that. The older I get, and the more women I meet, I realize how true it is that everyone of us has our own story. Our own paths, our own lives, our own challenges and joys. And what a true blessing it is when those things are shared with another.

“We must cherish one another, watch over one another, comfort one another, and gain instruction that we may all sit down in heaven together.

~Lucy Mack Smith

Monday, April 27, 2015


I can't forget the simple things in life that for whatever reason made me (or somebody else) want to record it with a photo.

My mornings alone with Drew are slowly winding down. His days at home for a few hours with just me are soon to end. At the beginning of the school year, I was in a business meeting and I told someone that I couldn't commit to a certain task. I explained to them that I've spent good quality time with all my children at home, and although it seems easy to drag the last child around, or find places for him to go, I wanted to be committed to him. I have been. Although Drew has been dragged around with me, or babysat by others plenty of times, I have spent so much quality time with him. I have no regrets.

I don't save all the papers the children bring home from school, but there are some that I absolutely have to immediately file away. This was one of them, except it stayed in the kitchen for longer than usual papers, because it was so fun to look at! I love the name Joshua gave himself, the wrinkles, and the long beard. Oh to have the imagination of a child!

Luke is still Luke. He still has the most vivid imaginations and inventions. He's progressed a little over the years as far as safety and specifics, but he still continues to think outside of the box. I LOVE this boy of mine.
(The old bike trailer he transformed into a trailer last summer, now became a children's ride when he tied a lawn chair to it. Helmets were a definite requirement to ride!)

A fifth grade field trip chaperone. A loud and bumpy bus ride, other people's children, and 4 hours at an aquarium. Need I say more? Those aren't exactly any of my favorite things. Except for Ellie is, so that's why I did it.

I love little boys and cars. Drew has more Hot Wheels, cars and trucks than any little boy needs, but he plays with them all the time. They make Mike crazy, but not me. It's one of those little things, I can't help but love.

I'm not exactly sure what was going on with a slew of photos like this on my phone. I think Kinzey and Ellie were attempting to illustrate some books they were writing, with pictures. Makes me wonder what the books are about??

(Joshua, Drew, Kinzey)

Joshua turned 8 recently. And he was given the CHOICE of whether or not he wanted to join the Cub Scouts at our church. (We view the involvement in BSA as an "extra-curricular", even though really it is a default activity by virtue of being a member of the LDS church.) Please, I beg you. Don't get me started on this subject.

But I will quickly say, I wore all of my PATHETIC Mother's Pins that I've never seen another mother EVER WEAR besides me. I wore/wear them to all of Luke's Pack Meetings and Courts of Honor, and here I go again with Joshua. What a complete and utter waste of money. Like I said, don't get me started.
(The only reason I took this photo was to send to my BFF. She's the only one that truly appreciates it.)

The girls spent far longer than they should have coloring plastic cups and then melting them in the oven to fun shapes and designs. No practicing of instruments or homework was getting done, but their giggles and camaraderie were not anything to put an end to.

Last Friday (my 18th wedding anniversary), Luke was diagnosed with strep throat AGAIN. This time I had to take a doctor note to school to excuse his millionth absence this school year. Lucky Luke ended up being a lunch date for me to a place of his choosing, DQ for a milkshake for his sore throat.

And that's about that for now. I could go on for hours sharing all the silly photos the children take on my phone, but we'll stick to these highlights for now.

I think I will always be a believer in the importance of the little things. I KNOW they are what really matter.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Megan in 2nd Grade

I just came in from sitting outside on the back lawn with Drew while he was [secretly] eating a popsicle. Secretly, meaning I didn't want siblings and neighbors to see him eating it, because we don't have enough to share with the 8 or so kids out front.

Drew and I chatted about school, the fact he's excited for summer, and even more excited for first grade. He's most excited that first grade will mean, "I won't ever have to go to Dad's office in the morning when you have to go somewhere." (Tough life isn't it, occasionally spending an hour or two a week at an office with people who make you paper airplanes, give you treats, and let you harass them constantly with questions, statements, and suggestions.)

As Drew and I chatted about lunch in the school lunch room next year, he was confused for just a little bit about why Joshua wouldn't eat right after him, and I reminded him that next year, Joshua will be in 3rd grade, not 2nd anymore.

Which to make a long story short, made me think back to Ellie in 2nd grade, Luke in 2nd grade, and for a few seconds, I couldn't for the life of me remember who Megan had as a teacher in 2nd grade. Then I gasped, remembered, and became disappointed that I don't think anywhere in her personal history or mine, that we have the experience of her 2nd grade teacher recorded in detail.

It seemed only fitting to come inside and do it right now. After all, it was about this exact time of year, that one Friday evening,  I left 2 week old Joshua, and Luke and Ellie with our neighbor, and took Megan to the viewing of her 2nd grade teacher.

Yes. You read that right. It was a sad, sad day.

When the children returned to school in January 2007 after Christmas vacation, I happened to be there the morning, a principal and school counselor came in to Megan's 2nd grade classroom to tell the children that their "teacher was very sick" (cancer) and she would probably not be coming back to their class. It was sad. Second graders love their teachers.

Around the middle of April, Mrs Feil made it to the school to be in the class photo with them. The children were thrilled.
(Megan is middle row, middle child-purple striped shirt)

A week or so later, I remember sitting on the couch feeding newborn Joshua when the school called to tell me that Megan's teacher had passed away. They told me they wanted parents to know first, and parents to tell their children.

A few minutes later, Megan came home from school and I broke the news to her. It was sad. And hard.

But the viewing a few days later, proved to be even harder.

Megan and I arrived at the viewing as soon as it started. I didn't want her to have to wait in a long line. Megan bravely held my hand as we walked into the room, and we were greeted by her teacher's husband and two adult daughters. We introduced ourselves, I paid our condolences, and then Megan, in all of her 8 year old prowess, pulled out a folded piece of paper and handed it to Mr. Feil with an explanation, I have never forgotten. I remember it almost verbatim:

"Mrs Feil told me she knew I could reach more than 100 AR (reading) points by the end of the year. I think she would want to know, I have 105."

The last few words Megan spoke through tears, and then as she finished, she turned and buried her face into my tan linen skirt and sobbed.

Megan and I were two of the first guests at the viewing. When we first arrived, it was apparent that Mr Feil and his two daughters were well composed and dry-eyed. They had stayed that way until Megan began her little speech about her AR points.  While Megan continued to sob into my skirt, the three of us adults cried with her. Mr Feil reached down, hugged Megan and said, "I'm sure she is very proud."

I helped Megan say her final goodbye to her teacher, and we left.

It's a treasured memory, I'm glad I now have more permanently recorded.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Six Forever and Ever

Stating the obvious...I haven't blogged as regularly as I have in years past. But I didn't realize that I haven't even mentioned birthdays lately. In fact, I didn't even "review" the photos I took on Drew's birthday until last night, Joshua, Drew and I found ourselves scrolling through several weeks of photos. When I came to the ones of Drew's birthday, specifically of his birthday cake, he sighed, "My birthday was the best day ever. I loved it."

Drew's best day ever, and I hadn't permanently recorded it. Point taken.

A few things not to be forgotten about March 30th, 2015:

For months, Drew has taken to frequently calling Mike, "Mike Wazowski with One Eye." Additionally, as mentioned before, Drew has a unique love of stuffed animals. So when I saw this at a store several weeks before his birthday, I knew I needed to make the $5 purchase for Mike to gift to Drew.

Drew really only had one request for his birthday. BMX clothes. Wish/request granted.

The morning of Drew's birthday, I taught him the poem "When I am Six" by A.A. Milne. I adore hearing him recite it. Even weeks since his birthday, I hear him repeating it, and when he gets to the part, "Now I am six, I'm as clever as clever. I think I'll be six forever and ever" he gets a giant grin on his face and I wish in that moment time would freeze and there was a way to slow my baby's age. There isn't, so instead I smile and bask in the moment of his innocent childlike pride.

In the days leading up to Drew's birthday he couldn't decide what exactly he wanted to do; Something as a family, or a party with friends. Something with family AND a party with friends AND then go to a restaurant to eat dinner.  All seemed options to Drew, despite him being told repeatedly it was a party with friends, or something as a family.

Within just a few days before his birthday, Drew opted for a party. But then what type of party became an issue. (Because birthday parties have to have a theme???)

A football one or a Curious George one. I knew what I was hoping for, but I kept my mouth completely closed and let him choose. Finally he announced, "I want a George one." I was thrilled! As this is probably his last year to get away with a Curious George party, but he can have football ones for years to come.

(Sidenote: My children LOVE Curious George. Even Luke during one of his recent strep episodes laid on the couch watching hours of Curious George over a couple day period.)

We had big plans for a giant "Man in the Yellow Hat" to be printed with Mike's large printer for a "Pin the Hat" game. The morning of the party, the printer didn't work, but as I hung up the phone with Mike I saw hanging on our pantry door this portrait drawn by the birthday boy himself just days before.

I copied it and made extra hats and had our own personalized game. Which really, this little portrait attempt far exceeds any printed Google image I found.

(Too bad that at the party, Drew decided he didn't want to play this game after all.)

Drew had a fun party with a handful of his little friends. I didn't take photos, I enjoyed the moments instead. But I do kinda wish now that I had photos of them playing Curious George Character Chardes, Pass-the-Parcel, or Dance Like George.

I've always felt a sense of pride about my efforts each birthday to make home-made birthday cakes in the shapes, patterns and designs my children request. We've had a few good ones, intermixed with some truly terrible ones, but they have ALWAYS put a smile on my children's faces. (Well, except for the infamous Barney one I made when Megan was two and she looked at it completely straight-faced and asked, "What is that?") 

A couple days before Drew's birthday, Joshua and Drew were home sick from school. Joshua had been throwing up, and I had NO IDEA what or who was next for our family. (We had a bad 2-3 week  sick period around here.) I detest store bought cakes, especially for children's birthdays, with the exception of ice cream cakes, which I cheated and did for Ellie a day late last year after she'd spent her birthday in LA with Mike.

I mentioned a Dairy Queen cake to Drew and told him, perhaps we could go and see if they had a Curious George pattern they could make for him. Drew was soooo excited, that he requested we go right then and there. Which we did. Him in his pajamas, with a pale-sick face, (I'm a good mom like that.) and me feeling relief at the possibility of not having to make a birthday cake.

Lo and behold, there in the freezer of Dairy Queen was a Curious George cake made up, ready for sale. I think I felt such exhaustion at the previous few weeks of my life (remember post-surgery, two cases of strep, couple cases of stomach flu, etc.) I may or may not have started crying when I saw the perfect George cake staring back at me.

Drew loved it. I loved it. And I felt zero guilt the morning of his birthday not having a birthday cake to make.

We ended up the day as a family enjoying a picnic at a park.

According to the newly turned 6 year old, "It was the best day ever."

I loved Luke's sentiments on Drew's birthday when he exclaimed, "I love birthdays at our house. Even when it isn't mine. I just love birthdays."

I do too.

PS-I really should do a whole blog post about Megan's new vlogging hobby. She recorded a lot of great highlights of Drew's birthday, including Mike and me on a teeter-totter... Her vlogs will surely be treasures one day.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Joshua's Special Day

I've relaxed a lot over the years, and the day of Joshua's baptism was proof. Because amid all the preparations for a baptism service, (us singing a musical number, a child giving a talk, change of underwear and towels, etc. etc.) , plus 40+ people converging at my house for dessert a few hours later, when I pulled out Joshua's white shirt from his closet and realized it was FILTHY,  I... actually laughed out loud. (I may actually have said "damn-it" first, but I did laugh out loud. I promise.)

My toilets were clean for guests to use in a few hours, my sliding glass door wiped free of finger prints, and the kitchen floor swept of debris. But Joshua's shirt, that he hasn't even worn for two weeks (didn't go to church last week due to General Conference), was neglectfully left in his closet with nary a thought about it until 20 minutes before he was due at the church.

Luke was dressed in a brand new suit at his baptism, and of course the girls in perfectly new and clean white dresses at theirs. But not the poor 4th child. He wore a white shirt a size too small.

But I was more relaxed, calm and pleasant than at any of the others, and that's what really matters.

Joshua's baptism service was simple and beautiful.

As Latter-day Saints (Mormons), we believe that baptism is done at eight years of age because it is the age of accountability; the age of discerning between right and wrong. Baptism at age 8, isn't so much the symbolic "washing away of sins" (children under 8 don't "sin") as it is making a promise to follow Jesus, and the first step to returning to live with God and Jesus again.

Four of my children have now been baptized, and for some naive reason, I think my children are going to be so overcome with the baptism ordinance and commitment they are making, that they will be committed to never again disobey, or do wrong. You'd think I of all people would remember children are NOT PERFECT, but instead I seemed shocked somehow when just hours after Joshua's baptism, Drew came into the house to tattle, "Joshua just called me an idiot." (An absolute no-no in our house!)

Four kids, four burst bubbles: baptism doesn't equal perfection.

I looked at Drew and smiled and suggested, "Why don't you go outside to Joshua and say, 'Congratulations. You've just made your first mistake.'" To which Mike piped up, "Perhaps you could offer to help him repent?"

Maybe you had to be there.
But it was funny.

Saturday was a good day. As our home and yard were filled with family and friends that love Joshua and our family, I couldn't help but smile. These days are fleeting, and when I came across these little children sitting out on the step eating ice cream, I couldn't help but wish time would freeze for just a few moments. Instead it keeps marching forward and before I know it, these photos of young children will be only a memory.

They are only young once.

(Damon, Elizabeth, Miles, Drew, Jonah, Joshua)

This photo was taken the next day. 
(Drew, Cousin Kate, Cousin Annie, and Joshua)

Life is good.


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