Rewind and Move Forward

Dec 31, 2011

Rewind and Move Forward

I didn’t get a Christmas Letter (or even a Christmas card) mailed this year. I think it has actually been several years since I have done so. I love receiving letters and pictures from friends and family, but it is such an incredibly difficult task for me, that I gave up somewhere around the time of Annesley’s birth…which would make sense since she would have been four weeks old at Christmas of 2008 and I wasn’t up to doing much of anything.

It isn’t the writing that is difficult…it is the stamp buying, the envelope addressing, the getting to the Post Office to actually get them in the mail. The details! I am not good with details. I am good with the big stuff and I fall apart on the details. I am working to conquer that though. Perhaps ‘conquer’ is too strong a word there…maybe ‘slightly improve’ would be more apt.

Anyway, imagine you got a lovely card from us with all of us smiling and having open eyes at the same time (never has happened in all our years of family life) and imagine it came somewhere around December 15th and you hung it up in your house and have been looking at it for the last several weeks thinking how adorable we all are. Big stretch, I know, but I trust you all have very active imaginations.

Now it is New Year’s Eve and I have half of my family with me at my mom’s while the other half is back home hosting a New Year’s Eve party at our home. Yesterday Annesley had a dentist appointment in Salt Lake for a large cavity I found a few days ago. While we were there, we found out she needed more dental work and that they had a cancellation on Monday, so we decided to stay down here instead of having to come all the way back in the next few weeks. It is a strange experience to be separated on New Year’s Eve instead of playing games together.

Since you didn’t get a Christmas letter, here is a look back at 2011. It is written for three groups of people.
1. Those of you who can’t get enough of us!
2. Those who missed the happenings of our life the first time around because you are busy living your own.
3. Those of you who are not one of my regular blog readers.


Eve, my cousin Camille’s daughter, came to live with us for four months so she could attend classes at iFamily. We had a wonderful time with her and hope she can come and stay with us again. Her stay brought back so many memories of Camille and I living with each other as children. I am so grateful our mothers let us be together so much. Our friendship has been going strong for 30+ years and has sustained both of us through thick and thin.

Richard worked long hours and was never home when the sun was shining. He thought he may give in to physical and emotional collapse and the rest of us thought we might lose our minds without him.

I taught a second semester of my Math Alive! class to children at iFamily. We spent a whole semester studying Archimedes, recreating his experiments, building his tools, and ending the semester with a Catapult Contest.





Blythe auditioned for iShakespeare Live’s Spring Play and was awarded two roles. One as a musician playing background violin music and one as a servant. She also helped teach a knitting class and took a Logic and Debate class.


I got terribly ill and was in bed for several days and thanks to several friends bringing dinner that week, our children were able to eat.

My dear friend, Delinda, birthed her fifth baby in a glorious show of courage and faith and I was blessed to doula her through her birth once again. She was my first official doula client and I have attended all of her births. She is an amazing woman of God who has taught me much about walking with Christ, leading through love, and fully partnering with her husband in family life.

We baked a gazillion sugar cookies on Valentine’s Day, chased a moose, and then I went to bed with crazy thoughts of “bad-wifehood” because I completely forgot to do anything for my sweetie for Valentine’s.


We read A Tale of Two Cities and LOVED it. What an amazing author Mr. Dickens is. I learn so much about myself and human nature every time I immerse myself in one of his books.


We started off the month by taking 80 youth to see A Tale of Two Cities at Hale Centre Theatre in Salt Lake City. It was an amazing experience to share one of my favorite places with youth I adore. The youth were transformed by the performance and were able to really feel the power of the stage to communicate with people’s hearts.

We celebrated Richard’s 41st birthday with lemon meringue pie, homemade presents, and lots of love. He and I are growing older and while we may not be as spry as we once were, we are still madly in love.




We started a dejunking project that lasted about three days instead of the forty I had planned and I realized once again that I am terrible at actually sticking with anything.

Blythe’s days were full of Shakespeare as rehearsals moved into high gear for the production in April and the rest of our family’s schedule revolved around her schedule. Allowing a child to participate in a huge production is a gift of time, energy, and lots of support from the rest of the family. It is worth it, but it is taxing on everyone involved.

Once again, we attended the TJED Forum in Salt Lake City and had a wonderful time. My mom came down and grandmothered all over our children while Richard, Blythe, and I attended classes all day. Then we all danced the night away at the Family Ball. This is one of our favorite events of the year and we are so grateful to my mom for making it special for our little ones so we can attend classes without worrying how they are doing.

The rest of the month was filled with grief for my friends and clients, Jacob and Natasha, whose baby, Daniel, passed away during labor. As Christmas rolls around, I am thinking of them once again and wondering how I can make their hearts lighter. I know it must be incredibly difficult to not have a baby in their arms at this time.


April was Shakespeare time. Rehearsals, rehearsals, rehearsals ruled our lived. It was so fun to see the play come together and to observe the transformation of youth into real actors who put on an amazing show. The performances started toward the end of April and continued on through the first week of May. The directors, stage crew, actors, and parents deserved a week at a spa after all the long hours they put in to creating a first-class performance for our community. I am so grateful Blythe had this experience!

Mid-April I discovered a strange sensation moving through my breast. It got stronger and more intense until it consumed most of my waking thoughts…and most of my sound asleep ones as well.

Once again, we held a Passover Seder at our home. Keri’s and Jessica’s families joined us as we lit the candles, recounted the history of the Children of Israel, ate the ritual foods, hid the afikomen, and invited Elijah to join us. This is our most cherished holiday and even though it is a ton of work, it is totally worth it.

The Passover Table before we start eating and making a ginormous mess.


Our Passover guests



On May 1st, I found a lump in my right breast. This was confirmed to be an abnormal growth at a Clinical Breast Exam a few days later. This began a journey in search of truth about my body, my faith, my beliefs, my emotions, and my courage. It is a journey I never want to go on again, but one I am grateful for. I learned much about myself, about God, about goodness, about the power of family, the support of friends, and the depth of communion. I learned to submit my will. I learned I am in God’s hands. You can read all about my journey with and past my lump right here.

We also celebrated my 37th birthday during the first week of May. My mom took me clothes shopping, Mikelle and mom did a make-up intervention on me, (apparently I was wearing make-up that was out-of-date, the wrong colors, the wrong type for my skin, and just altogether WRONG!), a big group of us went to the Mindy Gledhill concert and had piles of Asphalt Pie, and then Mikelle treated me to a new haircut. Fabulous week surrounded by friends, family, gifts, and fun!

Blythe’s vocal group had their spring recital. It was the same night as the homeschool prom so most of the girls wore their formals to the recital. They did an amazing job on both their group and individual musical numbers. Blythe loves singing and it is so fun to hear her singing throughout the day. She usually studies for awhile and then practices her violin, they studies some more, then practices her voice work. Back and forth all day long. I am so grateful she is surrounded by music that she loves.


On Memorial Day, our black lab, Sadie, gave birth to nine puppies on Keziah’s bedroom floor surrounded by our four children and six of Tami’s. The next several months were filled with barking, pooping, nursing, wrestling, snuggling, and adopting. It was a lot of work!



We started off the month of June with our 8th Annual Homeschool Swim Camp. It is always so much fun to camp, swim, and play with our friends for a whole week.

Blythe attended the Climb Your Mountain Youth Conference with many of her friends and had a wonderful experience learning more about herself, leadership, and how to become who she wants to be.

The rest of the month was filled with doctor’s appointments, lots of tears, amazing blessings, and an outpouring of love from our friends and family.


July was a busy, busy month. We started it off with Independence Day festivities full of picnics, fireworks, parades, and family. The children all sang in the Celebration of Liberty’s Tribute program and little Annesley stole the show in front of thousands of people by singing and dancing her little heart out front and center on the stage. She loves watching herself on the video over and over again. I think she may have a future in show business.

For the first time in my life, we missed my big family reunion. I was in so much pain, emotionally and physically, that I could not get myself to go. Instead, I stayed home and worked on my 21-day cleanse.

Blythe attended her fourth year of Girls’ Camp and then travelled to southern Utah to attend YFF (Youth For Freedom) youth conference. She had an amazing experience and can’t wait to attend this next year as well.

The next week after that we were blessed to be able to attend MAT (Music, Art, and Technology) Camp in Wyoming. I was able to work for the camp throughout the week to pay for our tuition. It was a lot of work, but completely worth it to help my children and our friend, Alanna, have a week of fabulous instruction from top musicians on their violins and flutes, and with art, singing, and dancing. SO MUCH FUN!

The morning after we got home from MAT Camp, I went to the hospital to have the lump removed and tested. I spent a long week in bed, had a terrible two week bout with anesthesia-caused dizziness, and found out the lump was benign. We were thrilled it wasn’t cancer, but not so thrilled to be told I am at enormous (almost 600% increased) risk of developing breast cancer because of the large amounts of estrogen being stored in my breasts.


The big news of August is always our annual camping trip to Green River Lakes.




We celebrated Blythe’s 15th Birthday. It is amazing to me that she is fifteen and that her days in my home are growing short. Somehow I didn’t see this phase of life coming. I have been in a baby-in-my-arms stage for so long that it feels really strange to have a daughter on the cusp of driving, dating, moving out, etc. I am not ready for all of this, but I am proud of the young woman she is and am grateful to be her mama.


The rest of the month was spent recovering from surgery, recovering from camping, getting ready for the classes we were teaching and taking at iFamily, helping all the iFamily members to get registered, rearranging the school room so our learning space would work well for us this year, and trying to spend some time in the sunshine.

I organized another Lava Hot Springs Day for our homeschool group and loved sitting in the shallow end of the pool for about 8 straight hours. My arm and breast were still so sore that I could not do much more than that. First time I didn’t go down the slides or jump off the platforms, but my children had a wonderful time with their friends and Fisher worked up his courage to jump off the diving boards.


Keziah hired our friend, Kat, to help her with a sewing project and it turned out adorable.

By some miracle, I was able to get my bomb-gone-off-debris-is-everywhere bedroom clean, but was completely unable to conquer my bathroom and closet. That space took me another four months and was finally finished on December 23.


For some reason, I can’t really remember anything much about September. Hmmmmm.

Oh yes, we did celebrate Fisher’s 7th birthday. He is growing up and is so stinkin’ adorable when we can get a real smile out of him. He cracks me up with his funny faces, hilarious statements, crooked smile out the side of his mouth, and his many creations. He is constantly building or exploring or dreaming about doing one or the other.

We also decided to put on Make It For Maggie again, which is an annual fundraiser we started in 2010 as part of Maggie’s Month to raise money for our friend, Maggie Palmer. This year, we raised money for both Maggie and a family in my ward who have three boys with a seizure disorder.

I think the rest of the month was spent adjusting to our fall schedule of iFamily, violin lessons, gymnastics classes, and Richard’s crazy work schedule. During the summer he only worked 45-55 hours, but as soon as school started again he was back to leaving before 6 a.m. and getting home after 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. six days a week. It is incredibly difficult to have him gone so much, but we are grateful for his hard work, the blessing of him staying fairly healthy and able to keep up such a demanding schedule, and his enjoyment of us when he is able to be home.

One of Blythe’s biggest dreams came true when she was able to buy a violin that is properly sized for her AND one she loves. She was gifted some violin money and she used all of her savings to make up the difference. She has loved practicing on her new violin and has made significant progress. We are so grateful for the money she was given to make her dream come true. Another dream came true for her when we let her start taking a karate class. She had been studying various martial arts for several years and has probably read forty or fifty books on the subject, so she was thrilled when we found a class that would work for her and for the rest of us.

I started teaching two Worldviews classes, one for youth and one for adults. We are studying six different worldviews, defining our own worldview and having lots of fabulous discussions. It is challenging for me to spend so much time in study and I am grateful for the opportunity I have to share myself with my students.

Keziah also taught a class at iFamily for 3-6 year olds. She planned out an entire semester of art projects, storytimes, singing time, games, and treats…and she did it all by herself. It was amazing to see her get an idea and completely own it. She enjoyed teaching so much she has created another class for this upcoming semester.


October was full of Make It For Maggie fundraising work, but we also found time to celebrate Keziah’s 11th birthday with a trip to Salt Lake and General Conference and our 18th anniversary. Our date that night started out less than stellar because I had such a bad attitude, but through humor and patience, we turned it around into one of our favorite dates ever.

Make It For Maggie turned out to be a huge success! Through the generosity and hard work of our family and friends we were able to raise $3200 for the Palmer and Lear families. It was super-duper exciting and brought us so much joy to be able to bring people together for a day of wonderful classes, delicious food, charitable giving, gobs of love, and loads of laughter. Next year will be even better!

Miss Maggie


Some attendees


Kat at the microphone and my adorable self holding the sign.



In November I started two big projects. First, I learned how to make whole-wheat sourdough bread and have now been making it consistently for two months! Second, I started a giant blog overhaul. I couldn’t stand to look at my site another minute and consequently I didn’t sleep for several days while I worked on it. It still isn’t finished, but it is SO much more adorable and fun for me to write on now that I can stand to look at it again. I am hoping to get it all complete during January.

We focused on art and artists all month long. We are learning to not beat ourselves up when our pictures don’t turn out perfectly and how to enjoy creating and exploring different mediums.

We also started studying Columbus and the world during the 1400’s. We have already learned so much and look forward to our history read-aloud time each day.

At the end of the month, we went to my sister’s home for Thanksgiving and also celebrated Annesley’s 4th birthday. We were squished into a little apartment, played games all day (and much of the night), and had enough food to feed an army. So FUN!




December was spent cleaning, listening to audio books, and carrying out our secret Christmas projects. Our home has been in desperate need of attention for a very long time, but it is not all that enjoyable to me and there are many things pressing for my time and attention, so deep house cleaning is often at the bottom of my list. We spent every available (and many non-available!) moment cleaning, decluttering, and rearranging. I’m sad to say my children are all ‘cleaned out’ and I don’t know if they will recover any time soon. All this cleaning was for two reasons. I knew that December (when I am not teaching at iFamily) was the only time I would be able to devote a significant amount of time to it before May and I couldn’t handle my family all coming to spend time at our home after Christmas and not being able to enjoy themselves with the house in such disarray. I’m thrilled to say signiicant progress was made. All the bedrooms and bathrooms were dejunked and completely organized (including mine!!!!!!!!!). The laundry room was cleaned and rearranged to better meet our needs (and I solved the problem of the leak!). The dining room was cleaned as well as the school room, the area under the stairs, the kitchen, and the family room. We still need to conquer the garage and the storage room and the sewing room needs some attention, but I am proud of the hard work we have put in.

The other exciting news for December is I sewed an adorable Advent Calendar…a dream I have had for years. It took me a LONG time, a lot of tears, and some serious coaching from Kat, but I did it!


We have had family at our home all week long and I am exhausted from the late nights, but am so grateful for the Rook games, laughter and middle-of-the-night talks under blankets with my cousins, and great times with my siblings and mama. I am so grateful people drove from all over to come and spend time with us. It means the world to me that they love me enough to come.

As this year draws to a close, I am full of gratitude. Gratitude for the lessons my Father in Heaven has taught us, and especially me, this year. Gratitude for the nurturing love of my husband. Gratitude for the amazingness of my children and their ability to forgive me and love me. Gratitude for the many, many people who have served our family in ways both large and small. At times, the “angels” in our lives have literally been God’s hands in providing food, gas, heat, and most importantly, hope. We have been blessed beyond all our understanding and although we often don’t know who has been serving us, we pray for them and hope they will know how precious they are to us.

I am glad 2011 is over. It brought with it lessons that needed to be learned, joys that needed to be felt, friends that needed to be loved, and family that needed to be savored. But now, I am ready to move on to 2012. I don’t know what it will bring, but I step forward with increased knowledge of who God is, how He works in our lives, and a deeper sense of peace that we are in His hands. I am ready to love more fully, live more in the now, and trust more in His care. I am ready to be a more dedicated disciple of my Savior, to serve more, to know more, to listen more, and to BE more.

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  1. Anne

    It was fun to re-read 2011. Thanks for all your hard work putting this together. I know it took forever. Surely you will get blessings, sometime, for keeping this journal! Love you!

  2. Tami

    I love that you have your life written down like this… I don’t like how little I’m in it… :( Maybe in a couple more years!

    • tracy

      Tam, you are in it lots…just not always in my posts. BUT, you take up a huge spot in my heart!