sweetest valentine ever

Feb 15, 2011 by

I was in a funk last night. Plummeting progesterone does that to me sometimes and this time was a doozie. I was spouting off insane ideas to Richard that he should get a new wife…a new, improved one that doesn’t lose her patience, knows how to bake cookies, can keep the bedroom clean, remembers how to mother with love, and can give him as many babies as he wants. I was in a dark place of craziness and he loved me anyway. He kept trying to hold me and to fill my heart with love. I woke up this morning able to think again and was so grateful he didn’t take me up on the new wife idea.

In the midst of my dark spiral downward, we gave the children their Valentine’s Day presents. Keziah had a present for me. It is the sweetest thing she has ever written. Keziah often has a hard time being kind to her family members, she prefers being an army general rather than a friend. She can be the sweetest thing ever, but she can also be the cruelest. It is a battle she fights within herself and we are working with her to help the sweet side win. Here is her card to me:

Happy Valentine’s Day
I love you, mom.

Dear Mom,

I’m sorry I’ve been mean to Fisher. Thank you for all you’ve done for me. Thank you for being my mom. I love you. I love you, mom. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.

I love you,
Keziah

It was the only Valentine I received this year and it is the best one I could have received. I think it is the first time she has acknowledged that she is mean to Fisher. It is a step towards healing her heart and letting the love that is in her come out.

I am so grateful to be her mama.

p.s. The new wife thing? Don’t worry, I’m here to stay.

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valentine, valentine, how sweet you are

Feb 14, 2010 by

This morning we were greeted by a festive table – red tablecloth, silver sparkly streamers, pancakes, raspberry syrup, whip cream, omelettes, and orange juice. What a yummy surprise! My dearest had been up all morning decorating and preparing delicious food for all of his Valentines…us!

Breakfast on Valentine's Day

He often whips up occasions like this for us – he is the resident cook for Christmas Eve, our anniversary, Valentine’s Day, my birthday, any day when I am not up to cooking, and every single Sunday…yes, I am blessed. It all started when we were first married and I had NO idea how to cook. Then I had two surgeries and months of having my arms in slings due to injured shoulders and Richard cooked almost constantly that first year of marriage. Ever since then he has been grateful whenever I DO cook.

My husband pampers me. He adores me. He supports me in all that I do. He rescues me on a regular basis. He listens to me when he really should be sleeping. He holds me. He believes in me. He builds me. He prays with me. He laughs with me. He is patient with me. He changes diapers, stays up late with babies, reads stories to our children, takes us all fishing, and is forgiving with my laundry habits. He is Mr. Wonderful…although he would die of embarrassment to be called that, especially in public. He thinks he is dull, boring as snot, and not at all attractive. To me, he is my rock, my friend, and my lover.

On other Valentine news, Grandma sent Blythe and Keziah some new adorable hats – here is Keziah sporting hers with her crazy smile:
Keziah with hat from Grandma

And here is Blythe, all fancied up to go to a Valentine’s Ball last night with about 150 other homeschooled youth. Isn’t she lovely!
Blythe - Valentine Ball

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week 18

Feb 2, 2016 by

Blythe is being transferred to a new area for the first time since she arrived in California back on September 29. I think she is sad to leave the many people she has come to love, but is handling it well and ready to get to work in a new area. We are hoping she was able to pack up all her stuff tonight quickly and easily. She really hates packing. So moving to a new apartment today was probably really hard for her. We are trying to put together a little Valentine’s Day package to send to her and the ideas on Pinterest are all a little WAY overwhelming to me. I think maybe a Jamba gift card will suffice!

Well, I’m leaving my area. :( On Tuesday I will be going to the Young Single Adults ward. My new companion will be Sister Christiansen. She just barely finished her training, so I am again greenie breaking. :) The YSA ward is supposed to be really awesome and conveniently I’m still covering this area because the ward boundaries are both Mission Viejo and Santa Marguerita, though I will officially be in a different zone.

Yesterday at church the bishop was gone, so it wasn’t announced in sacrament meeting that I was leaving. All throughout the day, one by one the word got around and it was announced in the classrooms, so people kept coming up to me and like “You’re leaving?!?!?!” and there were some tears. :( And hugs. This ward has become home to me.

There was a mission farewell for Luke Taylor, who’s going to Japan Negoya Mission, and his talk was wonderful. They had a lot of non-member friends there and the spirit was really strong. At the end they sang “God Be With You Till We Meet Again.” He’s up there crying and I’m down in the congregation trying not to cry, and we both have our tissues out, and I’m wondering why on earth they needed to sing that song of all songs. I always cry when they sing that song. Actually, no, I really did appreciate that song, and I love it. It was kind of cool to have that song for my last Sunday, even though it was more for Luke than me, of course.

It was cool to have everyone tell me how I have strengthened them and to see the difference I made in their lives. That was good to know that I was making a difference here. To see how much they don’t want to lose me is probably the biggest testimony that I have done some good here. I have not had baptisms, and only a very few of the less actives I’ve been working with have actually come to church, but that is not the measurement of success. I have been able to build real relationships with them, and come to love them, and that’s what really matters. I’m going to miss it, but I think this new ward will be wonderful too. The YSA wards are some of the busiest and my area will be huge. It’s going to be crazy!

By the way, there’s a house we found that is decorated like Jurassic Park with huge metal dinosaurs and the gate and everything.

Love you all.
Sister W.

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earthlife is messy

Feb 15, 2014 by

This human state is such an interesting thing. Emotions, spiritual impressions, the challenges and joys of having a body, and how all three of those things interact with each other and with other people’s emotions, spirituality, and bodies can add up to one tangled web of amazing craziness.

On Thursday my emotions were all over the place. My body was sending me wonky messages of pain, confusion, and exhaustion. My spiritual impressions were getting trampled by the emotion and body messages.

I think this is normal. It is part of this experience we call life…it is messy and intense and joyous and twisty-turny and wonderful all wrapped up together. At any given moment I can be overcome with gratitude AND pain AND hope AND despair AND peace. All at once.

When I share the details of my life with the interwebs I strive for honesty…for several reasons. One, I am not really writing for the millions of possible readers out there in blogland, I am writing for me. Writing helps me process my thoughts and emotions and come to new perspectives. Two, I am also writing for my children and grandchildren. I want them to know the truth of my life, the good days and the bad, the triumphs, the every day ordinary rhythms of our lives, and everything in between. I want them to know how fiercely I loved them and how very challenging it has been to mother them through these injuries. My hope is they will see me as a real person who struggles just like they do and tries again and again AND again and that through my journey they will find the courage to keep trying in their own lives. Third, I do hope that when a person reads my words they walk away strengthened in their own life. I am not a Pinterest board, I am a messy, vibrant, chaotic, striving soul and if my life can bless another in the midst of their own journey, I am willing to share.

p.s. On tap for today is eating my delicious Valentine cupcake from Cocoa Bean, finding a walker to help me get around with this new injury, piles of laundry, the children cleaning all their bedrooms and bathrooms, and catching up on some school work we missed during this crazy week. I am going to take a bath for the first time in many, many days – I think Tuesday was my last bath. I stink! Last night I told Richard he smelled terrible and to move away from me. He apologized and kindly obliged my request to move to the far side of the bed. Welllllll, this morning after he left for work, the reeking smell was still here and I figured out it is me! So my goal for the day is to take a long, hot bath and get all this stinkiness washed away.

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thankful thursdays 2/14

Feb 14, 2013 by

Two weeks in a row of Thankful Thursdays! Can I have a round of applause, please? Or maybe just some of the Lamoreaux family popcorn? I am so in love with that stuff.

My heart is pretty full of gratitude today. I read through my past posts on Valentine’s Day and realized once again how blessed I am to have the husband I do. Even though he didn’t do anything fancy this morning like he usually does (We are fighting illness and sleep is a high priority for him right now. He hasn’t succumbed to the strep throat that Blythe, Annesley, and I have had and we would like to keep it that way so he can keep going to work!), he creates so much love in this home that it makes up for my occasional prickly-ness.

  • My Annesley snuggles with me every morning. I used to be a tad put out by her intrusion into my warm bed and MY morning time, but now I welcome here in to rub my back, tell me all about her dreams in the night, and fill my heart with all her sweetness.
  • I am grateful for my new jeans. They fit fabulously well and they were super cheap! What a rare combination.
  • Yesterday at iFamily I was given four Valentine’s, including a delicious treat from our local chocolate store! How sweet is that?
  • Today I had a long, hot bath in my magnesium oil.
  • The Lamoreaux’s just brought us some Valentine goodies…so fun and I heard healthy as well!
  • The joy my children had over their goodie bags…erasers, post-it notes, scotch tape, duct tape…so cute to see them excited about such simple items.
  • This afternoon I took all the children to our local Variety store. It is a somewhat rare thing for all of us to go anywhere together in the day. Blythe is usually studying or gone to a class and it was so fun to have all my children together discovering little treasures. Luckily we made it out of there spending only $4.50 on a present for the Pink and Red Party tonight. Then I took them to the chocolate shop for a dollar treat of scrumptiousness and to the Sandwich shop for the best fries on earth. Such a fun hour of magic with my four favorite kiddos. We haven’t been focused on having fun and enjoying each other’s company for quite a while as survival, endurance, and catching up have been the name of the game.
  • I found Blythe’s Economics textbook for $2.99 on the Kindle instead of $25. Wahoo!

Off to Kat and Jen’s Annual Pink and Red Party. A wonderful adult party with my friends sounds like the perfect ending to this day. Have a wonderful evening with your loved ones!

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a few little funnies

Feb 14, 2013 by

Happy Valentine’s Day to all! This year our Valentine’s Day is going to be pretty low key. I have little gift bags I will be giving to my children and tonight Richard and I are attending Kat and Jen’s Pink and Red Party. It is guaranteed to be hilarious and delicious, both of which I need dearly in my life right now. What are you doing for your special love day?

The last few days have been full of some humorous events and I know I need more humor in my life and am assuming you need more in yours, so I will share them with you so you can chuckle.

Funny Story #1:

Monday night Richard and I drove down to SLC to get an old Subaru that we have been looking at for awhile. The jury is still out as to whether we made the right choice or not as there a couple of things acting up on it the last few days, but we are praying it works out for us and will save us a gob in gas. Anyway, the dealer we bought if from is a mechanic that buys cars with mechanical issues, fixes them up, then sells them. He has a small inventory so he leases part of a lot from another small dealer and together they share a office made out of an older home on State Street (a very busy street full of car dealerships) where consumers can sign paperwork and whatnot.

So, we get to the dealer after our 3+ hour drive and I have to use the bathroom, so we go into the office (house) and ask to use the restroom. That room was putrid. It looked like the urine in the toilet had been sitting there for months. The floor was filthy. The sink was filthy. The smell was overwhelming and I immediately started gagging and retching. But I also had to pee (and even more so now that I was gagging and retching). So I kicked the toilet seat down from its male-centric up position, both the seat and lid fell, so I had to lift the lid up with the toes of my shoes. And what did I find on the seat? Brown stuff. Who knows if it was poop or not, by this point I had to empty my bladder either on myself or in the toilet. I chose the filthy toilet. I squatted over it, not touching anything, gagging and retching the whole time and fully wondering if I would make it out of the bathroom alive. It felt like my lungs were being singed by the awful stench. I pulled my pants up, flushed with my foot, and rushed out the door to get some air.

It was that bad.

But the story gets worse.

Later when we were done with all the paperwork, Richard asked to use the restroom. The dealer told him where it was and said “Hold your nose” with a big chuckle. Then he turned to me and with another big chuckle said “There isn’t a woman here to clean it.”

I about died.

I am still dying.

There was a time, not that long ago, that I would have slugged any man who dared to say such an awful thing in front of me.

Now, it is a story for the record books and makes me laugh hysterically that anyone is trying to operate a business with that kind of bathroom. Those poor men need some humbling.

Funny Story #2:

On Saturday my friends took me shopping and out to lunch. It had been a long time since I had been out to a store and it was time. I needed to get jeans for Keziah who has been growing up and out for the last several months, some shoes for Fisher whose toes are hanging out the sides of his current pair, some Valentine’s Day gifts, return Keziah’s last Land’s End purchase, and most of all, see something besides the four corners of my bedroom. Well, after all the errands had been run and all the food eaten, it was about 10:30 at night. I finally decided that I needed to get a new shirt. Just one thing that I could feel cute in in my new larger-than-life body. Seriously, being so completely inactive for the past year has done me in. I am larger than I have ever been and feel dumpy, frumpy, and lumpy. So, Jessica swung into Walmart and we visited the Bella Bird section. Happily for me, there was a lot of stuff on clearance and I was able to pick up a few things that are pretty dang cute, including a new skirt, cardigan, and shirt combo. I wore this new, adorable outfit to the temple yesterday morning and that is where the trouble began.

The skirt is a just-past-the-knees full skirt.

Yesterday was windy.

Wind + full-skirt = skirt around the face, derriere showing multiple times situation.

I kept pulling it down, holding it down, but I couldn’t keep up with the wind.

While the girls were finishing up at the temple, I ran the two littles ones over to Great Harvest for a slice of bread. As we walked in, I held the door open for them so they wouldn’t get smashed to smithereens if it slammed on them in the wind, and right then my skirt blew up again. All the way up. Covering my head and breathing apparatus up.

In front of about fifteen people who were watching us come in the door.

Oh my.

What a choice. Do I let the door smash my Annesley or do I let go and cover my nether-regions?

Well, I tried to hold the door and recover my modesty and it was a sight to behold. Many smiles, smirks, and bursts of laughter fluttered around the store. To make matters worse, as we stood in the sample line gusts of wind would blow in whenever anyone entered the store and wouldn’t you know it, my skirt would blow right up again!

By this point, I knew I couldn’t make it through the day in this skirt, so we drove to Walmart and I found a pair of jeans that fit (on the first try even!) and are made of some super-snazzy slimming inventions that I think totally worked their magic. If you need some super-snazzy slimming pants and can’t afford the magic in Not My Daughter’s Jeans, you should check out these Lee Riders. Anyway, Annesley and I tried them on in the dressing room and I kept them on because there was no way I was going back into the wind in my flip-over-my-head-skirt. The ninety-year-old Walmart worker insisted on removing all the tags and stickers from my pants while they were on me, walking me up to the register, and announcing to the sales clerk “This woman is buying these pants and is wearing them out of the store. Please check her out now so she is not reported for theft.”

Oh my. So, so funny.

Funny Story #3:

Annesley crawls into bed with me this morning and says “Happy day! It is finally here! It is Valentine’s Day! Happy, happy day!” Then she rubs my back for awhile until breakfast is ready. After breakfast she says “When will the presents be here?” I say “What presents?” and she responds with a long lecture, “Mom, the holiday presents! That is what holidays are about and we always get presents on holidays and when will they be here? You always give us presents. I think they will be here at night because they are not here now and Papa is not here now, so they will be here later when Papa is here.” I pulled her into my arms and said, “Oh honey, holidays are not about presents, holidays are about love. I love you and I am going to hold you and hug you for Valentine’s Day.” To which she responded “I love you being my mama.”

She is so funny. I could listen to her all day long. I think I will go get their presents ready now and surprise them with their little goodies at Morning Devotional.

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moments to remember sans photos

Dec 30, 2012 by

Some Christmas moments not captured in pictures, but needing to be remembered nonetheless…so I will share them with you without any photgraphic evidence.

1. We made Peppermint Bark! For the first time! Yes! For the first time in my life I melted chocolate and made it into something yummy. Actually, I laid on the couch with ice packs on my injection sites and told Blythe, Keziah, and Andie what to do. They did everything. If you are a Peppermint Bark newbie like me, here is what you do. Buy two pounds of white chocolate meltaways and two pounds of vanilla chips (or buy all vanilla chips…I just did what the lady in the bulk food section of Winco recommended, but the vanilla ones taste a gob better). Buy 60 peppermint candies. Turn on some Christmas music and unwrap all sixty peppermints. Place them in a thick ziplock bag. Find a hammer in your absolutely filthy garage (or your perfectly clean tool organizer). Go out on the front cement and hammer the mints into smithereens. After the mints are smashed (or at the same time if you have more than one candy maker on the job), put all four pounds of white chocolate in a glass bowl. Place the glass bowl on top of a large pan that has water in it. Make sure your bowl is bigger than your pan and that the water does not touch the bowl. Turn the burner on low to medium and heat up the water…this will heat up the chocolate…which will melt the chocolate. Stir. Stir. Stir. Stir. Stir. Stir. Stir until all the chocolate is melted. Pour the peppermint smithereens into the melted chocolate. Then pour the whole thing into a foil-covered cookie sheet. Put in the fridge for one hour to cool.

Eat. Then eat some more.

2. On Christmas Eve I spent 2 1/2 hours at the local print shop making Gratitude Journals for the special women in my life. Way too long, but totally worth it to make this dream project come true.

3. When I left the print shop, I stopped to get gas and fell in the parking lot. My right foot slipped and because there is not a lot of stability in my hip socket, my leg flew into the air. Then I flew into the air. Then I landed on my head. Hard. Whiplash. Pain. Dizziness. World spinning. Headache. Passing out.

But I am doing a gazillion times better now.

4. Blythe passed three gallstones on the night before Christmas Eve. I cannot even tell you how much pain she was in…writhing and moaning on the floor. Thanks to a priesthood blessing and Richard’s energy work she was able to pass them and recovered quickly.

5. On Christmas Eve we came home to a porch full of presents from some amazing Christmas angels. Their kindness and generosity simply overwhelms me and their gifts are so, so appreciated. I desperately want to know who the angels are so I can wrap my arms around their necks with a big koala bear hug and look in their eyes and tell them “thank you.”

6. Treasured presents were given to me by my friends. Jess gave me a gorgeous framed quilt print, Kat gave me a Mother Necklace made with a nest and four birthstone “eggs” inside for my babies, Jen gave me a lovely Nativity (where Mary is holding Jesus!!!), and Amy gave me a Mary Engelbreit book and all sorts of cool lotions and bath stuff. So, so fun!!!!

7. My brother, Scott, and niece, Andie, came to visit and we had a blast. Mostly we ate a lot of food and played Mastermind and Spades while I laid on the couch covered in ice packs, but somehow those simple things were just what we needed.

8. One of the grandmas in our ward who likes to love on Annesley brought her over a special Christmas present of homemade suckers. Totally made Annes’ whole day!

9. Our bishop also brought over a present for her. She insisted on making him a present last Sunday and he returned the kindness and brought her a present on Christmas Eve. She is one loved girlie!

10. By two days post-injection I could walk like a normal person. Super exciting!

11. My mama and Easton also came to visit. I wish they could stay for another week! My mama could live with me forever.

12. We sewed 80 handwarmers. It was quite a project for me since I can’t sit. We need to sew about 40 more and are hoping to get them done before Valentine’s Day.

I think I have pictures of ice skating, opening presents, and our birthday dinner for Jesus, so I will upload those and get posts written about those adventures soon.

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year!

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breakfast in bed

Feb 14, 2012 by

breakfast in bed

This is what I woke up to this morning. What a guy!

 

He always has some wonderful trick up his sleeve to let the rest of us know how much he loves us. I should be more like him, as I haven’t given Valentine’s Day any thought and now I have only today to create something special for him.

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Rewind and Move Forward

Dec 31, 2011 by

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.

January

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.

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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.

February

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.

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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.

March

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.

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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

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.

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Our Passover guests

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May

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.

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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!

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June

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

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.

August

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

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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.

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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.

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

September

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

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

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Some attendees

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

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November

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!

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December

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!

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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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