annesley turns 14!

Nov 26, 2021 by

Happy 14th to Annesley! Such a fun day with presents this morning, then I was able to take Esther and Annes to lunch and ice skating. Then we got home to a big surprise – my mama showed up and totally filled all our hearts with JOY! Then cheesecake and games with the whole gang tonight.

This girl has been such a giant ray of sunshine in our lives and we are so grateful she is part of our family. She loves learning, liberty, acting, music, science, inventions, camping, kayaking, laughing, aerial silks, rock climbing, arm wrestling (and winning the boys), snowboarding, and most of all, spending time with her family.

We love her SO much!

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50 things for his 50th

Mar 5, 2020 by

Today is Richard’s 50th birthday. We are not having a big celebration or anything – Carl’s removal is his present, I guess? He is in a lot of pain and last night was as miserable as can be, but we are planning on having his favorite lemon meringue pie tonight.

In honor of his 50th, I’d like to share 50 fabulous things about him.

  • 1. He is patient with himself and others.
  • 2. He sees the best in others and assumes the best of others’ behavior and intentions.
  • 3. He is devoted to his wife and family.
  • 4. He is an amazing fisherman.
  • 5. He can eat anything. No matter how gross my food turns out, he eats it with a smile and grateful heart.
  • 6. He naturally understands the process of learning and is an amazing teacher.
  • 7. He doesn’t rush others.
  • 8. He is willing to put in the hard work of learning new skills.
  • 9. He gladly sacrifices his own well-being for his family’s.
  • 10. He loves God with his whole soul.
  • 11. He keeps his covenants.
  • 12. He is humble.
  • 13. He warms up my side of the bed so it is toasty when I come into bed.
  • 14. He adores me.
  • 15. He believes in my dreams, big and small.
  • 16. The most important things to him in life are to be a good man, a good husband, and a good father.
  • 17. He has never once raised his voice at me or our children. So incredible!
  • 18. He takes our children backpacking and teaches them how to survive in the wilderness.
  • 19. He was pretty much terrified of speaking to others until his mission. But he trusted God to help him and God gave him the words to say and changed him into someone who could talk to others. Now he has difficult conversations with distraught parents and frustrated teachers every single day.
  • 20. He spends every Wednesday night with his dad helping him in the garage with whatever project they are currently working on.
  • 21. He loves his parents and siblings.
  • 22. He loves when I read to him.
  • 23. For most of our marriage he has worked 60-90 hour weeks.
  • 24. He listens to our children’s emotional upsets and is able to help them work through whatever ails them.
  • 25. He cleans up all the throw up in our house.
  • 26. His best therapy is walking a mountain stream with a fishing pole in his hand.
  • 27. He wasn’t naturally good at baseball, but he wanted to play so much that he put in hours and hours and hours of extra practice time so he could compete with the other boys.
  • 28. He loves physics. One of his dreams is to get a PhD in physics.
  • 29. He has helped thousands of children and families with autism live more functional, productive, happier lives.
  • 30. He is really, really good at understanding what children need to help them succeed.
  • 31. He sees potential in everything, broken cars, homes, and most importantly, people.
  • 32. He knows what can be done to fix those broken things.
  • 33. He can laugh at himself.
  • 34. He cooks all of our Sunday dinners. And many of our other dinners as well.
  • 35. He likes to serve me breakfast in bed on Sundays.
  • 36. He makes the best red potato-garlic mashed potatoes.
  • 37. He loves hard labor like chopping wood, breaking down walls, and hoisting engines.
  • 38. He loves babies. Pretty much all of them. And definitely all of ours. Between our living children and the ones we’ve lost there are seventeen and he tears up over those precious thirteen often.
  • 39. He regularly stops to help people on the side of the road.
  • 40. He forgives easily.
  • 41. He loves watching his children do anything that is important to them.
  • 42. He is gentle.
  • 43. He is kind.
  • 44. He is grateful for any kindness done to him or for his family.
  • 45. He is honest.
  • 46. He loves camping with his family in a tent in the middle of nowhere. The more rustic, the better.
  • 47. He gets up day after day going to a job that doesn’t pay much and is full of really hard things because he knows God wants him to do it.
  • 48. He is adaptable. Whatever life throws at him, he figures out how to work with it and does it with a smile.
  • 49. He has great courage to overcome his weaknesses.
  • 50. He loves all of his grandparents and was especially close to his Grandma Stella who he shared a birthday with. She always brought over a creamy fruit salad for just her and Richard to share. Today she would have been 113. With the loss of our little Stella, we are both thinking of Grandma Stella and little Stella a lot today.

He’s always wanted to live to be 100. Here’s to halfway! So glad he’s made it this far!

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on turning ten

Nov 25, 2017 by

It is the night before my last child’s tenth birthday.

I am sitting here eating leftover pumpkin pie, watching Keziah, Dallin, Fisher, and Annesley play Egyptian Ratscrew and laughing their heads off.

And the tears keep spilling out of my eyes.

This darling girl has been such a gift to our family. Such a gift to my heart. Such a gift to this world. And she is growing up.

Ten has always felt huge to me. I remember when Blythe, my firstborn, turned ten. It seemed so old to me. Past the halfway mark to eighteen. On the countdown side till she would grow up and leave our home.

We have been through this tenth birthday with Keziah and Fisher and it has been hard each time.

But not this hard.

Now my baby, my last precious baby, is turning ten. And my heart hurts so much.

Our cuddling days are numbered. I know I can always hug her, but having three older kiddos has shown me there is a natural end to the daily snuggles that young children so freely give…and that we all need so much.

The pain of saying goodbye to my mothering-the-babies days feels monumental. The tears won’t stop and the ache won’t go away.

Tonight I will hold her and rub her back one last time as a nine year old. I will tell her her birth story and listen to her prayers. And then, I will say goodbye to an era. Twenty-one years is a long time to have small children in our home…and yet, it has gone far too fast.

Annesley Aliyah, I love you baby girl.

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annes is 9!

Nov 26, 2016 by

It feels like a gazillion years since my baby was born nine years ago. It also feels like it was such a short time ago that I held her in my arms for the first time. Surreal.

My entire life has changed since she was born. Our family has grown up. There are no more diapers, kids needing help getting dressed, bathed, or fed. There are no more board books, burping, or putting on their shoes for them. They are all big and capable and my role as mother has changed from caretaker of physical things to nurturer of the soul (and let me tell you, soul caretaking is hard for me).

I remember so clearly the fear and faith that surrounded her pregnancy and the joy that came with her birth. She looked at me with her big blue eyes and told me, “It’s gonna be okay.”

And you know what? It has been. The past nine years have been full of incredible challenges, immense mountains of love, poignantly tender miracles, and so many experiences I would never have chosen, but am grateful to have learned from.

Annesley has never had the privilege of having her papa have a schedule where he can spend lots of time with her as he has worked long hours six days a week her entire life until this fall. She doesn’t remember her mama not being sick or broken because the breast lump happened when she was 3 1/2 and right after recovering from that is when the EDS challenges began in earnest. She has had to face hard stuff and she has done it with laughter, love, and light. Annesley’s spirit is huge. She spreads joy everywhere she goes with her big smile and loving heart. We adore her to Pluto and back.

She has been totally in love with Leonardo da Vinci and inventions for months, so her birthday book this year is Cleonardo, The Little Inventor. It is a darling story of Leonardo’s granddaughter and her awesome invention.


She is still in love with Adventures in Odyssey, fishing, hiking, music of all kinds, playing the piano, drawing, soccer, football, baseball, and Irish Step-Dancing. Her dreams are big and she has endless confidence that she can do anything she sets her mind on. She recently was able to go on a date with her papa to an Irish performance and loved every minute of it. She couldn’t help but dance in the lobby during intermission and I was told she put on the quite the show!

This morning she opened her presents – a tackle box, her first set of Prismacolors, and a doodle book. Keziah and Dallin took her ice skating this afternoon and tonight we will enjoy her ice cream cake creation – Mint Oreos, a layer of chocolate ice cream, and a layer of Breyer’s Mint Ice Cream. She has been planning it for months.

Miss Annes reminds me so much of myself. She looks just like me, has oodles of interests, and is full of zest and sass and sparkles of happiness. She has adopted most of the elderly people in our church congregation. She makes them cards, takes them presents, and loves to go over to visit. They shower her with love right back.

Here are some pics from the last year of her life.

Christmas Jammies from Grandma Dorothy – Star Wars!


Snowboarding for Homeschool Ski Days


Annesley is so excited to be in plays like her big sisters some day. Keziah’s January play was so fun!


Provo City Center Temple Open House in February


Liberty Girls Icicle Finding


Liberty Girls Fancy Tea Party for Purim


Going to General Conference with her dear friend, Olivia and big sister, Keziah.



Scheel’s aquarium on the General Conference trip.


Playing the piano and singing at the top of her lungs.


Swim Camp 2016 – What a great way to kick off the summer!



Rock Climbing with friends – she’s a natural!


Smith Reunion and visiting Grandma’s and Grandpa’s graves.


Reading The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic – our summer read-aloud. Snuggling up and reading for hours was our favorite way to spend the morning hours this summer.


Camping, hiking, fishing and snakes galore. Oh, how she loves the outdoors!





Daddy-Daughter Date with her papa at church.




Fisher’s Birthday Hike at Cave Falls



Our first ever family bike ride since I was injured in 2012. I rode my Elliptigo and everyone else was on bikes. I only made it about a mile, but let me tell you, it was glorious!


Climbing trees at Fairy Land – our favorite spot at the greenbelt.


End of Summer Party at Lava – speed slides are the best!


Her new Irish Step-Dancing Class – yes, she is the youngest and smallest! She loves it! She hardly walks anymore and prefers to do one-two-threes everywhere she goes.


Cousins holding hands at the Star Valley Temple Open House in September.


Thanksgiving sledding with cousins, Easton and Oaklyn.





Last hugs before we came home yesterday.



We are so, so grateful for this girl that God sent us at what seemed like the worst time. We need her sunshine! It is so much fun being her mama! She has had a wonderful year learning and laughing and having fun. May she have many more happy, happy birthdays.

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annes is 8!

Nov 28, 2015 by

Miss Annesley is 8! This spunky, courageous, full-of-life girl turned eight on Thanksgiving Day. It doesn’t seem possible that it has been eight years since I gave birth to her in our birth pool in our bathroom. What a glorious birth it was!

Now she is a grown-up little girl – she is quite the pancake and waffle maker and she has recently learned how to make omelets all by herself. Her face is changing and looking older, the baby cheeks are gone, and her body is getting long and lanky (at least lanky for our house of short people!). Thank goodness she still likes snuggling with her papa and she still comes in to my bed every morning for a back rub and quiet morning conversation between just the two of us.

Right now her favorite books are Little House on the Prairie, Understood Betsy, and The Wingfeather Saga. She loves to listen to Adventures in Odyssey as she goes to sleep at night. Her favorite hymns are “Come, Come Ye Saints” and “Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing” and her favorite Primary songs are “Book of Mormon Stories, “Holding Hands Around The World”, and “I Like To Look For Rainbows.” Her favorite foods are pizza, pasta, peaches, avocados, carrots, celery, and smoothies. She says her favorite things to do are cooking, playing with Charlie, ice skating, sledding, playing the violin, piano, and recorder, math, and having fun.

Her birthday book this year is In My Heart: A Book of Feelings which is a delightful book about different feelings we have…joy, fear, anger, sadness, bravery, happiness, thankfulness…and how they impact our lives. It normalizes the experience of having feelings and I am hoping will help Annesley as she navigates her way through some pretty big feelings.


She got her very own CD player! We are pretty big audio book fans and she has been dreaming of having her own for a long time so she doesn’t have to beg, borrow (and not steal!) from her siblings for some CD time. This is the same Sony CD/Cassette with Aux-In we gave Fisher last year for his birthday. It has held up flawlessly for the past year so we decided having another one in the home was a great idea for family peace. During the afternoons, they both like to do art projects or build Legos while they are listening to a story…but they often want different stories or want to be in different parts of the house…so having one for each of them is a fantastic idea.


When our children turn eight, they are given a knife…IF they have proven themselves to be trustworthy and we believe they will not cause harm or threaten harm with it. It is a pretty big deal around here. As the youngest, Annesley has known getting a knife was a possibility, but not a guarantee, because she remembers when Fisher got his knife and she has heard all the stories of how Keziah did NOT get hers at the age of eight. She also knows she can have it taken away if she is mean, threatening, or does not take care of it.


Grandma Dorothy gave her her two favorite movies, Dolphin Tale 1 and 2. Such delight! She spun and shrieked with joy. Definitely the winner of the present adoration.


After all the Thanksgiving meal preps, eating, cleaning up, and obligatory napping, she decided sledding with her Papa was exactly what she wanted to celebrate her birthday. Fisher ended up joining them for some jaunts down the little hill at the end of our driveway.



Later that night after all the food had digested and we had room in our bellies for more deliciousness we had her birthday cake designed by her with Moosetracks and Chocolate ice cream, Chocolate Oreos smashed on the bottom and making a big 8 on top.


Grandma Dorothy, my brother Scott, Kez, Fisher, Papa, and Miss Annes.


I am so grateful for this girly. She has given me so many gifts and helped me see the world in new ways. Her pregnancy and birth were powerful demonstrations of the miracles of God and how He can heal our bodies even when it is deemed impossible. Her birth helped heal my heart and showed me I was stronger than I knew. Annesley lives life with zest…she is so much like me and loving her has helped me fall in love with my little girl self. Here are some of her adventures from the past year.

Tea party with her friend, Olivia.


Vacuum packing 120 pounds of chicken. She insisted on being the one to pick up the chicken and put it in each bag. That is the most disgusting part of the job so we happily let her take that job.


Making butter at Liberty Girls. These girls are so much fun!


Picking Honeycrisp Apples…yummy!



Saying goodbye to Blythe.


Driving away from the MTC with some big tears.


Heap of cuteness before our “real” family photo shoot.


And our “real” family photos.



Hiking with her siblings and Grandpa Barry and Cherie.


Heading out on her 8-year-old hike. Back when Blythe and Andie were turning 8, we started a tradition of Richard taking the almost 8 year old on an overnight backpacking adventure. Since our children turn 8 in August, September, and beginning of October, it seemed like a good plan. Annesley’s birthday at the end of October means she was our youngest hiker when she went on her hike back in August, but she was a trooper and hiked the whole way.



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Swinging on the rope swing at Green River Lakes with Teryn.



Camping for 17 days at Green River Lakes…this is the life!


With her 3rd cousin, Jared, bug lovers and dear friends.


At the Splash Park.


Swimming with Olivia


One of our last days at the lake before the cold weather set in.


Learning about different cultures through dance.



Making Fried Rice with her protective goggles from the onion fumes…cracks me up!


Swim Camp adventures and saying goodbye to her dear friend, Paige, before she moved to Connecticut.



Searching for frogs at our family reunion in Wyoming.


Playing soccer at Paula’s and Cameron’s neighborhood soccer league.


Going to The Little Mermaid play at Hale Centre Theatre…she LOVED it!


Playing with one her dearest friends who moved away…yippee for visits!


Snake joy.

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Climbing trees in our backyard. She loves climbing all the way to the top and hanging out there with her thoughts.


One of her many clay creations.


Waiting for her dentist appointment…love this picture of her and her cute little braids.


Reading Little House on the Prairie with her Mama. We need to finish the rest of the series!


Happy Birthday Annesley Aliyah…may you know how much we love you and how much God loves you.

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Oct 3, 2015 by


Miss Keziah turned 15 today! Last night I was up at 12:36 (the time she was born) working on a family newsletter. The house was dark and quiet. Richard was snoring on the couch as he waited for our sheets to finish drying. Everyone else was sound asleep and I was able to have a few minutes to think. I don’t know if all mothers do this, but I replay my children’s births in my mind on the anniversary of those births.

I went into last night feeling a bit less than. A bit like I am not measuring up. A bit like I am not giving my family my best and even if I am, my best is simply not sufficient – chores and meals and patience are so incredibly challenging for me even when I am on top of my game, and let’s face it, I am not on top of my game. Often when I feel like that, I push people away instead of draw them in. And so, even though I hadn’t done anything very prickly, I was feeling grumpy inside.

And then midnight rolled around. And I started to remember that middle of the night labor so many years ago. And my heart welled up with so much gratitude for my Richard and our Keziah and what an amazing girlie we created together and have raised together. I thought about how he pushed on my back and whispered in my ear and filled the birth pool and was a rock of strength and courage and love. I thought about how quickly she burst upon the scene and how he stayed calm. I thought about how good he is and how blessed I am to have such a kind, patient person to be my companion and how blessed Keziah is to have him for a papa.

And I stopped working on the newsletter just moments before her birth anniversary and went upstairs to hold him in my arms at the moment our amazing girlie was born and tell him “Thank you.” For everything. And I cried.

This morning we opened her presents and laughed with this hilarious girl who is so full of vim and vigor. Yes, some of the pics are blurry…shrieking with delight does that.

Fifth book in the Michael Vey series.



Piles of pancake mixes for birthday dream of eating pancakes for breakfast, french toast for lunch, and waffles for dinner.


The Cinderella movie she has been dying to own.



Her birthday book this year is What Do You Do With An Idea? You feed it and grow it and let it soar! Keziah is full of good ideas and I want her to know we believe in her ability to turn those ideas into reality.


This girl, oh my, this girl. Kez is one of my favorite people. It is quite fortunate that I am her mother and get to spend oodles of time with her. She is full to the brim with awesomeness. She works faster and harder than anyone I know, she is smart as a whip, tough as nails, beautiful, determined, and kick-butt hilarious. We love her to Pluto and back. She has excellent taste in movies, fantastic fashion sense, works and plays equally hard, and makes me laugh hard every single day. She still doesn’t wear make-up as it takes too much time, has lovely, thick beautiful tresses, and is surrounded by gobs of friends who love her. She recently purchased a bike with some of her summer earnings…a real bike…from a bike shop…so she can work on building her leg muscles and possibly start running again next year (she has been battling a knee injury due to hypermobility for over a year) and I love watching her cycle away down our road. This girl is so full of determination and awesome sauce, it is my job to simply love her as she grows and matures into a young woman ready to take on the world. She makes her school/work/play schedule up every week and then she does it. I don’t have to remind her or nag or wake her up or anything. She goes and does what she sets out to do.

Oh, how I love her!

Here are some pics of her over the last year.

One of my favorite pictures of her…she looks so sweet and innocent.


Being crowned Emperess in her Shakespeare class. She had to do a ton of work to earn this award – vocabulary, memorizing soliloquy, writing papers, AND reading, watching, or listening to 47 of Shakespeare’s plays and other writings.


As Puck in her Shakespeare group’s performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.



A big group of her friends all got ready together for the Homeschool Prom back in April. She is the one on the far right in the front in the white dress.


After the Prom and back home with her big sister.


Love this pic of the girls sticking their heads through an inner tube on their way to float the river on the 4th of July. The whole Suburban was full of tubes and towels and food and people and the only way I could get a pic was to have them bend way down and look through the opening. I think it is my favorite pic of these two precious girls of ours.


Fancy hair while camping. Andie did everyone’s hair most of the days we were there and since Keziah’s is the longest and thickest, it is the most fun to work with. Behold Andie’s creation.




Hiking with Blythe and her cousins from Tami’s clan.


She is a pro at making silly faces. She was disgusted with something gross while we were camping.





Swimming with her bestie, Courtney, big sister, Blythe, and dear friend, Emily.



At Blythe’s mission farewell with lots of friends…and one of her signature silly faces.


My dad came out for Blythe’s mission farewell and stayed for a few days to visit. He took the kids on a hike up to a really awesome cave.




Playing Ticket To Ride for one last time before Blythe left and showing off her squeezable water bottle that she is so in love with.


All of our kiddos being silly before our real family photo shoot.


The real family photo of all our cute kiddos.


Miss Keziah, Happy Birthday! Thank you for being such force for good in this world!

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miss kez turns 14

Oct 6, 2014 by

miss kez turns 14

Miss Keziah celebrated her 14th birthday in style. She is pretty tired of our simple birthday celebrations and decided to take matters into her own hands. She spent all afternoon and evening on Thursday blowing up hundreds of balloons and hanging up streamers. Then she insisted we all wake up at 12:36 to open her presents at the exact time she was born. Although we didn’t get much sleep that night it was totally worth it to make her dreams come true.



This girl is such a delight to me. Since the night she was born, she has been passionate and full of vigor and vim. When she was little, her temper tantrums were intense and long-lasting and often more than we thought we could handle, but her fierce determination has grown into a great work ethic and we as parents just need to support her in helping her achieve her long list of goals.

She is a huge Michael Vey fan and since the new book just came out, we gave her book four, Hunt For Jade Dragon.


She has been asking for a new CTR ring so Richard made her a giant cardboard ring.


She also loves highlighters, so a new pack of fancy retractable ones showed up for her birthday.


Her birthday book this year is Girls Who Choose God which is so fabulous I need to do a whole post about its awesomeness, but let me tell you, it is so, so lovely and everyone needs to buy a gazillion copies.


Keziah is a list maker extreme – She has entire notebooks of packing lists, song lists, book lists, future dog name lists (for her 47 dogs she is going to eventually have), she even makes lists of lists – so when I saw this list making notebook at TJ Maxx a few months ago I snatched it up to save for her birthday.


But her big present, the present she has been hoping and praying for for years is a second dog. We have told her at least a thousand times, “We are a ONE dog family!” but she has continued to beg and plead and search for another dog. Well, about a year ago, I started looking for a dog for her. It had to be a well-behaved dog that all of us, even the non-dog-lovers, could live with and not lose our minds. It had to be young enough to be Keziah’s running partner, but not so young that we would have to endure an endless puppy/toddler stage of accidents, jumping, chewing, barking, etc.

A few weeks ago we found what we hoped was the right dog. She was down in Utah so we made arrangements to pick her up on our trip down for General Conference. Last night we picked Harley up from her adorable family and made the long and squishy drive home with our new family member. Keziah has renamed her Charley (from her list of future dog names!) and is thrilled to pieces to have a dog that loves to play fetch, go running, and has plenty of energy to keep up with her.


Sadie wasn’t so sure she liked this new addition when she met her in the middle of the night. But we worked with both of them and by this afternoon they were getting along quite well. A trip to the lake for a family walk helped Sadie accept her as one of the clan.



Charley pulls on her leash too much for Miss Annesley’s muscle strength, but Sadie is a perfect running partner for her.



Charley loves the water and it seems will swim for sticks all day.



We hope this first walk together is the first of many happy days at the lake.


Happy, happy birthday Miss Kez!

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i should’ve bought stock in puffs plus

Sep 21, 2014 by

Yes, it has been a week since I last took the time to write. Goodness gracious, this has been a bat crazy week. I went into it having not slept a wink for days. My bad dreams and the fear of having them has kept me tossing and turning for weeks now and last weekend really did me in in the no sleep department.

I have been having hair woes for a few weeks. My last haircut was back in June and my locks desperately needed some attention. My sister decided she would come to my rescue and come to visit me on Tuesday-Friday. Hallelujah! But also, CRAP. Where to put her? Which of my children’s rooms could possibly work for her and her two little ones who are busy, active toddlers? We have completely moved out of those stages and my children’s rooms are full of their creations, projects, pets, and who knows what else. There isn’t really a good place to put a mama with two little ones in my house.

My sister also brought my mom – WAHOO! But again, where on earth shall I put her to sleep? She recently had knee surgery after slipping on a log on our camping trip. She broke her tibia and tore a dime sized piece of meniscus. I knew she would need to be on the main floor and the only beds there are mine and Blythe’s. Blythe’s wasn’t an option as it is too high off the ground AND it is currently in a state of disaster. So I decided she would have to sleep in my bed with me.

Sunday night my cousin Tami decided to come and visit. I think she was worried about me and my ridiculous lack of sleep and thought she would come show me some love. Which is super lovely. But also, where would I put her? And how would I find any time to see her when my current homeschooling schedule is pretty jam-packed?

All these visitors and challenges of sleeping arrangements were a tad stressful and I had to quickly figure out some solutions. I tried my best, but in the end Mikelle’s accommodations in the sewing room were FAR less than desirable and she didn’t get much sleep while she was here. My mom didn’t go for the idea of sleeping with me and ended up sleeping on the couch. And poor Tami stayed here one night and then left to find better accommodations at Kat’s.

I ended up abandoning my schedule almost completely and spending some much needed time with all of them. I wasn’t as prepared as I normally am for Worldviews and my children didn’t have their normal homeschooling days, but we got lots of haircuts done, ate delicious food, and had some good chats.

And then I got sick. Sicker than I have been in a long, long time. I could be wrong, but I don’t think I have been sick since the gnomes visited my intestinal tract back in 2011. This sick started with allergy like symptoms and I thought that was what it was. But when I laid down Wednesday night, my lymph glands swelled to enormous sizes, my ears and head started throbbing, and my lungs filled up with fluid. I have now been in bed coughing for four days straight and SO ready to move on. The mucous coming out of me makes me gag and my nose is full of ugly, painful fever blisters that make me look like I have a pig’s snout.


Yes, this is a picture of me in my current state of pig snoutishness. It is awful and I am more than a bit mortified to share it with you.

I currently have a small mountain of tissues (Puffs Plus, of course. They are the ONLY tissues worth anything.) on my bed and a throw up bowl nearby to spit out the mucous that keeps shooting up from my lungs. Gross, I know.


Oh my. What I wouldn’t give to wave a magic wand and make this all go away.

Thursday was my little boy’s tenth birthday. I was not even functioning that day. I am so grateful Mikelle and my mom were here to take him to the lake and give him some lovin’ because I was out of completely out of commission. Trying to raise my head felt like heaving bowling ball in the air with fishing line and just the simple act of breathing became a task laden with serious effort. I am so, so sad to have not been able to celebrate with him and make it a special day. When I am feeling better, the two of us need to go on a belated birthday date.

I think the lack of sleep, the deep emotional pain I am in right now with these dreams, and the sadness I have been feeling over the car accident ten years ago, all contributed to my body’s takeover by bacteria. This is some nasty stuff and I hope Mikelle, her kiddos, my mom, and Tami don’t get it.

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four bucks for ainsley

May 11, 2014 by

four bucks for ainsley


Ainsley Smedley is one of the recipients of my Four Bucks to Change The World campaign to celebrate my 40th birthday.


Ainsley is the daughter of my cousin Jenny. Jenny is really my second cousin, but in my family we are close-knit. I grew up attending a big reunion every summer with all my second cousins and third cousins and thought of them all as first cousins. Tami, my dear, dear friend, is actually one of those second cousins as well. Jenny’s dad, Winn, was always one of my favorites – he would play with the young kids as if he were one of the gang.

Jenny and Bryan, are the parents of five children, Meili-10, Rhyan-9, Ava-7, Ainsley-5, and Hudson, born about 6 weeks before Ainsley’s diagnosis, is now 1.

Aren’t they the cutest thing ever?

smedley-1 copy

I remember the first week of Ainsley’s diagnosis of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and reading this post from Bryan, her daddy. It broke my heart that within a few short days their entire world had been turned upside down. Ainsley had just turned four years old and started having bruises appear on her legs. Jenny was concerned about another issue altogether – constipation – and was able to get her into the doctor just a few days later. Those bruises started spreading and her lymph glands swelled up. The next day, the doctor called and said he was fairly certain Ainsley had leukemia and needed to be admitted to the Children’s Hospital that very day. By the end of that week, Ainsley underwent surgery, had a chemo port put in, and started on the 2 1/2 year chemotherapy regimen. Can you even imagine your world changing that much from Tuesday to Friday? Add in a 6 week old to boot and a dad in medical residency and you’ve got the makings of one rough ride.

But the Smedleys have stuck together. They have learned to love and serve and sacrifice for one another in beautiful, heartbreaking ways. Last Mother’s Day, Jenny shaved her head when Ainsley’s beautiful red locks fell out in clumps.


They have sold Ainsley’s Army bracelets, made sure to laugh as much as possible, and have nurtured their faith in God’s miracles.

Since that fateful week in February 2013, Ainsley has been fighting with all she’s got. She is sassy, determined, and has more oomph than I can imagine. She has hollered at nurses one minute and thanked them the next. She is full of love and spice and just the right blend of humor. The Smedleys have a favorite phrase, “Cancer picked the wrong girl!” and Ainsley likes to finish it by saying “I’m gonna kick its butt!”

Cancer has changed their family forever, as it does everyone who faces it. The three girls have had to grow up quickly, baby Hudson has had a far different babyhood than his four older siblings – he’s been well-loved, but has had to get used to lots of different situations and helpers, and everyone has had to learn to survive on much less sleep. They have dealt with endless doctor’s appointments, puking children, lumbar punctures, steroid rage, five little children needing more time and attention than is humanly possible to provide when one of them has cancer, and so much more. They have also been surrounded with supportive family and friends who have walked this journey with them.

Bryan is often the one who writes the blog updates on Ainsley’s condition and I have come to love him through his words of pain, heartache, faith, and hope. Here is one of his posts and here is another one that show you the caliber of man he is.

I love this picture of Jenny and Ainsley! They both have some spunk!


Living in the land of make-believe and dress-ups are some of Ainsley’s favorite things.


Look at all that hair growing back in!


I haven’t seen Jenny for years, but I have always loved her parents and siblings and now, through the sharing of their journey through cancer, I have fallen head over heels in love with her husband, children, and especially Ainsley. My little Annesley is just one year older, has nearly the same name, and has the same zest for living, passionate emotions, and courage that Ainsley is kickin’ cancer with. I often hold my Annes a little closer and snuggle her a little longer because of what her cousin Ainsley is going through.


Let’s all chip in our $4.00 to help them with the medical bills that are piling up! If we each do a little and spread the word to help others do a little, we can make a big difference in their lives! Click here or go to to give Ainsley four bucks today.

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four bucks for dando amor

May 11, 2014 by

four bucks for dando amor


Dando Amor is one of the recipients in my 40th birthday celebration, Four Bucks To Change The World. Dando Amor is a local Idaho organization whose mission is giving love.


Dando Amor is a non-profit charity dedicated to blessing the lives of children throughout the world. Serving in Ecuador, Burkina Faso, and Haiti, Dando Amor takes regular service trips to all three countries. All are invited to join the Dando Amor team, whether on a mission trip, or helping fundraise at home, volunteers are always needed.


Dando Amor was founded by Travis and Jennie Gugelman and Lori Nordstrom. After going to Ecuador on a photography assignment and visiting many orphanages, they realized the orphanages backed by American organizations and businesses were far ahead of those that were not. The children living in orphanages who received funding from outside organizations were healthier, more educated, and happier. So they decided to make a difference by both supporting existing orphanages and starting their very own.


In 2013 Dando Amor opened their own boys’ orphanage in Quito, Ecuador. Boys over the age of twelve are no longer allowed in the normal children’s orphanages – they are seen as a possible risk. Most of them have no where else to go and end up living on the street. Travis, Jennie, and Lori decided to open their own orphanage for these older boys. This was and continues to be a very big undertaking, but the Dando Amor Team knew the time had come and they needed to do something to keep the children they loved off the streets.

We have been donating to Dando Amor for awhile now and are incredibly impressed with how they use their funds to save both lives and hearts. This year we didn’t give Christmas presents to each other and instead sent that money to Dando Amor. Our friends, Jen, Paula, and Lisa, have all gone on Dando Amor service trips with their families and all have been changed forever by the work Dando Amor is doing to Be The Good. My daughter, Blythe, is planning on serving with OSSO or Dando Amor soon. My goal with this Four Bucks Campaign is to help Dando Amor open a girls’ orphanage for the older teenage girls this summer. They need every penny we can send them. Check them out on Facebook or on their website.

Click here to give four bucks to Dando Amor.

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four bucks for maggie

May 11, 2014 by

four bucks for maggie


Maggie is one of the four recipients in my Four Bucks To Change The World project to celebrate my 40th birthday. I have been dear friends with Maggie’s mom, Jodie, for the past 10 years. We have worked together in various education endeavors and spent time in each other’s homes. I love Jodie dearly. She has taught me much about living with purpose, loving deeply, and seeing infinite possibilities in the world and people around us. She is a woman of vision and determination.

Here is their story as told by Jodie:

Maggie was born in the early morning hours of summer. She would be my first, my daughter, and the culmination of a dream I had once thought might never come true. Of course, we anticipated our babymoon would be spent counting her perfect fingers and toes, kissing her little pink body and taking in the scent of that beautiful newborn head.

We were blindsided by the unexpected. When she finally arrived she was non-responsive. Our limp little girl was whisked away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). We felt like deer staring into the headlights of a MAC truck.

Maggie had brain damage. The news came quickly and horribly. Doug and I entered the NICU and saw our tiny baby wired, tubed, and needled. She lay limp, her little lips quivering, and black eyes frighteningly empty. How could this be the rolling ball of life that filled my womb just moments before?


From her very first moments here, we committed to give Maggie everything she needed to blossom. We used music therapy, cranial sacral therapy, homeopathy, brain gym, kangaroo care and good ‘ol breast milk. Surrounded by babies that had been in the NICU for months, those dark eyes quickly filled with life and Maggie was released only three weeks after sustaining a traumatic brain injury.

It’s been seven years since the MAC truck of brain injury hit our family. Maggie’s days have been filled with trillions of hours of feeding, endless trips to therapy sessions and specialist appointments, with little brothers and sister in tow from office to office to office. AND . . . thanks to donors like you, Maggie’s days have also been filled with birthday parties, swimming, hiking, beaches, snowshoeing, horseback riding, biking, movies, playing games, friends, learning to read way earlier than her mom even knew, loving math, freedom in an electric wheelchair, finally sitting up in the bathtub, doing chores, speaking with the iPad, and calling friends on the phone.

What of the next ten years? Well, that’s just the Magic of Maggie. When you’re told that you’ll never be able to walk, or talk, or feed yourself, or have a family of your own then, really, the door of possibilities just swings wide open! Dreams, belief, determination and opportunity are the four pillars of a miracle. Maggie has the dreams, the belief, and the determination. You can help Maggie access opportunity.

Maggie’s Month was inspired to help fund the opportunities Maggie needs for her miracles to happen. The opportunities that your donation will support are:

Eagle Eyes: a program that would allow Maggie to communicate her own thoughts using the movement of her eyes. Here is a video describing this awesome communication system.

The Upsee: A standing mobility system that would allow Maggie to participate in play, work, and learning in ways that she has never been able to before. Here is a video by the mom who invented the Upsee showing how it works.

Horse (Hippo) Therapy: “In riding a horse we borrow freedom.” says Helen Thompson. Hippo therapy has a host of benefits such as strengthening core muscles, relaxing hips, and encouraging better speech therapy results, but more importantly it brings confidence, comfort and joy to the rider, not to mention sweet, sweet freedom. Watch this video to learn more about hippo therapy from the National Ability Center’s Equestrian Program. Here is a Maggie riding her horse – get a tissue, I always cry when I see her on the horse.

Anat Baniel Lessons (ABM): ABM is a method of helping the brain re-pattern and organize itself through specific movement of the body. It has helped individuals develop body function that they previously didn’t have. The sessions are called “lessons” rather than “therapy” and the participants called “students” rather than “patients” because of the learning the brain does during the session. This has become our preferred therapy because of the remarkable results we have seen in Maggie in comparison to the hours and hours we’ve spent in traditional physical and occupational therapy. Here is a video showing the effectiveness of ABM.

Through the gift of her disability, Maggie has become a teacher of love, ability and healing. She has inspired people across the globe to live better and more fully, and to reach out in small and simple ways to make the world a better and sweeter place for all through family philanthropy. She is a bridge builder, a We Sherpa.

We hope that your family will be inspired to provide Maggie the gift of opportunity as she pursues miracles in her life. But even more importantly, we hope Maggie will inspire your family to regularly take up causes of good to support. Regular people, honoring the principle of giving have, do, and will make the greatest impact for good in the world.

Click here to give four bucks to Maggie!

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four bucks for aidan

May 7, 2014 by

four bucks for aidan


Raise your hand to help Aidan! Then jump over to my Four Bucks To Change The World page at and donate your $4.00 to bless Aidan’s life.

I met Aidan and his family a few years ago when God guided me into their lives. I was in the middle of doing a fundraiser for Make It For Maggie and knew in my heart there was a family in our local area we needed to support, but I didn’t know who it was. I kept praying to be guided to the family we were to reach out to and bless. Then God told me about Rachel and Lincoln Lear and their three precious boys.


I called Rachel up out of the blue (here is her beautiful perspective on the whole thing) and told her we wanted to raise money for her boys’ needs. As shocked as she was that a complete stranger was calling her, she graciously accepted my plan to make a difference in the life of her family. We have been dear friends ever since and I count them as one of the great blessings in my life. Aidan teaches me how to love more purely and more deeply. His heart is huge and he shares his love abundantly.




Here is what the Lear’s neighbor, Mary, said about them.

“I believe that some people need challenges and trials in their lives in order to turn their hearts toward God, and I believe that some people agreed to have certain challenges and trials in their lives and praise God through it all in order to turn other people’s heart to Him. Rachel and Lincoln Lear, along with their precious boys are just such people. Rachel and Lincoln are two of the most humble, kind, gracious and self-less people you will ever meet. They have been given tremendous mountains to climb during their journey on this earth. They have been blessed to be the parents of four beautiful boys, one of which is waiting for them in heaven.

Their other three boys have serious health problems. Aidan, the oldest, is 9 years old. He has been diagnosed with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, which is the most severe form of childhood epilepsy. It is extremely rare, with one retrospective study estimating the annual incidence of LGS at 0.002%.

LGS is characterised by daily, multiple seizures of varying types, larger than any other epileptic syndrome. The wide range of seizure types can include Tonic, Myoclonic, Tonic/Clonic, atonic, atypical absence and non-convulsive status seizures. 78% of children with LGS have an underlying cause such as brain lesions, genetic abnormalities, hereditary metabolic disorders, encephilitus, meningitus, brain injury or history of infantile spasms (West Syndrome). In 22% of cases, there is no known cause. A cause has not yet been determined in Aidan’s case.

The onset of seizures usually begins between 2 and 6 years of age, with an average onset of 3 years. Over time the child will have multiple seizures that are resistant to treatment. Multiple anti-convulsant medications are usually needed to decrease the frequency of seizures, but complete seizure control is very unusual.

The combination of multiple medication side effects and multiple daily seizures take their toll on the child and causes a progressive decline in cognitive, physical and social development. The prognosis of these children is very poor. There is no known cure for LGS and a future free from seizures and normal intillectual and/or physical development is exceedingly rare, leading many Neurologists to identify Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome as a catastrophic diagnosis.

Aidan’s health has been declining over the past years and in January of this year, he contracted pnemonia in both lungs. There were many complications due to his already fragile state. He had a tracheotomy done and is now on a permanent ventilator as well as a permanent feeding tube. After over 2 months in the hospital, he was able to come home in March and is currently on hospice care.

The Lear’s second oldest, Jacen is 6 years old. He has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy with a seizure disorder. He has not been diagnosed with LGS, although his behavior and decline in health is mirroring what happened with Aidan.

Their youngest, Damon, is 4 years old. He has been diagnosed with epilepsy.

All three boys have varying degrees of developmental delays and regressions. They also all have a body temperature dysfunction, where they can’t regulate their body temperature so they cannot play outside, or over-exert themselves in anyway. The specialists haven’t fully diagnosed any of the boys, but they do say that they are dealing with a genetic disorder, that all the boys have the same thing and are just at different stages.

On top of it all, their angel mother Rachel, was diagnosed a few years ago with epilepsy herself. So she has her own migraines and seizures with all the side-effects to deal with on top of pouring every ounce of energy she has into caring for her boys and all of their needs.

Despite having more challenges than most people, the Lears are happy, grateful, giving, and positive people. They are most deserving of any and all good that could come their way. They need help buying medical equipment to improve the boys’ quality of life, medical expenses, and possible funeral expenses for dear Aidan.”

An artist painted this picture for Aidan last week – he loves it!


I can’t paint and my body isn’t strong enough to take care of him, but I can still show my love for him by raising money for his needs. I want to make a difference in Aidan’s life and the lives of his family members. Let’s get them the equipment and funding they need so they can focus on living and loving without the huge stress of “how do we pay for this?” hanging over every decision.

Go to to donate today. Then spread this far and wide. Let’s get 40,000 four buck donations.

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May 7, 2014 by



Today is my 40th birthday! For the past five years, I have been looking forward to climbing my favorite mountain to celebrate this momentous occasion, but now that my body is suffering with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, it is not going to happen anytime soon.


Maybe someday when my body is stronger and more capable of doing hard things, I will be able to climb my mountain. But for now, I have to come up with a new way of celebrating. I like to do big things – I thought of having a big party with 40 of my dearest friends. For a teensy moment I thought about what presents I wanted. I finally decided instead of a party or presents, I wanted to do something BIG for the world – something that would actually make a difference in the lives of those around me. I want to climb a tall mountain of goodness.

I have chosen my four favorite families/organizations that need help and am searching for 40,000 (yes, you heard me right, I am shooting for at least 40,000 people) to donate $4.00 to one of these causes. We can do this! We can bless the world with $160,000 for my birthday.

See, I know there is goodness in this world. As my body has fallen apart the past two years, I have been surrounded by love and service and sacrifice and it is time I spread that love far and wide. My donations to any of these four causes, will not make a big difference, but together, we can make a huge impact. We can change the world by joining my $4.00 with your $4.00 and spreading this post all over Facebook, contacting news organizations, and emailing our friends and family members to join with us in being the good in the world.

My Four Favorite Causes

Let’s make this go viral! I am convinced that through many small actions, we can make a HUGE impact. $4.00 is small, almost everyone reading this can donate $4.00, so do it now, and let’s BE THE GOOD!

Go to to donate today and then please, please, please, share this far and wide.

Does anyone have an in with a news organization? Have a big following on twitter? Please help me get this project out to the world. I don’t know 40,000, but we can reach that many if you will help me.

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oh, how he loves us

Dec 15, 2013 by

God is good. He is so, so, kind. He knows exactly what we need and how He can bless each of His children.

I know this. I know it through and through and yet, even though I know it, He still teaches me this beautiful lesson.

Case in point – the story of the clogging shoes.

My Annesley has decided she desperately wants to take a clogging class at iFamily next semester. She has her whole heart set on it and is so stinkin’ cute about it. Well, she needs some clogging shoes to take the class so I told her we would keep our eyes peeled for some shoes…and then I promptly put that on the bottom of my in-my-head-to-do list because I have till the end of January to find them.

Yesterday we went into town and had just a few short minutes to run errands in between other commitments. I decided to go to a store clear on the east side of town to check out their clearance book and toy section for a Christmas service project we have going on, but while I was driving there, I had the thought I should really drive clear over to the west side of town and go to DI, the local thrift store. I had nothing in mind that I needed at DI and really didn’t want to go over there, but I finally decided to go over there and have a quick visit to DI and then go to the library.

We walked in and I noticed the shoe section. I thought, “well, I should look for some new church shoes for Fisher who is growing like a weed right now.” I had no luck on that search, but I did find some clogging shoes! There was one pair in the whole store and they fit Annesley perfectly. They cost a whole $2.00 and have already brought my girlie bucketfuls of joy.

This kind of stuff happens to me all the time. Seriously, all the time. And I am always amazed when it does. It is kind of like God is flashing a bright pink neon sign in my face saying “See, I know what you need. See, I love you. See, you can trust me. See, I will take care of you.”

Today I say, “God, I know you will. I love you. I am learning to trust you. Thank you for teaching me again and again and again.”

I have no idea how much a new pair of clogging shoes is, but I’m sure we could have found enough pennies to buy her some if we couldn’t find some used ones. We are not destitute, we just have a small budget. This situation was not life or death in any way. And yet, He still solved it for me. He worked out all the details and gave us this beautiful blessing, not because everything depended on her getting clogging shoes, but because of His beautiful tender mercy and His desire for me to know that He is in the details of my life.

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growing up

Dec 5, 2013 by

I forgot to mention my little Annes celebrated a birthday last week while we were at Grandma’s. She has jumped from 5 1/2 (what she has been telling everyone for months when they say she is five – “NO! I am five AND A HALF!) to the ripe ol’ age of six.


Oh my goodness.

We opened presents that were hidden all over Grandma’s house. Just wait till you see the blue-haired crocheted doll I found for her! She is darling as can be and Miss Annes loves her and has named her Mar-a-dell. I actually have no idea how to spell it, but that is how she says it…with emphasis on each syllable. She designed a mint chocolate ice cream cake with a giant six made out of Oreos on top.

She has been such a silly kissy, cuddly, snugglebug lately. In the past few weeks, as her warm body has lain against mine, I have been brought to tears quite a few times. My little girl is growing right up and I almost can’t bear it. It looks like I will never be a mother of a five year old again. Or a four year old. Or a three year old. Or a two year old. Or a one year old. Or a tiny precious newborn.

I want to savor these moments that are slipping past me ever so quickly – these long days of reading and teaching and cooking and cleaning and repeating myself five gazillion times. I remember the day Blythe was born in crystal clear clarity. And now I hardly see the girl. She is so busy with her studies and music lessons and performances. It is wonderful to see her blossom and grow into herself as a young adult, but boy howdy, is it hard.

And not just because I know our time with her under our roof is coming to an end…but because I can see what the future holds. All of my little babies are going to grow up and get busy and move on. There isn’t any way around it.

It IS a beautiful thing. Mothering these children has been the work I have dedicated myself to for the past eighteen years. My goal has always been to raise happy, capable, emotionally healthy adults who love God and serve His children.

I just thought it would last longer. I thought I would have babies forever and ever.

And now there are no more babies. And no more toddlers. And no more preschoolers. Good grief, I have graduated out of three whole phases of mothering! I really didn’t see it coming. I somehow thought I would always have a baby on my back, a little one in my bed, and a toddler asserting his independence each moment of the day.

But those days are gone. And it is good, it really is, but it is also bittersweet. I can’t help but cry every time I am shopping for clothes for my children and realize I don’t need to go down the baby and toddler aisles. Sometimes I hold up a little romper and hold it close to my heart trying to remember what my children felt like when they fit into that size.

My little one has been six for over a week and she seems so much older. Bigger. More capable.

All I can do is let her fly and become the person God created her to be.

And cry.

And cheer her on.

p.s. Someday I will find my camera so you can see these little cuties. I lost it the night of the one-inch undoing and am desperately hoping it turns up somewhere!

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grl 2013

Aug 16, 2013 by

grl 2013

Snuggling with grandma in the hammock is the perfect way to spend an afternoon, don’t you think?


Sixteen days of being completely cut off from phones, computers, stores, and busy-ness was exactly what I needed. I was able to lounge around in my magic zero-gravity chair, read six whole books, do a lot of thinking, pondering, and planning, and spend oodles of time with my husband, children, siblings, and mama.


My mom and I and three of my children went up five days before anyone else and we had a grand time relaxing, eating simple meals, letting the kids play in the lake all they wanted, and getting an afternoon rain shower every day. At night we all slept together in my tent because my mom’s tent poles didn’t make it to camp with her.

Here is our dishwashing station.


And here is my tent on one of the less messy days.



On one of the first few days we had quite a bit of rain around dinner time. We all hunkered down in the tent hoping it would stop soon and we could go out and make dinner, but it never stopped and our stomachs were growling, so we covered up in all our rain gear and made dinner. I didn’t want to get my boot wet, so I put Richard’s huge rainpants on and tried to make an umbrella over the boot with the pant legs…it was more than hilarious looking.


Fisher all bundled up for dinner.


Finally the rain stopped and he took his hood off.


Then the family started arriving, a different group almost every day. Scott on Wednesday, Richard and Keziah on Thursday, Mikelle and Logan’s family on Friday, Andie on Saturday, Cameron and Nicole on Monday, Stephen on Tuesday, and Leonard on Thursday. Thursday was the only day we were all there at the same time so we rushed down to the lake to take some pictures before a rain storm hit. There were several cameras snapping at the same time, so we are rarely all looking at the same camera, but we still got some fun shots. The last time we were all together was Summer 2009, so this is a pretty rare event and needed to be recorded for posterity, ha-ha.

All the grandkids in our fancy pyramid pose. It took approximately fifty pictures to get one where most of them were looking at the same camera. The poor girls on the bottom were dying by the time we took the little ones off.


Trying to get Annesley to stop posing for our family shot.


Fisher looking backwards while the rest of us look at the camera…completely typical.


Finally one where we are all facing the camera and looking somewhat normal.


Then we thought we would get creative…hilarity ensued.


The Three Muskateers


I don’t know if I was falling over or what, but we sure look like we are living through an earthquake. Good thing my little sis is super-buff and could hold me up.


Then we decided to get a bit crazy with Mom’s picture of herself with her children. Why not toss her up in the air against her loudly voiced protestations…I mean there are five of us, we can do what we want, right?


Mom and Grandpa Leonard with all the grandchildren.


And finally all seventeen of us together.


My Aunt Carol’s family and my Aunt Diane (Camille’s mom) came with cousins to play with, but we didn’t get many pictures of them.

My little family went on an overnighter backpacking trip, sans Annesley and I. I think they went 10-12 miles. Fisher walked the whole way and didn’t complain a bit. He and his papa are already planning their next backpacking adventure. Here they are setting out.




Love this boy…he doesn’t stop looking at me until he is past the tree. He felt so bad to leave me at camp far away from their fun.


One final wave.


Making a loaf of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches is pretty much a daily camping occurence.


Of course, we spent a lot of time kayaking, canoeing, swimming, and jumping off the bridge. We had kayak races around the island which Scott won with a time of 54 seconds. Logan came in second with 56 sec., Mikelle third with 1:03, and me fourth with 1:05. My legs may not work, but my arms still have a little umph left in them.

Nicole learning how to kayak.


Cameron and Nicole kayaking out to the lake.


Annesley loves to ride on the back of the kayaks…so far she hasn’t fallen off!




Here is cousin Marcus in one of our kayaks.


Blythe, Annesley, and Fisher out on the lake.


Annesley jumped off the bridge all by herself this year! Usually someone holds her over the edge and drops her, but this year she mustered up her courage and jumped herself! Cameron, Eve, Samuel, Marcus, Scott, Logan, Caleb, Blythe, Andie, and Keziah all jumped as well. It is an annual feat of courage that we have to keep doing over and over again to prove we are still made of toughness. Unfortunately I didn’t jump. I promised Richard I wouldn’t and I kept my promise even though I really, really wanted to break it.

Keziah jumping.



Cameron’s splash into the river.


I have no idea what my mama is thinking. It seems like every year she does some pull-up-the-shorts-to-the-sternum-pose and makes us all laugh our heads off. I think this year was the best yet.



We played lots of card games, laid in the sun (I have my darkest tan of my life!), and read and read and read. Here is Miss Oaklyn snuggled up in her daddy’s jacket watching us play cards.


Lots of fish were caught and returned to the river and a few were brought back to camp to be eaten devoured. One night Annesley skunked everyone and she was proud as punch to be the only one to catch one.





Mikelle and Andie kept up their workout schedule and ran around the campground. Here is Mikelle at the top of the hill.


One day Scott planned a big adventure and took everyone to Clear Creek Meadow. Some of the group kayaked across the lake, others canoed, and the ones that were left hiked the three-ish miles to get to the tranquil waters of Clear Creek. They fished, floated the very lazy river, found hundreds of caterpillars, got attacked by a rash & swelling inducing plant, and had a great time. I stayed at camp and finished Perelandra.

Setting out.


Here is Fisher heading out for the adventure with his bug jar in case he found anything interesting. Luckily Annesley discovered the huge pile of caterpillars and he was able to fill his jar up. They are now in their cocoons and getting ready to emerge as butterflies.


My little brother, Cameron, came clear out from Wisconsin, and he brought his sweetie, Nicole, with him.

Cam and Mom.


Cameron and Nicole


They brought their Pudgie Pie Makers with them (I had never heard of these things, but boy, howdy do they transform egg sandwiches into something divine!) and spent a whole evening make the whole group Campfire Calzones, Roasted Chicken Salad sandwiches, and all sorts of other crazy sandwich combinations. I definitely need to get me one of them so I can eat the magical egg sandwiches all year long.


Cooking in the fire, two sandwiches at a time, for our big group took awhile, but it was sure delicious.


My Campfire Calzone (named by Andie after she thought Pizza Pie Thingy was too boring).


Mikelle and her two babes.


Oaklyn has us all wrapped around her little finger. She is so, so busy. So, so cute. She makes me grin with delight.





Easton is a hoot. He has a huge vocabulary and loves to share his thoughts on everything. He wants to be big and do everything the big kids do. Here he is trying to break the wood in half (notice the headlamp?).


He and Annes get along pretty well, but sometimes they drive each other crazy and need some alone time. Luckily, we caught a few pictures of them having a ball together.



One day all the girls washed their hair and we had a braiding party.



A few days later, the curls were lovely.


Foot washing is even more important than hair washing. Here is Annesley having one of her many dirt removal sessions while Blythe and Andie are disgusted with how dirty the water is from Annesley’s – they refuse to put their feet in it.


Annes and Grandma soaking the layers of filth away.



I made it through six books while my family went on their adventures, but thanks to my mom delivering me right down to the water’s edge, I was able to go on several adventures myself. My mom and I went kayaking one day and then Mikelle and I went a few days later looking for my hikers to come home. I love kayaking. I love how easily they glide through the water, how strong I feel as I paddle, and how I can stop and let the waves take me where they want me while I relax and stare at my mountains. I think I am ready for own kayak that I don’t have to share with my children. If the lower half of my body is going to continue being so gimpy, I can at least use my upper half to see the world.

Reading in my chair – I think this is book five.


Fisher learned how to play Spades and now he wants to play it everyday. He even won one game by a landslide – taking nine tricks on one of the rounds helped him out quite bit.

We celebrated Blythe and Andie’s 17th birthdays with cakes, presents, memories of their lives, and lots of fun.

The girls’ Charlie’s Angels pose.


Blythe’s cake complete with baby Snickers.



Eating the cake…yes, they are goofballs.



Searching all over camp for her hidden presents. Is there one in the wood pile?


Richard was in charge of presents this year because I couldn’t go do any shopping with my broken foot. He thought throwing knives were the perfect idea…super cheap AND our girlie loves all sorts of weapons. They were put to good use by Blythe and all the guys of the camp.


More knives.


Andie just got home from a trip to Nepal. She brought these adorable gloves home for Blythe. I can see Blythe copying the design and whipping up a pile of them for her friends.


Camping wrapping paper = a hat, rubberband, and a flower for decoration.


Andie’s cake complete with oreos.


Andie requested a special piece of Blythe’s artwork. Andie told her what she wanted on it and Blythe spent hours making it for her. Here it is all completed with the girls shouting “I made this for you!” – a line from some movie? Song? Something? I don’t know what exactly, but they giggled hysterically every time they said it.



Rubik’s Cube and freeze-dried ice cream – who could want for anything more?


New nightgowns from grandma.



I can’t believe I have a child this old. I feel like life is slipping away. Soon she will be off on her own, living her own life. This could be the last summer she is with us at Green River Lakes for awhile and in some ways that cuts my heart in two. But I am trying to keep my big girl panties on and be strong and convince myself that my job as a mother is to prepare her for a healthy, fulfilling life outside my home, not to keep my little family together in this stage that is so lovely.

The girls in their matching “I will not moose-behave” birthday shirts from Grandma.


See these rocks? They are magical.



When we were little, all the cousins would play on these rocks for hours. Jumping and racing from one to the other. There are six rocks, perfect for playing tag, having a picnic lunch, or holding secret club meetings. We had so much fun on these rocks as we were growing up. This year Annesley mastered jumping from the frog to the pig (yes, they all have names!).


Andie and Grandma on their tube mountain.



Kez and Fisher hate their pictures being taken – I have oodles (really, hundreds and hundreds) of shots just like this where they are hiding, closing their eyes, being absolutely silly, covering their faces, etc. Maybe if I post them on here they will start opening their eyes and smile more often for the camera?




This girl, however, loves the camera. She is usually posing in some dramatic move or another, but here are some with her arms down and her camera smile on.



And with poses.







Filthy, tired Sadie.


With Andie’s help I made it out to the rock in the river…wahoo for me!


Annesley and Easton loved climbing to the top of the big rock in Aunt Carol’s campspot.



Annesley insisted on a picture of her alone on the big rock.


About a week into our trip, several fires stared from lightening strikes. This one was on Osburn Mountain, right above our camp. We wondered if we would be evacuated, but it all worked out with the winds and we were able to stay and watch 500 of our favorite acres be burned.


It was smokey and sad and sometimes frustrating, but by the time we left, it looked much better. We couldn’t see the backside of the mountain to know how bad it is over there, but I am hoping it isn’t too terrible.

I know many of you worry about me going on these adventures, but trust me, I need it. I need to spend time in my mountains each summer so I can reconnect with the deepest parts of who I am, so I can remember my grandparents and the lessons they taught me, so I can feel my grandmother’s deep love for me and try to see myself as she saw me. I need to swim in the waters I have been swimming in my whole life. I need to see my mountains. I need this each time every year…and especially this year. I may look like I am holding it together pretty well, but some days, this morning included, I fall completely apart. I am sometimes scared that my body will never heal and that I will go from one injury to another. I don’t know how to keep on functioning in all my many roles as wife, mother, teacher, friend, disciple, citizen, board member, mentor, and chauffeur when my body is so unpredictable. I don’t even remember what it feels like to be out-of-pain. But this time in my mountains rejuvenates me in a way I can’t explain. It give me strength and hope and calm.

I love this place.

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some birthday presents

May 20, 2013 by

some birthday presents

My birthday was almost two weeks ago, but I am so behind on life I am just barely getting around to uploading pictures of my birthday presents. My mama gave me two adorable yellow signs to brighten my days. I cleaned my room and made a place for them to hang so I can see them the minute I wake up each morning.

Isn’t this what we all need? A little encouragement to be awesome?

My nickname when I was little was Sunshine and I love this sign she made me oh, so much. It takes me back to a less complicated time when my parents both doted on me, my body moved like the wind, I was a superstar on all my sports teams, and I was surrounded by a community of people that loved me.

Jennifer gave me this darling pillow she sewed up for me. Through this long journey of hip injury and subsequent pain, she has reminded me again and again that “Calm seas do not strong sailors make” and she made matching pillows for Jessica and I to remember we are being tried and tested, but in the end, if we depend on Christ, we will be stronger.

Kat gave me a huge bag of chocolates. Sadly enough, I ate them all in a few short days and had no time to take pictures!

Richard gave me some darling stoneware that matches our Fiesta Dishes, but I am taking it back so I can get some cycling shoes. Someday soon I will be riding my bike! Right? Right?

Jessica and Ames brought over Gator Bites and Moose Tracks – two of my favorite foods. Sadly, no picture of those either! We consumed them way too fast.

When I saw this sign, I knew I needed it and I gave it to myself. Brad Wilcox’s talk His Grace Is Sufficient changed my life when I heard it a few years back. Living in His grace is a way of life and one I am trying cultivate more and more in my life.

Now, my mom’s birthday is coming up in two short days and I haven’t figured out a thing for her!

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May 7, 2013 by

Today I am thirty-nine years old. That feels like an awfully long time to be alive on this earth, but I still feel like a little girl in so many ways that it must not be that long at all. Or maybe I will always feel like a little girl even when I am kickin’ 100. I fully plan to live to be 100, you know.

I love my birthday. I love the cards and presents and hugs and joy and newness of a new year. I love celebrating and wish I was at the park right now with five gazillion of my friends.

Instead I am having a quiet day at home. Jess and Amy came over and brought me birthday lunch – Gator Bites and Moosetracks, my favorites! Now I am taking care of Sadie and washing dishes and mopping the floor. My children are all gone. Blythe is applying make-up on the actors for tonight’s debut of Two Gentlemen of Verona put on by iFamily’s iShakespeare Live acting troupe. Keziah is on her way home from the other side of the state where she has been visiting cousins the past few days. Fisher and Annes are at the lake (sans water) with friends playing in the dirt and looking for critters.

I am at the stage of my life where daily sacrifice is necessary for my home to run well. Sometimes it feels good, sometimes it is so normal I don’t even notice I am sacrificing – I have been doing it for so long it has become part of who I am, and sometimes it bothers me. My new goal for this year is to sacrifice for my family more often and more joyfully. I want to not begrudge them their joys. They have been taking care of me for what seems like forever and it is time I take care of them more completely and with more happiness while I do so.

My birthday gift to myself (I fully believe in giving myself a birthday present!) is to do 39 things to make a difference in the world. One of those 39 things will be to donate to Jessica’s birthday gift to herself – a project to provide clean drinking water. Another one will be a big act of service for my sweetie and each of our children. That leaves 33 acts of kindness for me to do for the greater world. I am not going to be my crazy self and try to get them all done today. I am giving myself the whole month of May to do these 39 things.

Want to join me? I would love to hear about your 39 things.

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a bit better

Jan 13, 2013 by

I am continuing to improve and get stronger. I have walked to the bathroom several times by myself with someone close by to catch me if I fall. I haven’t fallen since late Friday night after Annesley threw up on me and I had to get out of bed for Richard to change the sheets. I decided to use the out-of-bed opportunity to stand at the sink and brush my teeth. They needed a good scrubbing, but it was too much for me and I fell backwards to the floor. Luckily Richard dove across the room and caught me at the last moment so I didn’t whack my head on the floor.

My emotions are all over the place and unfortunately I keep snapping at people. I don’t mean to be impatient, but I guess I am and it is all coming out on the ones I love most. Poor Blythe. Poor Richard. So far, no yelling at the other three members of the family.

My temperature regulation seems to be a bit off. I am often very warm to the touch and will even start sweating, but then I will change and be quite cold. We don’t know if this is related or not, but it is rather odd. Additionally, my left kidney started hurting quite significantly this morning. Richard worked his magic on me and it is doing much better now. This whole thing is so bizarre – I just can’t wrap my brain around it.

I continue to research Ehlers Danlos and am putting all the puzzle pieces together. It seems quite likely that my hypermobility, constant dislocations and subluxations, umbilical hernias, holes in my abdominal wall, labial tearing, laugher-induced bladder incontinence, damaged uterine ligaments after the car accident, uterine prolapse after Fisher’s birth, the excessive bleeding during the lumpectomy last year, and my hip injury are all caused by faulty collagen.

I am so, so grateful for my muscle strength. I used to be very strong and am still quite a bit stronger than any of my friends, except Liz, who is Superwoman and could make a fortune playing her on TV. Muscle strength is the only thing that really helps with Ehlers Danlos, as the muscles compensate for the ligament laxity. I am certain that my background as a gymnast and athlete and the resultant muscle strength has carried me through my life with as few serious injuries as I have and much more importantly, has been the reason I have been able to carry four children to term and birth them.

I am spending this Sabbath day in bed and wishing someone could find my new books by Elder Bednar so I could fill my mind with his words. Maybe when Keziah gets home she can take care of that for me.

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annesley is five

Nov 26, 2012 by

annesley is five



Miss Annesley is a big five year old. She has been counting down to her birthday for months. Fisher and Kez’s are so close together that it feels like an eternity to her to have to wait all the way through October AND November for hers to roll around.

Getting her birthday haircut from her Aunt Mikelle


This girlie brings us so much joy. SO MUCH. She radiates joy everywhere she goes…along with singing, twirling, laughing, and telling stories full of nonsense. Let’s just say she has a rich imagination.

Annesley has adopted all the elderly people in our ward. She gives them giant hugs every week and spends most of her time at church going from lap to lap.

This year, thanks to two leap years in her short life, her birthday is on the same day of the week as it was the first time around. I always love synchronized birthdays because I feel like I can completely relive each moment of their births on the same day as when they actually happened. I remember going to church on the day of her birth and telling my friend, Bonnie, “I am here to worship my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and NOT to talk about my pregnancy. Spread the word!”

I remember coming home from church and working on Christmas presents and being grumpy, grumpy, grumpy that I had not had my baby yet and that my doula was leaving the next day.

I remember waking up at 3:30 a.m. to a contraction. A real contraction! I remember being shocked out of my gourd and thrilled to pieces and calling my mom, my midwife, and my doula, and telling them to come. I remember puking and pooping and snotting all at the same time and feeling like my body had been taken over by a force completely out of my control. I remember moaning through seemingly endless contractions, eating homemade popsicles the children held in front of me, and Blythe doing everything she could to nurture me. I remember pushing her out and being completely full of joy. I remember her spirit reassuring me that everything would be okay…and me believing her.

And now she is five. She loves life, people, pretending, and everything in between. Annesley is all about the process of doing things. She does not care about results in any way, just the process is important. She lives in the moment with zest and smiles and throw-back-her-head-laughter.

It is so hard for me to list her favorite books or things to do because it is basically everything. She loves everything. She especially loves headstands and singing and making food for us in her play kitchen and rubbing my back and giving her papa foot massages and doing math with me. She loves jumping and wiggling and rubbing anyone who is near her. She rubs and rubs and rubs…up and down their arms, their legs, all over their face. Keziah has even started charging her nickels and dimes to rub and Annesley pays the fees! Her current favorite songs are “I Am A Child of God”, “God Bless The U.S.A.”, and “The Hope of America.” She loves to play with Fisher and the two of them explore outside for many hours most days of the week. They love finding bugs and leaves and dirt and rocks and anything else they can find. She is super strong and excels at gymnastics. In the headstand contest last week she stayed up for fifty-five seconds and came in second in her class.

Her birthday celebration began on Friday when Grandma Dorothy took her to Big Jud’s for a shake and fries. She has been begging to go to Big Jud’s since her maiden trip back in July.

This morning we were up a little before 6:00 a.m. (which is REALLY early for our house!) to hide and open her presents.


She got a pizza making set that I found months ago for $10!


An awesome set of chalkboard letters and numbers from an adorable etsy seller that wrapped them up all fancy for her. She has been writing on them all morning long and loves them to pieces.


Her birthday book is The Kiss Box. It is a darling story about a mama and her child making kiss boxes to store kisses in so when they are separated they can open their boxes and remember how much they are loved. Annesley is painting her kiss box a bright yellow later today because it is her favorite color and her wooden heart inside she will paint red because it is my favorite color.


After she opened her presents she and I went back to bed for a little bit of snuggling while I worked on Jessica’s auction. She rubbed my back and was quickly sound asleep. Then she woke up to french toast with strawberries made by big sister Blythe and got right to work writing on her new chalkboard letters.

I am so grateful for this girlie. Her spirit is joy embodied. She radiates it and it spreads to everyone around her. We are so, so blessed to have her in our family. Just thinking about her conception and birth makes me well up with tears. God gave her to us and she is a shining testimony of His miracles and His great love for us.

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Oct 2, 2012 by


It is finally here. Miss Keziah is twelve. At least she will be at 12:36 a.m. You can read all about her birth and her past birthday posts (2011, 2010, 2009) if you want to know more about this lovely young lady.

I remember my twelfth birthday. My father left on my twelfth birthday to start a new life. I remember begging him to take me with him because I couldn’t begin to imagine my life without him. I remember being full of anger. More anger than I could hold within me and it exploding out of me again and again and again over the next many years. I remember missing him so, so much.

Today as I looked at her as she listened to Little Women for the umpteenth time, I saw her beautiful face with freckles and fiery eyes and I was overcome with gratitude that she is not facing the same challenges I faced. Her father is not leaving her. Her family is not falling apart. Her parents are committed to each other and committed to her. My heart welled up with joy for the privilege she has of being a child and not being forced to be a grown-up long before she is ready.

See, she is having a little bit of a hard time transitioning to youth-dom. She is getting sillier by the day.

And while it is driving us all batty, it is okay, because she doesn’t have to be anything else. She can be silly if she wants to be. She doesn’t have to be the peacemaker like I needed to be. She doesn’t have to listen to grown-up concerns and carry them. She can be a twelve-year-old girl who is super responsible most of the time and pretty silly the rest of the time.

Tomorrow, on her actual birthday, I am taking her to the temple for her first time. She will enter the waters of baptism for her ancestors – my father’s ancestors, and feel the Spirit of the Lord in His Holy House. She will then go to the Salt Lake Temple on Friday and be baptized again – this time in the place her parents, great-grandparents, and great-great grandparents were married and sealed. She will become a welding link between these two families. This has been her plan for the last six months and I am thrilled to pieces to make it happen for her. Saturday she will get to go to General Conference with her friends and they are planning on throwing in some thrift store shopping as well. Sounds like a pretty fabulous twelfth birthday.

What else is Keziah up to besides silliness? Well, she loves teaching a class at iFamily to the little three – six year olds and has all of her lesson plans ready weeks in advance. Running, swimming, violin, piano, gymnastics, and kayaking are all big interests and she recently started taking ballet at our friend’s studio. She is playing in a beginning Orchestra at iFamily and can’t get enough of it. She organizes (and reorganizes) everything in her life and doesn’t understand what is wrong with the rest of us and our chaotic ways. She used to be obsessed with the color blue, but now she is obsessed with all things Zebra. Bizarre, if you ask me, but we did get her two zebra things for her birthday that she is going to shriek (loudly!) over. She has a hard time being serious and I spend much of my time trying to get into her soul. Sometime, someday, I will find her deep thoughts buried and they will amaze me, I’m sure of it.

Her birthday book for this year is Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People To Freedom. I also considered The Librarian of Basra: A True Story From Iraq and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making (which I did end up getting for her birthday, but not for her birthday book. I just couldn’t resist the fanciful tale of September traveling through Valente’s magical world! And, hey, Book Two came out today!)

What a lovely, inspiring book! I am swooning over the art and the story, but most especially Harriet’s prayers and God’s answers to his precious daughter. I chose this book because I want Keziah to know, really know, she can AND must rely on God as she sojourns through this life. He will guide her, comfort her, and show her what her mission is. He will. I want this knowledge to sink into the marrow of her soul. She is super competent in most areas of her life and super competent people sometimes have a hard time relying on God. I know because I have been there. I hope she is inspired by Harriet’s courage, dedication, and most off all, her humility and willingness to trust God’s plan for her life. Keziah is a do-er and if she will let God lead her, she will do great things.

All three of my girlies

Happy Birthday Keziah. Thank you for being exactly who you are and being such a blessing to our family. We love you.

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Sep 18, 2012 by


Mr. Fisher turns eight today. Wowsers! I can’t believe that it has been so long since his miraculous birth. I will never forget the joy that filled my whole being as I pulled him up out the water and held him in my arms for the first time. All the pain and agony of getting him here were totally worth it in that moment and he is still worth it. Absolutely!

Eight is a pretty big deal in our religion because it is when children are baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. He will be baptized in ten days by his papa and it is pretty much all he talks about. He is so excited!

At the age of eight, Fisher has only lost his two bottom teeth (his top two are just barely hanging on and everyday for over a month I have thought, “surely this is the day they will fall out,” but somehow they keep hanging on) and is wearing size 7 pants. He is a pretty skinny kiddo and I have to buy him slim pants and cinch up the waist band. He is now 48 3/4″ tall and I hope he is not destined to be the shortest one in his circle of friends forever.

His favorite books are Curious George, Summer of The Monkeys, One, and The Chronicles of Narnia.

His favorite things to do are building with legos, working with his dad, going fishing (and catching some big trout), tracking and catching bugs (and keeping them in bug jars all over our house), hunting for frogs (he currently has two that he caught at Bear Lake with his Uncle Scott), kayaking, and playing with Annesley. They are best buddies and play for hours on end in their land of make believe.

Eight also means the beginning of Cub Scouts. Fisher is so excited to join his friends in their scouting adventures and can’t wait to get in his uniform for his first den meeting. He has been working on passing off his Bobcat and thinks the whole idea of scouting is the coolest thing ever.

In other news, he just got his first pair of glasses on Saturday. They are bright green and look great with his red hair. We discovered he was far-sighted just like the older girls and we had a fun date picking out his new specs. Now that they are here, he won’t take them off!

Cool glasses and a big space in his mouth…but not from a lost tooth, those front ones are just shifted over and hanging by a thread.


This morning we got up at 6:00 to open presents with Richard before he left for work. One of our birthday traditions is hiding presents all around the family room and the birthday kid gets to search for them. Here he is trying to follow our hot-cold directions.


New legos! The best part is Richard found this huge box months ago at DI (thrift store) for six bucks! Can’t beat that price on a $100 set of legos!


His new birthday book is Who Is This Jesus? I can’t even tell you how much I adore this book! He has been asking for a book about Jesus for months and when I saw this one, I knew it was it. Each page tells about a different attribute or role of Jesus with a beautiful drawing of Jesus in that role. Then, hidden within the artwork are things to find. You can’t see them when you glance at the picture, you really have to search. For example, in the illustration titled Lost and Found we read, “He is the Savior who rescues the one; He will not rest til His work is all done.” The picture depicts Jesus searching for His lost sheep, and hidden within the picture are twenty-six lambs that need to be found. It is a lovely book about the tender mercies of Jesus with just the right amount of puzzle fun to go with it.


His new knife. He has proven himself to be responsible and safe, so he has earned his first official knife. He couldn’t be happier!


Check out the green on those glasses. His love for loud colors cracks me up. He doesn’t ever want anyone to notice him, but they always do because of his red hair and bright green clothes…and now, bright green glasses.


I am so grateful for this boy. He is kind and earnest and full of quirky ideas that crack us up. He loves his papa and wishes he could spend every minute of every day with him. It pretty much breaks his heart on a daily basis when Richard is gone to work again. Fisher still loves to snuggle with me and lets me rub his back…I’m sure some day that will change, but for now, I’m enjoying his cuddles.

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happy birthday gram

Sep 2, 2012 by

Today is my Grandma’s birthday. She would have been 94 and we would have had a birthday party at her house yesterday morning. She would have sat in her chair and looked us each in the eye and infused our souls with her abiding love for us and the courage to move forward with faith. She would have giggled at the children’s antics and delighted in the adorableness. She would have kissed me on the cheek. Late at night when it was time for bed, she would have asked me to make her some rice pudding.

So today I will.

I haven’t made it since she passed away at Christmas 2008. In fact, I’ve never made it for anyone except my grandma. It was our special late night thing.

Tonight I will make it for my children and tell them my favorite stories about grandma.

I miss her so.

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pardee hardee

May 17, 2012 by

I am not up to posting today because yesterday’s ozone injections did me in, but I wanted to share my birthday party photos with y’all. Thank you to the lovely Jessica for the party wrap-up and for not posting the hundreds of simply ghastly photos she took of me.

I am hoping I will be back to a functioning level soon…today I was able to roll oover without crying (huge improvement from yesterday!) so I am counting my blessings.

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little annes is not so little anymore

Nov 28, 2011 by

little annes is not so little anymore

Just ask her.

She will proudly stick up four chubby little fingers and tell you she is GROWING UP!

Our Thanksgiving weekend baby just turned four years old.

How can that be I wonder?

It doesn’t seem possible that she is fully out of toddler-hood and fully into big-girl-hood.

And yet, she is.

Just ask her.

Since her birthday is always right around Thanksgiving she usually gets gobs of presents from her aunts and uncles and grandparents. This year proved no different and she came home with two bears, one lion, a twistable crayon and sketchbook set, and an adorable pink purse shaped like a puppy. We all adore her…how can we not adore this face?


Snuggling with Cousin Andie


Opening presents




Isn’t this a great outfit from the thrift store! ($8.50!)


The pink puppy purse


She personally designed her birthday cake (Mint Moosetracks ice cream with Oreo crust and chocolate chips on top) and let everyone know if they could have a big piece or a little piece. I was glad I was on her big piece list because it was delish!


Blowing out the candles


The inside of the cake (is it still called cake if there is nothing but ice cream and oreos in it? Or is it some kind of frozen confection?)


Some of the party guests


She started out the day with finding her hidden presents and then moved on to a blueberry pancakes and scrambled eggs breakfast (neither of which I think she ate). She colored and played with her animals for the rest of the day while her sister threw up all day long and everyone else shopped, ate leftovers, played Rook, watched football and movies, and laughed ourselves silly.

Her birthday book this year is so stinkin’ cute! Gyo Fujikawa is my new favorite illustrator and I am on a mission to collect all of her books. She has an ABC book that I think I must add to my voluminous collection of 26-little-letter works. She also has a Mother Goose, A Child’s Garden of Verses, and several counting books.

Aren’t the illustrations delightful?

We have been reading her several stories a day and so far they are all big hits.

This morning while she was taking a bath with me I asked her “Are you my son or my daughter?” and she quickly replied “I am your SUNSHINE!”

Yes, she surely is.

Happy Birthday Sunshine.

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book bonanza: nobody rides the unicorn

Oct 4, 2011 by

Nobody Rides the Unicorn

Keziah’s birthday book this year is Nobody Rides the Unicorn. It is about an orphaned, servant girl who is tricked into beguiling a unicorn so the king can capture it. She is outraged that she has been used to commit this evil act and by risking her life, she sets the unicorn free. I love the courage the young girl shows and her determination to do right no matter the cost to herself. The artwork is soft and lovely. I hope Keziah treasures it.

It must be out of print or something because it is over $30 at Amazon. Barnes and Noble had it for $5.97, so we ordered it from there. If you decide to get, I recommend you do the same…big grin!

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Eleven, Eleven, How Can It Be?

Oct 3, 2011 by

Eleven, Eleven, How Can It Be?

This morning (actually middle of the night) my Keziah turned eleven years old. If you haven’t read her birth story, here it is…I think it was a hilarious birth! Her birth was just like her…quick to the punch, took us all by surprise, and brings us all joy when we think of it…three hours of sheer intensity and then utmost relief to have her in my arms.

I have also been informed that many of my readers pronounce her name K-ugh-Z-long i-ugh…which is what it looks like…but for all of you that don’t know us personally, her name is said like the continent of Asia with a K in front…like K-long a-Z-yah. Make sense?

Anyway, little Miss Keziah is now eleven. Eleven feels weird to me. It feels SO MUCH older than ten. Eleven feels like the brink of womanhood, while ten very much feels like kidhood. I am not ready to have her be all grown up like this, but I am not in charge of growing up, so I am going to have to learn to adjust!

Miss Keziah has learned so much this past year. She has learned to share a room with a very messy, very loud, very everything three-year-old. She has learned to do a back handspring. She has learned how to be more nurturing. She has learned how to knit (which was a long, torturous process for all of us and we are oh, so grateful to the lovely Miss Sarah for loving her right into the world of knitting). She has learned to create stories and has started writing several books. She has taken on teaching a class for 3-to-6-year-olds and has learned all about creating lesson plans, preparing for class, communicating with parents, having patience with a room full of little ones, and how to love them.

Several times this year I have caught a glimpse of her beauty. Most of the time when I look at her I see her freckles, her muscles, and her signature ponytail, but a few times, I have seen her as the woman she will become. I have seen a softening of her determined brow and a light in her eyes that will one day gaze at her own children with adoration.

Keziah is full of life, vim, and vigor. She is a powerful entity and we are so blessed to have her in our family. She takes on the seemingly impossible and accomplishes much. She loves learning, playing, organizing, and planning.

The thing she wanted most for her birthday was to go to LDS General Conference with her Grandma and her friend Courtney. We were blessed to get tickets for Saturday morning and had such a wonderful time listening, learning, and singing. She dutifully took notes of every talk, song, and prayer…she is a little compulsive that way. Afterwards, we went to Old Spaghetti Factory and had the meal of the century, complete with birthday song, chocolate cake, and ice cream. Then, we went shopping at Savers (our favorite thrift store) and she and Courtney loaded up their carts with gobs of things to try on. Keziah made it out of there with a bag full of stuff for $15! Then Grandma took her shoe shopping where she bought her two pairs of adorable shoes…some black flats and some grey boots. Courtney loved the boots so much she had to get a pair as well. I’m thinking the two of them will wear them every time they are together until they grow out of them!

Now for a trip down memory lane…here are some pictures of her this past year…pretty cute, eh?

At iFamily sewing class


With her adorable purse she sewed


Building a raft with cousins


With Easton at Green River Lakes


With Annesley and Eve at Green River Lakes


Maiden voyage on Austin’s kayak

Three girlies in braids


Pure silliness


Carrying Easton in her mei tai (did you know she wants 47 children?)


With Cousin Tiegen on a hike


With Sadie


At MAT camp (grainy pictures…but had to include them!)



Another one of Easton in her mei tai – this time in our backyard


Her catapult she built for Math Alive!



Her iFamily Vocal Jazz class




Math Alive! class…learning about levers and balance


Math Alive! with the famous blocks


Climbing our trees in the dead of winter



Christmas morning with her skirt I Kat made her


Christmas afternoon with her cousins, aunts & uncles, and grandparents




Christmas party


Thanksgiving 2010 with Uncle Cameron


We love you Keziah! Hope your day and your eleventh year are full of growth, learning, love, and joy!

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mr. fisher turns seven

Sep 18, 2011 by

mr. fisher turns seven



I can’t really wrap my brain around the fact that seven years ago I gave birth to my one and only boy. It feels like just a short time ago he was a baby in our arms.


I remember so clearly those early days and weeks of nursing him. I remember the looks of adoration he would give me. I remember his ginormous head. I remember his obsession with doing push-ups as a four-month-old. I remember how much he loved my grandmother and how he snuggled on her lap while she read to him. I remember the hugs and kisses he would give her. I remember him burying his head in my armpit whenever anyone paid him any attention. I remember his fascination with airplanes…and then trains…and then ships…and then bugs…and then animals…and then dinosaurs…and then more bugs…and then animals…and then bugs…and now I think he is fairly obsessed with animals AND bugs.

His childhood is going by quickly. Too quickly.

How on earth have seven years gone by since the first time I laid eyes on him?

At the same time, it feels like forever ago…an entire lifetime ago…for now I am a different person. I am at a different place in my life and my mothering and in some ways it feels like his pregnancy and birth happened to someone else. His pregnancy was one of the most difficult physical AND spiritual experiences of my life. If you haven’t read about his birth, you probably should click over and read it as it has played such an integral role in defining who I am.

I had to choose which voices I would listen to…the crazy-making ones in my head or the quiet, yet forceful voice of God speaking to my heart. I had to choose to love and make that choice again and again and again. I had to choose to believe in God’s purposes when I wanted to throw in the towel and give up…to give in to the despair. I had to live through many months of debilitating pain and years of recovery. I had to choose to have faith in God’s ability to heal my body when medical doctors had no qualms about telling me I would never heal. I had to choose to smile again.

Because I chose to smile again, the months of agony and despair feel like a different lifetime. I can still go right back to that place of being, but it feels oh, so different now. The feelings are softened with the changed perspective of my heart. I can see clearly the lessons I learned through his pregnancy and birth and recovery. I can see the blessings. I am living the blessings and I am so grateful to be on this side of that experience. I am so grateful I chose God’s path of joy instead of the misery I was stuck in, so I can be in the place I am now instead of where that other road would have taken me. I had a mini-freak-out the other day when I realized it was the same time I was hit in the accident. All the pain came rushing back for a few seconds…and then I was able to let it go and let it be. I was able to make peace with it. I’m sure I will have to make peace with it again and again, but I don’t dwell on it any longer. Instead, my heart is full of gratitude for the things I have learned and the path God has led me on.

Fisher is growing up. He is learning new things all the time. He loves working with his papa in the garage. He loves spending time with me. He loves riding his bike as fast as he can. He loves fishing, stalking bugs, learning about the world, and building contraptions. He loves our reading time together. He loves being in his own imaginary world. He loves Curious George and Robinson Crusoe. He loves numbers. He loves his aunts and uncles and grandparents. He loves going over to his grandpa’s house and helping with the airplane building project his grandpa has going. He adores his Grommer Dorothy and talks to her almost every day. He loves learning about the people in the scriptures. He loves Jesus. He is often the first to apologize in a disagreement with his sisters and loves spending money on treats for his family and friends. He loves giving people gifts. He has a tender heart and is sensitive about everything under the sun. I hurt his feelings often and I am learning to mother him better. In the meantime, I am grateful children are so resilient.


I see him making a transition from a little kid to a big kid. He is becoming more capable. He recently took over the stewardship of taking care of the chickens and has been so diligent about feeding them and loving on them each morning. He has new chores in the house that he gets up and gets started on first thing in the morning. He is learning to complete his jobs and be a hard worker. He is learning to take pride in a job well done. He is learning to handle disappointments. He mastered jumping off the diving board and swimming to the edge. He is finding more courage. He is having bigger conversations with me and thinking about the world more deeply.

I love this red-headed, tender-hearted, bug-loving, fish-catching, invention-creating, Jesus-loving boy.

Here are some pictures of him from this past year.









Pretty cute boy, eh?

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book bonanza: one

Sep 17, 2011 by

Fisher’s birthday book this year is One by Kathryn Otoshi. This book tells the story of blue, a sweet, sensitive color that likes being blue until red makes fun of him by saying “Red is hot, Blue is NOT!” No one stands up to red, not orange, purple, yellow, or green. They all let red bully them around until One comes and teaches them to stand up and COUNT.

I fell in love with this story when I read it at the bookstore. I had previously considered Ferdinand and King Jack and the Dragon, but neither of them felt absolutely perfect. I want to read those with him soon, but I didn’t think they were quite the right book for his birthday book. Then I found One. I’m actually still not settled on it, but I DO love it and I DID buy it and Richard LOVES it and thinks it is the right one, so it is a done deal.

This is certainly a lesson Fisher needs to learn…that we all matter and we all count and it just takes one person to stand up and make a difference. We all need to learn that lesson…that truth that each of us is a child of God, a literal creation of the Almighty.

One of our family’s favorite quotes is from The Lord of The Rings when Galadriel is speaking to Frodo, trying to give him courage for the next part of his quest. She says “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.” These words hang on the wall of our learning room and I hope to imbed them on each of my children’s hearts. Each of us, no matter how small, can make a difference. Each of us can be the one to stand up for truth. Each of us can love and serve and give. Each of us can be God’s hands on earth.

This book is one piece of the puzzle in teaching this message. I can’t wait to read it with him tomorrow morning for his birthday!

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happy birthday grandma

Sep 2, 2011 by

Today my grandma would be 93. Fisher asked me about her this morning and it brought all sorts of memories back to my mind. I remember her standing at the stove fixing piles and piles of pancakes. I remember her hanging the laundry on her clothesline and how charmingly domestic it looked to have all the sheets blowing in the wind. I remember her playing Canasta with anyone who would play with her. I remember her singing and meaning every single word with all her heart. I remember her baking cookies…hundreds of cookies. I remember her Christmas candy plates made up for all her neighbors, family, friends, and lots of extras for whomever would happen to stop by during the Christmas season. I remember her driving down the dirt road to Green River Lakes and having the rut in the middle of the road prove a large obstacle for her little blue car. I remember being stopped by a cow one day on that same road. The cow wouldn’t move and neither would Grandma…the cow put her hooves right on top of the hood to try to get us to move, but we just sat there until the cow finally gave up. I remember her riding with me to take my driving test. By then I had been driving for years illegally, but to put on a good front, I drove to her house and picked her up so it looked like I was following the rules. I remember being snowed in at her house after Grandpa’s funeral and cherishing the extra time I had to sit and be with her. I remember the year I spent coming to her home once a month for five days at at time to take care of her. I remember pushing her to church in her wheelchair. I remember her smile. I remember her soft cheek. I remember her laughter. I remember feeling safe and secure and loved…always loved.

Happy Birthday Grandma…we all love you so much.

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its my party and i’ll, i’ll, i’ll, well, i don’t know know what i’ll do

May 8, 2011 by

What a week! I started out the week by finding a lump in my breast, freaking out, getting calm, freaking out, getting calm, crying my eyes out, making a bazillion phone calls, doing lots of internet research, making the decision to go in for a clinical breast exam and then convincing myself that whatever I was feeling was just a normal change for anyone’s breasts to make when they have been nursing for fourteen straight years and then stop.

Unfortunately that is not what was found at my clinical breast exam and I was informed that the lump is not normal and must be investigated further. I go in tomorrow for a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound of the specific area where the lump is.

My emotions are all over the place. I have found myself crying all week long at the cute things my children say and the songs they sing. I have found myself looking at a friend and feeling the tears start rolling down my face. I am quiet and pensive and evaluating and trying to keep my head on straight. I feel like I am on a roller coaster of emotions from sad to happy to angry to grateful to worried to calm to scared out of my ever-lovin’ mind.

On top of all of this, Blythe’s performance of Twelfth Night has been each night this week. It has been so fun to see the final product of all their hard work. Their play was hilarious! It is an amazing thing to see youth discover the greatness within themselves. Each one of them has grown this year. I am grateful to be part of this homeschool group and to be so involved in the lives of these young people. Blythe and all the rest of the cast are worn right out and deserve to sleep all day today…as do their parents, the directors, and the producers.

My birthday was also this week…thirty seven big ones! Jessica’s birthday was a couple of days before mine, and Blythe’s good friend, Alanna, had a birthday this week as well, so ten of us (me, my mom, Mikelle, Kat, Jennifer, Jessica, Blythe, Alanna, Keziah, and Emma Lynn) went to a Mindy Gledhill concert and sang our little hearts out. We clapped and danced and were by far the rowdiest people at the concert, which isn’t saying much since most of the crowd behaved as if they were at a church meeting instead of a concert. Mindy’s song, Anchor, touches down deep in my soul. When I first heard it, I fell in love with Richard all over again. When he first heard it, he said “I had no idea there were two of you in the world.” I am a restless soul…a free spirit with crazy ideas and enough zest to actually think I can carry out those crazy ideas. All of them. My husband grounds me and keeps me sane and adores me. He actually adores me.

Here is Mindy’s music video of Anchor…I love it. Love, love, love it.

After the concert, we all went out to eat and had Asphalt Pie…a minty, chocolate hunk of deliciousness. I think we ate five or six of those tasty treats. We also laughed our heads off, talked about all sorts of embarrassing moments in our lives, and let the cares of the world disappear for a few hours. Such fun!

On my actual birthday, my mom and sister spoiled me rotten by getting me some new clothes at the big Kohl’s sale, took me out for a yummy lunch, bought me the fabric I have been drooling over for months (so I can make another quilt!), and bought me all new make-up. They called it a Make-Up Intervention because all the stuff I have is at least two years old and is their old stuff they didn’t want anymore because they didn’t like it when they had it. I have been wearing the same shade of eye shadow since the summer of 1996 when I was pregnant with Blythe. I haven’t had any foundation of my own since August and have been scrounging around in old empty bottles trying to dig another’s day of coverage out of the bottom. Now I have my mom’s favorite blush, Mikelle’s favorite concealer (for all the ridiculous pimples I keep getting!) and foundation, two kinds of mascara, face cleanser, two packages of eye shadow, exfoliant, lip gloss, and hair spray. I was more than a little mortified, but this morning as I got ready for church I was thrilled to have brand new stuff that actually worked well with my coloring.

Mikelle treated us all to new haircuts and I love mine to pieces! Maybe tomorrow I will work on getting my girls to take a picture of me so y’all can see my cuteness.

I have been surrounded by love, support, presents, cards, flowers, hugs, and fun all week long. I feel like I am living two lives. The one on the outside that is full and busy and such fun and the one on the inside that is scared and wondering and crying and questioning and breaking. I don’t know how to talk about it or what to say. The truth is, I don’t know anything yet. This could be nothing. But all the possibilities swirling around inside me are pretty overwhelming.

At least I will have something cute to wear to my appointment tomorrow.

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annesley turns three

Nov 26, 2010 by

annesley turns three

My baby girl is so not a baby anymore. Ask anyone who knows her well and they will tell you she changed her name months ago to “Big Girl” and today she celebrated her long-awaited for third birthday.

Three years ago I gave birth to her in a fast, powerful, and completely healing home birth. Her birth was hard physically, as they probably all will be from now on because of my pelvic injuries, but emotionally and spiritually I was wrapped in tender care, bounteous love, and faith in my body from all who attended. Annes’ birth was exactly what I needed to learn to trust my body again, to heal my soul from Fisher’s birth, and to fall in love with childbirth again. How God worked all those miracles into one five hour experience I will never comprehend, but I know He did.

He gave me back hope.

He gave me back joy.

He gave me back faith.

And He gave me Annesely Aliyah, the most delightful child I have ever known. This girl is so full of joy, it spills out of her eyes and fills her world again and again. She helps me remember the important things in life are having someone to hold, someone to love, someone to trust.

I remember the last few weeks of her pregnancy were full of foreboding fear of the possible pain of birth, full of debilitating anxiety that I would not be able to birth this precious baby, full of great concern that I would be injured from her birth as I was from Fisher’s. One day, I felt her spirit send me the message “Mama, it’s okay. It will be okay. Just trust me, it will all be okay.” Everything changed. Her spiritual message was so strong that it wiped away my fear. I was able to move towards her birth with calmness.

And she was right, it was okay. More than okay, it was wonderful.

And it still is. Her life teaches me that it’s all going to be okay.

Annesley’s birthday party was attended by three uncles, one grandpa, one grandma, one aunt, one cousin, three siblings, and her mama and papa. She received a wooden food set, a pan set, an adorable skirt, a Life is Good shirt, and her birthday book, I Know That My Savior Loves Me. So many presents for a little girlie! We had ice cream cake and she thoroughly enjoyed every bite of her oreo and mint chocolate creation.

After her party, she was given a birthday haircut by her Aunt Mikelle. She looks like a little pixie.

Pictures of her three-year-old day:










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Oct 3, 2010 by

Today my Keziah turns ten. I have spent an entire decade watching this girl grow up. I cannot believe my time with her being in my home on a daily basis is more than half over. She is growing up far too fast for my liking.

This spirited girl has enough energy and get-up-and-go to accomplish great things in this life. She makes her plans and sets out to accomplish them. To nurture this greatness within her, her birthday book this year is All By Herself by Ann Whitford Paul.

All By Herself

This treasure of a book is a collection of fourteen poems about girls who made a difference. Some of the girls are famous like Amelia Earheart, Rachel Carson, and Sacajawea. Some of the girls are relatively unknown like Kate Shelley, Frances Ward, and Harriet Hanson. Each of the girls were full of zest, courage, and determination to choose right, serve well, and work hard. I cannot wait to delve into the stories of these girls’ lives with my Keziah. I hope she is inspired by them to use her gifts for the good of others.

Richard and I write in the front of each Birthday Book and this is what he wrote this year:

Happy Birthday Dear Keziah,

I am so proud of you as you take life on and learn new things. I love your energy and love of life. Never lose it. In this book there are stories of greatness and girls who DID! You have greatness inside of you. Have God, who knows you best, help you find that greatness. It is not just people who have their stories remembered in books that do great things. People of greatness are all around you. Find them and learn what makes them great. I love you very much!


See why I love this man? He knows just how to express the feelings of his heart and how to guide our children to goodness and to God. He loves being a papa.

This morning we were at Mikelle’s and Keziah got to spend some time snuggling up with Easton. The look on her face was priceless and filled with a gentleness we don’t always see on her determined brow.



Pretty precious!

Right this minute, Keziah and Annes are snuggled up in their new room and Keziah is reading The Complete Book of Farmyard Tales to her little sister. This is especially endearing to me because not that long ago this was an impossibility. Keziah would not allow Annesley in her room at all. Now they are snuggled up together and both of them are so excited about it.

I am so proud of Keziah for allowing her nurturing side to shine through. She needs both sides of her to grow and develop in order to fulfill her mission on earth.

She has come a long way in ten years.

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fisher eli turns six!

Sep 18, 2010 by

My red-headed cutie-pie is turning six years old this morning. This little boy is pretty much my favorite thing ever.


Fisher is his father’s boy. He runs like him, he is shy like him, he curls up in a ball when attention is given him (yeah, Richard has to fight the curl-up-in-a-ball temptation!), he is gentle and patient and kind and tender, he is always thinking of others and putting their needs in front of his own.

Sometimes it makes me giggle inside when I think of how nervous I was to have a boy because this boy brings me so much joy. He snuggles with me and kisses me and loves to have me read to him. He is constantly thinking and pondering how to create something new. He loves animals and is quite skilled at sneaking up on them so, so quietly to catch them.

Fisher is a tender little soul. If I look at him with any hint of sternness in my eyes, he withers. I am far too exuberant for him and have to remind myself about 400 times a day to be gentle with him. He becomes attached to his things and wants to take them everywhere with him. This year, he has been taking a giant tiger or an oversized rainbow trout with him wherever he goes.

Present time at our house is a treasure hunt. We hide presents all over the family room and the birthday person has to find them before they can open them. Fisher found all of them super-quick and had a huge smile on his face the whole time. His grandma gave him some snakes and a Thornton W. Burgess book (which hasn’t made it here yet, so he doesn’t know about the book part yet). Keziah made him a card. Richard and I gave him a bright orange lizard (toy, not real), his birthday book, and….a FISHING POLE! His very own pole to catch rainbow trout with. This boy has been planning a fishing trip for his birthday since about March and he is pleased as punch to have his very own pole. I wish so badly that this child’s joy would show up on camera, but he shrivels up inside whenever I try to take his picture and none of the light in his eyes comes through his forced, uncomfortable, picture-taking smile.





Fisher’s birthday book is:Mommy Do You Love Me?

I had the hardest time finding his birthday book this year (for those of you who don’t know, we buy our children a special book each year for their birthday and write a letter to them in it. Then, when they are all grown up, they will get to take their books with them). None of them spoke to me. I spent an hour at Barnes and Noble searching for the perfect book for him. I looked at Deseret Book, Book City, Seagull, TJ Maxx, Wal-mart, and of course, Amazon. Nothing.

Then I went to Hastings. Hastings has a fabulous children’s book section! Who knew? I found this book and instantly knew it was THE book for this birthday. It is about a little boy who keeps asking if his mother will love him if he is dirty or comes in last or breaks things and she keeps reassuring him that she will and she does. Then, she raises her voice at him when he will not listen to her and he is sure she doesn’t love him. She explains “sometimes you make me mad, and sometimes you make me sad, but no matter what you say or do, I will always love you.”

Then she makes a crazy face at him and he laughs and laughs and says back to her “sometimes you make me mad, and sometimes you make me sad, but no matter what you say or do, I will always love you.”

This is the reality at our house right now. If I so much as ask him more than once to put his shoes away he starts crying and saying I don’t love him. I hope as we read this book on a regular basis he will come to know deep down inside that love isn’t related to what he is asked to do or how loud my voice gets.

Happy Birthday Fisher Eli!

We are off to catch some big ones!

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blythe’s gift to me

Aug 17, 2010 by

My oldest child recently turned 14 years old. I am still bewildered that I have a child this age. How can that be even remotely possible?

I thought I had written about her gift to me before, but I can’t find what I thought I said, so I am going to write about it some more.

Pre-BMW (Blythe Moriah Ward), I had far different priorities than I did post-BMW. In fact, I was a different person. I did not want to be a mother. I wanted to spend my life doing important things – like traveling the world, studying the Torah, and teaching people God’s ancient words. I wanted to be known for doing important things. I wanted to fill my time with scholarly research and the subsequent presentations of my findings. I wanted to stretch my mind and challenge myself with doing really hard things.

I had absolutely no desire to have a child need me. I had no desire to ever change a diaper again. And if by some chance, I was given a child, he or she was not going to interfere with my life, my plans, my needs.

Throughout the first three years of our marriage, all of this started changing. I decided I wanted to have children. I started researching the role and value of motherhood. I started arguing with my feminist professors who advocated a position of “daycare is best for children.” I began to feel disgust for the mothers I saw dropping off their six-week old babies at a daycare at seven in the morning and picking them up at seven at night. I began to desire to be a mother who would be with her children…someday.

But, I was still ambivalent about actually being a mother. I had been told by two different doctors that I would die if I tried to have a baby and we believed them. We decided we would not have biological children and would look into adopting when I was done with my college education.

And then, in spite of doing everything we could to prevent pregnancy, I became pregnant. I was not happy. I was, in fact, pretty much terrified that I was going to die. Not only that, it felt like a huge interruption to my life. I was in the middle of my Speech Pathology program and I wanted to complete it. I couldn’t see how it would all work out. I worried about my education and my job and my life and a million other things that seem so trivial now.

We decided to let the pregnancy continue…to just see what would happen. Our OB sent for the reports from the previous two doctors and he disagreed with their findings. He felt like I was not in danger of death and could safely be a pregnant and birthing woman. We were comforted, but not convinced. As the months of pregnancy continued, all seemed to be well, and I began to believe that the first two doctors were completely wrong.

At 36 weeks pregnant, when my uterus had stretched as far as it was going to stretch, our OB pronounced that my abdominal wall was sound, that it was not going to rupture as had been declared by the prior physicians. He said, “See, I was right, everything is going to be just fine.” At that moment, I knew he was correct and I also knew I could not give birth with him. I informed him I would be birthing at home. He flipped out and quickly informed me how dangerous and insane that would be (he later called me at home and apologized for his outlandish behavior). I stood my ground because I knew in my heart that birthing at home was what I needed to do.

We found a midwife and started preparing for a home birth. It was so wonderful to finally be excited about our baby and not to be full of fear about dying. We gathered supplies and Tami came around 38 weeks for the birth that was sure to be right around the corner and we walked and walked and walked. And no baby came.

And then, in her 43rd week of gestation, Blythe was born. After ten months of throwing up every single day and hours of throwing up every 15 minutes throughout her labor, she was born! As I held her that first day, I fell completely in love with her, with motherhood, with homeschooling her, with devoting my life to her. All of a sudden, I knew what motherhood meant and it was not drudgery, it was not a waste of time. It was the most important work I could ever do. It was exactly the work God wanted me to do. It was exactly the work my soul needed to do to grow and learn and develop into the woman I was created to be.

It saddens me to think how backward my thinking used to be and I am filled with gratitude for my brave Blythe who came into my life before I even knew I wanted her, before I valued motherhood, before I knew how absolutely essential motherhood is to the foundation of each family, community, nation, and world.

She taught me that I am doing the most important work. I am spending my days teaching the next generation what it means to be good. I am teaching them about freedom, government, history, God, math, cooking, serving, patience, and family.

I am so grateful for this 14-year-old girl. Thankful for her courage to follow her own path. Thankful she chose me as her mother. Thankful she forgives me and gives me another chance. Thankful she was born at what I thought was an inconvenient time. Thankful for her deep, inner knowing and her absolute devotion to what is right. I am humbled to think of the love God has for me to have sent me a child I didn’t know I needed, but He knew I needed. He knew what motherhood would come to mean to me and how it would change my life forever.

Here are some pics of this beautiful girl:

Blessing Day

Blythe's Blessing Day

Blythe and Grandpa Ward

Blythe and Grandpa Ward

Blythe and Grandma Smith

Blythe and Grandma Smith

Blythe taking a bath


Blythe and her papa



Blythe and her mama


Blythe with Andie and Grandma Dorothy

Blythe w/ sunglasses and bandana

Blythe and Marcus at Bear Lake

Blythe and Marcus at Bear Lake

Blythe and Stephen at Bear Lake


Two years old at GRL


Third Birthday at GRL


Crazy dress-up with her first cat, Spike




5th Birthday


Another Birthday party…with Cousin Becca and Aunt Mikelle


Blythe and Andie’s birthday at Bear Lake


Somewhere around the age of six




Baptism…and me at 38 weeks pregnant with Fisher


Eight-years-old with Keziah and Great-Grandma


With Grandpa’s horses


Pioneer Days rodeo…almost nine-years-old


Christmas at nine-and-a-half




Twelve-years-old…beautiful, isn’t she!




Blythe and Andie Tug of War



Isn’t she adorable!

I am so blessed to have her in my life and to have the privilege of being her mother. She has taught me much about love, patience, sacrifice, acceptance, putting people first, doing hard things, and so much more.

Most importantly, she was willing to come as my first child. Willing to let me learn how to mother on her. Willing to teach me the power of motherhood before I knew I was ready to learn that lesson.

Happy Birthday, my girl.

I love you.

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thankful thursdays 5/13

May 13, 2010 by

I have two weeks of things to be thankful for and there is so much that has happened in that time I just might run out of room!

* My cousin and dear friend came and visited me last week and we had such fun! We had a yummy dinner with friends, a sleepover for the moms, a skirt making day for the three little girlies, Teryn, Jane, and Annesley, a day at the park, ice cream birthday cake made by Tami and about six children as eager helpers, Thai food for birthday dinner, a massage, good conversations, and the wonderful peace that comes from having one of your bestest friends with you for days on end.

Yummy Birthday Cake…see the “T” and the “36” made with the oreos?

Birthday Cake

At the park:

Merry Go-Round

Holding my two cuties, Faith and Jace:

Faith and Jace
* Birthday presents galore!
*Samara, one of my little gym students, made me a pouch. It is perfect to hold lip gloss and lotion in my purse!

*Tami gave me a new bobbin holder and the cutest pins ever. What new project should I start with my new, sharp pins? Oh yeah, maybe I should finish the bathroom curtains?

*My mom gave me two pin cushions made with wool felt and emery sand to keep the pins sharp. Can I just say they are adorable and I love, love, love them to pieces! Sunflower Pin Cushion

Rose Pin Cushion

*Amy gave me a “Life is Good” bag! Have I mentioned my small obsession with all things “Life is Good?” I love their stuff and this bag is adorable! Bright pink and full of love. On the inside it has a secret message “The small things in life are the big things.” So true, isn’t it?

*Richard made me my favorite breakfast, Creamed Eggs…super yummy!!! Orange juice as well. What a fabulous way to start my birthday off right!

*Birthday cards from Becky and Grandma Bluemel
* For Mother’s Day, Richard fed me some more Creamed Eggs, let me sleep in, and gave me a gift certificate for a massage at a local day spa…can’t wait to redeem it…maybe on the last day of gym?
* I attended a birth this week and was again humbled to my core to be present when a new little soul entered this world. It is an honor to doula families through this process and to be invited into the sacred moments of their lives.
* I received another belated Christmas present…a big jar of yummy granola! My children ate most of it, but I was able to get some handfuls before it was all gone. Now I need Debbie’s recipe so I can make some more!
* Jennifer to the rescue again! She took care of my children while I was at the birth this week and even kept them extra long so I could come home and sleep after being up for nearly 36 hours.
* Blythe has been blessed with a wonderful Shakespeare class this year and is getting ready for their performances of Much Ado About Nothing next week. I am so thankful for the parents that have worked hard and given greatly of their time and talents to make this possible for the youth in our area. It has been an incredible experience for her and has truly changed her life to study Shakespeare’s writings, stage production, improv, costuming, and stage makeup. I am so excited for the youth to put this play on!
Hope your Thursday is wonderful!

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happy birthday to me

May 7, 2010 by

I love my birthday. Every year it is different and wonderful. I love pondering my life and thinking about my great blessings. I love writing my mom a Happy BIRTH day letter to thank her for giving life to me on this day so many years ago. I love celebrating. I love parties. I love gifts – giving and getting them. I love connecting with friends and giving people a reason to smile.

Today is a big day – it is the 4th Semi-Annual Headstand Contest at gymnastics. Some lucky few will win Jamba cards, yummmm.

Tami is here with me and we are having a great time celebrating birthday week. We had a big dinner with lots of friends and scrumptious food, then we stayed up most of the night talking. We made skirts yesterday for three adorable little girlies. Today we are going to shoot for a picnic at the park and playing with the kids and then head out for my favorite Thai food tonight.

Life is good.

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happy birthday to wet oatmeal kisses

Apr 29, 2010 by

Wowsers! A whole year of writing here at Wet Oatmeal Kisses has gone by. I attended the birth of a lovely baby with black hair early Monday morning and completely forgot that April 26 was the day I gave birth to this blog; this nook of the world where I record my thoughts, my epiphanies, my struggles, and my joys.

I eschewed the whole idea of blogging for a lllllooooooooonnnnnggg time. I kind of saw it as a waste of time. I can still see how it can be, how the blogging world can suck you in if you let it, but I can also see the benefits…and for me, they are huge. I am recording things for my family to remember, things that would not otherwise get written down. I am thinking about what I can say that might be of value to someone else. I am able to get my emotions out and feel them without having to let them all out on the ones I love best. I am writing my thoughts and thinking deeply about how to communicate with the outside world. You see, I don’t just want to write, I want to be understood. I want to connect. I want to touch the lives of my readers.

I am proud of myself. I rarely stick with something for very long and I have stuck with this pretty well, especially for moi. I have written 200 posts in 365 days. I have found new friends. I have made connections with people I wouldn’t have known existed. I have written about my mothering joys and my mothering weaknesses. I have learned from my thoughts. I hope I have blessed your lives in some way or another.

Thank you for joining me on this journey – I am very grateful for my readers and the feedback and comments you leave me. I treasure each and every one.

Here’s an idea – as a birthday gift to Wet Oatmeal Kisses leave a comment with your favorite post from the past year – it will totally make my day!

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happy birthday george leon

Feb 2, 2010 by

grandma pa rollins

Today is not only Groundhog Day, it is also my great-grandfather’s birthday. This tiny man who was about 5′ tall was a giant of man in my eyes. I grew up running a little grocery store in a little town in the middle of nowhere and I was related to at least half of the town’s residents. My great-grandfather was known by everyone and we were expected to live up to his goodness. He lived a few houses down from our grocery store and I always delivered his groceries to his house and put them away for him. He would take me out back and invite me to play shuffleboard on his personal cement slab in the backyard or show me one of his latest quilt creations. I knew I was somebody because I was his great-grandchild (one of hundreds, I might add). He was often featured in a 24th of July parade for being the oldest resident of our town or his name would be brought up in church as an example of service, missionary work, longevity, or just down-home goodness.

I remember people coming into the store and saying “You’re one of those Rollins’ aren’t you? You make sure you live up to that name!” and I would beam with pride and vow to be a good girl.

My great-grandfather lived till he was 103. He was full of faith, kindness, humor, a love of games, and lots of pairs of denim overalls till the end of his days. He served seven missions for his church and worked hard serving his family and community his entire life. He served in World War 1. In fact, he was gone serving in the army when my grandmother was born.

As I think of him on this day, I remember his love for Jesus Christ and how he tried diligently to instill that love in each of his descendants. I am so grateful to be part of his family, to have known him, served him, and loved him.

After our home burned down, he sent us one of his quilts he had tied and a check for $500. My grandma always told me he felt so sorry for us and immediately made up his mind to help the best way he could at the ripe old age of 101. I love that quilt and hope it never wears out.

Happy Birthday Grandpa.

I am still trying to live up to your name.

p.s. Tami gave birth to her 8th baby early this morning…on grandpa’s birthday! I am rooting for a middle name of Leon. His first name is Jace. Doesn’t Jace Leon Lyman sound great?! I’ll let you know what they decide.

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annesley aliyah

Nov 26, 2009 by

I asked for a miracle
I got one!
It was not what I asked for,
but it was exactly what I needed.

I remember so clearly the week that Annesley’s life began. Maybe it is because she is my youngest child and it wasn’t all that long ago – but maybe it is because God wants me to remember exactly who is guiding me.

I remember being told by our business partners that our business was going to close in two weeks. I remember being shocked, angry, in fact, even furious. I remember the helplessness I felt to solve this problem…and I remember praying to my Heavenly Father to please give us a miracle. Please help there be SOME other answer. Please don’t take away what we have worked so hard for nearly 5 years to build. Please, please, please.

I remember reading a book that week called A Mom Just Like You by Vickie Farris, a homeschooling mother of ten. There is a chapter in that book about letting God plan your family and not using birth control. We had been opposed to birth control for years and I had been teaching Natural Family Planning classes to interested couples for a long time, so I thought, hmmm, this sounds like something I already agree with, I’ll just skim it a little while I fall asleep. Something in Vickie’s words pricked my heart and made me realize I was not being completely willing to let God plan our family. I realized I had been telling Him I was not ready to try again to have a baby after numerous miscarriages. I was not ready to let my heart be broken again. I was not ready to throw up repeatedly day after day. I was not ready to deal with a baby again. I was not ready to bring a child into the world when our business was falling apart.

I read Richard some of the chapter and told him I thought we needed to really leave this in the Lord’s hands…and even though I was not entirely convinced myself…we told God He could send us a baby if He felt that this was the right time, knowing everything that was going on in our lives and the fragility of my wounded heart. Well, less than 24 hours later I was throwing up (yes, supposedly this is impossible, but it happens to me every time!) and craving Johnny Carino’s Caesar salad.

That Friday afternoon at ice skating, I remember thinking, this is NOT even funny. How can I be nauseated already? How will we make it through this pregnancy with our last check coming in two weeks? How will my children survive mom being sick, exhausted, and in pain? How will my pelvis hold up? What is the status of my uterine ligaments and for that matter, my uterus itself? See, I had been told after Fisher’s birth that my pelvis and ligaments were so damaged in the car accident I had at 40 weeks pregnant with him that I shouldn’t have more children. I really, really knew that I could not endure another birth and recovery like I had had with Fisher and was scared to death that that might happen. I didn’t really know if I could even carry this pregnancy to term because I had just had 2 miscarriages in a row. I was full to the brim with fear, worry, and a definite lack of faith.

I also remember being a little giddy thinking of a new little baby and if this one could possibly make it into my arms since he/she was so obviously an answer from God. I remember laughing and joking with my friend and talking about having a November baby.

By eight weeks I was in maternity clothes and I started to believe maybe this baby would make it. By twelve weeks I was showing a ton and getting pretty sure this baby would make it. I remember hearing her heartbeat and being ecstatic. At fifteen weeks we went camping for a week for swim camp and I made chocolate peanut butter smoothies for all the pregnant moms each morning. The weeks went by, I grew, the baby grew, and all my energies were focused on being a pregnant mama and overcoming the debilitating fear I had stored in my body from Fisher’s birth. Soon, November arrived along with lots of contractions. For some reason, I always thought I would have this baby before Thanksgiving. I thought that having Fisher at 40 weeks meant I no longer had to go days and days and days past 40 weeks. We made Thanksgiving plans, knowing I would have a 1 or 2 week old baby. But, no. I am destined to have long pregnancies, just like my mother and grandmother and four days AFTER Thanksgiving our little girlie arrived.

I remember being on the phone the night of the 25th with my sister-in-law, Sandy, working on Mom & Dad’s Christmas present that she was making. I needed to send her family photos and for some reason Richard’s computer was not making it easy for me to get these photos to her. I remember her asking me about the baby and me basically saying that I didn’t feel like the birth was going to be anytime soon. I was feeling nothing and figured I could easily go another week. Then I talked to my dear friend and doula who was leaving at 9 a.m. the next morning for a ten day trip to Washington. We cried together because we both knew she would not be able to attend my birth and both our hearts were broken at this turn of events. She tried hard to give me a pep talk about that God knew I could give birth without her because He wasn’t sending this baby yet and that maybe I needed this experience, that it would be a new and different experience that I would learn great things from. I really didn’t want to hear any of it. I wanted to have given birth two weeks before so that none of this was an issue. I wanted to look into her eyes as I labored and to feel the strength of her faith fill my soul.

Next, I talked to my midwife and she tried to give me the same pep talk that my doula gave me. Again, I wanted to hear none of it and went to bed devastated that my dear friend would not be there. See, I have attended all her births and she has attended all of mine but Blythe’s. We have shared miscarriages, worry, prayer, hope, tears, hugs, 2 hour phone calls, and everything in between. I could not imagine giving birth without her…and I knew now that it was 10 p.m. on the night before she was leaving that I had to somehow wrap myself around this new plan. I didn’t want to do it. I was so, so frustrated.

Around 3 a.m. I woke up to labor! What a delightful surprise! I could not believe it was really happening and quickly called my mom to get her on her way and then called my doula and midwife. Everyone started on their way, Richard started filling the tub, and I rocked through contractions. Soon, I needed Richard to be right with me, pushing on my sacrum once again. Around 5 a.m. my doula slipped into my bedroom and right into place next to me on my bed. I was still laughing and talking in between contractions at this point, but they quickly changed into “this is serious business, do not distract me by talking about miscellaneous topics” contractions. After multiple visits to the restroom to empty my bowels and my stomach (Do you know what an out of control experience it is to have volumes of fluid coming out your mouth, nose, and bottom all at the same time? Let me tell you, it is NOT enjoyable!) I slipped into the birth pool and was enveloped by its warmth and support.

Laboring in water is HEAVEN!

My pelvis was really hurting by this time and I was feeling a lot like I did during Fisher’s birth physically, but emotionally it was all different. I knew I was okay. I knew I was going to make it. I knew God wanted me to have this baby. That He had given her to us and that somehow He had healed my body enough for me to make it through this pregnancy. Because of this, I knew He had a plan for this birth.

Richard pushed on my pelvis, Delinda looked in my eyes, Keziah fed me homemade popsicles (you’ve got to try the R.W. Knudson Morning Blend juice to make your labor popsicles with…they are, hands down, the best), and Blythe was helpful in every way. Everything I needed she did with a gentleness that astounded me. She nurtured me that day in a way that hasn’t happened since she was a little girl and still thought I was the most amazing mom ever. My midwife arrived, my mom arrived, and everyone was thrilled that I was giving birth after such a journey to get to that point.

We could not figure out how to relieve the pressure on my pubic bone. It was hurting so much and I could not get any relief from numerous position changes. We tried using a hot water bottle, but it was not pliable enough to bend and fit how I needed it to. Someone had the brilliant idea to use a camelback…PERFECTION! It was plenty squishy and conformed to my body fabulously well.

A huge contraction came, my water broke, and out came Annesley into the hands of our midwife around 8:30 in the morning! What JOY! She laid on my chest for awhile, snuggled up and looking into my eyes. The depth of spirit that a brand new baby shows in her eyes is breathtaking. It is like looking straight into the essence of creation. I can always see that this soul has understanding that we don’t have. Their eyes are giant pools of wisdom, love, and truth.

That is exactly how Annesely’s eyes were that day. I remember feeling her great love for me. Her patience with me. And most of all, her joyful confidence that everything would be okay.

My doula left shortly afterwards so she could make it on her trip and we rejoiced together at the perfect timing of the Lord that enabled her to attend our birth.

Snuggling up with her in my bed that day healed so much of the pain of Fisher’s birth. I was not injured. I was not incapacitated. I was living proof that God CAN and DOES work miracles today. I was told my uterine ligaments would never heal…and yet, her birth, was proof that through His power they were healed. What a gift to be given from a loving Father…to be a miracle…and to have a child.

Annesely is now turning two years old. She is full of love, full of joy, and most of all, full of peace. Her eyes are bright and communicate the message that “it’s okay, it’s all gonna be okay.” I love this little girl so much. She has changed me and helped me to remember the joy of life and what is really most important.

You see, God knew that what we needed to get through our financial disaster was a little bundle of happiness and adorableness all wrapped up into one blue-eyed girlie who brings us joy everyday.

Happy Birthday Goo! We all love you!

Two days old

Two weeks old

Six weeks old







With her signature white hat made by Amy


Remember my post about the ranch dressing and yellow paint disaster? Here is the proof…





Look at her eyes in all these pictures. See how they are full of joy and love? Doesn’t it fill you with happiness just to see her?

Thank you for coming when you did my girlie, you are exactly what I needed then and your smiles help get me through every single day.

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