Summer of the Monkeys

Jun 14, 2012 by

We started our new family read-aloud last night. Summer of The Monkeys is sure to be a big hit!

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cutie-patootie purse

Mar 14, 2011 by

I have had the Sherpani Zenia shoulder wallet purse for the past two years. To say this purse changed my life is absolutely true and quite possibly an understatement. I don’t know if you can grasp what a difference this purse has made in my life. I am not a purse person. I am not a haul-everything-around-with-me-all-the-time person. I have had a clutch wallet of various sizes and styles for years and because it was not attached to me, I would lose it.


Once Kat found it at Smith’s. I have left it at Winco numerous times. How is a person supposed to bag their groceries while holding a clutch in their armpit, especially when you have a child attached to you in a sling? Good thing I carry my babies in slings, eh? I might have lost one of them over the years! I can’t even tell you the amount of time I have lost in my life searching for my clutch wallets. Richard gets seriously worried about me losing all of our IMPORTANT CARDS and freaks out every time this happens. Me, not so much. A thief wouldn’t be able to pull much out of our account! My library card though…that one is too important to lose. So, I started my search for a solution and found it in the Sherpani Zenia. I have LOVED this small, life-changing device. It is the perfect size. It holds my cards, my cash, and a pen. It is attached to me at all times when I am out of my home. It has a spare key for our vehicle in it and because it is attached to me, I have been able to save us a small fortune in locksmithing fees. It is small enough that I am forced to throw away receipts on a regular basis, which is good for the soul. No point in carrying around receipts from 2003! The only drawback to the Zenia is there is no place for my phone. I can fit it on the inside, if there is nothing else in there, but that is not realistic, so I have had to carry my phone in my pants pocket or hand when I have no pocket. This had led to more than a few times of losing my phone. I have dealt with this problem, but have really wished I had a cell phone pocket.

The Zenia…aahhh, I loved it.

Then it broke. Not the whole thing, just the zipper pull, which makes it difficult to open and nearly impossible for my non-dextrous fingers to close (thank goodness for Keziah, it has been her job for months to close my purse for me!) It has a lifetime replacement warranty, so for the last 9 months I have just needed to mail it in and Sherpani will either repair it or replace it. Sounds simple, right? It would be, except for the fact that I cannot live without this life-changing device. I intended to mail it in last year on our way to our two week camping trip. I figured I could live without it in the mountains. Somehow I forgot about my plan until I was in the mountains and didn’t want to drive out of the mountains to mail it in, so now I have ended up living with the broken zipper for months and months.

I decided I would buy a new purse, but nothing spoke to me. I didn’t love the new Zenia colors and I didn’t really want to buy a new one when I will be given a new one if I mail in my old one, so I have been searching for something to replace it with. If you know me at all, you know that my personal possessions must speak to my soul. They can’t just be things with no connection to me. The color, the feel, the fabric…all of it has to MEAN something to me. Nothing could be found.

Then in January, I found a purse pattern at a local fabric store and fell in love. I knew this was the one. I quickly enlisted Kat into the project since I have no skills to actually produce the adorable thing. She agreed that we would do it in the next few weeks. I started scouting for fabric and finally found something that spoke to me. It has several shades of green, which is one of my current love-you-so-much colors. Green is my color for growth, for becoming, for sprouting forth in ways God wants me to sprout. It also has red…I have always loved red. Red looks good on me, it is vibrant, it represents life and life-sustaining activities to me. It also has pink. I haven’t always loved pink, but my little Annesley looks so good in pink that over the past three years, I have fallen in love with pink. Pink is also Kat’s favorite color and every time I see pink, I am reminded of my dear friend, Miss Katherine.

Katherine looked at the purse and then came to my house and made, yes, MADE a pattern for it, with a few modifications to make it smaller, more functional, and with a better use of the zippered pocket. My part of the deal was keeping all of the children happy and feeding Kat delicious food. I made delicious fajitas (twice), scrambled eggs, smoothies, and, of course, we had ice cream as well. I think I kept my part of the bargain, but I still need to do something fabulous for her. We started working on it on Thursday afternoon. Then we worked on it again on Friday after gymnastics and continued through the night until three a.m. On Saturday, we were up and working on it by about 8 a.m. and finished around 3:30. LONG project. I think the next one (Kat’s) should go much quicker! Stipling was a huge stress for us, so we emailed Jessica at 1:30 a.m. and she said we could come over and consult with her…right then, in the middle of the night. While Jessica and Kat figured out a stipling solution, I deep-cleaned her bathroom. Fair trade, eh?

I am in awe of Kat’s amazingness. My new purse holds all my debit cards, discount cards, membership cards, and of course, all five of our library cards, has a zippered pocket so no cash or critical receipt can escape, will hold my cell phone securely, and looks oh, so adorable! I am SO thrilled with this new little number.






Pretty stinkin’ adorable, eh??

And now, I can mail in my Zenia!

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saturday’s top ten

Apr 6, 2010 by

We made our fourth trip to Utah in as many weeks (this cannot continue!) for a spur of the moment trip to General Conference (a huge meeting of all the Mormons in the world and one of my favorite events of the year) and took two of the girls’ friends with us. We had a fabulous day together and it was indeed worth the hours of white knuckle driving through snow and ice to get there.

10. Eating at the Old Spaghetti Factory…again. I just can’t get enough of the spinach tortellini or the spaghetti with mizithra cheese…YUMMM. All the girls loved it as well. They got to sit on thrones while they ate and they acted out a whole queen-princess-handmaid thing…guess who was the guard. Yep, me.

9. Listening to the girls play find the egg for hours on the way home.

8. Listening to them write a story together on the way down.

7. Believing we wouldn’t get in and then seeing the relief on the girls’ faces when we did.

6. Seeing all the beautiful artwork in the Conference Center.

5. Julie B. Beck’s talk on women and personal revelation. Much to ponder there.

4. Boyd K. Packer’s talk on fathers and Priesthood power in the home.

3. Watching the girls watch the Prophet.

2. Hearing (and mouthing along with them while tears streamed down my face) the choir sing “How Firm a Foundation” with power, zeal, and humble trust in the Lord.

1. Singing “How Firm a Foundation” with all four girls on the way home. Belted out at the top our lungs, of course. You know I love this song, right? It has the power to lift me, restore me to a place of faith, and allow me to sing my great love for my Savior, to my Savior. When I sing it, I feel like He is listening, saying “Yes, my dear one, I will never leave you. I know you know this, now know it deeper, trust me, trust me, trust me.”

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one year

Dec 17, 2009 by

It has been one year since my favorite person in the world left this earth. It has been a hard year without her. I can still hear her voice in my head and feel her kiss on my cheeks, but I can’t see her and it sometimes feels as if my grief will overwhelm me. Sometimes knowing she is happy and out of pain isn’t enough. Sometimes I want her twinkling eyes in front of me, her laughter filling my ears, and her knowledge of everything under the sun to be readily available.

IMG_0833_2Isn’t she adorable?

Just this week my children begged for me to make fudge and divinity with them. I told them “I don’t know how, I am not Grandma GG. That is who we need here to teach us.”

I miss her and selfishly want her back.

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free christmas music, well, really free anytime music

Dec 14, 2009 by

I’m pretty certain I am the last internet user to find out about Pandora, but just in case I am not and you are one of the few uninformed souls out there, I am here to save the day!

Pandora is a free radio station on the internet that only plays music you like. You put in a song or artist that you enjoy and then it creates a playlist of similar type music. If it plays a song you don’t like, you just tell it so and then it will not play that song again. It is so fun! I am have been sitting here hand sewing all day long making something adorable for a friend of mine and it has been wonderful to hear a wide variety of beautiful Christmas music…and I have LOVED every single song that has played! I only have a few Christmas CD’s and we have listened to them over and over the last couple of weeks, so it was really fun to hear something different.

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beethoven and me

Nov 7, 2009 by

I just returned home from attending the symphony performance of Beethoven’s 9th.


A gift to my soul.

A magnificent journey through the experiences of the human spirit and a triumph of both God and man.

My body is still tingling with the vibrations nearly two hours after the last note sounded. It was that amazing. If you ever get a chance to attend a live performance, do it!

I learned something about Beethoven and myself tonight. The first performance of his Ninth Symphony was on May 7, 1824 in Vienna, exactly 150 years before my birth. Just think of the connection! May 7 is Beethoven’s triumphant day and it is the day I was finally born, after weeks of refusing to come, I made my entrance on May 7. I have always loved Beethoven, maybe this is why. Maybe I decided to be born on that day for that very reason? When Keziah was about 18 months old, she would put in Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and dance for the entire thing. She loved it. Maybe it is in my family line to have a connection with Beethoven. Who knows, maybe?

Seriously though, I was transformed tonight, I could hardly contain myself from shouting. The fourth movement is so incredibly powerful. It is healing. It is a passionate statement about the greatness of God and the potential of the human soul. The entire symphony is heartache and trials and discouragement and hope and renewal and endurance and finally, JOY! I felt all my cares melt away and I wanted to rejoice with all my fellow sojourners here on earth that we can live in happiness. We can have joy. We can love. We can sing to our God above and it is glorious to be one of His creations. GLORIOUS!!

Remember he was entirely deaf when he wrote it. He could not hear a note of this incredible work of art. Utterly amazing.

Do me a favor and listen to it. Give yourself a 74 minute gift and listen to the entire symphony and then you will know why I was so touched.

***By the way, did you know that the reason a CD can hold the amount of music that it holds is to ensure that all of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony will fit on one CD. Talk about having an impact on the world.

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green river lakes – now with pictures!

Aug 20, 2009 by

It is 12:39 in the middle of the night and I have stolen from my sleeping time to add these photos for all of you to enjoy. I don’t have time to describe each one, so just make up your own story for what is going on (grin)!

My whole family, all five of my mom’s children (yes, my little brother came all the way from Wisconsin – amazing! I really think he should just move back!), all five of her grandchildren, Leonard and his camper, all three of their horses, both of their dogs, and two special friends of Mikelle and Stephen came camping with us.

Some of the highlights: We had fun hiking, canoeing, fishing, swimming in the river, riding horses (thanks for hauling them all the way up there Leonard!), playing rook, spades, rummikub, dice, and mormon bridge, napping, playing in the rain, playing kickball and baseball (although we had numerous injuries to Fisher and several to the rest of us). Thanks to Uncle Scott, Fisher is now a proficient left-handed batter and can bat a football, a kickball, and a softball. Annesley delighted everyone with her smiles and kisses and has decided playing ball with Uncle Scott is the best thing ever. Andie and Keziah ran loops around the campground to get Andie ready for cross-country. Fisher was happy when he was fishing, eating fish, or playing ball. The rest of the time? Not so much. Blythe and Andie celebrated their 13th birthdays on the 7th and the 9th and Grandma Dorothy made them a pie. Blythe spend most of her time reading. I think she is trying to get through the Hardy Boys series as fast as she can. Shelby (coming all the way from Seattle!) taught us a fun dice game that we will be playing a lot in our homeschool this year – I am hoping I can remember all the rules! Logan cooked everyone a delicious dutch oven dinner with peach cobbler for dessert. Scrumptious! We had hail, sun, rain, snow, wind, calmness, and frost, usually some of each of these on each day. The weather changes about every 10 minutes up there. Scott made fun of me for changing my clothes so frequently, but you have to when the weather can’t make up its mind to be warm or cold.


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carpe diem

Aug 17, 2009 by

We are home again. It was so good for my spirit to be away from this world of busyness, cell phones, internet, laundry, vacuuming, emails, distractions…yes, that is it, distractions that keep me from being who I really want to be and from doing what I really want to do. I cannot tell you how lovely my mountains are. They are part of me. I see them when I close my eyes. You know that “special place” all those birth books tell you to go to relax. I think its supposed to be a warm sandy beach with soft ocean waves lapping at your feet. Well, Green River Lakes is anything but that, but it is my special place. It has gotten me through four births. It gives me rejuvenation every year. It gives me strength. It grounds me. Those mountains work their magic on me and I feel more me.

I have been learning a lesson lately about change and savoring opportunities when they present themselves or even chasing them down when they don’t quite land in a gift wrapped package on my doorstep. This lesson has been building in my heart and mind for awhile, but this trip to my favorite place in the world (besides my husband’s arms) helped give it shape and drive it home.

Things change. They do. I think I haven’t always known this. I think I thought things would always be the same. The same stores would always be there. The same people would always be part of my life. The same books would be on my shelves. The same foods would always be available. The same clothes would be worn. The same hair stylist would be in the same salon in the same town and would have the same incredible skills. The same children would be adorable babies. The same trees would always be there.

Well, guess what? That is all a bunch of hooey. Stores close. People move, die, or drift on. Books get lent, lost, or destroyed. Favorite foods are no longer made. Clothes get stains, get holes, or are grown out of. Stylists leave or stop cutting well. Children grow up.

And trees? Yes, they get cut down.

My trees. My trees I grew up running around, sitting under, tying ropes to, hiding behind, and feeling completely safe in are gone. The forest service has cut them down. They have changed my favorite place in the world so completely it feels as if I have lost an arm, or a leg, or a best friend. As I walked around touching stumps and thinking of my friends, the trees, I was filled with memories of my childhood. Of running down to the lake with Camille, past the rock horse, across the watermelon stream, down through the trees where no one could see us. Of playing tag at the bathroom rocks for hours, surrounded by trees in our own little world. Of playing space ships on the hillside in the dark, not because it was nighttime, but because the trees were shading every inch of ground.

As adults, we have been camping there all but one year of our married life when it was closed due to a fire. I looked at tree stumps that once had been trees holding homemade swings for Blythe and Andie. I remembered Rook games, hot chocolate, meteor showers, and campfire songs under my trees. I remembered midnight talks with my cousins, walks with my grandma, cooking pancakes and fish over the fire, playing softball on our “field”, celebrating the girls’ birthdays, hanging up tarps, and watching moose amble through camp – always surrounded by my trees.

Now they are gone.

So are a lot of other things in other areas of my life and I have been trying to work my heart around all of that. My grandma is gone. Some of my friends are gone. My friend’s husband’s leg is gone. The grocery store I grew up in is gone. My favorite pants are worn right out and need to be gone. My dishes are slowly breaking and being thrown away (I only have 2 bowls left of 8!) My little brother and sister are finally grown up and moved out of the house we were raised in. My mother is almost 60. My miscarried babies, eight of them, are not here in my arms. My midwife may not be practicing anymore. My little ones are growing up (we just had our first birthday of birthday season and will have one a month till November). Our first violin teacher moved. Our next violin teacher just stopped teaching. Some of my friends’ marriages have ended. Each of our vehicles are on their way out.

Some of these are big, some of these are small. They have all played a part in teaching me that nothing is forever. Change is inevitable and I need to figure out a way to accept it. But accepting it is not the biggest part of the lesson – carpe diem is.

Seize the day. I need to live in the present with those I love and seize the magical moments of life. I need to live without regrets by truly living each day, not just existing. I need to love with my whole heart even if I know it is going to end up hurt. I need to give of myself to others, for tomorrow they may not be with me. I need to enjoy the blessings of each hour and not take them for granted. I need to live. I need to love.

I have learned something else.

There is one thing that is forever.


What lasts? Ice cream melts, flowers wilt, the leaves of autumn fall. Sunsets fade, seasons change, and children don’t stay small. Balloons pop, snowfalls stop, do summers last? Never! Weekends fly, today will die, but families are forever.

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off to the woods

Aug 7, 2009 by

We are going camping today. My favorite thing in the whole world is to go camping. I cannot wait to be there…but this has been such a busy week that I am just starting to pack this morning. Hopefully we can pull it together quickly and get on the road. I need the respite of the woods more this year than any other time of my life. I need to pull my little ones close to me while we sit around the fire. I need to hear the birds in the trees and see the squeakies run around chattering to each other. I need to see moose ambling through the trees. I need to go on some good hikes. I need to drink fresh, cold, clear water. I need to see these mountains up close and personal:Green River Lakes

I need to breathe the mountain air. I need to see my brothers and sisters…all of them will be there for the first time in YEARS. I need to forget the stress of money, bills, cleaning, jobs and doing and just be. I need to be.

I have a baby due right now and I am praying he stays put till I get back, but if he decides to come I know the mama is in good hands and will be surrounded by love.

Today is Blythe’s 13th birthday. I have so much I want to say about that, but the mountains are calling, so I am going to finish packing, wrap her presents, and be ready to wrap her in my arms when she returns home to me from Girls’ Camp in a few hours.

See how she’s grown into a beautiful young lady? Amazing!

Blythe's Blessing DayBlythe at 4Blythe Nov 2007

See you in a few!

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stop the train

Jul 16, 2009 by

Stop the Train is an audio book we recently checked out from the library. It is about the settling of Oklahoma through the Homestead Act. It is so hilarious – Richard and I laughed all the way through it! This version is a full-cast audio production and the different character’s voices are one of the best parts of the story. It is almost 8 hours long, so it is perfect for long car rides or several afternoons of listening while you are sewing or canning. 517J1C4K3YL._SS500_

The story tells of a group of people moving out to Oklahoma to settle the town of Florence, but when they arrive, there is no town…yet. The book tells the funny, inventive, and courageous tale of a group of people working together to build a community in spite of opposition from the railroad company, which refuses to stop in their town.

We think you will love it!

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stories of jesus on youtube

Jul 13, 2009 by

Roger Hoffman emailed me this morning to let me know that a father down in TX has made a youtube movie set to two of the songs from Stories of Jesus (from my post from yesterday). I just watched the movie and it is beautiful!

Here is the link:

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Jul 12, 2009 by

KeziahKeziah sang a beautiful song in Sacrament meeting today. It is one of our favorites and she did a fantastic job! She sang strong and clear and looked right out at the audience. I am so proud of her! I had a lot of people ask about the song afterwards so I am posting it here so you can all have the words.

Jesus climbed the hill
to the garden still.
His steps were heavy and slow.
Love and a prayer
took Him there
to the place only He could go.

Jesus loves me.
So He went willingly
to Gethsemane.

He felt all that was sad,
wicked or bad,
all the pain we would ever know.
While His friends were asleep
He fought to keep
His promise made long ago.

Jesus loves me.
So He went willingly
to Gethsemane.

The hardest thing that ever was done,
the greatest pain that ever was known,
the biggest battle that ever was won,
this was done by Jesus!
The fight was won by Jesus.

Jesus loves me.
So gave his gift to me
in Gethsemane

Jesus loves me.
So He gives His gift to me
from Gethsemane.

“Gethsemane” written by Roger and Melanie Hoffman

The song is on the album Stories of Jesus, which you can buy at or at Deseret Book . I cannot express to you how much I LOVE this album. It has 15 amazing songs on it that teach the entire life of Jesus from birth to resurrection. Fisher received this CD for his birthday last year and listened to it each night as he went to bed for at least 6 months.

You can get a download of the album’s instrumental tracks for $6.99, or you can buy the download on iTunes for $9.99. You can get the CD from Hoffman House for 15.98 or if you must have it tomorrow morning, it is at Deseret Book for $16.98 (remember to use a 25% off coupon!)

We also have Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy, Joy and Sunday, Sunday, Day of Joy! by the same people at Hoffman House. Both of these albums are downloadable for only $6.99! We sing these songs all the time and I can’t imagine our family life without them. There is a song on Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy, Joy called “I Know Jesus Lives” that I am currently in love with. It is a little child singing how he knows that 2 + 2 is 4 and he knows the colors in his crayon box, but the most important thing he knows is “I know Jesus lives, I know He’s my friend, He gave His life for me and His love never ends.” Isn’t that lovely! It gives me a renewed effort as a homeschooling mom to reinforce that even though I know lots of things about food, space, books, countries, math, languages, birth, friendship, public speaking, the Constitution, my ancestors, poetry, music, and the scriptures, that the MOST important thing I know is that Jesus lives and that He loves me enough to die for me and provide a way back to my Father.

These CDs are produced by the same people who gave us Scripture Scouts, which I see as indispensable! If you do not own Scripture Scouts figure out a way to get them! There are 5 albums: Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Articles of Faith, and the Proclamation on the Family. Our family has listened to them for about 10 years now and even though we have heard them hundreds of times, we STILL love them. I can think of no better, easier or more fun way for children to learn AND remember all the stories of the scriptures than by listening and singing along with Scripture Scouts. Trust me, you will fall in love with Boo, Baby, Skyler, and Sue.

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