little zulu

Nov 19, 2013 by

I have this daughter that loves running. She started running on her 10-month birthday and hasn’t stopped since. She began entering triathlons at about age 8, loved the experience and started dreaming of being a runner. Unfortunately she has a mother who hates running. But that same mother finally decided to become a runner so she could run with her daughter every day since she was too young to run by herself. A mother who ran in the cold and the snow and the wind because she loved her daughter so much.

And then the mother got injured and has had her whole life turned upside down, inside out, and everything in between.

This daughter has really struggled to be able to develop as a runner without me and has ebbed and flowed in her determination to run. She flat out refused to run in any 5Ks this past year. I think she was working it all out in her mind and figuring out who she was and what was important to her. Perhaps my injury scared her or gave her guilt or something. I don’t know what was going on inside her heart, but we felt we should give her the space and time to work it out.

But now she is running again. She loves it. She ran cross-country this fall and can’t wait for next year. Miss Keziah is strong and smart and I am excited to see where this running passion takes her. Last night was her award ceremony. The coaches call the oldest group the Big Dogs, the younger group the Little Dogs, and the little twelve and thirteen year olds the Pups. Last night at the ceremony, the coach told about how a small group of these young kids would not stop running and always chose the longer distances and the harder workouts. He decided they were not Pups any longer, they were Little Zulus – like the South African people who ran long distances and then fought a battle.

I should say she is a Little Zulu! We have always thought she is like an Energizer Bunny – she keeps going, going, going.

Now it is time for the winter workouts to begin!

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a mom can brag, right?

Sep 10, 2013 by

a mom can brag, right?

Ha-ha! I know even moms shouldn’t brag, but my heart is so full to bursting that I must share all the excitement with the world.

First piece of excitement – Annesley learned how to ride her bike a few weeks ago. As soon as we got home from our camping trip she started practicing in earnest. She would run in and get me a gazillion times a day to show me how close she was to keeping her balance and I admit, it was a tad hard not to laugh at her sorry attempts. She would get the pedal about 30% around the circle before she put her feet down to stop from crashing. Or sometimes she did crash…and oh, the tears! But within just a few days of getting home she insisted she could do it for reals and she really could! I was shocked as could be after seeing the pitiful attempts made all week long. She was a pro and was able to ride up and down our bumpy dirt road with ease. Now she loves to ride down to the mailbox to fetch the mail with Fisher.

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Second bit of news – Keziah has long loved running, but hasn’t been able to be as dedicated as she would like because of this hip injury that is plaguing our lives. She really needs me to run with her and since I can’t, her running has suffered. Well, this year she decided to join a cross-country team and she has been running her little heart out for the past several weeks. She competes in one meet a week and is doing really well. I am so proud of her. Most of the youth participating have been running all summer (or for the past many years since so many of them run year round), but she has jumped right in and is giving it her best. She didn’t have time to really build up her strength or lung power, she had to run big right from the get-go and she is succeeding!

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Third bit of excitement – my room is clean! It has stayed clean for over a week!

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I moved a comfy chair from downstairs up into the corner of my room. I am hoping it will give me a little bit of variety of resting locations. I have been living in my bed for almost 20 months now…and I pretty much hate it. So now, I can read with the children and study myself without having to be on my bed.

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Fourth big hooray – Keziah’s bed is almost finished!

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I am hoping by the end of the week to have my basement back and have Annesley all moved over into Keziah’s room.

Fifth shout from the rooftops – Fisher’s bedroom is clean! We finished it last Monday late into the night and he has kept it clean for a whole week! Hallelujah!

And now, DRUMROLL PLEASE!

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Blythe auditioned for the Youth Symphony and was accepted! This is a huge deal. The area’s best youth musicians audition each year and some of them are accepted. She has rehearsals every week, several big performances throughout the year and then a tour to San Francisco next summer. It is so exciting and I can’t even think about it without a huge smile lighting up my face. I am SO proud of her. She fell in love with music as a baby and started begging to play the violin as a three-year-old (we made her wait till she was five). She had the same wonderful teacher for the first five years of her learning and we have struggled to find a good fit of a teacher since then. She has been teacherless for months (years?) at a time when we either couldn’t afford lessons or couldn’t find someone to teach her. We have cleaned houses and baked bread for lessons. I have taught gymnastics for years to pay for her lessons. We have done everything we could do to help her live this musical dream of hers and now the paybacks are coming. Now all her hard work is paying off. She has a gift of playing from her heart and now this experience will develop technique and repertoire that she needs to advance to the next level. Here is a big thanks to Jennifer and Jesse for helping her prepare for her audition!

So many good things are happening in the lives of my children. They are learning. They are growing. They are courageous. They are willing to try new things. They are growing up into beautiful human beings.

And it feels good to this mama. Way to go my children – shoot for the stars!

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trying to get ready for fall

Aug 22, 2013 by

trying to get ready for fall

Miss Cutie-Patootie went to a birthday party last week and wanted to wear something super-cute from her new stack of hand-me-down clothes. Then she asked me to take pictures…she is so funny! She loves her picture being taken.

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Are you all busy with back-to-school shopping? We sure have been. My Fisher has grown like a weed this summer and all his pants are 2-4 inches too short. A few days ago I hit the thrift store in town and got him a whole new wardrobe of shirts for about $2 a piece, some new gym pants, and two lovely sweaters. I still need to find him some jeans, khakis, and a new church suit, but it seems the thrift store pants for boys are pretty worn out by the time they get there.

We are also stocking up on our favorite composition notebooks, pens & pencils, our FIAR (Five-In-A-Row) books for the year, lots of WWII books for my upcoming Hero Project class, Shakespeare stuff for Keziah, and getting the school room ready for our learning adventures. It is a lot of work, but oh, so much fun to get everything organized for a new year and to watch my children pour over their supplies.

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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?

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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.

Heaven.

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.

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

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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.

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Fisher all bundled up for dinner.

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Finally the rain stopped and he took his hood off.

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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.

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

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

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

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Then we thought we would get creative…hilarity ensued.

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The Three Muskateers

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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.

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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?

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Mom and Grandpa Leonard with all the grandchildren.

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And finally all seventeen of us together.

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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.

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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.

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One final wave.

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

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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.

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Cameron and Nicole kayaking out to the lake.

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

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Here is cousin Marcus in one of our kayaks.

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Blythe, Annesley, and Fisher out on the lake.

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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.

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Cameron’s splash into the river.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

Cam and Mom.

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Cameron and Nicole

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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.

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

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

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Mikelle and her two babes.

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

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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?).

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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.

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

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A few days later, the curls were lovely.

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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.

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Annes and Grandma soaking the layers of filth away.

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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.

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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.

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Blythe’s cake complete with baby Snickers.

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Eating the cake…yes, they are goofballs.

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

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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.

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More knives.

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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.

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

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Andie’s cake complete with oreos.

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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.

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

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New nightgowns from grandma.

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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.

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See these rocks? They are magical.

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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!).

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Andie and Grandma on their tube mountain.

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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?

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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.

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And with poses.

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Sunbathing?

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Filthy, tired Sadie.

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

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

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

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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.

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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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the hungry fox

Jul 22, 2013 by

Fisher has been raising fourteen baby chicks since the end of March and has done so, so well. This little boy has gotten up all by himself and fed and watered and loved on his chicks every day. He has mucked out the coop and filled it with clean hay. He has done all of it without reminders. He comes into my room around 7:00 a.m. and gives me a report on how his chickens are doing. It is so cute. The first week of July they started laying and one day when Scott was here he got 12 eggs. Talk about exciting! The older chickens he has hardly lay at all and he has done a gob of work without many rewards from them. He has completely proven himself to be a responsible chicken owner.

Now tragedy has struck. While I was gone on my trip, we had a little red visitor at our house who dug and slithered and snuck his way into the chicken coop and killed almost all of Fisher’s chickens.

Oh my. The tears that were shed upon our return home could have filled a pond. When this little guy cries, it is whole-soul-sobbing. He loves his bugs and animals so much that it breaks his heart when they die. Having almost all of his flock decimated about did him in. Richard and Fisher talked and talked and talked and snuggled and snuggled and searched for the fox and many tears later Fisher came in the house to talk to me about it.

“Mom, that fox has never been so desperate before. I am thinking he has a wife and a family of children that he needs to take care of. That is why he is so desperate. Tomorrow I am going to spend the whole day guarding my chickens. I don’t think he will be brave enough to come get them if I am there. He was only brave enough because I was gone.”

Words of wisdom in that boy.

The next day we found nine one-year old hens for $20 (a smoking deal!) and brought them home. His heart is healing as he loves on them. I can never decide how I feel about these life lessons. They are so painful to go through, but I hope they will make him a better man.

Yesterday he even got four eggs!

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day at the pool

Jun 18, 2013 by

day at the pool

We have been exploring pools in the area to have our annual Swim Camp next year and last week we had a blast swimming and sliding.

The big, hill slides that were sauna-like hot inside.

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Annes tackled the big slides along with all the big kids.

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Coming out of the chute – no, she isn’t drowning, jut being swept away to the stairs.

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Here she is, so proud of her bravery on the big slide.

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The foam pads made it slick and speedy.

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She loved going down this one because at the end you aren’t moving hardly at all and she could stop, stand up, and jump out.

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The splash park was a hit with all the little ones.

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Sunburns, smiles, and freckle-growing were on the upswing.

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One happy boy.

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These goggles crack me up.

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I love that my children are die-hard swimmers. They will swim till the cows come home if I let them and their courage impresses me. My husband *hates* swimming, but I love it and so do my kiddos, so it is one of our favorite summer pastimes when he is at work. I am hoping to catch our little lake with the kayaks sometime this week and maybe Bear Lake as well. Summer in Idaho is so short, we need to pack our days full of adventure while the sun is warm and the wind is slow – it will be gone before we know it.

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baby teeth are falling out

Jun 17, 2013 by

baby teeth are falling out

My baby is growing up. She is now a proud 5 1/2 year old, but I still think of her as my baby. She very well may be my last child and it is pretty hard to watch her grow up so quickly.

The day after we got home from Swim Camp she made a huge jump forward in her growing-up-quest – she lost her first tooth!

This marks the youngest age at which one of our children have lost a tooth and it beats my record by a mile! I lost my first tooth at age 10 – the August right before I started fifth grade.

Her new smile is super cute, but it pains my heart to see it – surely she isn’t old enough to be losing teeth!

Here she is with some of her cousins…third cousins to be exact. These are some of Tami’s children minutes before we walked out the door to church.

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swim camp 2013

Jun 6, 2013 by

swim camp 2013

Last week was our 10th Annual Homeschool Swim Camp. Ten years! I can’t believe a small spur-of-the-moment camp-out when I was 36 weeks pregnant with Fisher has turned into such a wonderful (and huge!) gathering of family and friends.

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This year we endured three days of nearly constant rain, freezing cold nights, and flooded tents and enjoyed three days of sunshine, good conversations, big leaps in swimming skills, delicious food, a hilarious skit night emceed by Jennifer, endless Capture The Flag games, hours of sitting at the pool while Annesley swam her little heart out, lots of cousins, a snuggly snake that Fisher quickly made into his best friend, s’mores made with Reeses (um, can you say yummo?), an adorable song about happiness written by Boo for all the children, massage night, birthday party for Marcus, and loads of laughter.

Unfortunately, I misplaced my camera at the beginning of the week and didn’t find it until the last day, so I missed lots of great moments. Thank goodness that Jessica and Melissa took a ton of photos!

This year was like a family reunion for me! Camille, my first cousin and bestie since the age of five came with six of her children. Three of my second cousins, Tami (with six of her eight), Melissa (with three of her four), and Nikki (with three of her five) joined us. Then Tami’s friend from high school, KeeNan, came with her five children and her husband (lucky girl, the rest of us were husbandless) and Tami’s best friend, Boo, came with her four children. Every day was a party over in my section of the campground. On Friday we celebrated Camille’s son’s 16th Birthday complete with cake and ice cream. I will always remember the day he was born and how brave and resilient Camille was during his birth.

Checking people in always takes me hours and hours and this year was no different. I think I helped people for about ten hours straight on Monday and about six hours on Tuesday. After that I was able to relax and enjoy being with everyone. We had about 40 families join us this year with 89 children in swimming lessons and lots of babies and teens who are either to young or have graduated out of lessons. People went on hikes, rode bikes, huddled under shade shelters, explored the woods, played Capture the Flag (a Swim Camp tradition) and spent lots of time in the water. Speaking of spending lots of time in the water, my Annesley got in everyday at nine in the morning and didn’t get out until six or seven at night. She is a fish!

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Thanks to Miracle Salve from Butterfly Express her skin didn’t fall off and amazingly didn’t even turn all red and dried out looking like all the other years. I think I need to buy gallons of the stuff!

I spent almost all of my time at the pool with Annesley. So most of the time I only got to visit with people who came to sit by me. Tami brought a magical zero-gravity chair to camp and I CAN SIT IN IT! Hallelujah! It is so stinkin’ exciting to sit down. I sat in it at the pool, at the fire, and we even took it to church on Sunday so I could sit through the meetings. Oh my goodness, it is wonderful! She left it at my house and insists it is my birthday present so now I get to sit in it all the time. Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah!

Fisher was super easy to spot in his lessons in his bright, green swim attire. He spent almost as much time in the pool as Annesley, but he also had plenty of time to hunt bugs and other creatures.

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One day during the rain a group of us moms spent the morning playing Heads Up, an app that is a combination of Taboo and Charades. We laughed hard, flailed our bodies in every direction, and made utter fools of ourselves. It took me back to our days of teenage-hood when we played games for hours and hours at family reunions. I have to say Jessica’s scootering imitation had all of us snorting.

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Here is Camille who I can’t imagine my life without. We met when we were five years old and have been more like sisters than cousins ever since. She helped my through childhood, my parent’s divorce, teenage angst, early marriage, mothering toddlers, learning how to be a homemaker, and everything in between. I love her to the moon and back and am so glad she came to join us. I haven’t seen her for awhile and I miss our girl time together.

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Tami came all the way from Australia just for Swim Camp (just kidding, she is in the States visiting for seven weeks while her oldest graduates from high school and gets ready to leave on his mission for the LDS church).

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She gives wonderful massages and I was able to be spoiled with two of them although anytime she or Boo got near my IT Band I went through the roof. As soon as my hip is all better I will enjoy a massage without jumping in pain. We also laughed our heads off, ate lots of yummy food, and she helped me through the one and only passing out episode of the week.

Jessica was my camping partner and together with Jen and Kat we had pretty fancy lodgings. Kat’s parents came up to set up their double canopy shelters so we could have shade and protection from the ever present rain. It was so cold we only ate a few meals under them though, the rest of the time we hauled our food up to the warm pool house.

Jennifer, aka Captain Literally, knocked our socks off at Skit Night. Wish she would have had time to complete her superhero costume with tights, shorts, and cape. (Thanks for the photo, Jess.) She also was our emcee and shared hilarious jokes in between all the skits – “What does the shy pebble wish for? To be a little bolder!”

My 2nd cousin (our grandmothers are sisters), Melissa, came up with her three adorable children. Her goal was to spend lots of time talking to the experienced homeschooling mothers and figure out how to do this whole homeschooling gig. After talking to her, I think she has it down…lots of wonderful ideas, a solid foundation, and excellent mothering skills – she has it made in spades. I wish she would move up here and join our community of awesome families.

Melissa’s sister, Nikki, joined us on Friday (she missed all the bad weather, lucky girl!) and what fun is she! These two girls are from one of my favorite cousin families. I envied them while we were growing up. They all (nine children and two amazing parents) seemed so happy and put together while I felt my family was falling apart on a regular basis. Now that we are grown up, I love them even more and am thrilled to pieces they decided to come and join in our fun.

Melissa and Nikki with some of their children.

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Here are Melissa, Tami, me, and Nikki trying to get one decent photo, but Boo was dancing around behind us pinching our bottoms and none of the photos turned out that great. What is it with my squinty and/or closed eyes???

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Finally a halfway decent one, just ignore my squinty eyes with giant bags under them!

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Before we went to Swim Camp, my mom helped me (who am I kidding, she made them, the kids and I slightly assisted…someday I’m sure I will become proficient in the kitchen!) make 14 dozen chocolate mint cookies. They were greatly enjoyed at camp and I used them as payment every time I asked a youth to do a favor for me…like move a gazillion tables to our canopy area.

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Fisher and Jared, two bug-catching soulmates, spent much of their time hunting creatures. On Friday they found a snake and it lived in their arms for the next 48 hours or so. Unfortunately it escaped on Sunday afternoon and rivers of tears were shed (thankfully it escaped while it was outside, otherwise I would be having snake-attack-nightmares).

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Melissa and Jen

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Boo teaching the children the “I’m Happy” song. We performed it at skit night and I’m sure made everyone’s night full of sunshine and smiles.

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Melissa and me…finally I have my eyes open!

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Friday night was the first night it was nice enough to do campfire singing and my annual storytime. Thanks to Tami’s chair I was able to sit at the fire and read Just Rewards, Or, Who is That Man in the Moon and What’s He Doing Up There Anyway? . We sang lots of songs, learned some more, and then closed with a reading of Loud Emily. I only made it a paragraph in when an ember from the fire shot down Annesley’s suit and burned her, so Jessica took over with me and did a fine rendition of Emily’s very loud voice.

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Boo and Tami, so glad these two found each other a few years back when they lived in the same neighborhood in Colorado. I love both of them to pieces. Boo wrote a song about friendship…I want to share the words…can I? Or are you going to publish this song somewhere. I cried my little eyes out when she sang it at Skit Night.

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Annesley was our lucky child to get David for a teacher this year. He is THE BEST swim teacher and he makes sure to get one of my children in his class each year. Fisher has had him for the past three years, so it was Annesley’s turn for David’s teach-children-to-swim magic.

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Good friends from years of attending swim camp together. Here are Derek, Kayden, Blythe, Keziah, and Eve.

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Keziah and her swim pass wristbands. Every year she and a whole group of her friends keep their Swim Camp wristbands on for as long as possible. Keziah’s 2012 band just fell off in April, so it looks like these ones will be part of our life for months to come.

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We always camp in spot #34, right next to the tree. It is the one perk of spending hours organizing Swim Camp. I get to choose my spot and every year we are right here next to the one and only tree in the campground.

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Darci, one of our awesome swim instructors, and Kat.

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The besties, Morgan (Boo’s daughter) and Teryn, (Tami’s daughter) hanging out while we pack up camp.

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My Annes – always full of spunk.

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Making s’mores with friends and cousins – a favorite nightly tradition.

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I am so glad Cami and I started this event clear back in 2004. It has brought our homeschool community together and built friendships among children, youth, and families. It is so much fun – even with all the rain, soaking wet towels, freezing cold nights, diarrhea, puking, chlorine-burned faces, and all the work to make it happen – it is totally worth it. My children love it and that is enough for me to continue to make it happen every year.

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we love music

Jun 6, 2013 by

we love music

Blythe and Keziah play the violin and recently started taking piano lessons as well. Right now we have an awesome teacher who comes to our home (can you shout, YAZOO!) and teaches both of them on both instruments. I am in love with the set-up as it requires no driving for me and no entertaining of my little ones while the older ones have lessons. We just hole up in my room and do math and reading and games while the girls have their two hour lesson. Two weeks ago they had their Spring recital and played beautifully.

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Yes, she is wearing ponytails all over her arm. She always has ponytails around her wrist, but I can’t believe I didn’t notice she had them on for the recital. If I had she would have been reminded to take them off.

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Blythe just started piano lessons in February. I am amazed at how much progress she has made in just a few short months.

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Here she is with her beloved violin, Niphredil (yes, she named her violin after a flower in Middle Earth, you LOTR fans can shout hurrah). She loves to create beautiful pieces and spends her free time dancing in the yard while she plays – now that is talent, don’t you think?

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Getting a picture of these two smiling without the silliness is nigh on impossible…

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Refreshments were enjoyed by all the little brothers and sisters.

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I will sure miss these days of music bursting out the walls of our home when these two girls leave home. They play constantly and I often wake up to their music. I am so grateful Blythe set us on this path so many years ago.

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a ballet dream

May 20, 2013 by

a ballet dream

Since my Blythe was a very little girl she has dreamed of dancing. She has read many ballet books and watched ballet movies and productions, but until this year she has not had the opportunity to take ballet lessons. I begged a local dance teacher to create a beginning class for teens and she agreed to do it if we could get enough students.

Well. A project like that is right up my alley (don’t ask me to cook food for large groups of people though!) and I got right to work recruiting older girls for a beginning ballet class. Soon we had more than enough and the girls started learning and building muscles and increasing their flexibility.

A few short weeks later Blythe was invited to join the advanced class and soon after that she was ready to go on pointe. It all felt like a whirlwind to me. I thought we were signing up for a little beginning class one night a week and all of a sudden we were doing ballet three nights week, being fitted for pointe shoes, and hardly seeing our daughter at all. It was a huge sacrifice for our family AND it was worth it.

This past weekend was Blythe’s recital. She shined. She has learned so much in nine short months. She danced with both her beginning class and her advanced class, four numbers in all.

And it was lovely.

And I cried.

And I was filled with happiness for this girl whose dream finally came true.

Unfortunately I took video of the dances and don’t have very many pictures!

Blythe in her closing bow.

Keziah in her closing bow.

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Keziah, Blythe, Spencer, and Madi

Madison and Blythe, dear friends and ballet lovers.

Blythe and Keziah after it was all over. See how happy she is. Maybe if she had a dance recital every day she would smile more often!

The entire company.

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a mind of her own

May 19, 2013 by

My Annesley is *so* much like me. So much it brings me joy AND scares the daylights out of me.

Today after Sacrament meeting, Richard brought me home because my heart rate was up around 100 and my arms were numb. He went back to church and taught the lesson in Elder’s Quorum and after church started rounding up the children. But Annesley was no where to be found. Full on searching ensued by many people. Still no Annesley. Finally a man in the parking lot tells Richard that his wife just took Annes back inside.

It turns out Annesley decided to walk home by herself – down a busy highway where cars drive 60 mph. This couple saw her and thought it unsafe for her to be walking down the busy highway, so they talked to her and convinced her to get in their car with them to go back to the church.

I don’t know what is worse! The fact that she was walking home alone or the fact that she got into a car with someone. Be still my heart!

Yes, we will be having some discussions on safety and rules and all that jazz, but the truth is, she is super independent just like me and will do what she wants. Our only hope is to carefully guide and teach her in a way that she will choose to make the right choices.

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narration with peter spier

May 14, 2013 by

My Annesley cracks me up. She is so stinkin’ hilarious. Yesterday I had to make a DI run to dump off the stuff from the garage clean-out on Saturday (Did I tell you I cleaned the garage out? Well, yes, I did. It was a long, filthy day, but now we can walk through there without breaking a leg.) Since I was going into town, I decided I might as well return the huge pile of library books that were due last Friday and pay my $26 fine so our renewal and checkout privileges would be restored.

I was tempted by a few books and just had to bring them home for my children. One of them was Rain by Peter Sprier. I llllooovvveee Peter Sprier’s other books, Noah’s Ark and People and decided Annesley would love Rain. Peter’s books are illustrations only – there are no words. Last night I showed it to Annesley and asked her if she would like to tell me the story. She was so excited and pored over the book until bedtime. This morning she asked me if I was ready for her story. I quickly hit record on the iPad (she didn’t know what I was doing) and she proceeded to tell me her creation for the next ten minutes. She told her story in a rhyming, sing-songy voice, but her words didn’t rhyme at all. She repeated the phrase “Oh, No! What will we do?” on almost every page. She talked about all the animals and the umbrella and the brother and sister and how the sister had to protect her brother because she was six and he was four. Her whole story cracked me up, but I was able to keep a straight face and listen while she turned the pages. When she finished her adventurous narration, I hit play and her face lit up as she realized she had been recorded. She listened to her story and giggled the whole time saying things like “Did I really say that?” and “That was FUNNY!”

I love learning with my children. I love being part of their discoveries and creations. I especially love sharing books with them while we snuggle up together.

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moving things around

Apr 29, 2013 by

Our learning room and sewing room have been in disaster mode for the past few weeks and today was the day to get everything back in order and make some rearrangements so we can start our new learning routine without iFamily classes on Wednesdays.

First up was to put all my math supplies away from the past many weeks of teaching Math Alive! – I tell you the amount of blocks, games, Polydrons, papers, books, and other manipulatives I haul back and forth to that class each week would blow your mind. Unfortunately we haven’t been putting it all away each week, so it has been building up in piles all over the school room. Today we got all my math stuff put away on our Expedit life-changing shelves, put the school room bookshelves back in order, the dress-ups put away, the fort-making blankets folded up, everything vacuumed and dusted, and then we started rearranging. My favorite part!

Since Passover the downstairs has been full to bursting with the dining room table taking up almost every inch of walking space. We decided to keep the couches in the dining room (where they have been since Passover) and moved the dining room table upstairs into the family room. We finally put the world map and vinyl on the table to up our geography time and moved my bike downstairs. We moved the Duplo table away from my computer desk and over near the wall maps and timelines. Then we put Keziah’s new (great used find from a family in our ward!) treadmill and set my bike up on my new (great used find on KSL classifieds!) trainer where the Duplo table was. We moved the chess table upstairs in the hopes that people will play more frequently. Next we pulled out the big red barn that has been put away for a few years since Keziah stopped playing with it and made a horse play area for Annesley. We put the couches into a traditional ninety degree angle arrangement instead of the diagonal coziness they have been in for several months to enable more room in front of the TV so Richard and Blythe have enough space to exercise while they do DDP Yoga. We moved my green table down the hallway to my bedroom and our little red nightstand/scripture holder to the corner of the kitchen.

I am thrilled with the changes. I am so excited for Keziah to have a place to run every day and a place for my bike so I can start riding as soon as my physical therapist gives me the go-ahead. I am ready to settle into our new learning groove without iFamily classes influencing how we spend our time. This is the time of year I get to teach my children with the most freedom because they don’t have other commitments to other teachers. I love it! Don’t get me wrong, I love their iFamily classes also, but it is nice to shake things up a bit every few months.

Fisher begged me to pull out the Story of The World CDs this morning to listen to while we cleaned. I love Jim Weiss’ voice and how he draws my children right into the story. Today we learned about the fertile crescent, how nomadic people lived, early farming efforts, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Joseph and the coat of many colors, his brothers selling him as a slave, Potipher’s house, prison, the Pharoah’s dreams, the seven-year famine, and the reunification of Jacob’s family. Fisher knows the Israelite stories inside and out, but it was fun to listen to them from a different perspective. I think we will continue on with listening for the next few weeks during art time.

Now that everything is clean and orderly all my children want to do is get things out and explore! It cracks me up how that works. When everything is in its place the school room is far more interesting than when everything is in chaos.

p.s. If you have been eyeing my Polydrons, now is a great time to get some. The sale prices this month are the best I have seen for over a year. They often go on sale for 25% – 40% off, but this month is in the 75% off range.

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hurrah for chalkboard markers

Apr 9, 2013 by

hurrah for chalkboard markers

Remember last week when I posted about my new chalkboard? Well, luckily for me (and you too, right?) I found my camera cord this morning in a batch of towels I have been meaning to fold for quite some time now and now I can show you the pics of its cuteness.

The original frame.

The original UGLY picture.

Mom starting the transformation process – she sanded it with two different kinds of sandpaper that I somehow found in Richard’s stash (I think one of the kinds was his super-fine car buffing sandpaper, eek!), then primed it, let it dry completely, and then started painting it red.

In all its red glory.

Mikelle and I trying to solve the brightness problem.

Success! Notice how the black smudges fix everything!

In its place on my green table and ready for some of Blythe’s doodling amazingness.

And now, all decorated with Blythe’s quick lunchtime artwork. I have asked her to create a new piece of inspiration every week.

Love it!

I was nervous about the chalkboard markers not coming off the chalkboard and ruining it because of some negative Amazon reviews, but after we tested them out on a scrap piece of wood over night and having them wash off perfectly with a damp rag, we are confident we made the right choice. There are lots of brands of chalkboard markers out there and these Chalk Ink ones seem to consistently have the best reviews in terms of durability and removability, so we went with them. Now that we have played with them I can say they are worth the price and I can’t wait to see what Blythe comes up with next week!

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here come the bugs

Mar 16, 2013 by

I have two avid bug collectors in my home. They crack me up.

Here are some comments from today.

Annesley: Oh MY goodness! Signs of bugs! (I totally thought she was going to say “signs of spring,” but I was wrong.

Me: Hmmm, what do you have? (Seeing a whole pile of bugs in her hand right above my head.)

Annesley: Look, mom! Look! I have found bugs! Look at my worms and my big, fat slug! Ahhh, I am SO happy it is bug time again!

Me: Yes, that is exciting.

Then she put her cheek next to the bugs and sighs the way you would over a new baby.

She runs back outside to find more bugs…thirty minutes later she and Fisher are back with more bugs to show me.

Fisher: We are the only ones that love bugs. We are the only ones who find bugs. The rest of our family don’t really like bugs. Look at our giant pile of worms!

Annesley: Mom! Do you see our bugs? I am so excited to find bugs. I love my little wormies. Do you want to see my big, fat slug? Here it is! Look!

It seems the days of having my little ones inside with me for the winter are about to be over. We are back to exploring nature, digging in the dirt, playing in the mud, and housing hundreds of bugs in jars all over the house.

Welcome spring.

p.s. If you or your children like watching nature films, this one is really good. Annesley can’t stop talking about it after she watched it in her Where The Wild Things Are class at iFamily on Wednesday.

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cinderella: the trip

Mar 4, 2013 by

cinderella: the trip

Friday night was the fulfillment of a dream for my Blythie. She has dreamed of becoming a ballerina for pretty much her whole life. I have never been able to make ballet classes happen for her until this year…and now she is in whole-hog. She dances for two hours a night, three nights a week. It has overtaken our life and has been an amazing experience to see her progress so quickly. She was moved into the advanced class after three short weeks in the beginning class and was invited to go on pointe soon after that. However, we were hesitant to allow her to do so and wanted her muscles and ligaments to have more time to strengthen before we allowed her to walk around on her toes. Her Christmas presents this year were The Barefoot Book of Ballet Stories, a gift certificate for pointe shoes, and a gift certificate to see Ballet West perform Cinderella.

Well, Friday night was the night for the ballet in the big city. Her friend Madison received the Ballet West trip for Christmas as well and both Madi and Blythe allowed Keziah and her friend, Courtney to attend with them. We left gym a little bit early and drove the 3+ hours down to Salt Lake City and met my mom, Mikelle, Easton, and Oaklyn for dinner at our favorite place, The Old Spaghetti Factory. Then we rushed over to The Capitol Theater for the ballet. What an experience! People were in fancy-schmancy fur coats and elaborate evening gowns. The girls’ eyes looked to be popping out of their heads as they looked at all the beautiful architectural designs throughout the building. The ballet was so lovely…hilarious and inspiring and beautiful all at the same time. My favorite part was listening to them shriek with amazement at the different moves they were seeing because through the last six months of classes, they have learned how difficult those moves really are.

We only had Keziah’s little camera with us and the lighting was terrible, so these pictures aren’t the best, but they will have to do.

Staring at the Ballet West sign

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The artwork alley right outside Ballet West – Courtney is a little bit of a goofball sometimes..

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Posing in the Capital Theater.

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A fancy chair in the balcony, terrible lighting, but they loved this set-up.
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On the staircase.

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They are a lil’ bit excited.

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They died over the ceiling and chandelier.

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The next day a massive snowstorm hit Salt Lake City and we drove very slowly to the Salt Lake Temple and spent several hours there doing baptisms for my ancestors. It was such a lovely experience. I met a wonderful woman who I am sure is going to become a dear friend and loved spending time with all four of “my girls” in the place I love best.

After we finished at the temple I took the girls to Gardner Village. I haven’t been there since I was a young lass and it was so fun to introduce these girls to the special shops that I fell in love with long ago. The quilt shop was full of fun sayings that I want to stitch up and put all over my house. Don’t you love these:

Cinderella is proof that a pair of shoes can change your life.

Or how about…

The roots of a family tree begin with two hearts aflutter.

And I love this one…

It takes each of us to make a difference for all of us.

I think this needs to be shouted from the rooftops…

Love isn’t something you fall into . . . it’s something you grow forever.

This was on a quilted wall-hanging that I wanted to bring right home with me.

To capture a miracle, you must first believe.

This one was in the antique shop on the back of a church pew. Mother Teresa is full of win.

There is a net of love by which you can catch souls.

And I think Jennifer needs to hang this on her wall outside her awesome sewing room.

Welcome To Our Sewcial Lounge

The girls went from store to store trying on scarves and shoes. They fell in love with these shoes.

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And these ones.

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And especially these ones.

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I’m not at all sure if Courtney liked these glasses or not.

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But I think she loves this pillow.

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I don’t think the girls were supposed to make themselves at home on the beds and couches, but they right comfy, don’t they?

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What was Madi doing?

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Was she really this tired?

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Courtney got back into the swing of things. Here is she kicking up her heels.

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This store had awesome lacy, ruffle shirts on clearance for $5.99. Of course, we all had to stock up. And I’m pretty sure Kez and Court spent some time at that fudge shop in the back.

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They got a huge kick out of the ducks wandering the premises.

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Especially this one with a “hat” on his head.

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I went to the Storybook shop and used my 25% off coupon to get Tell Me A Story Cards. Goodness, these are fun! They are similar to the Story Cubes I used last year in Zing!, my writing class, but tons better, especially for the younger set. You lay out the lovely picture and then create a fairy tale to go with the pictures. We are loving these! I couldn’t resist this Mix & Match 1-2-3: A Touch and Trace Counting Book. Annesley and I have had a blast counting planes, trains, and teddys. She loves making sure all four quarter-pages match. I love the traceable numbers, dots in sets of five, and the engaging activities.

After the fun at Gardner Village, we rushed over to Hale Centre Theatre for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It was FANTABULOUS! If you are anywhere near Utah, go to this show! We laughed so hard at the actor’s antics. A trip to Hale wasn’t in our plans this time, but thanks to half-price tickets and a last-minute cancellation by one of their season ticket holders, we were able to get in off the waiting list. Hint: just because a show says sold out online doesn’t mean it is so. It just means there are less than twenty seats available. Call anyway!

When we got out of the play at 7 p.m., we found a wet, messy, blizzard had taken over the roads. Everything was so, so slick and cars were off the road all over the place. We made the choice to stay over another night to avoid driving home in pure craziness. We headed back to Jessica’s parents for another night in their home full of love and I think this time the girls got some sleep. We were up early the next morning to head up to Idaho in time for church, but we still didn’t make it. I arrived in the nick of time to teach my Relief Society lesson on faith, but the other girls missed their meetings. Drat it all!

What a fun, fun trip! I love taking these girls on adventures and am so grateful their families are willing to let me steal them every now and again for these magical experiences. I am grateful to have daughters that love theater, culture, the temple, and spending time with me. I am so blessed.

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christmas play

Dec 11, 2012 by

christmas play

On Monday night we helped our friends put on a Christmas program at the Senior Citizen’s Center. We were told there would be about five people there, but there turned out to be 49! It was a bit stressful, but it was also a lot of fun and was a good experience for our family to get out and mingle with the elderly people in our community.

Thank goodness for our friends, the Thomases! They are costume experts and were exactly what we needed! My skills are seriously lacking in the costuming department and Annette is a pro! She made all 18 children look much, much better than they would have if Tasha and I had been left on our own.

Getting everyone assembled

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Angel Annesley and Abby as Mary

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During our practice run

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The performance turned out a gazillion times better than I thought it would! I have a video of it, but it is too big to upload here…anyone know how to compress it? Here is the video..only watch if you adore our children and can smile at the simplicity of the whole thing. Thanks for the tip, Jess!

After the reenactment of Jesus’ birth, Blythe, Keziah, Courtney, Spencer, and Mallory played Oh, Come All Ye Faithful on their violins and cellos. Then Keziah sang The Miracle by Shawna Edwards.

Afterwards the children visited with all the guests and ate piles of cookies. I’m sure the cookies were their favorite part!

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annesley is five

Nov 26, 2012 by

annesley is five

Five!!!

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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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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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this is a great path

Nov 13, 2012 by

I love homeschooling. Love, love, love it. Not only do I know, absolutely know, it is path God wants us to walk as a family, I actually enjoy it.

Every day is NOT stellar. Every day is not full of cheerful children and an enthusiastic mama. But many are.

Today was one of them.

This morning Annesley and I were playing Addition Memory with the two cards needing to add up to five. First we laid out all the cards. Then she started her turn and turned over a zero. “I need a five! Hmmm, where is that five?” she shouted out with glee. Luckily she picked a five on that very first draw. Then with her eyebrows raised and a look of mischief in her eyes, she picked her next card. “Hmmm, a two. What do I need, what do I need? Oh, yes, a THREE!” Her three didn’t turn up that time and I finally got to go. Each turn of the cards by either one of us brought more eyebrow raises. After she made a few more matches, I told her how smart she is, to which she responded “My brain is sooo good at remembering where things are!” Then, near the end of the game when she made lots and lots of matches, she said “I am SO intelligent.” The whole time her eyebrows were bouncing around and she was pleased as punch with her brain.

Later we practiced violin together. She is a brand new beginner. We are working on bow holds, basic rhythms, foot positions, and putting the bow on the E string. She kept praising herself the whole time. “Look at my bow hold. My fingers have figured it out. I can do it! I can do it! I can play taka-taka-stop-stop!”

This little one has so much joy in learning.

Fisher wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as his sister. He wants to go outside, live in a tree and catch bugs and fish. But, after just a few minutes of working with me, his smile stretched across his face. We were playing a math game out of his Miquon book and making bullseyes with our math problems. He raced around the page figuring out the problems as fast as he could and giggling the whole time about how speedy his math mind is. He has his mind segregated out into different sections…his lego mind, his reading mind (which he is convinced doesn’t work too well), his math mind, his bug finding mind, his fishing mind, his speaking out loud mind. He believes most of his minds work pretty well and I am determined to help him know all of his minds are amazing.

Learning together as a family is hard work AND it is fun. It takes dedication and vision and a great big sense of humor. It is such a wonderful adventure to be on. I’m so grateful God led me here.

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silly mustard girl

Nov 11, 2012 by

Annesley has been planning a daddy-daughter date for MONTHS. She has had it all worked out in her mind to go to Big Jud’s and get a big hamburger for her and her papa to share. She has told us over and over again that they will be going to Big Jud’s on their date.

Unfortunately, dates with papa take quite a while to make happen at our house because Richard’s schedule is a bit of a bear. So, even though she has been planning it for months, it still hasn’t happened.

She just had her weekly mentor meeting with her papa and then came into my room to practice violin with me. She informed me that she and papa are having their date on Saturday. I said, “Oh, what are you doing?” with a big smile on my face, knowing full well that they were going to Big Jud’s. To my great surprise, she said “To the movie theater!” I said “What???”

She quickly explained, “Yeah, we aren’t going to Big Jud’s because I would spend all my time staring at the mustard and ketchup. I HATE that mustard bottle!”

I have no clue what she is talking about. She has been to Big Jud’s exactly one time and I don’t remember anything about a mustard bottle or her staring at it or her hating it.

I think she makes these things up on the fly with no connection to reality. Maybe she has a future in Improv?

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the legos

Nov 6, 2012 by

Fisher: Do you want to know how it all began?

Me: YES! (Having no idea what he was going to explain to me…perhaps the origin of the species?)

Fisher: Wellllll, I started with my first idea. It didn’t work at all. There were a lot of problems with that idea.

Me: Oooohhh. (Figuring out that he is telling me about his newest lego airplane).

Fisher: Then I tried my second idea. It worked a little bit, but not that good.

Me: Oohhhhhh.

Fisher: So, then I tried my last idea and it worked pretty well. So, now I have an airplane. I guess that is good. Don’t you think we need to FaceTime Grandma so she can see how my idea worked out?

This little guy cracks me up. He thinks and thinks and thinks. He isn’t quick on the draw – he likes to twirl things around in his mind for a good long while before he speaks. Most people aren’t willing to wait around to hear what he has to say, but trust me, if you do, it is worth the wait. He will either amaze you with his depth or crack you up with his innocent ponderings.

Fisher LOVES legos. I never wanted a lego house and refused to buy any of them. First of all, they make a mess. Second of all, they hurt terribly when I step on them in the middle of the night. Thirdly, they are expensive. Jessica always told me how much her boys loved legos and tried to get me on the lego bandwagon, but I resolutely stayed far away from the little plastic pain inducers.

But now we have a lego house. One Christmas a few years ago, some wonderful Christmas angel gave Fisher an awesome set of legos. He played with that set everyday for the next many months. He went through the instruction guide step by step and slowly figured out how to follow the directions. He spent about a month on the first guide. After that he got much faster. Now he whips out creations left and right. He builds while I read to him, he builds during family read-aloud time. He builds while he listens to the scriptures on his CD player. He builds and builds and builds. The next Christmas he was given more legos from another Christmas angel (or maybe the same one – we have no idea who loves us so much to do this for us, but we pray for them to be blessed one hundred fold for their generosity to us!) and he started saving up all his pennies to buy little sets here and there. Now he has about five sets and is constantly thinking and creating more buildings and vehicles.

Thank you to the lego giver who started this great journey of learning for my little guy. Our home has been so blessed by the thinking and creating these ingenious blocks have brought into our lives.

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conquering a poem

Oct 25, 2012 by

I have this daughter that blows my mind away. She has so much truth and goodness and power inside of her. She has a depth to her thinking that continues to surprise me even after sixteen years of mothering her.

She is taking a class right now called Sword of Freedom. It is about the Civil War. They have studied Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Across Five Aprils, The Dred Scott Decision, Abraham Lincoln, The Emancipation Proclamation, Amendments 14, 15, and 16, The Gettysbug Address, and To Kill A Mockingbird. They write papers each week, have movie nights to watch Red Badge of Courage, Gettysburg, Gone With The Wind, and other era-specific films, and last Saturday had a simulation of a battle over at the city park. Her mentors are amazing. They inspire these youth to work hard and put in hundreds of hours of study.

Last week, Blythe was asked to write a poem for her class. She loves to write and create stories, but she believed this assignment was out of her league. She hemmed and hawed for days. She said she couldn’t do it. She said she didn’t know how to write a poem. I gave up on her ever getting it done. And then, on Monday, she came into my room and asked if I would listen to her rough draft.

Blew my mind away.

Her words were so powerful.

She did it. She conquered a fear. She did hard things.

And it is beautiful.

She said I could share it with you.

The Brothers

My brother left that early morn,
He did not say to where.
He walked away along the road
And the sun shone in his hair.

Before too long I’d left home, too.
We marched away so strong.
The drums did beat so loud and clear
As we sang a Dixie song.

We’d beat the Yanks, we proudly said.
Our hearts were filled with cheer,
And in our haste for battle days
There was no room for fear.

But when guns roared
And I saw men die,
My foolish pride was turned,
And hatred took my cry.

We stormed across the battlefield
And swept into their band,
Heedless of the men that fell
And died on every hand.

But in the end we could not tell
Who’d won and who had lost.
There was no glory in the day,
No joy for those who fought.

And afterwards a silence fell,
And in my heart there seemed to ring
A deadly chapel bell,
Yet no mourners there to sing.

There seemed to be a serenity
As I walked among the dead.
Their faces twisted in agony
Did not seem of such hatred bred.

And then I saw a scene so real,
That I cannot forget.
A sight that stays in memory,
Far worse than mortal threat.

It was a Southern boy in a Union cap.
My brother lay there dead.
His blood was red upon his coat.
Dark blue was every thread.

In anguish I did cry aloud.
My tears did soak the dust.
I prayed it had not been my gun
That laid his heart to rest.

My cries did mingle with the groans
Of countless injured men
Scattered over the battlefield,
Some to never rise again.

These Yankees were not strangers here,
Not monsters like we’d said.
Every man, a brother was,
Our blood, like theirs, was red.

I am so proud of her! I can’t wait to read the next poem she writes.

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living in a tree

Oct 15, 2012 by

Saturday we went out for our anniversary. Blythe needed to attend the Symphony for her Music Theory class and so we took advantage of the trip into town to have a date. We thought we would have just enough time for a leisurely dinner, but the Symphony went extra long, so we went to the bookstore to walk around. Looking at books is one of our favorite things to do.

Richard saw a copy of My Side Of The Mountain and asked if I had ever read it to Fisher. I realized that I hadn’t and that he was just the right age for it. So, this afternoon I found one of our copies and started reading it with him. Sam Gribley has already worked his way right into Fisher’s heart and he can’t wait until we read tomorrow to find out how Sam ended up living in a tree far away from civilization. Fisher, with his love of nature, is quite a bit like Sam and this book is going to be such a treat for us to read together. I just hope Fisher sticks around and doesn’t decide to leave us for life in a tree!

What are your favorite read-alouds with your children?

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fisher’s baptism

Oct 7, 2012 by

fisher’s baptism

I have had a glorious weekend attending the Salt Lake Temple and LDS General Conference and I can’t wait to share my thoughts from the past few days, but before I go there, I have to write about Fisher’s baptism.

This precious boy has prayerfully and solemnly been preparing to make covenants with his Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ.

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He has been studying the Articles of Faith and reading the Book of Mormon and New Testament with me. He has been thinking about how to give his heart to the Lord and serve Him more fully as his disciple. It has been a wonderful time answering his questions and helping him understand the doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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His baptism service was beautiful. Many of our friends joined us to witness and celebrate his decision and my heart filled up with joy as each special person came into the room.

Fisher had planned out the whole program the Sunday before and it was so fun to see him thinking so carefully about who should do what for his program. Richard’s parents gave the prayers. My mom gave a powerful talk on baptism and taking on the name of Christ and Blythe spoke about the Holy Ghost and how He will guide and comfort Fisher throughout his life. I loved them both! All of the children sang Come Into The Water and did really well, even though it was one of those late night decisions, teensy-tiny bit of practice time things. Keziah sang Gethsemane – I don’t think I will ever tire of hearing her sing that song.

Singing right before Fisher is baptized.

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Still dry

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Fresh out of the water

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Richard baptized and confirmed Fisher and really, there are no words to describe his blessing. It was incredibly powerful and full of the Spirit. I cried through the whole thing.

Grandma and Grandpa

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This photo cracks me up! We are trying desperately to get all the wiggly children to hold still for just one small moment and the more we tried, the crazier it got. I love how my mom and Aliysa are the only ones looking at the camera and my mom looks SO done with all the craziness!

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Here we are a little more put together.

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We served mini-cheesecakes and cookies at the end and asked everyone to write Fisher a note before they selected their refreshments. Mayhem ensued! Here is one pile of children writing their notes as quick as they can.

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I am making a book for Fisher out of all their notes.

I am so grateful for this precious boy and the joy he gives me. I am grateful for the opportunity to teach his tender heart all about Jesus and the love He has for him. I am grateful for family and friends who supported us and made the evening a wonderful event for my son.

Today he is begging to fast next week on Fast Sunday. Umm, yeah, of course, you can was my rather shocked response.

Here are the three of us at the end of the night…still on my feet, wahoo!

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p.s. Here is my mom’s talk…for those who want to read it.

We’re here to share a special day with Fisher and he’s asked me to talk for a few minutes on baptism.

You know there are so many stories and lessons in the scriptures. And Jesus used symbols and to help us to learn and remember them. Let’s think of some symbols.

In the story of the Tree of Life there are some symbols. There’s the tree. There’s the rod. There’s the great and spacious building. All of those mean something. The tree stands for God’s love. The rod represents the Word of God. The building stands for pride and wickedness.

Let’s think of some other scriptures that have symbols.

The scriptures about Moses had many symbols in them. Do you remember the staff or the serpent? Can you remember what it stood for? I know your family celebrates and observes Passover and so you know those symbols. There was the parting of the Red Sea, which is how the Lord rescued and saved the Israelites. And that is a symbol that he will also rescue and save all of us.

There are symbols associated with baptism, too. Let’s think of some.

First we have
Water
Immersion
White clothes
Renewal
Covenant
Authority
New name

I remember when you were born and your parents were trying to give you the most perfect name. A name just for you. They loved the name Fisher. They loved the scripture in Jeremiah (Jer 16:16) that your Mom just read.

You have two special names.

Your family has a tradition of giving special middle names that have a scriptural or Hebrew meaning. Eli is also a special name. It means My God. So altogether, your names means a Fisher for my God – a missionary – a disciple that brings others toward God.

And now you are taking on another name. This is also the most perfect name. A name just for you! This will be the name you receive at baptism. You will take the name of Christ. Or to say it another way, you will become a Christian. You will serve Jesus and his Church and set new priorities in your life. You might start to think about receiving the Aaronic Priesthood. You might start thinking about going on a mission. You might start thinking about going to the temple.

And baptism is the very first step of all of those things.

Some people wonder why we need to be baptized. They say it isn’t really necessary. They can still be good people and still do good things even if they aren’t baptized. But, we know that it is more than just an option — more than just a suggestion. You remember in the New Testament that John the Baptist was busy teaching and baptizing people where he was preaching. And he was surprised when Jesus came to him and asked to be baptized. John knew that Jesus had never sinned, so he didn’t think Jesus would need to be baptized. But Jesus told John that being baptized was a commandment from Heavenly Father, and he wanted to obey all of Heavenly Father’s commandments. It’s That important! It is so important that even Jesus, who was absolutely perfect, was also baptized.

So remember, this is the first step to returning to live with your Heavenly Father.

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Beautiful isn’t it?

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twelve

Oct 2, 2012 by

twelve

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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mothering a-ha

Sep 20, 2012 by

Yeah, I have been at this mothering gig for awhile. But I am still learning things. ALL. THE. TIME.

This week have had some a-ha moments for me.

Lesson #1: Ask them to work for it

Yesterday we ran into Deseret Industries for a ten-minute shopping trip. Keziah needed new Sunday shoes and I was hoping to score an awesome deal on newish Scriptures for Fisher’s baptism present. Annesley say a pencil bag with a giant rainbow on it and a matching ruler, eraser, and pencil sharpener all for the fabulous price of $1.00. She asked if she could have it and I said “No, you already have a pencil bag.” She asked again and I said “No, you don’t need it.” Then she said, “Mom, I love it so much! My other bag doesn’t have a rainbow or a ruler or an eraser or a pencil sharpener with a rainbow on it! I love it. Please let me have it.” I admit, I was pretty swayed by her logic. Her other bag doesn’t have a rainbow or a matching ruler, eraser, or pencil sharpener. It is a super adorable Jessica made pencil bag with her very own initial on it, but it is missing that rainbow. So I said, “Well, how many jobs will you do for me?” Annes responded, “One!” I said, “Hmmm, I think it is worth more than one job. How about five?” All of a sudden the desire of her heart wasn’t so desirable anymore and she put it back on the shelf and said “I’ll keep my pencil bag, I don’t need rainbows.”

I about died laughing.

Lesson #2: Leave them alone

Remember that Lego set we found at DI for $6? Well, it is missing some pieces. Some key pieces. Fisher fell apart this morning because he couldn’t build an airplane without those pieces. The crying and moaning and gnashing of teeth that ensued was surely a sight to behold. He kept saying, “Someone messed up. The pieces aren’t in their plastic bags. There isn’t a set of directions. The pieces are missing! I can’t build an airplane. I can’t build anything!” But, somehow, I kept my cool and told him over and over and over again that I am sorry he is missing some pieces, no we can’t take it back and get a set that works, no, you can’t call papa and tell him to call the store to fix it, and yes, I absolutely believe you can figure out how to build something amazing with the pieces you have. More crying. More gnashing of teeth. More patience on my part.

It has now been about six hours and he just came and showed me a nifty airplane with retractable landing wheels, descent lights, a pilot, and an awesome set of wings. Pretty much a starfighter’s dream plane. He says “Look at what I made mom! Look at the wheels. See I had to design them this way so they won’t move sideways when they land. And look at the nose. Isn’t that cool how pointy it is. And look at these lights. They will help the pilot to land safely. Aren’t they cool!”

Way to go, buddy (and way to go, mama!)

I am so grateful to be a mother and that I get to learn patience and love and wisdom on a regular basis. It is just what I need.

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eight

Sep 18, 2012 by

eight

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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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first dates

Sep 16, 2012 by

first dates

Yes, Blythe has now had two dates! Her first date was with her papa. He needed to pamper his girlie and show her exactly what to expect of all future dates before we would allow anyone else to take her out.

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Because we homeschool and don’t participate in the local school activities much, if at all, we had no idea she would be asked to Homecoming. So we had to squish her Papa-Date into our schedule in the days leading up to the dance. A little bit of craziness, but it all worked out. We rented her dress from Sweet Prom which is a little mom-n-pop (more mom than pop) shop in Idaho Falls with more than 100 beautiful gowns to rent (if you rent from there and give Blythe as your referral, she will earn a $10 credit towards her next rental) for only $50 +$15 cleaning fee. We actually want to buy this dress since it fits her so well and great fitting formals are hard nearly impossible to find, but I doubt the owner will be swayed by my pleading. We will see on Wednesday when we take it back.

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Jessica came over and made Blythe’s hair into some fancy-schmancy amazingness AND did her make-up AND reminded us to get a boutonnière, which we had completely spaced! Richard rushed out and bought one in the nick of time. Thank goodness for a good friend who knows about these things and has the beauty skills I sorely lack!

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Isn’t she lovely?

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Pinning on the boutonnière

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The cute couple (just ignore the horrid lighting and the glare on their faces…they looked much better off camera!)

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Blythe had a ton of fun and I am thrilled her first date(s) were such great experiences! The young man who took her out is one of our favorite boys from church and he treated her like a queen.

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catching up

Sep 9, 2012 by

Yes, it has been a week since I have posted. No time. Not a second to pound out a post. So, now I will catch you up on the happenings of my life.

Sunday:

Church services were wonderful, the Spirit was strong, our ward felt unified, and I tried to share the love of Jesus with my ward members. Then we had Grandma’s birthday party that night. I read stories from her life and shared her testimony of Jesus with our children. Then we ate some delicious rice pudding…recipe coming!

Monday:

We went to Bear Lake for our almost annual sand and swim adventure. We kayaked, played volleyball, built a huge sandcastle, ate lots of food, swam to the bouys, got sunburned, hunted for frogs (and brought said frogs home), and had a wonderful time with my extended family.

Tuesday:

I realized that iFamily was beginning in less than 24 hours so I hurriedly put all the last minute stuff together for my two classes and all my board duties. Then, I started a new learning adventure for ME! I am taking a class from the Ten Boom Institute and Tuesday was our first conference call. Ahhh, it fed my soul! My brain and my heart were challenged and renewed. The best part of all? My dear friend, Heather Burton, is also in the class with me. It was a complete surprise to hear her voice and I admit, I shrieked a passionate hello and frightened all the other class members.

Wednesday:

FIRST DAY OF IFAMILY!!! Yes, I am screaming. It was such a splendiforous day! All the classes went well, children made friends, moms made friends, hearts connected, smiles were shared, and all the Boards’ hard work paid off. My two classes, Hullabaloo and Further Up and Further In, went well. Hullabaloo is going to be a blast. I have 25 children I get to teach new games to each week. This week we learned Cat & Mouse, Crossing the Brook, and Drop the Handkerchief. We had so much fun running around in the sun!

Wednesday evening Blythe’s lifelong dream to take ballet came true as she and Keziah started dancing in their pink tights and black leotards. A woman from iFamily has a ballet studio in her home less than one mile from our home and started a Beginning Teen class after months of my begging and pleading got through to her heart. Blythe danced and smiled and danced and smiled and danced. She has such good form that part of me wishes I had allowed her to do ballet years ago, but it never felt right and now it does, so I am going to try to make peace with the choices of the past. Keziah doesn’t love it the same way Blythe does, but I enrolled her because I think it will give her a good workout, grow some muscles which will help her running, improve her posture, and be challenging in a good, supportive way. She needs to be challenged by someone other than me. So many things come easy for her that when things are hard she sometimes stops trying. It is a trait I share with her and one I don’t feel is serving her well, so this is a small way of rooting it out.

Thursday:

EEEEEEKKKK was how I felt Thursday morning when I realized gymnastics was starting the next day and I had a gazillion things to do to get ready for it. The children read and studied and built things around me while I got everything ready for our first day at gym. It was sooooo long. But it was worth it because gym went really well on Friday. Thursday night we had our adult book discussion at our home on Kisses From Katie. Let me shout it out. READ THIS BOOK. Today. Read it and let your heart be moved to follow Christ with all your being. I love Katie. I love what she has taught me and shown me and given me. I love her example of loving Jesus.

Friday:

First day of gym. Wowsers, was it busy and hard and busy and wonderful and busy and pretty much exhausting. I vowed I would not DO anything. That I would direct and guide, but not move or jump or roll. Five minutes into the first class I broke my promises. I ran and jumped and rolled like a pro. I enjoyed myself thoroughly. It was so, so healing to my soul to be back in the gym with my students and to be able to DO things. For my body to work. And then, I hurt. By the fourth class I was limping and stopped jumping and rolling. My entire hip area was on fire and the pain radiated across my back and frightened the daylights out of me. I felt as if I had stepped back in time five months to when my back ached so terribly I couldn’t move faster than turtle pace. So I made it through the last couple of classes by having my assistants do everything and the pain settled down quite a bit. A few hours later it returned with a vengeance and I spent the evening lying on Jessica’s couch with an ice pack on my hip. Our friend, Jessica C., from Colorado, was here visiting Jess and I, and we ate pizza and laughed and caught up on each other’s lives while the children played Knights and Prisoner and Legos and chased goats for hours on end. Fun times.

Saturday:

Oh my. What a long, busy, wonderful, and awful day. I need to share my thoughts about it in a separate post, but for now I will give you the highlights.

Farmer’s Market for the first time of the year…and last year as well. What used to be a weekly occurrence has become a biennial event. How did that happen? Oh yes, we have been in survival mode for the past 18 months. We bought some of our favorite tortillas, some corn on the cob, and some yummy dipping sauces and sampled fudge, chicken sausages, and bread. The kids found some awesome stuffed lizards and dragons made by the cutest little Asian woman, but they had no money so they just had to window shop (booth-shop?).

Dress shopping for Blythe for her upcoming date..huge success, beautiful gown, and lots of fun.

Huckleberry Ice Cream and playing in Fairyland…another former weekly occurrence that hasn’t happened since 2010.

Temple trip for me. No words for how wonderful it was.

Symphony in the park…great music, great friends, so nice to lie in the shade and listen to our amazing orchestra put on a rip-roaring show.

Children fighting, arguing, whining, complaining, yelling, blaming, and hurting one another…did me in. Last night I went to bed and told Richard I was done with mothering. I was obviously completely failing and I was done trying when the results were oh, so awful. Awful nightmares all night long, broken heart, and no hope.

Sunday:

I am ready to try again at this whole mothering thing, but have come to some new realizations about what I need to do. More later.

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taking flight

Aug 30, 2012 by

taking flight

Fisher disappeared yesterday for a while and when he came back he had made an airplane. I’m sure it has something to do with our FIAR book of the week, The Glorious Flight and Louis’ flying adventures.

He has decided the garage is one of his favorite places to be and I need to remember to look for him in there more often. He is following in the footsteps of his Grandpa who builds real airplanes and classic cars and trucks.

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first date???

Aug 29, 2012 by

Tonight my first-born daughter was asked on her very first date.

Wow.

I am so happy for her to have this experience and to see her blossoming in many ways, but wow, am I unprepared for this. I knew she had turned 16 and I knew she could now be asked out for a date, I just didn’t think it would happen anytime soon. I thought I had a while to wrap my mind around this idea.

Also, this creative asking out thing is new to me. When I was dating you simply asked someone out, you didn’t have to send them on a scavenger hunt, or decorate their room, or kidnap them, or send them a hidden message in a popcorn ball. Now she needs to come up with a creative way to answer. Fun stuff going on at our house.

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omsh!

Jul 6, 2012 by

omsh!

I dread the stress of family picture day, so we have rarely had them done (I think the last time was when Fisher was a baby…sometime around 2005) and our home is quite empty of any pictures of us. I hate the stress of getting everyone ready and I hate the expense, and I really hate how I look in photos (something happens to my face the second a camera is pointed in my direction and I turn into a blob with three double chins, a melted away face, and a smile that is completely unrecogniazble as a smile), so I avoid family pictures like the plague…but I REALLY wish I had gobs of them and could see all my precious babes at every stage of their lives. It is a problem. I want the end result (minus the hideous pictures of me), but I don’t want to go through the work of getting them. So, according to my husband, we are living unchronicled lives.

But!

We did it! We actually had family photos taken and I am going to share them. Granted, I had NOTHING to do with deciding to do them, which is why they got taken in the first place, and I had literally no time to freak out about it because our family called on Monday morning in the middle of the great bedroom rearrangement project and told us where to be that night (yes, THAT NIGHT!) and when to arrive and Dad would shoot pics of all the gang. Well, I couldn’t stop working on the bedroom switcharoo, so I just kept working and about 90 minutes before photo shoot time I started working on everyone’s hair and outfits only to find out we had pretty much no clean laundry. I borrowed one of Blythe’s tank tops and one of Keziah’s size 7-8 t-shirts to wear as an undershirt, put Fisher in a shirt from the dirty clothes bin that wasn’t too filthy, put Annesley in size 2T pants and a size 3T shirt (she is 4 1/2), called Richard and told him to stop and buy some new jeans for himself, and left Blythe and Kez to fend for themselves. It was a little bit crazy and I was snapping at people, but my behavior was much improved over past family picture days.

I think Dad did a fabulous job!

Annes

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Blythe…isn’t she lovely!

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Fisher (in the rest of his photos he looks like he has camera-induced paralysis)

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Annes and Fisher
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Keziah

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Kez and her cousin, Talya

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Our whole family

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And now drumroll

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An actual photo of me that I like…it is a miracle (isn’t it Jessica?)!
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Maybe we will do it again someday…but it will probably only happen if I don’t have to make any decisions about it!

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swim camp 2012

Jun 3, 2012 by

We are home from our 9th Annual Homeschool Swim Camp. I took exactly zero pictures of our fun. What is wrong with me? I hope Jessica will have a lot of pictures and let me steal them!

We are red, tired, chaffed, sore, and happy. Most of all, happy. I spent much of the week with a filled-up heart of gratitude for this week of sunshine and dear friends. I spent my days in a horizontal position which was the perfect vantage point to look around at everyone. As I looked, I remembered the varied experiences I had had with the person and would feel my heart bubble up with love for them…and then I would cry.

I am so blessed.

I am surrounded by people living full lives of service, action, dream fulfillment, vibrancy, and goodness and not only am I able to be near them, I am able to be intimately entangled in their lives. I am able to create a thriving community with them. I am able to reach out to them and they reach right back to me.

It is quite magical.

The children played hard and swam hard and slept hard. Capture the Flag was an ever-present part of every day along with catching bugs and minnows, searching through the trees, roasting marshmallows, going on hikes, and swimming…always swimming. Miss Annes spent about seven hours in the pool every day. She could not get enough of it and everytime someone asked if she was ready to get out and go get some food, she would shout out “I’m a fish!” and dive underwater. She passed Level 2 as a four-year-old! She has her back stroke, front crawl, and back float down solid and totally surprised us all with her fishy-ness. Fisher passed Level 3 and finally dived correctly instead of belly flopping. Super proud of him! Keziah finished the second year of Level 6 and much to her relief, is all done with swimming lessons. Blythe finished several years ago so she filled the role of chef for the week. It was lovely to have all our meals ready for us when we came back from the pool each evening. She needs a whole pile of gold stars!

Swim Camp Top Ten

1. The myriad of hugs I received.

2. Watching Fisher swim across the pool and his big smile when he made it.

3. Waking up each morning to the sunshine and the call of the lonely sandhill crane.

4. Listening to Mary Beth’s gentle words and remembering once again that I want to be a refined woman of truth and goodness.

5. Watching all my children play Capture The Flag like their lives depended upon making it across the line. Add to this…watching Liz play and biff it time and time again. She is one fast mama!

6. Lying in the sunshine and having wonderful conversations on everything from delicious food to the atonement of Christ.

7. Watching Bob teach his class of nine distracted little ones…permasmile, lots of energy, and superb teaching that took each child into a whole new skill level.

8. Blythe’s smile after she floated down the river. I want to remember the joy on her face forever.

9. Keziah treading water…she finally mastered it!

10. Reading the scriptures with my children at night in the dark and hearing Fisher say he would tell Korihor (an anti-Christ that is trying to convince others that there is no God and you cannot know there is a God because you cannot see him) that there is a God and he is lying…with a firm voice and a believing heart.

I love this week SO much. I am so grateful to be able to give this gift to my children and my community.

p.s. My lips are now the size of Gibraltar and full of a gazillion fever blisters. I can barely open my mouth to eat and kissing is absolutely out of the question. I am covered in Lanolin and essential oils which are keeping the burning pain to a barely tolerable level, but the second it wears off I am ready to rip the lower half of my face off.

p.p.s. Tomorrow is ozone injection number four. I am hoping it is at the pain level of injection number two and nothing like numbers one or three. Please pray for healing. Fast for healing. Visualize little pieces of cartilage knitting back together. I am so ready to have my life back.

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annesleyisms on a friday afternoon

Apr 13, 2012 by

annesleyisms on a friday afternoon

I got a disappointing phone call today at the end of gym from the doctor’s office I have been waiting to hear from all week. They told me it would be at least five months before I could have surgery with them. Five stinkin’ months…uuuugggghhhh. I held it together till I got home. Then I laid down on my bed and started a Sudoku puzzle hoping to distract myself from the pain in my hip and the despair in my heart. Unfortunately, the puzzle was not as effective as I was hoping and I started sobbing. Gut-wrenching, can’t-get-my-breath sobs. I could not stop crying. I was full of hopelessness, full of discouragement, full of confusion and questioning and pain. Full to the brim with overwhelmedness (I think that should be a word, so I am using it…it is the state of being overwhelmed) and my seeming inability to receive answers from God.

I cried and cried and cried. Then I called my mom and thought I could talk to her about it and she would somehow help me feel all better. Instead, I started talking about it and started crying more profusely. I don’t know if she could even understand me as I poured my heart out into the phone in between crying jags. Pain poured out of me until there was nothing left but a shivering, shaky body that needed to be wrapped up in a hug. I calmed down and tried to get myself under control. I ate some food and tried to think logically about this whole frustrating situation.

Then I tried to study for my Worldviews class, but couldn’t really focus on it. My heart was still hurting too deeply to be able to focus on Islam and Postmodernism.

Then Annesley came in with this letter for me:

She said she would read it to me. In her most serious reading voice, she squinted at the page and read me her note.

I love you and you love me because your heart is a gift from Jesus because Jesus loves you. And I love Jesus and Jesus loves me. Jesus was borned and was a baby and then he growed up. Then the bad guys came and put pointy things in his head and put him on the cross. They put nails in his left hand and nails in his right hand and nails in his feet. Mom, I love you. Thank you for being my mom.

She is such a ray of sunshine and her precious words helped the tears and the fear and the pain leave. I can’t even tell you how much I need her in my life.

God, thank you for giving her to me. I need to remember and focus on the blessings Thou hast blessed me with.

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annesleyisms…haircut girl

Apr 1, 2012 by

Hi Mom.

I am the haircut girl and I am giving your husband a haircut. My name is Flower. I am the haircut girl. So, if you want a haircut, come to my store. Do you know where my store is? It is down the street, right next to your home. Remember, call me Flower!

This four-year-old mound of sweetness is so dear to my heart. I am so grateful God sent her to me. Just yesterday she was snuggling with me and said,

Jesus sent me to your flamly (family) because you prayed for a girl just like me. So He sent me. That is good. I loooovvvveeee being part of your flamly. You are my best mom ever.

And during General Conference while tracing the names of the leaders of our church.

I am writing letters! I am good at writing letters! Look, look, look at me! I think I can write this letter. I am doing it! I can write letters. I am amazing.

Yes, you are amazing. Your joy in the world. Your miraculous birth. Your brightness of spirit. Your unquenchable passion. Your snuggliness. Your everything. You are amazing to me. Thank you for coming to our family, dear one. We love you.

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first run

Feb 7, 2012 by

We did it. We ran for the first time. Well…not her first time, but my first time in a very long time. Our training schedule for this week is one minute running, two minutes walking, then repeat ten times.

I did it. Every single second. I felt like I finished strong.

BUT I CAN’T IMAGINE RUNNING FOR LONGER THAN ONE MINUTE AT A TIME.

Afterwards, we went to DI (local thrift store) to look for some running clothes for her since the bulk of her sports clothes are cotton and cotton is not going to cut it in this cold weather. Eleven dollars later she has a nice fleece jacket with pockets, running capri tights (still need to find some long ones), nylon pants, and a short sleeve Under Armor shirt (she already has a long sleeve one that she wore today). She learned that she needs to wear a hat or ear protection of some kind and gloves because her head and hands got pretty cold.

If you would like to train along with us, here is the schedule we are following. So, this week is the one minute run, two minute walk plan, followed by a day of rest. Kez has no interest in resting, so on her off days she is going to ride her bike or go on a thirty minute walk.

I am not at all sure I can do this, but it was quite enjoyable to be out running in the sunshine and brisk air with my girlie, so if I can keep having days like this, maybe I will be able to overcome my dislike of running.

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the beginning…

Feb 7, 2012 by

the beginning…

I have always hated running. I get absolutely no pleasure from running. I have never had a runner’s high or caught my second wind and I have had plenty of chances to do so. My dad was a runner and we entered races all the time, which I invariably won because I am fast and strong and competitive to the max, but I didn’t love it. I loved winning, but not running. I ran track in high school (mostly because it was a way to go on trips every weekend and get out of school on Fridays) and did quite well, but once again, it was not in any way enjoyable. It’s not that I don’t like exercise. I am quite athletic and as an almost forty year old can still play sports with the best of them. I love riding my bike and will ride for miles, but running has always seemed liked drudgery. ALWAYS.

So, now I have a daughter, Keziah, who wants to be a runner. She doesn’t want to just run, she wants to run a lot and BE a runner. This is posing some challenges for me. I don’t want my hatred-of-all-things-running to rub off on her AND I can’t let her run alone, so this running obsession is going to change me. I can feel it. I am going to start running with her because someone has to and I love her enough to have that someone be me.

Just the thought of it is discomfiting.

She has done four triathlons in the past couple of years and LOVED them.

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But now she wants to step it up and get serious. She wants to run and run and run and not just dilly-dally around.

Today is our first day. We have pulled up a variety of training schedules and she picked the one she likes best (which is NOT the one I liked best, the one that had us start running for only thirty seconds at a time). We also pulled up some warm-up routines and stretching information and I think we have a plan in place. Right now my brain is full to the brim with all the differing opinions on static vs. dynamic stretching, music vs. no music, stretching vs. no stretching, rest vs. no rest, cross-training vs. rest, supportive shoes vs. minimalist, miles vs. time, youth bones not being strong enough to run seriously, how much is too much for anyone under 16, how puberty plays into bone development, injuries and injury prevention.

One part of me is terrified of making a wrong choice and injuring her through my lack of knowledge and another part of me thinks “Can’t we just run already?” and a third part of me is super excited for this new adventure and hope she has the guts and the determination to really BE a runner and then the fourth part of me wants to start a running club and get all sorts of kids involved and make it amazingly fun, healthy, and life-changing for everyone I know.

Yes, I am that crazy.

I think for now, we will go walk and run and walk and run and walk and run and see how we do.

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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?

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Snuggling with Cousin Andie

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Opening presents

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

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The pink puppy purse

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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!

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Blowing out the candles

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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?)

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Some of the party guests

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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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bantu knots

Nov 17, 2011 by

bantu knots

Keziah has been looking for a way to get curls in her hair for a while now. We have used curling irons, store-bought soft curlers, rag, and sock buns, all with varying degrees of success. Her hair is thick and it will curl, but the curl has a really hard time staying put.

This week we tried Bantu knots. We googled it and watched a few YouTube movies and then we set to work. Some sites recommend putting in two to six knots, but we put in sixteen in the hopes of having luscious curls. We read that you can leave them in for three to twelve hours, but we left them in for thirty-six, again in the hopes of getting some real results.

Doing sixteen knots is a bit time-consuming, but it is easy. You simply grab a section of hair and then twist it starting at the root and working your way to the end. Then it will start to coil on itself and you coil it around and around with each coil getting closer to the head. When you get to the end of the twist, tuck in the end and bobby-pin to hold it all secure.

Freshly unknotted, not combed or fingered-through.

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Hurrah! It worked! Bouncy curls!

Next time we do it, we will put some silky leave-in conditioner or product like Anti-Snap in before we knot. I think that will make the curls softer and easier to work with. If you try it, I would love to see your results!

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this face

Nov 8, 2011 by

this face

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I love it.

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