sometimes there is silence

Jan 30, 2022 by

Our theme in church today was Trusting in the Lord’s Timing. One of the speakers said something along the lines of, “Sometimes when the answer is not yet or no, that answer comes with silence.”

Boy howdy, did that hit home. My hand reached out and gripped Richard’s and I shuddered a little as tears started to flow.

Because that is largely what we have experienced with Saylor and Stella. It’s been two years and the silence from the heavens has wracked my soul more than I can describe.

There have been moments of peace. There have been tender mercies with their mighty spirits.But mostly there has been silence.

And heartache.

And tears.

And longing.

I would just love to have a sit-down chat with God where He could explain the whole situation to me. I absolutely trust Him and His goodness and His love for me and for our babies.

But I don’t understand the ten years of promptings and the miracles and all of it since they aren’t here in our home. I’m sure there are answers, beautiful, wonderful answers that will satisfy my soul, but since I don’t have the answers, my mind tries to create some sense out of the whole thing and I’m sure my explanations are not the truth. So I need it straight from Him. What the cow did all of this mean and why did it unfold the way it did?

If you are aching with silence from the heavens, just know, you are not alone. And also know, that I know, He is good and kind and merciful and loving. And someday we will both understand.

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another clear scan

Jan 3, 2022 by

My mama means so much to me. September 30, 2020 she was diagnosed with high-grade (very fast growing) bladder cancer. The tumor was removed, chemo placed on the tumor site for an hour, then flushed out of her, then she had weekly treatments for six weeks.

Her doctor said it would keep coming back and they would keep repeating that process for the rest of her life. She is checked every three months. So far it hasn’t come back.

Today was her fourth three-month checkup. And everything was clear and healthy.

REJOICING!

And tears of gratitude.

This isn’t supposed to be what happens medically, but somehow we have been granted this beautiful gift and I am oh, so grateful.

Way to go, mama! Way to go, God!

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personal savior

Dec 26, 2021 by

Today Richard spoke in church.

It was beautiful. His testimony of the Savior, Jesus Christ, is tender and vibrant and humble and powerful.

It was also incredibly challenging for him. To be standing in front of that large congregation with movement all over the place in front of him with sounds coming from all sorts of directions was very disorienting for his brain and he was leaking out his eye and nose and started shaking about halfway through. But he did it. He shared his love and gratitude for Jesus in such a sacred way. I hope lives were touched and hearts lifted.

One of his messages was this:

“If you don’t know now, you will. There will come a day when it will be your broken heart, your broken body, your broken mind, your broken spirit, or your broken faith. We know the story of Jesus, we know He was born in Bethlehem, we know He is the Savior of mankind, but when it’s you that is broken, that’s not enough. You need to have a personal Savior. One that not only saves the world, but saves you, too. This is the Savior I have come to know and love through my life and the one I testify is there. Your Savior and Redeemer is a personal Savior.”

I am so grateful for this man God has blessed me with. I am so grateful for my Savior and the comfort and peace and healing and cleansing He has given me over and over again.

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not just rocks

Dec 25, 2021 by

See this bag of rocks?

Tears at opening them today.

During 2020, I gathered rocks. I kept seeing heart-shaped rocks on my walks and kayak trips and would pick them up. My family kind of chuckled at me, but they all knew this project of finding rocks was important to me. Then when Richard and I went on our first solo camping and kayaking trip, I stopped all over the river to find rocks that spoke to my soul. I put them in Richard’s boat.

And then I forgot about them. Not totally forgot, but mostly forgot. With teaching and work and being a wife and mother and getting stuff put away for winter and then more of everything this year, I had no idea where those rocks were and figured they had been thrown out when Fisher put the kayaks up last year.

And then today, Richard gave me a bag of rocks for Christmas.

My rocks.

Heart-shaped rocks and layered rocks that remind me of growth and the different seasons of my life and rocks that remind of a mama holding her babies.

He knew they meant something to me. So he found them and gave them back to me.

Just like Jesus does. This is the best, most tender gift and I am in awe of this good, good man I’ve been blessed to be loved by and to love right back.

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secret santa

Dec 25, 2021 by

Many years ago we were adopted by a Secret Santa. Every Christmas Eve for the past 10ish years, Christmas presents have been left on our doorstep. We are deeply grateful to whomever has done this for us. Each year, I would think to myself, “I should leave a thank you note on our door in case they come again.” And then I would think, “There is no way they will come again, they have already blessed us SO much, surely they will not come this year.”

And I wouldn’t leave a note.

I should have.

Over and over again, I should have.

Because their love and generosity has been such a gift to our family.

These presents have done many, many things for our family.

  • They have given us toys and games we could never afford for ourselves and we have had SO much fun with them! Multiple times they gave Fisher and Annesley big, awesome Lego sets which they played with for YEARS.
  • They have given us gift cards for groceries that have made all the difference in our budget. Many times, I would have nothing in my bank account and would be able to use these gift cards to buy food for our family. Other times, we were able to use them during the case-lot sale to stock up on food storage. I can’t tell you what an incredible blessing this has been.
  • They have brought our children a feeling of being seen and known and loved.
  • They have helped Richard and I know we are not alone and that miracles happen and that people are so very kind and generous and good.
  • These gifts have wrapped us up in a warm blanket of tender care that has carried us through many a dark day, many a seemingly hopeless time, many a devastating heartbreak that could have broken our spirits or challenged our faith. But because of the great love of these Secret Santas and so many others who have served us, we have been carried. We have been ministered to by your generous giving and thoughtful hearts.

Thank you. Thank you for your love. Thank you for seeing us. Thank you for loving us. Thank you for surprising us with JOY again and again. Thank you for making a difference in our family’s life by showing us how the Giver of All Good Gifts loves and lifts.

We will try to serve others as you have served us.

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a little love note

Dec 13, 2021 by

Big tears running down my cheeks.

Today I was in a very long line. The group behind me was a mama and her 18 month old. When I turned around I let out a little gasp. She reminded me so much of Stella, something about her spirit felt like Stella’s sweet, impish, brightly-shining spirit. This adorable baby girl with big eyes kept reaching for me, wanting to share her cookie. If I turned away, she called me back with the cutest little “hewow.” We played peek-a-boo and I talked to her about everything around us and she babbled back at me. The mama said, “She sure likes you, she can’t get enough of you.”

After we’d moved about 20 feet in line. I asked the mama what her baby’s name is. She said Saylor.

Then I gasped big and my eyes filled up with tears and I told her about our Saylor. She said “it’s not a common name,” and I said, “I know.”

The little Stella-feel-alike, called out bye-bye to me as I tried to find my car through my tears.

What are the chances?

Probably really, really small.

I’m counting it as a little love note from our babies.

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annesley turns 14!

Nov 26, 2021 by

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

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

We love her SO much!

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can and do are two different things

Jan 30, 2021 by

Laughing SO hard right now.

Richard: (comes in with a sheepish look on his face) I’m wondering about this mystical grocery list Annesley says you have????

Me: (giggling) What is that look on your face?

Richard: Well, Annesley told me you have a list, but I just can’t imagine that is true and I don’t want to make you feel bad by asking about it.

Me: (full blown laughter) I DO! Here it is!

Richard: WHAT? You actually made a list?

Me: Yes! Here you go!

Richard: (completely dumbfounded) Wow, this is some serious organization.

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tender times

Jul 17, 2020 by

Our Keziah-girl is getting married in 48 days. The emotions are big in all the ways. Joy, grief, longing, happiness, all the things. We are going to miss her fiercely. Her impact in our home is huge. She is loud, hilarious, determined and her presence is always known. She knows just what to say to bring a smile to Fisher’s face or to encourage him to keep trying when life is hard. She can get him to do what no one else can. She pulls her siblings together for games, adventures, and giant work projects – they would cheerfully follow her to the ends of the earth if she asked them to.

And so we cry. And laugh. And savor every moment we get with her. Everything feels precious. Every conversation. Every game. Every meal. Every story. Every prayer. We have about 25 nights left that she will sleep in our home because she will be gone a lot over the next 7 weeks. I want to spend those nights snuggled in bed with her, hearing her breathe, but she would never allow that, so I spend my nights snuggled up with Richard with tears running down my face.

This parenting thing is hard. We give our hearts so completely to these little babies, then we pour ourselves into them, teaching them, loving them, preparing them for adulthood. And then they grow up and leave and a giant hole is left.

I’m so grateful. So deeply grateful to have been granted the privilege of being a mother. Mothering our children has sculpted my soul, enlarged my view, and grown my heart. Reading to them, teaching them day after day after day, helping them discover the world around them, helping them see who they are, how God works in their lives, and who He created them to be has been an exquisite journey. Two of our children have flown the nest, two of our children are still here, finding their wings. And two of our children are still trying to come to our home and may or may not ever make it into our arms.

It’s a tender time.

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50 things for his 50th

Mar 5, 2020 by

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

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

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

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

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expiration dates

Feb 22, 2020 by

Annesley holding some half-n-half: Mom, is this good? I can’t tell.

Me: What does it smell like? What does the date say?

Annesley: It says April 14, but I don’t know what year.

Me, dying laughing: We may not be totally up to snuff on our kitchen maintenance, but there is no way we would have half-n-half in our fridge if it expired last April!

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i never saw this coming

Feb 10, 2020 by

Oh my goodness, how to even start here again. I need to, because I want to remember these days forever and I want our children to have a record of this time of our lives. So much has happened since I last posted in May of 2019.

We had a glorious summer of adventure, camping and kayaking together as a family. I felt and functioned the best I have in nine years and we played as hard as we possibly could. Then September came and I completely fell apart emotionally. For seven weeks I barely functioned as I dealt with the death of our dear nephew, Kyler, mountains of survivor’s guilt, and deep personal pain.

In December we discovered we were miraculously pregnant. And on January 8, Richard was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

The last four weeks have been a blur. We are surviving and holding on to faith and hope and love and each other. But the days roll on, one after another, and I can barely keep up. The first four weeks were busy, all day, every day, with phone calls and doctor’s appointments. The last few days, since his surgery to remove it has finally been scheduled, have been much needed balms for my soul. The fight for surgery with our preferred neurosurgery team and insurance to cover it was intense and now that that fight is over, I feel like I can finally breathe again.

This journey needs documented and I’m going to give it my best effort, which at this point my best is sorely lacking, but I am going to really try.

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the beginning of goodbyes

May 5, 2019 by

My mother’s oldest sister passed away today. She is the first one of the nine siblings to leave us. My heart is a jumble of emotions.

I am happy for her. Really truly happy for her to be out of pain and to be able to spend time with her son, Gary, who passed away as a little boy. I am tickled that she gets to be with her mama, my dear, dear grandma, and her father. We have a huge family of people that I know she is reuniting with and big hugs are being shared.

At the same time, there is something about her death I’m just not ready for. For a long time, our family has been a stable, steady force in my life. My aunts and uncles have always been there for me. Have always loved me. Have always listened. My childhood was surrounded by their tender care. We had frequent family gatherings at my grandparents’ home along with nearly constant interaction at our family business. If I ever needed to talk, one of them would listen.

Louise’s passing feels like the entering of a new era. One in which many people I care about are going to leave this sphere. One in which I will miss them fiercely. One in which I will have to figure out how to be a grown up, the grown up. I’m not ready for any of this. Which seems strange to me. I certainly would have thought that I would be fully into adulthood by now. But it just doesn’t feel like it. I am turning 45 on Tuesday and I still feel like a little kid in many ways.

Of my mother’s 38 first cousins, only two of them have passed away and those have both been recent deaths. This generation of relatives has been a force for good in my life and in the world my entire life. The thought of them leaving us takes my breath away. Literally. Gasping. I cannot imagine life here on earth without them.

And I really, really can’t imagine life without my mama. Taking care of her last month during her surgery was beautiful and emotionally gut-wrenching. The pain on her face brought me face to face with her mortality. She could die. She almost did die in the days following her surgery. And some day she will. And I don’t have any idea how I will live without this woman who has taught me how to live with courage and faith and forgiveness.

Several more of my aunts and uncles are in poor health and I don’t know how many more visits I will have with them. I am so not ready for any of this. I’ve never been good at goodbyes. Even temporary ones.

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annesley’s big heart

May 2, 2019 by

I’ve been sick this week with fever, chills, and a deep, painful cough. It has been miserable. I haven’t been able to read to my family.

But my delightful little girl came into bed with me and said, “Mom, you can’t read to us, so I’m going to read to you.” She proceeded to read me a Billy and Blaze book because she loves horses and Loud Emily because she knows it is one of my favorite read-alouds and she said she’d been working on the voices.

Be still, my heart.

This is the power of family-read alouds. She couldn’t bear to let me go to sleep without a story.

I’m so grateful for my Annesley-girl and the joy she spreads far and wide.

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thankful & blessed

Jan 31, 2019 by

Full heart today. I have made two kinds of delicious soup, cleaned my house, worked on our taxes, sent my kids to the temple, and spent sacred hours with my girl.

Blythe is in labor with our first grandchild. I have been preparing for this day for pretty much her whole life and now it is finally here. During our hard years of me not understanding her or her needs, I didn’t know if she would ever allow me to be at her births. And for me, a doula and childbirth educator who loves being with birthing mamas with my whole soul, that thought was deeply painful. Many mornings I would do a visualization technique where I would picture her in labor and envision our relationship at that future date. Then I would think about what I needed to do in the current time to have a future relationship that would allow me to be at her birth. It was one of the most powerful ways I was able to curb my harsh words and be the mama she needed me to be.

And now that day is here. Right now. And it is glorious.

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25 years

Oct 15, 2018 by

Twenty-five years ago this morning I knelt down at an altar in the Salt Lake Temple and made sacred covenants with God and Richard which enable us to be sealed together as husband and wife forever. This weekend, Richard and I went back to that temple and did endowments and sealing work for my ancestors and it was glorious to walk the same halls and do the same ordinances with twenty-five years of love between us.

Oh my, this man. He fills my soul up with joy in indescribable ways. He sees me as a kind, dedicated, passion-driven woman and so, he helps me become that person. He sees me as trying my best. He firmly believes I am fantastic and adorable and capable and delightful. And because he believes it so thoroughly, he helps it become a reality. Oh, his goodness and gentleness and stableness are such balms for my windswept soul.

This weekend we took one of our very few couple trips – we definitely need to do more! I think this may have been our 2nd trip alone? We went away for a night on his 40th birthday and maybe there was one other trip at some point, but I can’t remember for sure. We were able to snag a Priceline deal for $79 and the man at the front desk was soooo nice – when he found out it was our 25th anniversary, he upgraded us to a fancier king-size room and gave us free parking. WAHOO! It was simply amazing to be alone with my sweetheart and not feel the pressure to make food, do laundry, teach math or history or problem solving or ANYTHING, or to even make any of the five gazillion decisions a mother makes every single day. Truth be told, I realized just how tired I am and how much the duties of motherhood weigh on me. And it felt glorious to let it all go for a few days.

We stopped at one of our favorite restaurants from the early days of our marriage. When Blythe was a baby, we would often go to Senior Iguanas for a $10 meal before we did our weekly grocery shopping. We had Starving Student cards with Buy 1/Get 1 free meals. Richard always got the two foot burrito and I always ordered the chicken and cream cheese enchiladas. With tax and tip, it came out to right around ten bucks. It was such a fantastic deal and we always had leftovers for the next day so we went there pretty much every week. It seemed only fitting to go there again after so many years and get our favorite dishes, though Richard went for the one foot burrito instead of the two and we still had leftovers for Saturday.

On Saturday we went to the temple. Oh my, it was soooo wonderful. We had the same sealer who did Blythe’s sealing in April and he is so fantastic. What a treat to be with him again! Then we drove up the canyon to go hiking. But we took the wrong road and almost ran out of gas. I guess 68 miles of gas goes pretty fast when you are climbing a mountain – we went through it in about 15 miles. We turned around at the 4 mile gas range mark and coasted down the mountain and to a gas station. Then we took the right road and 9 miles later arrived at our destination. What we didn’t plan on was the snow. We had climbed in elevation so much that there was quite a bit of snow on the ground and we were in shorts and Chacos. We did have jackets, so we bundled up and went as far as we could before we decided to be wise and pay attention to the snow and the wind and the setting sun. It was a glorious mile of walking through the woods.

Being outside surrounded by trees and rugged cliffs does something magical for my soul. It gives me strength and courage and hope. And that is just what happened. As we walked hand in hand up the mountain, I realized that trek is a lot like our life together. It has been steep and left me out of breath. It has been full of joyous moments and harsh realities and miles of beauty. We have helped each other over the tough parts and picked each other up when we have stumbled. We have taken lots of wrong turns. We have loved each other first and best and always and learned to love each other better.

That night we went to three different restaurants and shared an appetizer, salad, or dessert at each one. So fun! Sunday morning we attended the most loving, exuberantly joy-filled ward I have ever been in and soaked in the goodness and realness of the people who were gathered together from all over the world. Then home to our children with a renewed purpose to make our home a safe and soul-filling place to grow up.

He melted my heart on our trip. I asked him what he would change about the last twenty-five years and after thinking about it for a moment, he said, “Nothing. I wouldn’t change a thing. The lessons we have learned are worth it.” I pressed him with ideas of changing our financial situation or to change me into a wife that makes dinner every day and keeps a spotlessly clean house, but he insisted he would keep things just as they have been because our experiences have made us who we are and he wouldn’t want to change what he has learned and become. After a lot more thought, he said, “I guess if I could change one thing, I would fix your body so you wouldn’t have had to go through all the EDS challenges.” And I thought about it and decided I wouldn’t change the EDS. I would be thrilled to be healed right now, but I wouldn’t take away the past 6+ years of injury and pain and heartache. I have learned to trust God and to rely on Him in sacred ways and I wouldn’t want to lose that. I have also learned of the deep goodness in this world and the rock-solid stability of my husband. Those lessons are too precious to wish away to get rid of the hardness of these EDS years.

These twenty-five years have been such a beautiful gift. I didn’t know if we would make it this far. Deep down in my soul I felt this was forever, but the stark realities of my life showed me that marriages don’t last and certainly don’t function in happiness. I love him more now than I did on that long ago day. I’m so grateful for the real, tangible, connected happiness we have been blessed with and the foundations of trust, forgiveness, support, and faith we have built upon.

Our marriage brings me joy. So much joy. Oh, how I love him and us and what we have created. Here is to the next 25. And the 25 after that. And then infinity and beyond!

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summer has arrived!

Jun 13, 2017 by

June is nearly half over and summer is here! We just completed our 14th year of Swim Camp. There were 49 families camping with us, 110 kids in lessons, and many other children not in lessons. SO MUCH FUN.

The next few weeks are full of family reunions and camping with Tami (cousin), Mikelle (sister), and my mama on the banks of a beautiful, slow-moving river the kids will play in all day long. This summer we will also have our regular trip to the Wind Rivers, a wedding for my niece, Andie, in Fort Collins, and many days at our local lakes and rivers to kayak and paddleboard and soak up sunshine.

Summer time is just what I need. Amazing how it comes around every year at just the right time to fill my soul up with family, nature, time on the water, blue skies, and Vitamin D from that glorious sun.

I am recovering from my trip to Mexico for stem cell treatments four weeks ago and I can feel my torn ligaments healing. It is ever so slow, but it is working. We went kayaking and paddleboarding on Memorial Day and my hands were able to paddle. It hurt my shoulder with the still recovering subscapularis tear to pull on the paddleboard, but kayaking was okay. It must engage a slightly different set of body parts. My goal is to be in my boat and on my board as much as possible so I can grow some serious muscle. Last summer I was able to grow 5 lbs of muscle between May and September because of all the kayaking I did. I lost nearly all of it over this long winter of injuries. Now, I want to grow more and then NOT get injured and be able to keep growing muscle all winter long.

Bring on the sun and sea (or beautiful rivers and man-made lakes which populate Idaho!). Bring on the family time. Bring on the camping in the majestic mountains and fresh air. Oh, how I love summer.

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five days till our hugs

Mar 30, 2017 by

Our girl comes home in FIVE days. Oh, my goodness! It is so hard to believe that her mission, the thing she prepared for her whole life, is coming to a close.

I had all sorts of goals for while she was gone. I was going to lose twenty pounds. I was going to be not passing out, not injured…I was going to have made so much improvement physically that we would both know it was a mission miracle. I was going to make her a quilt with all sorts of cool mission pictures on it. I was going to have a darling room for her. I was going to have all her emails and photos printed out and made into a book. Certainly the yard would be de-junkified, the garage organized, and the house clean. At the very least, all of her weekly emails would be posted here on my blog for the sake of posterity.

The reality is that none of those things are going to happen. Perhaps some of them could have happened if I hadn’t been hit hard this month with new injuries and dozens of passing out episodes. We are focusing on surviving and thriving on the essentials…morning snuggles, nighttime read-alouds, and people fed some sort of sustenance (most likely not made by me).

Instead of the aforementioned list, our missionary will come home to a real family with real challenges and heaps of love for her that will be shown with lots of hugs, homemade signs, listening ears, and maybe some ice cream. The Pinterest version of a missionary homecoming isn’t all that necessary and I probably shouldn’t have let myself go down that road in the first place since I can’t even figure out how to make dinner or write a blog post on any sort of regular schedule.

Richard has been able to rip out Keziah’s poorly organized closet and build a new space that we are hoping will hold two young ladies’ clothing. Keziah has purchased two new twin beds for both of them and we were able to get new mattresses and bedding. So, she has an awesome place to sleep and a place to put her clothing. Total win, right?

In other news, my body is a mess right now. A hot mess. On the 10th of March, while STANDING and watching Annesley dance her heart out at an Irish Dance performance, my foot dislocated AND a ligament tore. I was doing NOTHING at all, just standing. The next day, while shifting myself in bed, I reinjured my right hand that we have spent the past 17 months healing. I had been out of my splint completely for two months and had been working out of it for about four. It is SO sore. I am back to not being able to write or mouse or do my hair. My foot is incredibly painful. I spend a lot of time in my wheelchair. When I do walk, I am hobbling around, all taped up in an effort to hold the bones in place. My left hand is still in a brace from the fall on October 29th and my left shoulder, though much better since the stem cell shots into the subscapularis tear in January, is still hurting and not able to do much. On top of all that, these new injuries have wrecked havoc with my nervous system and it is going haywire. The prior issues of food not digesting, heart rate skyrocketing and plummeting, passing out, seizures, and constant exhaustion are now pretty constant and I am tuckered out.

This is NOT the state I wanted to be in to welcome my girl home. But it is reality. It is the ride we are on right now and I am determined to make the best of it and not give in to despair and throwing in the towel. January and February were amazing months where I felt normal and capable and had SO MUCH HOPE that I would never pass out again. Everything changed in March and I am learning once again to turn to Him, to listen to His voice of peace and love, and make the best of what I do have control over.

Five days till we get to hug our girl and listen to her stories. Five days to make peace with the reality and NOT make my family crazy for everything we are not.

Life is good. For realsies.

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the perfect dream

Mar 19, 2017 by

Papa: Wake up Annes. It’s time to get ready for church.

Annes: Oh, papa, why did you have to wake me up? I was having a perfect dream in my dream world.

Mama: Come and snuggle with me and tell me all about your perfect dream.

Annes: Well, I had two horses in the back and I built them a place to live and they loved it here. And you passed out, but you didn’t dislocate any of your limbs. And papa had three days off from work, but he made the same amount of money each day as if he had worked the whole day. It was aaaaammmaaaaaaaazzzzzzzing.

Mama: What a lovely dream.

Papa: That IS perfect!

This little girl of mine is so precious to me. She is full of spunk and joy and courage. She has grown up with my dislocating, passing out body, and wants to fix it. She often snuggles up with me and says “Mama, I wish your body worked better so you could play baseball with me.” or “Mama, do you think you will ever be all better so you don’t pass out and shake any more?” or “Mama, I don’t like watching you shake, it scares me.” She has had to face big stuff in her short life. She is often the one with me when an episode starts and calls her papa to let him know I am passed out again. She hears us talking about money and jobs and the frustration of the whole situation. Her dream world is trying to make sense of it all.

Mine too, baby, mine too.

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bfg

Feb 11, 2017 by

Last night we watched The BFG. With the dirth of good family movies available at Redbox last night, I decided the only one that looked worth our time was The BFG, so I broke my cardinal rule of requiring my family members to read the book before watching the movie. I have such fond memories of the book, but have never actually read it myself. In 5th grade, when my family was falling apart, my teacher, Mr. Longmore, would spend the hour after lunch reading to us. He sat on a super-tall stool and crossed his super-long legs and as he read, he created magic in my heart. One of the books he read to us that year was The BFG and as he was nearly giant-sized himself and took a special interest in me, I easily pictured him as the BFG.

We loved the movie. So much. Annesley even got up at 6:00 this morning to get her Saturday jobs done so she could rewatch it before we take it back today. Total winner.

And when we woke up this morning, Annes had written this note.

Who is your BFG? My BFG is my papa. He is loving. My papa loves me. He loves to fish. My papa’s big fish is big. I love my BFG.

And then a drawing of Annes and her papa, AKA her BFG, with tons of hearts and BFGs all over it.

Ah man, this girl. She is full of love and life and so much delightfulness. I’m so grateful to be her mama. A big thanks to Mr. Longmore for being a BFG in my life at a time I so desperately needed him and to my husband for being an ever-present force of love in my life and the lives of our children. BFGs are all around us!

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eyes to see and ears to hear

Dec 10, 2016 by

Perceptions are a funny thing. They determine how we see things, how we understand the world around us, how we evaluate other’s motives, and yet, they are so often wrong. Last night I had one of those moments when I realized, once again, how incorrectly I can perceive the world.

Last night was our Ward Christmas Party. When I finished eating, my heart rate went up like it usually does, and I leaned back in my chair and tried to relax and think calming thoughts to help it come back down. But all the stimulation of kids running around, people talking to me, and the mass chaos of hundreds of people being in the same room together were too much for my nervous system to process. I tried closing my eyes and breathing deeply for awhile and that helped it calm down somewhat. Eventually Richard left to go figure out a way to get our car right up by the door and I counted heartbeats, willing them to sloooooowwwwww down and tried everything I knew to calm my system. The men were all working hard taking down tables and chairs, but could see something was wrong with me and left my table and chairs alone.

Fisher, my dear son who hates to be an inconvenience to anyone, came over and said, “Mom, can you move?” Barely lifting my head, I mumbled, “No, no I can’t.” I thought, “Oh, my heavens, can’t he see I am on the verge of passing out? Does he really care more about inconveniencing the men putting away tables than he does about my body’s needs?” He asked again, “Mom, can you move?” Again, I mumbled “No” and tried to get him to understand that I wasn’t using the table and it could be put away as long as they didn’t move my chairs or try to move me. Not satisfied with my answer, he persisted, “Mom, can you move? They are playing basketball.” In my nearly unconscious state of mind, I nearly exploded inside thinking, “Seriously! He is wanting to play basketball when I am having an episode? He wants me to move so they have more room to play!” But I couldn’t say anything because I was fighting with everything I had to stay conscious and calm. Finally, he said, “Mom, I’m worried the ball is going to hit you and hurt you. We’ve got to move you because they are playing basketball.”

I opened my eyes and looked around and saw that there was a group of teens playing basketball and I was right on the 3-point line. They were running all over the floor and the ball was flying wildly near me. I had had no idea any of that was happening and the boys had no idea anything was wrong with me, they were just trying to have fun. Grasping the situation, I told Fisher, “I can’t move, so you are going to have to protect me from the ball.” His response, “That is what I have been doing, I just think you would be safer if we could move you away from here.”

Oh, my goodness, the tears of gratitude welled up inside me for this good, good boy of mine. He wasn’t embarrassed of me. He wasn’t worried about inconveniencing the clean-up crew. He wasn’t wanting to play basketball and have more room on the court. He was watching over me and protecting me without anyone asking him to and without me even realizing what he was doing.

So often I respond too quickly, long before I understand the real situation. I am grateful for a body that was unable to speak and lash out in irritation and was instead able to hear his quiet voice, full of love, trying to help me.

Eyes to see and ears to hear and hearts to understand…those are the gifts I yearn for.

p.s. Yes, I did pass out a few minutes later. As we slowly made our way out to the car, my body collapsed in the hallway with Richard and several other men catching me and taking care of me. I am surrounded by angels, both heavenly and earthly ones. Thank you to those of you who so willingly walk this journey with me.

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annes is 9!

Nov 26, 2016 by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas Jammies from Grandma Dorothy – Star Wars!

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Snowboarding for Homeschool Ski Days

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

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Provo City Center Temple Open House in February

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Liberty Girls Icicle Finding

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Liberty Girls Fancy Tea Party for Purim

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

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Scheel’s aquarium on the General Conference trip.

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

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

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Rock Climbing with friends – she’s a natural!

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

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

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

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Daddy-Daughter Date with her papa at church.

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Fisher’s Birthday Hike at Cave Falls

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

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

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

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

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

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Thanksgiving sledding with cousins, Easton and Oaklyn.

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Last hugs before we came home yesterday.

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

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hands hurt = memories lost

Nov 6, 2016 by

Here’s the deal – I’m failing at this whole blog thing.

I could offer a zillion excuses like these ones:

  • My hands hurt
  • My life is extremely full with my homeschooling, church, health, and friends responsibilities.
  • My brain is tired.
  • There is a whole lotta crap going on that I can’t talk about and it makes it seemingly impossible to even begin to compose a sentence about the many lovely things I CAN talk about.
  • My room is filthy and it hard to justify sitting down to blog when I should be cleaning with my five minutes of time.
  • And while all of those things are true, so very true, it really boils down to me not making or taking the time to write and letting my online time be sucked up by other things.

    So, here it is November 6 and I have hardly blogged for an entire year. My right hand was injured one year ago and I had to really limit my typing and mousing, but what started as a temporary heal-the-hand activity change has become the norm. Typing and mousing have been hard this entire time and now my left hand is injured as well so I don’t know when it is going to get easier in the foreseeable future. But I do know this; I have missed an entire year of recording and remembering our family’s experiences and hilarious moments and I can’t get those back. So, I am going to try my darndest to make the time, to take the time, and start writing again. My soul needs it…and I don’t want any more memories to be lost.

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yes, it is august 23

Aug 23, 2016 by

Sooooo, I have been incognito all summer. We have played hard and worked hard and had a lot of heartache and a lot of wonderfulness all at the same time. My computer has been broken for months and after all was said and done, the hard drive and a whole host of other parts needed replaced. I just got it back last night and I am trying to recover some lost programs and make it totally functional again. So, now I can blog again.

I am going to try.

For reals.

My hand is still in a splint. But it is the only body part in a brace of any kind and that is fantastic.

And drumroll : : : : : : : : : : : : :

Last night I rode my Elliptigo OUTSIDE!!!

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end of may?????

May 31, 2016 by

What the cow? How can it be the end of May? How can it be six weeks since I have posted? Life is crazy, that’s how.

My post-cessation started at the same time baseball season began. We have never done organized sports for our kiddos. They just didn’t fit into our family culture of lots of time together, evenings spent snuggled up around a great family read-aloud, freedom to go where we want, when we want. We have never been willing to dedicate that much of our family time to a sport. Until now. I knew in my heart of hearts that Fisher needed to know that his desire to play on a baseball team was heard and important. He needed to know we were willing to make the sacrifices required. He needed to know dreams are worth having and sometimes come true. He needed the experience of having a coach. He needed to work hard and see his progress and be part of a team.

He needed it.

So we did it. (Thirty minutes before tryouts began, we decided to do it.)

And it has completely taken over our lives four nights a week for the last seven weeks.

I honestly don’t know how families function with this kind of schedule. It is impossible to eat together, have stories, conversation, and the magical kind of evenings that feed souls. Hats off to those who have figured it out. After nearly two months of this craziness, the only things I have figured out is how to have a well-stocked food supply with us at all times and the importance of blankets and chairs. I have no idea how to have dinner together, read together, or play games in the evenings with this kind of crazy.

Tonight was his last game of the regular season and his tournament starts on Thursday. It was amazing to see how much he has improved. Over the course of the season, he “graduated” from playing in the outfield half the game and sitting on the bench half the game to playing 3rd base the whole game. He went from striking out the first many times he was at bat to getting good hits consistently. He went from the shy boy on the outskirts to an integral part of the team. He loves his coach. His coach loves him. He gets along well with his teammates and they cheer him on. I am so proud of his courage to jump in and join a league of kids who have been playing for years. I am proud of him for sticking with it. I am proud of him for continuing to give it his best even when it was super hard. What a great kid!

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Since I last blogged, we had a fantabulous trip down to Hale Centre Theatre to see Peter and the Starcatchers. I organized the trip for eighty youth and adults and we had a blast experiencing the “big city” and seeing the amazing production.

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Love this picture of Kez and Sky

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Meeting Elder Rasband at City Creek!

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Two days later we celebrated Passover with our annual Seder with my Liberty Girls group, their mamas, and a few other friends.

And two very short days later brought another trip to Salt Lake City to see an orthopedic hand specialist at TOSH where a nifty splint was custom-molded for my hand/wrist.

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Then the last day of iFamily, the Math Alive Catapult Contest, Keziah’s Supreme Court Simulation and Oral Exams, and the end-of-year Showcase topped off that last week of April. Just a wee bit crazy when I consider how much we packed into one week.

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Next came my birthday. I looooove my birthday. This year the celebration was small and short with just a quick double date with Jessica and our husbands. I just wasn’t up to a putting much energy into it.

A couple of weeks later we started a remodel of our 1970 camper. It started out in my mind as small, but now I can see I was completely delusional that it could have even been small. The goal was to get rid of the useless appliances and replace them with useable storage space. We have put hundreds of hours into and we still have so many hours left…and no time left to do it in. Swim Camp is in just a few short days. The after-midnight hours (Richard can only work on it after work and after baseball, which is often not done until after 9:00 at night) are taking its toll on all of us, especially Richard and Keziah since they are the ones doing most of the work. Tami ripped out the stove, oven, sink, fridge, and ugly cabinetry holding them all. Several of my friends started us off with teaching me how to paint and doing most of the primer coat (thanks Liz, Jada, and Jennifer!). Our friend, Dallin, has also saved the day several times by coming over and putting in 10+ hour days (that kid has painted, laid the fake vinyl tile, soldered off the unneeded gas line, redirected the needed gas line, rewired the lights, patched holes, removed the water lines, repaired a gazillion broken things, and been a creative problem-solver we desperately needed). We are trying to do this on a $300 budget and while it might not look pretty at the end, it will be better than it was.

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We also had Homeschool Prom and a big two-day Holistic Health Conference in the middle of the month.

Smart girls wearing Converse instead of heels.

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Off-To-Neverland theme full of Peter and Pirates and Lost Boys.

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Love these girls so stinkin’ much! They had a big get-ready-for-prom-party at Liz’s and had a blast snacking, laughing, curling, and spraying.

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And I got a perm.

So I can do my hair with my one working hand.

Not because it is cute.

Although there are some days it actually turns out cute.

There are also gobs of the other days, the not-cute days.

On Mother’s Day we were able to FaceTime with our missionary! Glorious! She sang to us with her ukulele and filled us right up with the Spirit and heaps of love.

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Last week I went to Mexico to get more stem cell treatments. It was a rough trip with 31 injections, food poisoning, oodles of pain and misery, and a long, long drive home. I have spent the last two days in bed recovering and now finally today am back on my feet and starting the arduous process of laundry, packing, and shopping that has to happen before Swim Camp (not to mention finishing the camper remodel!).

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Sorry for the long dry spell. I will try to get on top of regular posting soon.

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the great bike challenge

Apr 4, 2016 by

Today is the beginning of The Great Bike Challenge. WAHOO! Who can ride the most miles in a week, Keziah or Richard? Kez certainly has more time, but Richard is pretty determined to beat her.

This all started back in September when Keziah’s knee injury from running became excruciating. At that point she decided to quit cross-country, stop running all together, buy a bike, and start riding. She rode until it got too cold outside. Then Richard started his get-his-life-back plan in January and has lost 30 lbs in the past 13 weeks! As the pounds came off, he decided he really wanted to start cycling again.

Sidebar: When we were first married, we sold his car and bought bikes to ride all over Boise, a town made for cyclists. We had a blast. After a few years, due to crazy work hours, I was the only one riding on a regular basis. When Blythe was little, I pulled her in a bike trailer all over the place. In the evenings, I would go for my longer rides. Then after Fisher’s birth and the pelvic damage from the car accident that week, I could no longer sit on an upright bike and started recumbent riding a super-fast high racer. Boy howdy, could that bike fly. I would go out for a 20 mile ride and be back home before they even missed me. I haven’t ridden my bike since the fall of 2010. I can’t bring myself to sell it because I have great hope I will ride it again. I miss cycling more than I can express. It is my place of meditation and revelation…not to mention kick-butt fun.

So now they are in a friendly (and maybe fierce?) competition. Whoever wins gets to choose a treat and the loser runner-up gets to pay for it. A weekly date, gobs of exercise, and cycling in the sunshine is a win-win for both of them. I am tickled pink that even thought I can’t ride my bike, my love of cycling is permeating our family culture.

Super fun!

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chicks!

Mar 31, 2016 by

It has been awhile since we have had new chicks at our home. They are a lot of work and we haven’t had enough gumption to put in the work the past few years since Fisher’s chicks were all attacked by a fox the summer of 2013. I think losing those 20+ birds took the oomph right out of us. Last year we adopted a flock of adult hens and have been enjoying the brown eggs and rich yolks, but none of us wanted to take on chicks again.

Until today.

A friend sent out an email that they had too many chicks at her husband’s business and were giving them away for free. I asked Richard if he wanted chicks and to my great surprise he said “YES!”

Tonight has been a mad dash of getting things set up for the little fluff balls. After years of getting chicks every year, you would think we would be pros at the whole thing, but we are out of practice, and certainly didn’t know where all our chick supplies were. Richard, the ever handy one, saved us all with his chick skills and got their new home with heat, food, and water set up in no time.

Aren’t they adorable?

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And the joy a little chick brings? Oh my, it is magical how my children’s eyes have sparkled tonight. Don’t we all need a bit more magic in our lives?

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sacred days

Mar 28, 2016 by

Joy of joys and heartwrenching pain all at the same time. This holy week has combined so many sacred events, celebrations, and memories into eight short days. Palm Sunday, Gethsemane, the crucifixion, and resurrection of our Savior, combined this year with Purim, the celebration of the deliverance of the Jews from wicked Haman, the 4th anniversary of my priesthood blessing in which I was asked to find my ancestors and do their temple work, a big sealing session at the temple to commemorate, and our annual spring family reunion. On top of all these absolutely tender and wonderful celebrations has been a lot of worry and heartache for family members who are in a world of pain and sorrow right now. Finally on Sunday evening, our ward (church congregation) boundaries were changed and many of our dearest friends will no longer be attending church with us.

What a week of tears and laughter and rejoicing and prayers. There really are no words to describe it all. But I want to remember.

  • Sharing the events the last days of Christ’s life on earth with our children.
  • Making Purim cookies with my darling, little Liberty Girls
  • Spending most of Wednesday crying in pain…pain in my injured hand and pain in my hurting heart for my family members.
  • Spending several hours in the temple on Wednesday evening with twenty of my dear friends performing sealings for my ancestors. Oh my goodness, the tears of absolute joy! My hand was wrapped up in ice packs the whole time and many mishaps happened, but by the end of the night we were able to seal 112 children and 40 couples. Joy of joys!
  • The joy of cousins playing in the snow for hours on end.
  • Spending three days with my husband – such a rare and wonderful event!
  • Attending Easter services and drinking in the miracle of the resurrection of our Lord.
  • Having a special family gathering where Richard’s dad shared his tenderest thoughts about the Savior, family, covenants, the atonement, and the resurrection.
  • Hearing his mom pray with her whole soul. And praying for our Blythe. Oh, my the tears.
  • My little Fisher talking about repentance.
  • My little Annesley talking about returning to live with Heavenly Father.
  • Holding Richard’s hand while we all cried over the beauty and majesty of Easter and the hope it fills our souls with.
  • Attending the meeting that changed our ward dramatically and crying my eyes out over all the people we will miss so dearly.

Sacred days and tender feelings. Because He lives, I can live again. Because He lives, I can love deeply and permanently. Because He lives, I have hope and answers and peace. Because He lives is everything. Hallelujah!

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a little catch-up

Mar 21, 2016 by

I am pretty much failing at blogging. We are in a busy season of homeschooling with Fisher and Annesley and my wrist has been hurt since the end of October and I don’t have the energy to compose my thoughts, and, and, AND. These are the excuses I tell myself when days and weeks go by without me sharing anything of substance.

Who knows what the truth is? It is probably a combination of all of the above and a gazillion other things. But I want to write more and share more and chronicle more and inspire more. Mostly so I can remember these wild days of family living when these days are long past. So, here is a little catch-up.

We (Fisher, Annes, Papa sit and listen while I read with all the voices I can muster up) have been reading The Chronicles of Narnia this year. It is the balm of Gilead my soul has needed. There have been numerous spiritual answers I have received as we have vicariously experienced Aslan’s love, wisdom, mercy, and strength. I didn’t think we should take the time to read them AGAIN when they are so much a part of our family culture, but when the Spirit spoke to me clearly back in November and told me they should be our next read-aloud, I listened and obeyed. And now I can see why. We all needed to come face-to-face with the atonement of Jesus Christ. We will be finishing up Prince Caspian this week…oh, the beauty of this story!

We celebrated Richard’s birthday at the beginning of the month by going out to dinner at Sizzler with some gift cards we were given for Christmas. Our two youngest had never been there and it was super fun to take them and let them go to the buffet bar as many times as they wanted. We don’t normally do things like that so it was a real treat!

Our dear missionary has been serving for 6 months. SIX MONTHS. Oh my goodness, it is flying by so fast. We love getting her letters and feel like a small part of a great effort to take Christ’s love and truth to the world.

Liberty Girls is in full swing though I haven’t posted a single thing about it this semester! We are reading All Of A Kind Family this semester and learning about Jewish culture, friendship, how to be part of a family, and doing all sorts of fun projects. Maybe I will work up enough energy to write a whole post about our adventures.

I hurt my hand on Friday at gym. We thought it was broken, but x-rays didn’t show a break, so now we don’t know what is wrong. It feels broken and there are moments it hurts so bad I think I might vomit from the pain. Then there are moments it doesn’t hurt much at all and I convince myself it is totally fine. The 4th metacarpal is sunk down and super tender to the touch. When I woke up today the pain was radiating clear up to my elbow. At this point, I am laying my hope on Jeremy’s mad skills to fix it. The doctor didn’t know why it is so deformed looking and told me if it is still hurting in a week to come back and get in with a hand specialist. CRAZY.

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The weather is warming up and it has turned my thoughts to kayaking and camping. Hours upon hours have been spent designing a kayaking trailer for my husband to build on our old-as-the-hills boat trailer. I am SO hoping he can bring my dreams to reality. We need to be able to transport all our camping gear (about 5′ x 10′ x 2′ worth of space), bikes, and six kayaks AND I want it to look good without rust, dangling electrical wires for the lights, rotting wood. That is the tricky part.

This week we are celebrating Holy Week with activities and discussion for each day of the last week of Christ’s life. Richard and I are also going to the temple to do sealings for my ancestors. What a glorious time of year!

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how i love them

Mar 1, 2016 by

Last night in the middle of an ordinary moment, time slowed down and all of a sudden my entire being swelled with love for these people God has given me. I saw them with new eyes and a new heart and could not believe they are mine. Oh, how I love them!

For our weekly Family Home Evening we went swimming with a few other families. I was too sore and feeling too fragile to get in the water, so I watched the splashing and front-flipping (new skill for Annes off the diving board!) and diving from the sidelines. Afterwards we stopped at the grocery store to grab some essentials for the week. Shopping all together is a pretty rare occurence and it was so fun, I decided we should definitely do it more often. Everyone put in their two-cents over which fruits and veggies to buy (Annesley begged for mangos and who can resist a cute little cherub begging for produce?) and we sent kids all over the store to find items and bring them back to the cart. On one of these runs, everyone ended up together and were walking towards me at the same time laughing and joking as they approached.

Time stood still. The light bounced off their faces and I fell in love with them all over again. These people mean everything to me. And sometimes, I forget. I forget how great my privilege is to love them. In the midst of living, I forget to look into their souls and connect.

So last night was a gift. For a brief moment I saw them as He sees them.

And I remembered.

Here they are all in all their delightful silliness over the past few months.

These two love to take selfies (dualies?) together. May it be recorded that Fisher kissed his sister.

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Meditating with a plunger? She left me a whole string of plunger pictures on my camera.

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Sledding down our road on Annesley’s birthday.

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More sledding.

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First day of snowboarding. Oh, my goodness, they LOVE snowboarding.

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Decorating the Christmas Tree.

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Dancing in front of the Provo City Center Temple on President’s Day.

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All of us (minus Blythe, of course!) in front of the temple.

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the lion, the witch, & the wardrobe

Feb 19, 2016 by

On February 7 we finished the second book in our Narnia read-aloud adventure! Quite the accomplishment since I had been ill since the 23rd of January and getting my voice to squawk out a whole chapter was quite a task. My children got used to me whispering all the voices because whispering is less likely to induce a coughing fit.

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is such a beautiful story of the price that must be paid to atone for the sins of another. Aslan gives his life willingly to save Edmund’s and his sacrifice both redeems and heals Edmund’s soul, just as Christ’s atonement does for each of us. The four children learn courage by serving and loving others. They learn to sacrifice their own needs for the the greater good of the kingdom. They learn the transforming power of repentance and each get to offer and receive forgiveness to and from another. Such necessary lessons for my children (and me!) to experience both vicariously through characters in a beloved book and in their own very human relationships.

I remember one of my teachers reading The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe to us in elementary school. I remember the cover was super weird and I thought it was some crazy science fiction book that held nothing interesting for me. I must have completely blanked it out because I walked away from those story times hating the book and having no interest in ever reading or hearing it again. Such sadness that I didn’t take the lessons of Narnia in and allow them to give me a solid trust in God and courage to fight for what is right. And so grateful that I was able to rediscover them as a mother and share them with my children again and again.

Favorite lines this time through:

“Logic!” said the Professor half to himself. “Why don’t they teach logic at these schools? There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesn’t tell lies and it is obvious that she is not mad. For the moment then and unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth.”

This makes me laugh so hard because I can totally hear myself saying it. The professor does not solve the challenging situation for Peter and Susan, but he helps the sort it out so they see it in a new way. I hope that is what I do for my children.

“None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don’t understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning–either a terrifying one which turns the whole dream into a nightmare or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again. It was like that now. At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in it’s inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of Summer.”

The light of Aslan sparked something different in each of them. What does God spark in me? Right now, it is peace. Calm, loving, enveloping, hopeful peace. I remember a time when I was afraid of Him because I didn’t really know Him, but now the warmth wraps me up like a quilt right out of the dryer and the sunshine on my face. Poor Edmund, he didn’t know the love Aslan had for him.

“I hope no one who reads this book has been quite as miserable as Susan and Lucy were that night; but if you have been – if you’ve been up all night and cried till you have no more tears left in you – you will know that there comes in the end a sort of quietness. You feel as if nothing is ever going to happen again.”

Oh yes, I have cried those tears and the quietness at the end is just what a soul needs to process the hurricane of feelings that has just tumultuously swirled around for hours on end.

“All shall be done, but it may be harder than you think.”

God will redeem us, the demons will be driven out, the land will be made free again, but the price is great. The cost of liberty always is.

“Lucy looked and saw that Aslan had just breathed on the feet of the stone giant.

It’s all right!” shouted Aslan joyously. “Once The feet are put right, all the rest of him will follow.”

How true this is! As our feet are set upon the path of God, all the rest will follow.

“For Narnia and for Aslan!”

What are we fighting for? I want to always fight for good things…liberty, love, and learning.

“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”

Oh, how I love for that day when my Savior returns and sets the affairs of this world in order. We need Him. We long for Him. Oh, glorious day!

Reading aloud to my family is my favorite thing. During those magic moments of story, the mishaps and sorrows of the day are forgotten and connection takes their place. Right before bed, we are wrapped up in imagination, adventure, and courage, all great things to fall asleep with, me thinks.

Now it is February 19 and we are hoping to finish up The Horse and His Boy this weekend. We have six chapters left so we need to do lots of reading!

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three in a row

Feb 7, 2016 by

This is the third Sabbath in a row I have missed church because of this ridiculous coughing/sneezing/ear infection/fever illness. After feeling much improved by Wednesday of last week, I crashed again Thursday night with fever, chills, body aches, and horrid coughs. Everytime I think I am better and start doing the normal (albeit scaled-back) duties of life, my body falls apart again and sends me back to square one on the sickness front.

I spent Friday in bed until that evening when I dragged myself out to go to Keziah’s play. Armed with cough drops, tissues, breathing oils, and my water bottle, I made it through. Saturday was the same, in bed all day until the play. Now it is Sunday and after a third day in a row in bed, I am finally feeling a wee bit better.

My mama and sister and her kiddos came to visit for the weekend so they could see the play. Even though we didn’t get to do anything fun because I was so sick, they were able to take care of me and let me sleep for hours on end.

I am really missing partaking of the sacrament and the fellowship with my ward members. Surely I will be better soon, right? I am resting, drinking gallons of water, giving my body all sorts of herbs and supplements, and while I can tell it is all helping, it is sure a slow process. I don’t think I’ve ever been sick for so long.

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the cold that won’t quit

Jan 31, 2016 by

After a few days of getting better, I am back in bed and living in snot-city again. Okay, to be honest, the snot volume isn’t back to where it was last Sunday, but it has dramatically increased in the past 12 hours. My neck is kinked and super sore, so I am lying in bed hooked up to my TENS unit, smothered in oils, with my tissues and Miracle Salve nearby.

Annes is sick as well, waking up with a fever and sore throat, so she and I are hanging out while everyone else is at church.

This is so rare for us, I don’t know what the cow is going on. Richard has been ill…probably with walking pneumonia for nearly 2 months. I am sick and now Annes is sick as well. We hardly ever get sick and when we do, our supplements, oils, and energy work take care of it lickety-split. But this time, it is hanging on.

Last night we all went to see Keziah’s play – SO FUN! It is an adorable story and we all laughed our heads off. Well, I didn’t actually laugh. I also didn’t clap as it took far too much effort to move my arms to clap. I mostly just laid there and smiled on the inside. I was so exhausted by the time we got to the play, I could hardly move. But everyone else laughed and enjoyed themselves.

The last few days…iFamily starting, Liberty Girls Kick-Off Party for the new semester, gym on Friday, errands and the play on Saturday…kicked my butt and now I need to take a few days to rest this body and let it recover all the way from this cold.

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annes and the police station

Jan 27, 2016 by

Miss Annes is full of zest. Chock-full of curiosity, stories, creativity, enthusiasm, and is about as cute as can be. Everywhere we go people love her. Except for the few people she drives absolutely banana-cakes with her “muchness.”

Today was the first day of iFamily, our awesome homeschool group. She is in a Community Explorations class this semester where they go out to different businesses and community entities to learn about how they function and what they do to make our community great. Today was the Police Station. Annes gave a Texas-sized shout of “Hurrah” when she found out. Unbeknownst to me, she is a little over the top curious about all things police-y because of her current obsession with Adventures in Odyssey mysteries.

When she returned to iFamily I asked one of her mentors how it went and if Annesely was well-behaved. She gave me a huge laugh and said, “Annesley is the best part of my day, I love that girl! She is FULL of life!” Thrilled with that response, I asked her to tell me all about it.

She reported that on the way in to the Police Station, Annesley said, “Oh no! They won’t let me in! They have metal detectors and look at my boots!” Her mentor said she thought the little piece of metal on the end of her cowboy boots would be just fine. Annesley responded with, “Oh, are they not very sensitive?”

At some point the police officer must have been talking about roadblocks and Annesley asked if there was a robbery because why would you ever have a roadblock without a robbery?

The third comment was “Do you deal with a lot of counterfeiters?” The police officer said no, not a whole lot. Why?” Annesley said, “Well, I know all about making counterfeit money!” She actually has no idea how to make counterfeit money, but she has listened to her Adventures In Odyssey CDs about a counterfeiting ring about a hundred times since Christmas so she thinks she is pretty much an expert. However, I would hope she would be a so-called expert in catching the counterfeiters, not copying their trade.

I’m tickled she has such fun opportunities for learning and mentors that appreciate her enthusiasm for life. I just hope the good officers don’t set up some kind of sting operation to bust us for counterfeiting.

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slightly better, but still under the weather

Jan 26, 2016 by

Oh my goodness, the snot. The sneezing. The pressure in my head. iFamily starts tomorrow and I am far from ready. I am trying to pull it all together today because I am feeling significantly improved from Sunday…but significantly better still isn’t well…it is more like barely functioning instead of looking like death warmed over.

A batch of laundry done (underwear…we were all desperate for some clean underthings). The sink cleaned out. A few emails sent and Blythe’s letter posted. Children listening to audio books and drawing and cleaning out the car and cutting wood in the garage.

And I am done. Ready to go back to bed for the rest of the day.

I think I will take a little nap and then try again in a few hours. I still need to print off cover sheets for my Math Alive-EUREKA students’ notebooks, study some background information on Archimedes’ life, prepare our in-class activity, and make our Challenge of the Week sheets for each student to take home. Then the car needs to be vacuumed and filled up with gas (surely Richard will do that for me when he gets home!) and all the children’s bags need to be packed and lunch food assessed, perhaps restocked, and packed.

And I need to get better.

Stat.

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thank heavens for puffs plus

Jan 24, 2016 by

I hardly ever get sick, but yesterday I woke up all stuffy. By evening I had a runny nose, but still felt fairly okay and was able to make it to the temple to do sealings (107 completed last night!). By the time I got home, I was wiped out and laid awake most of the night blowing my nose and reapplying Miracle Salve to my sore nostrils.

Now it is the Sabbath and I am definitely sick. Beside me on the bed is a heaping pile of used Puffs Plus tissues, Catalyn, echinacea, zinc, vitamin c, Breezy and Life Force essential oils, my water bottle, and oodles of genealogy paperwork I am trying to sort through in between sneezes. No ribs have come out of place during the sneezing, WAHOO!

I am really hoping this cold moves on out super quick. iFamily starts on Wednesday and it is Play Weekfor Keziah for the next two weeks…which means lots of long days, late nights, and tons of fun as we watch the kids we love put on great performances. I need to be all better quick as a flash!

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the magician’s nephew

Jan 16, 2016 by

We started our reading of The Chronicles of Narnia on New Year’s Day and we finished last night after the children begged and pleaded for me to finish the last two chapters in one sitting. They couldn’t bear to wait another day to hear the ending of The Magician’s Nephew.

Ah. It is like breathing life into my soul to read Narnia to my children. Blythe was obsessed with Narnia from about age six to eight. Obsessed. We read it over and over and over and listened to the Focus on The Family Dramatized version for years. The story of Aslan, Lucy, Peter, Mr. Tumnus, Caspian, Shasta, the witch, Tirian, the ape, the dwarfs, and all the rest are part of our family culture. So it isn’t that the stories are new to Fisher and Annes. But in a way they are new. I have never read them to them. They have never been through the story beginning to end. They have never experienced it all unfolding before them. I guess I thought that because it is all around them because of Blythe’s great love for the story and the movies coming out several years ago that they didn’t need me to read it to them. That they knew it all.

But they don’t. There is so much they have missed because they were too little when Blythe was still listening to the stories all the time. They have grown up with the characters and basic story line, but they have missed the greater wisdom of this epic adventure that grows as they identify with a character, feel the hard choices, pain, and joy, and face their own character flaws and strengths as they consider what they would do in the same situation.

And so we read each night and the story unfolds before them and wraps up their imagination in the lovely world of right and wrong, courage, friendship, faith, sacrifice, and always, always Aslan calling to their souls.

I’m so glad God gave me the prompting back in November that this should be our next read aloud. It is proving to be a delightful journey.

Favorite lines this time through:

“Oh, I see. You mean that little boys ought to keep their promises. Very true: most right and proper, I’m sure, and I’m very glad you have been taught to do it. But of course you must understand that rules of that sort, however excellent they may be for little boys – and servants – and women – and even people in general, can’t possibly be expected to apply to profound students and great thinkers and sages. No, Digory. Men like me, who possess hidden wisdom, are freed from common pleasures. Ours, my boy, is a high and lonely destiny.”

As he said this he sighed and looked so grave and noble and mysterious that for a second Digory really thought he was saying something rather fine. But then he remembered the ugly look he had seen on his Uncle’s face the moment before Polly had vanished, and all at once he saw through Uncle Andrew’s grand words. “All it means is that he things he can do anything he likes to get anything he wants.”

Such wisdom young Digory is gaining! He knows that it is not just for a code of conduct to only apply to some people. He knows his uncle is behaving abominably and a little seed is planted in his heart to not do the same. In the end, his greatest joys come because he learns and obeys that lesson.

“In Charn [Jadis] had taken no notice of Polly (till the very end) because Digory was the one she wanted to make use of. Now that she had Uncle Andrew, she took no notice of Digory. I expect most witches are like that. They are not interested in things or people unless they can use them; they are terribly practical.”

How am I using people? I so want to love people, not use them.

“Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed.”

Hmmmm.

“What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.”

I have found this to be so true. I see in others parts of my own soul reflected back at me. Perspective is a crazy thing. It can be incredibly false and powerfully true. Praying to see as God sees has made a huge difference in my life.

“You know me better than you think, you know, and you shall know me better yet.”

All of us know God. Our souls yearn to be with our Father again. Knowing Him is my heart’s desire.

“Look for the valleys, the green places, and fly through them. There will always be a way through.”

Always. Always. Always He will provide a way through the hard, craggy mountains of life.

“But length of days with an evil heart is only length of misery and already she begins to know it. All get what they want; they do not always like it.”

We become what we desire, but that doesn’t mean the end of the road will be what we want.

“But I cannot tell that to this old sinner, and I cannot comfort him either; he has made himself unable to hear my voice. If I spoke to him, he would hear only growlings and roarings. Oh, Adam’s son, how cleverly you defend yourself against all that might do you good!”

How do I make myself unable to hear His voice? What do I need to do today and each day to better hear Him.

“Things always work according to their nature.”

We live and multiply and work according to who we are. We can only pretend for so long, but the truth of who we are always comes out. At the root of everything, we are children of God and if we can let that truth grow within us, we will live as children of God.

“Child, that is why all the rest are now a horror to her. That is what happens to those who pluck and eat fruits at the wrong time and in the wrong way. Oh, the fruit is good, but they loath it ever after.”

Oh. Oh. Such wisdom. Takes my breath away to think about it.

“Glory be!” said the Cabby. “I’d ha’ been a better man all my life if I’d known there were things like this.”

The glory and majesty of God’s power is beyond my comprehension. I want to be a better, truer, more kind, obedient, and daughter. Oh, heaven help me.

Tonight we will start The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. What a joy it is to share Narnia with my little ones!

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oh, the tears

Jan 9, 2016 by

What a hard week. On top of the crazy-making hormone levels, my body doing some funky things (nerve pain in my face, my head feeling like there is a ball inside being inflated, dysautonomia symptoms changing every few minutes, and ribs that will not stay in place, keep poking, and make it hard to breathe), and all of us trying to adjust to our new routine (new foods for Richard and new schedules for all of us), we found new homes for our dogs this week.

I can’t really post all the details on the interwebs, but suffice it to say we have had ongoing issues with one of our neighbors and we decided the best option for our dog’s lives was to find them new families to love them. They went to wonderful homes where they will be adored. My dear friend, Heather, took Charlie and her mother-in-law took Sadie. Heather has lllooovvvveeedddd Charlie since she first met her. They have a beautiful relationship. So when she said she would take her in a heartbeat, we decided it was the best possible outcome of this situation and probably the only one we could feel good about. But it still hurts.

Our hearts are pretty raw today. When I woke up this morning, it hit me. Hard. There is not a dog running outside barking at the squirrels. There is not a dog waiting for the children to wake up and play. There is not a dog waiting for us to rub her. There is not a dog.

And the tears flow.

And the anger flares.

And my heart prays.

Come, peace, come. Salve for our souls is needed.

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easing back into life

Jan 6, 2016 by

Recovering from late nights, too much junk food, and lack of commitments.

New scripture study time. (In the morning at the butt-crack of dawn. Actually long before the butt-crack of dawn since it is pitch black outside when Richard gently kisses me and shakes me awake so I can pull on my fleece sweats and slippers and plod out to the family room.)

New schedules.

New goals.

Registration for iFamily was this week and I had to break some children’s hearts because I can’t take more than 16 students in my Math Alive class and nearly 30 applied. I hate breaking hearts.

Homeschool days on the ski/snowboarding slopes is here once again and for the first time since 2008, I am trying my darndest to make it happen for my kids. Long, frustrating story there about how hard I have been trying to magically find all the gear they need for as few pennies as possible and piles of tears that poured out of me when I couldn’t find what they needed at prices we could afford. My heart and their hearts were so set on going this week, but I just couldn’t make it happen. So I fell apart, telling myself all the lies. Something akin to “for crying out loud we live right next to the mountains and have an awesome homeschool program that allows kids to ski or board for hours and hours for $10 and you KNOW this, so what is wrong with you (me) that you didn’t plan ahead and get all this stuff in the summer when it was available or look in Utah or SOMETHING else, for the love. You (once again, me!) made a stupid choice to buy a snowboard when you don’t know anything about snowboards and now you are told it is broken and you can’t find boots and it is all completely pointless.” It was a rough night of tears and irrational thought. (But I am better now, no worries needed about my overall sanity.) And Keziah went since she has her own money and a friend was able to loan her all the gear she needed, so that was super fun, even though the other kiddos were disappointed.

Starting gym again on Friday and not ready to be up on my feet again. This new flare up of my knee injury is frustrating.

Plummeting progesterone levels which equals a weepy, emotions-all-over-the-place mama.

Play practices ramping up for Miss Keziah’s play which is at the end of the month. So, we don’t see her much.

Same girly getting her driver’s license (hopefully this week!) which is exciting and wonderful and will help out a ton, but leaves me with no vehicle whenever she takes the Subaru. (Our suburban runs just fine, but it is not driveable right now because the heater core broke on the way to Swim Camp back in June. Living up here in the frozen tundra prevents anyone with even a wee bit of sanity to drive a vehicle without a heater!)

Fisher finished his math program a few ago and we are trying to figure out where to go next with him. And my brain or spirit or something must be closed off to the heavens (or more likely just really, really tired) because I just don’t know what to do.

I am trying to put together the next semester of Liberty Girls and feeling little direction from on high…which leads to low motivation on my end.

I feel like hibernating right here in my house and savoring the long, winter days with books, warm quilts, hot chocolate, and lots of calm. I don’t want to actually deal with reality and answer the phone, pay bills, run errands, organize anything, or go anywhere. So I am doing that. AND doing a bit of the other because, you know, life.

Lots of changes, so we are easing into them and trying not to cause all-out rebellion (mostly my own rebellion where I throw in the towel and head for my imaginary cabin in the hills, haha!). Yesterday we started reading Stone Fox (love that book!) for the man club Fisher is a part of, Explorer Boys, and ever so slowly started back into our normal school days. I think we will start some geometry today with him and see how it goes.

All the books for 2016 for my colloquia group have been selected and I just might get them posted here, but no guarantees since at the moment my energy level is roughly equivalent to a sloths. Tomorrow night is our first discussion of the year, which means I’ll need to shower…and turn on my brain…but then I can enjoy hearing thoughts and ideas on a great book and it will be lovely.

So this week is going to be slow and calm and full of nurturing…I need the calm. There is plenty of time for the busy later.

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narnia

Jan 1, 2016 by

We started our next read-aloud for 2016 tonight. In the midst of grumpy kids who were tired from late nights, sugar-laden, and about to dddiiiiiieee from taking down the Christmas decorations, magic was created.

Back in November, God whispered to my heart that our next read-aloud was to be the entire Chronicles of Narnia series. At first, I thought, “Our children know these stories inside and out, I don’t think I should take the time to read them aloud to them. I need to use this precious time for something they haven’t been exposed to yet.” But the quiet whispering continued and I knew there was a good reason for it. My excitement at the prospect grew and all through the nights of December Christmas stories, I grew giddy inside at the thought of sharing the wonderment of Narnia with our children over the next many months.

So, tonight, with children annoying one another and complaining at each new task assigned to them in our Christmas clean-up, we started our adventure. Richard made everyone hot chocolate while we finished the last of the clean-up and we welcomed everyone to grab a mug and a blanket and sit down and listen.

Soon calmness prevailed and happiness won out over the grumps. The magic of read-aloud time to bring a family together never ceases to amaze me. I think the world could be changed dramatically if all families spent some time in the evenings enjoying a delicious book together.

At the end of the chapter, they begged, “Please read another! Please, please! Just one more!” I reminded them that just thirty minutes prior they had been saying, “We don’t want to read Narnia! We want to watch Return of the Jedi!” and they grinned and said, “Yes, but now we want you to read more!”

Cracks me up.

The power of story is real. Stories speak to the deepest parts of who we are. They inspire courage, build connection, and create a culture of shared identity. They are the best things I know of to bind a family together.

What are you reading with your family right now?

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