morning is soooo early

Aug 26, 2014 by

Mornings are not my thing. They have never been my thing. I thoroughly enjoy seeing the sun rise in all its splendor, but even that beauty along with the peace and quiet that comes in the early hours is not enough to make me get out of bed.

For years I have tried to get out of bed earlier. I have tried alarms, reward programs, punishment programs, positive self-talk, begged Richard to drag me out of bed, and lots of other approaches to get me up in the wee hours of the day, but none of it has worked.

On the flip side of all this is some challenging evening schedules. For the past several years, our older girls have been involved in activities in the evening and our family scripture reading and read-alouds have really suffered. They have both been gone on Tuesdays for mutual (youth program at church), Blythe has been gone on Wednesdays for ballet and Thursdays for symphony, she gets home both nights around 9:30. I don’t know for sure what her schedule is going to be this year, but I know our evenings need changed. My little ones need to go to bed earlier than they have been and we need to not squeeze scripture reading in around the edges of our lives.

So, we are making a new tradition…morning scripture reading. I know lots of people do this successfully and others do it not so successfully (kids are asleep or only a few verses are read in the midst of the mad-rush out the door), but even doing it not so successfully has seemed an absolute impossibility to us before now.

Sunday at Family Council we made a new plan to have family scripture reading at 6:25 in the morning before Keziah leaves for seminary at 6:45. She will need to be all ready for the day before that point and the rest of us will need to alert…not just conscious, but alert. I cannot bear to have scripture study with semi-comatose children (or self!) – it is too important to me to do it in a check-off-the-list manner and not an actual learn and grow manner.

So we started Monday morning easing in to our new plan. Seminary doesn’t start till the 3rd, so are giving ourselves some time to work into the 6:25 dealio. The last two days we have had a high-quality scripture reading at 7:15, huzzah!

I did yawn all day long yesterday and I was ready to crash at 9:00 p.m., but I made it through without a nap. This probably seems like no big deal to those of you who get up early all the time, but to me it is like climbing Mt. Everest. Seriously difficult stuff here.

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in his hands

Aug 14, 2014 by

Our suburban’s transfer case broke back on June 28 on our way home from Utah. The bill was $2100. $2100 which we didn’t have and couldn’t see any way of getting. We started selling things to pay for it and were able to sell enough stuff and use some from our summer savings account (our money set aside during the school year to make it until October when Richard gets paid from the school district again) to pay for the repair.

Well, when we returned home from camping, I did all the math for the next two months and knew we weren’t going to make it until payday in mid-October. We needed the $800 from the summer savings account. So I started putting energy into selling more things and planning out some classes to teach.

This morning, I woke up and knew the Duplo table had to sell. I had listed it back when the suburban broke down and it didn’t sell. I wasn’t willing to do garage sale prices on it because it is worth a lot of money (and worth a lot of emotional pennies to me as well), but many people are only willing to pay thrift store prices, so no one was interested in my $350 Duplo collection. Well, I prayed. I asked God to please send my ad to a person who would be blessed by my Duplos AND be willing to pay for them.

And he did.

It is sold, paid for, and taken to its new home.

Yes, I believe in a God of miracles. I tried to sell it on my own for a month with not a single taker. Today, after praying for help, it sold in just a few short hours. He is taking care of us.

p.s. I am so, so grateful they sold and know they are going to a home where they will be well-loved and cared for, but I find myself a bit teary-eyed…saying goodbye to our duplos is saying goodbye to an era of little ones. My babies are growing up and it feels like my heart is being torn in two.

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safe and sound

Aug 12, 2014 by

I need to take the time to write a whole post about my two weeks in the mountains, but since that probably won’t get done for a few more days, I wanted to let y’all know I am home safe and sound.

Here are a few itty-bitty updates until I can get a real post written.

  • I fell in the shower a few days before I left and hurt my knee…well, actually I hurt lots of parts of me, but my knee was hurt the worst and it is still hurting the worst. I babied it while I was gone and unfortunately it is still hurting. I am gearing myself up for another 12-16 weeks healing time.
  • My mom fell while we were camping and hurt her knee really badly. She had her MRI today and we will get the results tomorrow. I’m pretty sure she is heading for surgery soon.
  • Our summer read-aloud is so fun! Everyone needs to run and beg, borrow, or steal buy The Wingfeather Saga TODAY. Oh, my goodness, I love it so much. I am on book four (tempted to stay up all night tonight to finish reading the last 200 pages) and as a family we are almost done with book two.
  • Due to the state of my knee and my noble efforts to baby it, unpacking is going very, very slowly. We have been working our way through the laundry and tomorrow we must conquer the food (yes, mom, the cooler stuff was put away days ago, it is just the totes that need emptied) and then Blythe will need to vacuum out the suburban.
  • I am almost ready to launch my new website/business/effort to change the world. Wahoo!
  • Richard got a contract with the school district again. Wahoo!
  • Three weeks until iFAMILY starts. I am working on finalizing everything for my awesome-sauce Worldviews class.

Time to get back to The Warden and The Wolf King. Now that I don’t have to use a flashlight to read at night, it is time for some midnight reading.

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my mountains are calling

Jul 24, 2014 by

I have a special place I escape to each summer. The air seeps into my soul and renews me, centers me, brings me back to what matters most. The mountains give me strength and courage to face whatever life throws my way. The water, so crisp and clear, surrounds me with a healing balm of refreshment.

The memories of my grandparents loving these mountains and caring for the people who came to camp there fill me with peace. They nurtured the land, the visitors, and most of all, their grandchildren who came to stay with them in the big lodge on the hill. I was blessed to be one of the children who stayed with them for weeks on end and was able to learn to work and play and love under their tutelage.

My children have gone camping here every summer of their lives. It is their special place too. Almost all of Blythe’s birthdays have been celebrated in the mountains we love. This year she will turn 18. It might be the last birthday we have up there for a few years. Who knows where she will be and what she will be doing on her 19th, 20th, or 21st? I’m sure she will come back and join us sometimes, but this is probably the last trip from this phase of our lives with all of our children together.

Today is packing and grocery shopping and loading so we can pull out bright and early tomorrow morning. It is time to breathe the air that fills my soul.


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the tooth fairy is coming

Jul 7, 2014 by

the tooth fairy is coming

Goodbye little girl with a smile full of baby teeth.

She lost a bottom tooth on Saturday night and her top two front teeth are super loose, they will be coming out soon. I actually have no idea how they are still in there – the one on the right can twist clear around in circles.

Photo on 7-7-14 at 3.40 PM

Photo on 7-7-14 at 3.41 PM #3

Photo on 7-7-14 at 3.41 PM #2

Photo on 7-7-14 at 3.41 PM #4

Every single milestone brings a big sigh of bittersweet emotions from my soul. Seeing her lose her baby cheeks, her teeth, and her little girlness is so stinkin’ hard. I never thought I would have a home without a baby or a toddler – and now I am full blown into the lose-the-teeth stage for the last time. I want to ask the tooth fairy to hide piles of money under her pillow – surely having Annes hit the jackpot will assuage my heartbreak?

I was supposed to have a gazillion children and while I am so grateful for my four, each “last-time” feels like a knife wound.

It seems silly to cry over teeth, but I think I might.

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please keep running sentra

Jul 1, 2014 by

The broken Subaru story has now expanded to a broken Subaru + a broken Suburban. On our way home from Utah on Saturday night, we started hearing a horrible grinding sound coming from the driver’s side axle area. We pulled over, did some investigation in the dark with cars whizzing by us at 80 mph, and decided we had to baby it to the next exit so we could get off the side of the road.

We figured it had to be the u-joints or the transfer case and shouldn’t drive it further. We started making phone calls, waking people up in the middle of the night, and were able to find some superheroes wearing their capes. Tami quickly found us a hotel room and a ride to get there. Unfortunately, when we got to the hotel it was full – her reservation had been made after midnight, so it bumped us to checking in that afternoon after 4:00 – and there were no rooms available to sleep in right then. Nor were there rooms at any other hotels within a 20 mile radius.

So, this dear woman who picked us up, a sister of my friend Boo, took us to her home in the middle of the night and let us crash on her floor. She had just gotten home that night from a cross-country road trip and needed to be sound asleep herself, but she came and rescued our little family and gave us a safe, warm place to sleep. I need to find out what her favorite treat is and send her a pile of them.

The next morning, Tami came and got us, took us back to the broken Suburban so it could be towed, and then drove us the 2+ hours home. Superhero, that girl is!

The repair shop called and said it is the transfer case. Ouch. $2100 bill. So, we are figuring out everything we can sell to come up with enough money. And lovely things are happening! Yesterday, we got a refund check of $215 from our mortgage company for an overpayment of escrow! Never in all our years of having a mortgage have we received a check. I about fell on the floor when I read the words. A woman came and bought our lovely Apple Gathering painting that hangs in our front room and left an extra $50 for it. I sold a set of books for $145. Today I will list our beloved Duplo table with all 645 pieces we meticulously counted last night. Today I will be combing my house to come up with other things I can sell and slowly, but surely we will get there. The treadmill is next on the list, hmmm, what else is here that can get us some cash?

For now, we are stuck at our house and crossing our fingers the part for the Subaru comes in today so Richard can fix it tonight. Thank goodness his little Nissan is still chugging along so he can get to work!

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first day at the lake

Jun 25, 2014 by

A day at the lake watching my little ones run and swim and giggle is exactly what I needed today. I have been working non-stop on my new website and the iFamily schedule and website all week. Today we took advantage of the sun and windless skies to go to the lake for the first time of the summer.

And it was perfect.

They played on our one working inner tube, built sandcastles, searched for frogs and snakes, swam underwater, and ran around like little children without a care in the world. Just like they should.

I laid in my chair and read a book and smiled as I watched them squeal with delight.

Oh, I love mothering!

p.s. Yes, a post about trek is coming. Yes, my jaw is improving. Yes, I am doing well this week. Yes, I will be at the reunion…these are all for my dear mama who keeps asking me, but doesn’t want to pester me. Love you mama…see you in a few days.

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loveliness on a summer morn

Jun 23, 2014 by

Oh my, ten days without posting. Besides the fact (haha) that you are missing my words, it is entirely unhealthy for me to go that long without processing my thoughts through writing. Note to self: for a healthier psyche, write, write, write.

The sun is shining through my eastern window, filling my bedroom with fresh morning light. The sky is a radiant blue. The trees are full of cotton, which normally blows all around our yard like a soft-summer snowstorm, but this morning, in the stillness, the cotton hangs in the trees waiting for a breeze to release it. I hear the sprinklers shooting water all over the lawn, the chitch-chitch-chitch sounds of the rotating heads bringing order to my morning.

And all of this brings me hope. The morning comes. A new week is here with the promise of possibility. A clean slate waiting to be written upon.

This week I have a few goals.

  • Remember to be a fun mom.
  • Smile…a whole lot.
  • Get outside every single day. I can’t even tell you how many days I have spent living in this house. In this bedroom. I need to soak the summer air into my soul.
  • Figure out what classes I am teaching at iFamily (or not!)
  • Make the iFamily schedule.
  • Get the iFamily website done.
  • Get my new business website done.
  • Start a new read-aloud with Fisher and Annes…yes, we finally finished Hanne!
  • Make a decision about gymnastics for this fall.
  • Get my bedroom clean.
  • Get Richard’s summer special for SimplyHealed on his website.
  • Spend an hour every morning doing genealogy.
  • Organize my new school basket with Fisher’s and Annesley’s daily learning materials.
  • Spread joy.
  • Introduce our Happy Jar.
  • Rearrange and give the upstairs living areas a deep (overdue) spring cleaning.
  • Finish reading My Name Used To Be Muhammed
  • Find a location to hold my new classes on How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk.

My jaw is improving, I can eat soft foods instead of drinking everything. Talking doesn’t hurt as much as it did a few weeks ago. Smiling is still pretty painful and laughter really hurts, but I will gladly take this over the condition it was in three weeks ago. My ankle is improving, still taped, and still limping a bit, but it is not hurting as much. If no other injuries happen, I will be able to start riding my awesome Elliptigo in the next few weeks.

Blessings abound.

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best catch of my life

Jun 7, 2014 by

We always like to go out on a date on June 7 to commemorate our first date back in 1993. Instead I have spent the day in bed and Richard has spent the day at work. I am pretty bummed to be spending this evening alone. But I am not up to an out-of-the-house date. My foot is pretty tender from the fall in the hidden hole on Monday and I am trying to rest it as much as possible to help its healing be speedy (haha, is anything speedy with my healing?) and my whole head is miserable. My teeth ache and feel like they are falling out. My jaw feels like it is in a vice grip and my head feels like it has a football helmet on that is 48 sizes to small.

I certainly don’t want to get fancied up and since I can’t eat anything but pureed liquids, we are a bit limited on our restaurant choices. So I told my sweetie to go fishing. He needs a night on the river so he can clear his mind of the jaw situation for a few hours. The water lapping the shore and the casting back and forth fills his soul with calmness, patience, and strength…all of which we are going to need in the days to come, so I told him to go and not feel bad about it being June 7, just go and soak up a river of courage.

Back on that first June 7, I asked him to take me fishing knowing full well the weather was bad and it was getting late in the day. He asked if there was any way he could take me to a movie and dinner instead and take me fishing the next time we had the night off. Yes sir, that is just what I was hoping for! I often tell him that instead of catching fish that night, we caught each other…best catch of our lives.

My cousin Melissa was at Swim Camp with me and one day during one of my many crying fests over the whole jaw situation she said something like “Tracy, you may feel flawed and like you’re not mothering the way you wish, but you nailed the most important decision of your life in who to marry. You are giving your children a priceless gift – they get to experience a loving, beautiful, faithful, and faith-filled marriage. What a gift!” She is right. I am terribly flawed and I struggle so much with simple kindness, but my marriage is one thing I did right. God led me right to this amazing man and with a heart full of faith I allowed myself to trust that marriage really could last forever and be full of love, safety, and oneness. It took me a few years of marriage to be fully convinced that marriage could be good and a few more years for my wounded heart to be healed, but from the first moment I met him I followed the Spirit and let God lead me into sacred covenants with this good, good man.

I could have married a crazy high school boyfriend who was full of manipulation, abuse, and all sorts of psycho-mumbo-jumbo. I easily could have married my Baptist best friend, but it would have meant leaving my religion and joining his and though I loved him with my whole heart, I couldn’t bring myself to walk away from my testimony. Instead I walked away from a full-ride scholarship to the college he was attending so I wouldn’t be near him anymore. It was too painful to care for someone so deeply and not be united in faith together. I always hoped to marry another dear friend who left on a mission for our church that summer. And a HUGE part of me decided to never marry anyone. My walls were several feet thick and I was determined to keep them that way so my heart would never break again. I had already decided at that tender age of nineteen that no man would ever hurt me again. No man would ever tell me what to do and get away with it. No man would rape me, boss me, hit me, and live to see the light of day. I was angry and damaged and had little desire to change. But I had also made baptismal covenants with my Heavenly Father. I had decided as a young girl to get married in the Salt Lake Temple. I knew God loved me and had a plan for me and deep down inside I wanted to trust Him, but I didn’t know how to let down my walls.

Then God gave me Richard. The instant I saw him I knew I would marry him. I can’t describe the serenity and stability I felt in his presence…kind of like being wrapped up in a blanket of warmth and safety in the most loving embrace imaginable.

I trusted that feeling. But I still had to fight the demons of fear and anger and walls and grief. I had to decide that I believed a marriage didn’t have to end in divorce, that all men didn’t cheat on their wives, that all men wouldn’t hit their wives, that the song “Families Can Be Together Forever” wasn’t just a fairytale. It took years for those demons to finally be slayed. God walked with me every step of the way and Richard’s pervasive goodness taught me what love really looks like.

Melissa is right. The one thing that really matters and makes all the difference is my marriage to Richard. I cannot imagine going through this life, and especially these physical challenges without him by my side.

p.s. He just called – he is off the river and bringing some curry home to share with me. Happy first date sweetheart.

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happy mother’s day

May 11, 2014 by

Mother’s Day was a mixed bag of emotions for me today. On the one hand, I am so, so grateful to be a mother. On the other hand, I am feeling like a failure in the mothering department right now. I can’t do the things I want to do because my body simply won’t let me. Right now I can’t even drive myself anywhere. My fuse is short. My house is a mess. My emotions are up and down and all around.

And my poor children never know what to expect from one day to the next. One day, mom can take them to the park, the next day she is down in bed or passed out on the floor or grumpy as all get out. It has to be incredibly hard on them and while I hope it is forming them into resilient, service-oriented people, I worry they will look back on their childhoods and feel neglected and/or unappreciated.

So, this morning, I didn’t really want to go to church and hear how wonderful motherhood is or how some sister is the most amazing mother ever. I wasn’t up to hearing the accolades and knowing they currently don’t apply to me.

But I took a long bath and thanked God for my children and my life and the amazing blessings of my life. And then I put a dress on and walked out the door with my not-so-cute-hair and my not-so-cute-outfit and my not-so-happy-heart and decided to worship my Savior and recommit to Him to be willing to take His name upon me.

And it worked. His spirit warmed my heart and filled me up with gratitude for my mothering efforts. I am not the mother I want to be and I wish things were different for our family, but really, we are doing the best we can in a pretty tough situation and I need to give myself some slack while also striving to nurture these precious souls with His love and His grace.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you. Thank you for loving and serving and teaching and creating and inspiring children everywhere.

And here is a note to my mama who is feeling less than the pinnacle of motherhood today as well:

Mom, I love you. More than words can ever express, I love you. You are a wonderful mother and boy, howdy, and amazing grandma. I am so grateful for the privilege I have had to learn from you and be loved by you. I hope someday you will be able to let the guilt go. You did a wonderful job in spite of the circumstances you were in. Do you remember the many times you stayed up all night with me helping me with a school project I had procrastinated? Do you remember designing all my student council election campaign posters? And working for hours to hang them up? Do you remember all the love notes you slipped into my lunch? Do you remember all the prayers you have sent to Heaven on my behalf? Do you remember braiding my hair? Sewing my clothes? Laughing till we peed our pants? I love you. Always know, I love you and am grateful for you.

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new calling

May 5, 2014 by

Last week I received a new church calling. In our church we receive callings from a member of our local ward (geographic area of about 400 – 800 members) Bishop or from our Stake Presidency if it is a stake (group of 8-10 wards) I am now serving the Stake Primary Presidency as the secretary. The Primary is our organization for children up to age 12.

It is a tad (okay, a LOT) overwhelming to think of adding anything more to my life. I feel great peace about the calling and feel strongly that the Lord is asking me to serve His children in this way at this time. In spite of the peace, I also know that I am at my limit and my family is at their limit. Something or several things need to be let go to free up time, mental energy, physical strength, and spiritual guidance for this calling. It is going to require much of me and frankly, I don’t have much to give. Some hard choices need to be made and I don’t want to make them. I want to do EVERYTHING I want to do and I cannot. I am going to be spending the next while pondering and praying and getting really clear on what God wants me to do right now. My list is long: wifing (is that how you spell the act of being a good wife?), mothering, homeschooling, taking care of my body’s fairly complex needs with nutrition, supplements, exercise, rest, therapy, and careful planning, personal education, personal spiritual work, genealogy, iFamily Board duties, mentoring, gymnastics, colloquia, Swim Camp, other homeschool events that I love to plan, philanthropy, cooking, cleaning, friends, and church responsibilities. This is not a random list to see how long I can get it, this is a list of things I am anxiously engaged in right now, care about deeply, and spend much time and energy on. I know God will strengthen me and help me to accomplish His purposes, but I also know I need to make some difficult decisions.

I am pondering the words from my priesthood blessing yesterday and spending time listening to the impressions of the Spirit. My prayer is that God will teach me His will and then strengthen me to do what He asks.

Serving and loving and nurturing children is one of my very favorite things to do – I am excited to be an instrument in His hands in bringing children to drink from His well of living water, to help them feel safe and wanted and fed by the Spirit.

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birds of a feather

Mar 23, 2014 by

I have just spent eight days with my father. EIGHT WHOLE DAYS! This hasn’t happened since he lived with me when I was a little girl. I learned we have some things in common.

He likes raspberry shakes, I like raspberry shakes…this one I remember from when I was little, the other similarities were new discoveries.

He doesn’t like spicy salsa, I don’t like spicy salsa.

He likes to start his morning with protein, I like to start my morning with protein.

He prefers to sleep on his side, I prefer to sleep on my side.

He stays up way too late reading, I stay up way too late reading.

He is a fast walker, I am a fast walker…when my body is working.

He was a smart cookie in school, I was a smart cookie in school.

He loves ice cream, I love ice cream.

We both jump to conclusions quickly. We both are convinced we are right…about pretty much everything.

Anyone who knows me personally knows I have numbers spilling out of me…dates, mileage, prices, phone numbers, etc. Well, my dad does too! He told me about a snow storm across Nebraska that he drove through five years ago and said there were 419 cars off the side of the road. That is data I would have in my head as well. He knows and rattles off the mileage across states on I-80 and I-90. He is a numbers guy and I am a numbers girl. Who knew?

We find the same things beautiful.

These may seem like small things, but to me they are huge. Finding commonalities with my dad is helping my heart be more connected.

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goodbye again

Mar 21, 2014 by

The tears poured out of my soul as I watched him drive away this morning. I don’t know if I can let myself feel this much pain without breaking into a million pieces.

I remember the first time he left when I was 12. I chased after him and begged him to let me come with him. I collapsed in a heap of frustration, tears, and a broken heart when he refused and made me stay in Wyoming while he drove across the country to start a new life in a place I had never been.

I kind of felt the same way today – an urge to chase after him, a deep longing for my daddy to never, ever leave me again.

But he drove off anyway, to a life I am not a part of. And I can’t stop crying at the pain, the little girl pain and the grown-up woman pain all mixed together in one big torrent of tears.

It all started three weeks ago when he called and said he was going to come visit us on his way back from a cross-country goose delivery to California. He made this same trip in January 2009 and visited us then as well, meeting our children for the first time. Last Wednesday, he called and said he was on I-80 traveling across Wyoming. When we hung up, a voice whispered to my mind, “Call him back, see if he can wait for you in SLC, and let you ride with him to California.” I quickly dismissed the idea as ludicrous. First, how would my body handle being in a vehicle for that many miles and hours. Second, what on earth would we talk about? We have only seen each other eight times in the past 28 years and one time in the past 18 years…that 2009 visit. Third, what would happen if I pass out or start shaking or my hip dislocates. Fourth, what would my family do without me for several days? Fifth, what if he doesn’t want to be with me? All these questions and many more swirled through my head and heart. I decided it was a completely ridiculous idea, but the thought wouldn’t leave my head so I finally called Richard to talk to him about it, fully expecting him to agree with my assessment of the California road trip idea. But he didn’t. He thought it was brilliant and we should do whatever it took to make it happen.

After several more phone calls to various people I was sure would talk some sense into me, I freaked out, calmed down, and finally called my dad and asked him I could join him on his drive to deliver the geese. He seemed tickled pink and we made all the arrangements to make sure his truck would work for my body.

Bright and early the next morning, Sheri picked me up, took me to physical therapy, and drove me down to SLC to start the adventure of a lifetime. The last time I was with my dad in a one-on-one situation was 1986 when I was 12 years old. I didn’t know what to expect and I was scared and overwhelmed, but also determined to find the courage to do hard things and follow the prompting I received to go with him.

We had a wonderful time. I got to see beautiful country I have never seen before, hear all about my dad’s current life with his horses, and a little bit about his growing up life with his family. I was given a better picture of who he is, what he has been through, and what makes him the man he is. We laughed and cried and got to know each other again.

It was a gift wrapped up for me from my Heavenly Father. Three whole days with the man my world revolved around when I was little. Three whole days of connection and healing and understanding. I will treasure those three days for the rest of my life.

Then we came home and spent the past five days here with my family, playing games, eating ice cream, lots of talking, and helping my children get to know their grandfather. I’m sure the chaos of busy family life was a little much for him, but he handled it really well and spent most of his time chuckling at their individual personalities. He also became my personal handyman and went to work repairing a few of the many broken things in this house.

First he tackled the dryer that stopped heating recently. Yippee for laundry capabilities at home – no more sending Blythe to the laundromat or Kat sneaking in to take my laundry over to her house to do! Then the garbage disposal was replaced and the electrical switch repaired. Third, he fixed my poor screen door that has been hanging skeewampus and missing a screen for quite some time. I had no idea the local hardware store could replace the screening material and would do so for sixteen bucks. He even rearranged the panes so the screen section is on top and the glass is in the middle – that way the cats can’t rip the screening again. He replaced the door insulation strip so we don’t have cold air blowing in or heat leaving. (FYI, it’s not that Richard can’t do these things, he can…he just doesn’t have the time to get to all the things that need fixed.)

I have gone to bed every night with tears on my cheeks. Tears of sadness and tears of joy. It is wonderfully, fiercely hard to open my heart to all the emotions of my little girl self whose heart closed up the day he left us back in 1986. My entire being feels raw, but it is a good raw, a thawing that needs to occur to find the healing I so desperately need.

And now he is gone again. And I will cry some more and bury myself in Richard’s soft chest and warm arms and hope to see him again someday.

Goodbye Dad, I hope its not such a long time before I see you again. Every girl needs a dad.

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the container

Mar 4, 2014 by

“I love you bunches,” he said as he kissed me goodbye this morning. “Really?” I replied as I nuzzled my face closer for another kiss. “Yes, I love you,” he insisted. “But I am so broken,” I murmured back in my almost still dreaming voice. With more kisses on my cheeks and lips, he tried again, “Only your ligaments,” to which I retorted “and my cartilage and my bones and my blood vessels.” And then this gem escaped his lips and entered my heart and changed me forever, “Ah, but those aren’t important, they’re not you, they are only the container that holds you. You are so much more than your body.”

This man.

He takes my breath away with his kindness and goodness and patience.

And boy, howdy, I love him.

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seven generations

Mar 3, 2014 by

Yesterday we had a special stake conference with Elder Godoy of the Quorum of the Seventy. He talked a lot about family relationships. He asked us how long our family had been in the church…what generation of church members we are. I counted back and figured out I am the seventh generation member.

Oh my.

My heart swelled up with joy at the thought of being seventh. Keziah Keturah Van Bethuysen Rollins, James Henry Rollins, James Watson Rollins, George Leon Rollins, Myrtle Easton Rollins, Dorothy (my mama), and me!

Seven is my favorite number. It is sacred and oh, so very dear to my heart. I was born on the 7th at 7:00, weighed 7 lbs. and my mom was in the delivery room for seven minutes. In Hebrew, another one of my great loves, seven/sheva means holy, complete, covenant, fulfilled, perfection and basically everything good and wonderful you could ever think of. I am so in love with seven I gave one of my children the middle name of Sheva…really Elisheva…but we call her Sheva.

I have always been in awe of my seventh generation grandma on my mom’s side, Keziah. She lived a hard life of hard work, sacrifice, and great faith. I grew up hearing of her struggles and triumphs and decided early on to be just like her. She raised brave children willing to do hard things…she is the mother of James Henry, one of the Joseph Smith’s bodyguards who was with him at Richmond jail and on the Zion’s Camp march, and the mother of Mary Elizabeth and Caroline, the girls who rescued copies of scripture from an angry, violent mob and hid for hours in a corn field while the mob searched for them. I wanted to be a mother like Keziah who would raise righteous children who loved the Lord and would do whatever He asked of them.

I have a pretty strong spiritual connection to the seventh generation mama on my dad’s side, Barbara Bortner. I feel all warm and squishy towards her and can’t wait to meet her. Her two daughters, Anna Marie and Jane are grandmas of mine on both my dad’s paternal and maternal side.

So here I am. The seventh generation of people who sacrificed all they had to follow the direction of God. My deep-thoughts-with-Tracy has me asking myself these types of questions:

  • What legacy am I giving my children?
  • What is my duty to my ancestors?
  • What stories do my children need to hear to prepare them for their futures?
  • What character traits do I want my grandchildren raised with and what can I do now to pave the way for that to happen?
  • What can I do to nurture my children’s faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ?
  • How can I strengthen our family relationships?
  • What traditions will bind our family together?
  • How can I more fully bless Richard’s life?
  • What daily practices need to change in our home?
  • Why did God place me in these family lines?
  • Why did God give our children to us?
  • What does he want us to do with this sacred gift?
  • Do my children see love in my eyes?
  • Do they feel my love in their hearts?
  • What skills do they need to raise healthy, functioning families?
  • How can I more fully involve my children in family history?
  • Are my children being guided by the Holy Ghost?

I am going to spend some time pondering these questions and any more that come to my mind. Then I am going to act on the promptings I receive. Investing in my family is high priority for me. I am done surviving. I am done getting by. It is time to thrive as a family.

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Mar 2, 2014 by

Banner weekend! So many of my posts are dismal and depressing, but here is one full of cheer!

Good thing #1: I have a comfy mattress! Wahoo!!!! For the first time in a long, long, looonnngg time, neither of my shoulders shifted out of place in the night! I can’t even tell you how incredibly thrilled I am at this turn of events in our life!

Good thing #2: My father called on Friday afternoon and said he was going to come and see me in a few weeks! Oh my stinkin’ heck. I almost died of shock and then I got all giddy. I have seen my father very few times since he left our home when I was 12 – 1986, 1987, 1992, 1992, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 2009. He saw a Blythe when she was a few months old and then not again until five years ago when she was thirteen. Our other three has met just once. So this is a big deal. A huge deal. I hope, hope, hope my foot is all better by then so I can be up and doing stuff with him.

Good thing #3: After days and days of being confined to the four walls of my bedroom in an effort to heal this foot quickly, my sweetie took me to the movie on Saturday night. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is laugh-out-loud hilarious with its witty lines, inspiring with its message of pursuing your dreams, and flat out brilliant. I adored it and can’t wait to see it again. Garlic fries and a peppercorn burger hit the spot after the movie and I think I am buoyed up for a few more days spent in bed.

Good thing #4: Much of Saturday was spent reading about William Wilberforce. Oh, I love that man! His courage to do what he felt called to do filled me with resolve to do what God has called me to do.

Good thing #5: Today we had a special conference for our stake and during the talks, I had a lot of thoughts about my relationship with Christ, my children, my wifehood, and the heritage of faith I want pass to my descendants. Lots of good messages and I am going to spend some time this week pondering what God would have me implement in my life.

So, a good weekend, full of light and love, fun family times and spiritual renewal. Now I can enter the next week with a cheerful heart and a lighter spirit.

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more of that miss annes

Mar 2, 2014 by

Our Annesley is growing up. I keep noticing all sorts of little things that say my baby girl is entering a new phase of her life. For one thing, she looks older. Her face is changing. I don’t really know how to describe it except to say it isn’t quite as cherubic as it used to be…thinner, a few more freckles, a look of seriousness in her eyes that never used to show up. Her body is lankier, getting longer and gosh, I don’t know, just different. Her legs seem stretched, her forehead seems bigger, and her hands are girl hands, not chubby, round hands.

She still comes in to my bed every morning and snuggles with me. It is our favorite part of the day. She tells me all about her nighttime dreams and I rub her back and clean out her eyes and smother her with kisses.

My body’s injuries have been hard on this wee one. She doesn’t really remember a time when my body wasn’t hurt. She keeps saying things like “I wwwwiiiiiiiiiiiiisssshhhh you didn’t have to be in bed all the time!” or “Why do you have to keep getting hurt? I want you to be all better and no one to ever hurt your feet again!” or “Mommy, do you think you will ever be better?” She is also very concerned for me with questions like “Mama, will that hurt your hip?” “Mommy, do you want to rub your neck?” This whole slew of injuries has sobered her. It hurts my heart for my little one’s childhood to be so different from her older siblings. No bike rides with me pulling her behind me, no hikes with her mama, no airplane rides on my legs or standing in my hands and balancing in the air. She is getting other memories and while I know I am loving her and nurturing her wondrous spirit, I sometimes wish I could wave my magic wand and give her back the last two years of her life with a functioning mama.

Annes and Fisher are best buddies, spending almost all of their time together. They love to explore our property, catch bugs and snakes, build their fort, sled all over the yard, and ride their bikes up and down our road. I am so grateful they have each other. Right now she is learning to read, loves writing her letters and playing games, dances around the house practicing her moves for her clogging class, and snuggling, snuggling, snuggling with anyone who will hold her. Her need for touch is enormous. I don’t know if it is possible to rub her enough. The other night all the children were gone to a play and Annesley was left home alone with me for the evening. We played Spot It and Battleship and she told me all sorts of stories. When it was time for bed she didn’t want to go sleep alone in the basement, so she climbed in bed with us and I held her just like when she was a baby. As I painted her face and rubbed her legs as she drifted off to sleep my heart welled up with love for this precious, precious, girl whose presence in our family is such a miracle. Sometime during that night of holding her it occured to me that there might not be many more of those kinds of nights left. There will come a day when she doesn’t need to sleep in my bed when her siblings are gone, when perhaps she won’t ask me to rub her and won’t start moving my hand across her back when I stop. And I will cry.

That night before she settled down in bed, she bounded over me to get my pills for me from my bin.

Me to Annes as she leaps precariously across my bed: Watch out for my foot!

Annes: I did! I was staring right at it!

Papa: What mama means is stay away from it, not look at it.

Annes: Oh!

She says all sorts of crazy things in the course of a day.

You are the best mama in the whole, whole, wide world.

Her phrase of choice when she doesn’t get what she wants.

You hate me!

Keziah won’t let me rub her anymore unless I pay her, so now I just have to rub myself.

I love Jesus sooooooooo much. He is my bestest friend.

Fisher says I can’t be a chicken owner if I don’t help him feed the chickens! Harumph! I don’t wwwwaaaannnnnttttt to feed them today and now he is taking my chicken back! Why can’t he just do all the work?

Mommy, I love you. I’m so glad Heavenly Father gave me to you. Your belly is sure fat, do you think he is sending us another baby? I wwwwannnnttt a baby. I will take care of the baby all day long just like I take care of Oaklynn. You can stay in bed.

Oh, how I love this girlie. She reminds me so much of my little girl self. So much confidence, so much life, so much joy.

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four eyes are a thing here

Feb 18, 2014 by

The problem with having two parents with eyes that don’t work so hot is that those parents often create children with eyes that don’t work so hot. So far all of our children have needed glasses. We haven’t had Annesley tested yet, but she probably should be since we are batting a thousand in that department.

I need an eye exam so I can get a some new boxes of contacts. Truth be told, I really need a pair of glasses as well. Miss Annes broke mine a few years back and I haven’t replaced them yet. It seems every month there are more important things to spend my pennies on…isn’t that how it so often goes in life?

Fisher needs a new prescription. For the last six weeks or so, he gets horrible headaches when he reads to me. Yesterday I had him take his glasses off mid-read and he read much better and the headache went away, so I think his eyes must have changed recently. His father’s did the same thing when he was a boy, so it doesn’t surprise me too much.

Blythe has lost her glasses in the past couple of weeks. We keep searching for them, but they haven’t been found yet, so we may need to replace hers as well.

I think Keziah’s are fine, thank goodness! So now I need to figure out how to pay our taxes, get three eye exams, at least two new pairs of glasses, and two boxes of contacts for me (the joys of having one near-sighted and one far-sighted eye). Time for creativity and penny-earning ideas!

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monday morning update

Feb 17, 2014 by

Hmmmm. My right foot is hurting quite a bit. Thursday and Friday it was hurting along the backside of the ankle, but last night and this morning it is hurting around my big toe and the 1st metatarsal. I think it looks pretty good, but when Sheri changed the magic tape last night, she said there was still some swelling. When I took a bath on Saturday, the water pressure hurt too much and I had to get out fairly quickly. Soooo, I don’t really know if it is getting better or not.

Another strange thing happened yesterday…my heart started hurting pretty intensely. I don’t know what it was or what it means, but it did frighten me. It feels fine this morning and I am hoping it was nothing, but who knows?

On tap for today is learning time with my kiddos, iFamily board meeting in my family room, staring at the sunshine out my window, missing a super-fun trip to Costco with my gal-pals, supporting my little Annes in her search for Rosie, her missing kitty, finishing my read on Abigail Adams, and working on my lecture for Wednesday’s WUBA class. (I am determined to make it to iFamily on Wednesday. I may have to spend the day on the floor, but I will be there to teach my class!)

And now, I need to get out of bed before bed sores set in!

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eat your enemies

Feb 15, 2014 by

I spend quite a bit of time in bed. Even on good days…my hips just can’t handle being upright all the time. This week I have been in bed since Wednesday and have heard lots of hilarious conversations. Here is one from today.

Annesley: God said you should eat your enemies. (giggle, giggle!)

Fisher: No, God said love your enemies.

Annesley: Why should you love your enemies?

Fisher: Because that is what Jesus said.

Annesley: But that is soooooooo HHHHAAAARRRRRDDDDDD!

Fisher: Lots of people asked Jesus the same question.

Annesley: Are we going to be enemies or friends?

Fisher: We are going to play a game together and play legos and do all sorts of things.

Oh, they crack me up. Fisher is so solid in his goodness. Annesley is so full of life and silliness and adorableness. I love being their mama.

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road trip math

Feb 5, 2014 by

41 hours away from home breaks down like this:

10 hours of driving.

8 hours of sleep.

2 chiropractic appointments.

12 hours at the dentist’s office, 5 sets of normal x-rays, 1 panoramic x-ray, 1 wisdom tooth evaluation, 5 cavities filled, 2 sealants, 2 fillings re-filled, 4 cleanings, hours of mineral build-up removal, endless stories, and $1500+.

1 snowstorm with blowing snow and wild blind spots. No phone service for 90 minutes in the middle of the snowstorm. Several panicked children. 1 set of exhausted mama hands from gripping the steering wheel.

4 cute haircuts, 2 colors, 1 waxing by my lovely sister Mikelle.

6 grandkids playing, arguing, laughing, crying, jumping, eating, eating, and eating. 2 breakfast casseroles, 1 pot of soup, and 2 loaves of bread.

1 giant bag of throw-up in the middle of winding turns, blinding snow, crazy fog, and slippery roads.

3 audio books.

1 Intellibed seat cushion (oh my heck, it is AMAZING!)

2 grocery store visits. 22 yogurts, 8 pieces of chicken, 10 bananas, a bag of apples, 1 blueberry-pomegranate lemonade, giant bag of pretzels, and a delicious box of discounted fifty cent cookies (should have bought two!).

2 gas station fill-ups.

Getting Blythe’s body put back together, much needed dental work done, cute haircuts, and seeing my mom and sister…priceless.

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Jan 14, 2014 by


Last night for Family Home Evening, or FHE as it is often known in Mormon land, we had a short spiritual thought from Sermons in a Sentence, my new favorite get-me-thinking book, and then family game night. We love playing games together, but rarely have we had this much fun. We laughed ourselves silly.

Drumroll : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

Blythe played with us! I know those of you have played games with us before are shaking your heads in disbelief because she usually refuses to play any games and prefers to draw over in the corner, but I pinky swear, it is true!

AND SHE WON! Yes, she beat me! 288 to 256! Go Blythe GO!

This girl that says she “hates math” played not only a board game with her family, but a math game! This, my friends, is a banner day to be recorded in memoriam forever!

I bought Sumoku a few weeks ago as the next step up in Fisher’s math game progression. He learns best by playing games so I am always on the lookout for games the two of us can play together. I thought it would be perfect for him. It turns out it was a little confusing for him last night, but I think if just the two of us play without the crazy loudness of the girls it will be a great fit.


It is kind of a twist of Qwirkle (another huge favorite here!) and Scrabble and is chock-full of heaps of math! Best game ever!

There are tiles with numbers on them with six different colors and each row or column can only have one of each color in it. At the beginning of the game a die is rolled and whatever number turns up is THE number for the whole game – all columns and rows must add up to a multiple of that number. Then your score is the sum of all the numbers in the row or column you played on. So much calculation! I, being the number lover, expected to love it, and I did. I wasn’t so sure how my children with less of a number affinity would enjoy it, but they did as well so as Kat would say, WINNER, WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER!

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giving and receiving

Dec 25, 2013 by

Warm and fuzzy.












On this Christmas night my heart is full from top to bottom with all of these emotions. Our month has been full of Christmasy things – performances in the Messiah concert with the Youth Symphony and the Christmas Carol ballet, piano and violin recitals of Christmas music, several secret Christmas projects, caroling, visiting with friends and neighbors, Christmas stories, scripture study, yummy food, big hugs, nativities, and piles and piles AND PILES of love being poured out upon our family.

We have been on the receiving end of so much goodness and generosity this month. Moola for Muscles has raised thousands of dollars for my therapy. People have written the loveliest notes of encouragement and their love has filled my heart with courage and determination to keep trying to get my life back. Nearly 150 people invested their hard-earned cash in my Hip Recovery Plan. I can’t even think about it without tears running down my face. What a precious gift!

If the Moola for Muscles response wasn’t enough, we have been blessed with lovely presents from friends and family and had several knock-n-run experiences this week. Money, gifts, food, and, of course, piles of love have been delivered by these Secret Angels/Santas/Elves/Disciples. We have no idea who has reached out to our little family and blessed us so abundantly, but if any of you are reading this, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Thank you for being a force for good in the world and for loving us so much that you would sacrifice and serve and give and bless.

The speaker at church this Sunday, Sister Spaulding, said something like “We experience Christmas every day of our lives. We are either giving or getting Christ’s love.” When she said those words I realized something…when we give Christ’s love to others we come to more fully love Him and know Him. When we receive Christ’s love, either through His own actions or the actions of our fellowman, we also learn more of Him and become closer to Him. As we go through life and have experiences on both sides of the equation, we understand Him and His ability to love, serve, and sacrifice for the children of God. We are more able to receive His love into our hearts and accept His sacrifice for us.

This year we have learned more clearly than ever before how important it is to be on both sides of the giving and receiving circle. I love being on the giving side. I love being guided to those who need our love and money. I love organizing secret projects and big, public fundraisers or service projects. I love doing God’s work by reaching out to someone who needs a hug, a listening ear, a big box of food, or a chunk of money. It is one of my very favorite things to do and I am so grateful for the opportunities we have had as a family to make a difference in the world.

But this hip injury has forced me to the other side of the circle. I have been on the receiving end of service for the past 22 months. People have taken care of our children, given umpteen hours of service, taken me to doctor’s appointments, paid for treatments, held me as I have sobbed, given me wise counsel, encouraged me, been patient with me, tried to understand, cleaned our home, cooked meals, and so much more. People have loved. Truly loved me. Loved us. Supported us. Been God’s hands in holding us up. I had no idea there was this much goodness in the world. It is been a tender privilege to be the recipient of so much goodness and one of the greatest blessings of my life to be taught not only the meaning, but the actions of love as I have been thoroughly loved through this injury.

Being on the receiving end has taught me much about God’s abundance and the windows of heaven. To those of you who have been His hands in lifting our burdens, both physical and emotional, please know we love you, we pray for you, and we thank God for you.

May each of you feel the love of God for you at this Christmas season and throughout the coming year.

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growing up

Dec 5, 2013 by

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


Oh my goodness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And cry.

And cheer her on.

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

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Nov 20, 2013 by

Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us togethew today. Mawwiage, that bwessed awwangement, that dweam within a dweam. And wove, twue wove, wiww fowwow you fowevah and evah… So tweasuwe youw wove.

November 20 marks the anniversary of both of our parents. Yes, both sets of parents were married on the same date. Not the same year though.

I have long found it humorous and one of those interesting coincidences of dates that seems to mean something, but may not mean anything at all. For those of you that don’t know, I am obsessed with dates, times, price per ounce, measurements, anything to do with numbers (except differentials – I never understood what we were doing with all that calculus jazz), but especially dates, I love dates.

But today I have been filled with gratitude that these four people made the choice to get married. Two of them are still married and will be celebrating their fiftieth anniversary next year. Two of them have been divorced for almost thirty years. Regardless of the state of their marriages now, they birthed, loved, and raised the two of us and I think we turned out pretty fabulous. Now we get our turn at birthing, loving, and raising their grandchildren.

My heart is filled to bursting with love for these four people. I am so grateful to be alive – to have been given the opportunity to have two parents who love me and did the best they could to provide me with opportunities to learn and succeed. I am deeply grateful for the wonderful man my husband is and that his parents raised him to be kind, honest, hard-working, faithful, patient, capable, and most of all, loving. They created a man who is full of love and whose love has transformed my life.

I have been heartbroken about my parents’ divorce for a long, long time. The depths of my soul have ached with longing for the family of my childhood to be returned to me. I have only seen my father eight times since he left our family back in 1986. Eight times in 27 years. It is simply not enough.

But I still have life. I still have heritage. I still have a father and a mother and a father-in-law and a mother-in-law. And today I am going to savor the beauty of my life and the love I am surrounded with.

Thank you four for getting married. Thank you for risking your hearts and giving it your best and letting us be born. Thank you for trying.

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little zulu

Nov 19, 2013 by

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

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

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

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

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

Now it is time for the winter workouts to begin!

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ornaments for orphans

Nov 12, 2013 by

We started learning about OSSO many years ago and have been supportive of its mission to help children in Ecuador. Going to Ecuador and serving there has been in the back of our minds for a long, long time. We have a good friend, Lisa, who travels to Ecuador several times a year to serve in several orphanages down there. Our good friends, Cameron and Paula, are in the middle of adopting older children from Ecuador and we are cheering them on and doing what we can from the sidelines. Blythe intends to go work in the orphanages sometime in the next eighteen months before her mission. Lots of talk of orphans circulates around our home. We have been donating our hearts and a wee bit of our money to these orphanages for awhile and have been tickled pink to play a small part in alleviating suffering. Last week Lisa posted a challenge on Facebook called the Ornaments for Orphans Club and said they were going to not give presents to their teens and adults and would instead be donating the money they would have spent on gifts to Dando Amor. Her challenge percolated in my heart and we started talking to the children about it. The first night we talked to them there were a few outbursts of “no presents!?!” but we asked them to think about it and come to family home evening ready to share their thoughts, pro or con, about this idea. Last night we had our discussion and oh, boy, these amazing children of mine! I am so proud of them. They all voted to give up their presents from us and give that money to the children at Dando Amor. Their one condition is that they be allowed to give each other homemade presents because they love that part of our tradition so much.

So it is final. This year our Christmas money will go to children that need it much, much more than we need it. Our Christmas presents have always been on the simple side since we do three gifts per child, something that will help them spiritually, something that will allow them to develop their gifts to bless others, and something that will help them in their learning. This year we will learn new lessons in love and service. Wahoo!!

Anyone want to the club with us? If so, let me know and I will give you Lisa’s contact information. She leaves in a few days to go to Ecuador and she is going to have an ornament signed by the orphans for each child that gives up their Christmas presents.

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war and peace

Nov 8, 2013 by

My two middle children have decided they are France and England in the 1300s. One of those children is determined to be king. The other one is almost content to let the first be king, but is hoping for a kind and benevolent king. Unfortunately, the sibling king is more in line with the tyrannical dictator model.

Even with the Hundred Years’ War flaring up from time to time between these two, they can play chess for hours on end. They go from waging war and retaliating to giggling themselves silly all in a matter of minutes. I don’t understand it, but I sure am grateful for the magic of our chess table to calm emotions and put these two on friendly terms.

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tidal wave

Oct 31, 2013 by

I am lying here in bed on this early Thursday morning and my head is swimming with everything that has happened in the past three weeks. I need to process it all so I can move on with a calm, hopeful heart.

I also want to record it so my children can read this when they are adults and know that when they have a string of weeks like this, they are not the first, nor the last, to be hit with a big ‘ol pile of junk.

  • Three bad nights of passing out, being rescued, and wondering where on earth my healthy body has gone.
  • Battery acid exploding all over the Subaru and needing to be replaced.
  • Twentieth anniversary trip cancelled.
  • Fisher dislocating his shoulder and getting a hairline fracture in his humorus.
  • Sitting on the couch reading to my children when a flood of water starts dripping in to the basement
  • My wrist dislocated and stretched or pinched the radial nerve causing the same sympathetic nervous response as when my femoral nerve gets stretched too far.
  • Going out many mornings and having ANOTHER flat tire.
  • Finally replacing all four tires on the subaru for a pretty penny.
  • Richard’s car being dead to the world and needing a new battery. Replace the battery on a Tuesday, car seems fine. On Wednesday the whole car won’t work, windows won’t go up…and are stuck down, has to get towed in the middle of his work day, find out the main fuse is blown and many other fuses are damaged. Replace all of the fuses for more pennies than I care to even think about. He went to pick up the car up a few days later and once again it won’t start. Then the alternator needed replaced. And the battery. Again. Many, many, many pretty pennies later, we finally have his car back and are hoping it will keep running.
  • Keziah hit the reflex point on my knee several times during scripture study the other night and once again the sympathetic nervous system response kicked in. My nerves are not happy one little bit.
  • We got home from iFamily last night and had another big flood from the upstairs toilet. This time we were able to figure out more of what is going on. It didn’t overflow like we thought. There is a crack somewhere that is leaking.
  • Sadie has thrown up in the house three times in the past twenty four hours. I’m pretty sure it is because she ate all the crumbs from my very crumbly cookie project the other night. It took me a few batches to get the flour consistency right. One of the children measured the flour and must have not been quite as accurate as was needed to get cookies to come out in one piece instead of a frillion crumb piles.
  • Richard has spent HOURS and HOURS on the phone with the IRS and at the local IRS office trying to fight a bill from our failed 2007 business that we didn’t know we owed and don’t have records to prove we don’t owe. He is conceding the fight and paying them piles and piles and piles of pretty pennies today because another fine goes into effect tomorrow. Unfortunately for us, we had a large disagreement about it last night into the wee hours of the morning and harsh words were spoken and we had a very sleepless night. He thinks we should pay it, I think we should keep fighting them. The only good thing to come out of it was a long, squishy hug this morning and some tender “I love yous.” I am grateful that in spite of all my ranting he still believes I love him.
  • I need to be given worst mother of the year award for the all the mean things I have said to my 17-year-old lately. I really hope someday we can look back on these years and laugh at them the way my mother and I can, but at this point I just don’t know if that will ever happen. I fear she may grow up, leave home, and never want to see me again.
  • My ugly, repulsive bathroom sink is clogged. Again. And no amount of baking soda and vinegar is doing the trick this time.
  • My doctor keeps using the word “disease” and while I guess it is, it feels like a knife stabbing into my soul every time I hear that word.
  • Unbeknownst to me, one of the members of this family put away the rice cooker several weeks ago full of rice. Which is now moldy and disgusting and stinky. Good thing Keziah found it this morning so we could get that awful stench out of here.
  • My Make It For Maggie website has been hacked into and I have to find some time to fix it…now. Quite frankly, it is time I don’t have.
  • We have three broken violin bows, Keziah needs a new violin because she has had a huge growth spurt, and Blythe needs a new bow. Desperately. Right now she is borrowing one of Jennifer’s and I was working on coming up with the $$200 – 400 for a new bow, but all these broken bones, x-rays, and car problems have killed that dream for a few more months.
  • Someone we dearly love has just been diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time and is preparing for a double mastectomy, but she doesn’t want to talk about it and I don’t know how to support her or the other people who are involved when we can’t talk about it.
  • I have been out of my boot for a little more than a week which is FANTABULOUSO! Unfortunately the shoes I have to wear for the next many months cost us piles of pennies.
  • As a sign of how much pressure we are under, Richard actually yelled yesterday after the two hour IRS visit. Yelled. This man does not yell. And yet he did. Then, when he discovered the flooded bathroom last night, he swore. This man does not swear. And yet he did. I think the months of taking care of me, of holding this family together with his steadiness, calmness, and good humor, and the long, long hours he works have finally wore him down.

I know that all this will pass. I know that these things are just part of life. In fact, my heart is full of gratitude that Richard is working and earning money and he got a decent paycheck this month that allowed us to go grocery shopping and buy shoes. He had to cash out his measly little retirement account he had from working with the school district to pay the taxes, which still makes me madder than all get out, but I am grateful to have had a way to pay them. But I am tired. Tired AND grateful, but tired nonetheless. I don’t think I can handle another thing going wrong or breaking or flooding for awhile.

There are also many wonderful things that have happened in the past three weeks. I have been able to be in the temple twice. Many other people have been working in the temple for me as well. At least one hundred endowments have been done in the past few weeks. I have been kept safe when my tires were flat. Fisher’s arm is doing well and he is out of his sling at three weeks. We had enough towels to clean up the mess last night and thanks to the amazing Kat we have a new toilet to put in when we find the time to do it. We think we need to pull out the flooring and replace the subfloor that has been ruined by these floods. In the meantime, we have two other toilets to use – big gratitude there, right?

Is it possible to see the good and the bad and the hard and the wonderful all at the same time? Because that is where I am at. I am full to the brim with gratitude. I can see the blessings of God. I know he is watching over us. I know He is guiding us. At the same time, I want to have a breather. Maybe I need to reread my quote from the other day and realize maybe the breather is not what I actually need?

And tonight my Richard will get a massage. He needs to have all this stress rubbed right out of him.

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i fell in love with you and you fell in love with me

Oct 19, 2013 by

“Oh No! I fell in love with you and you fell in love me, what shall we do?” These are the opening lines from one of my favorite new songs from Mindy Gledhill’s new album, Pocketful of Poetry.

I attended one of Mindy Gledhill’s concerts for my 37th birthday back in 2011. It was the week I found out about the breast lump and my emotions were raw. I soaked up Mindy’s goodness and let it work its way deep into my heart. Her music and style and flair and lyrics and sense of pizazz are so fun! She is the perfect combination of whimsy, tenderness, and unique craziness and she connects right with my heart.


We laughed and smiled and held hands and cried, well, okay, I think I was the only one who cried. My heart welled up with love for this man who really sees me with all my crazy idiosyncracies, annoying behaviors, big dreams, save the world ideas, lack of planning, and zest for living and believes I can fly. He has given me the gift of letting me be me without his judgement or disapproval or consternation. When Mindy sang this song, I sat their holding his hand and rubbing his arm in just the way he likes while the tears streamed down my cheeks.

I don’t mind your odd behavior
It’s the very thing I savor
If you were an ice cream flavor
You would be my favorite one

My imagination sees you
Like a painting by Van Gogh
Starry nights and bright sunflowers
Follow you where you may go

Oh, I´ve loved you from the start
In every single way
And more each passing day
You are brighter than the stars
Believe me when I say
It’s not about your scars
It’s all about your heart

You´re a butterfly held captive
Small and safe in your cocoon
Go on you can take your time
Time is said to heal all wounds

Oh, I´ve loved you from the start
In every single way
And more each passing day
You are brighter than the stars
Believe me when I say
It’s not about your scars
It’s all about your heart

Like a lock without a key
Like a mystery without a clue
There is no me if I cannot have you

Oh, I´ve loved you from the start
In every single way
And more each passing day
You are brighter than the stars
Believe me when I say
It’s not about your scars
It’s all about your heart

That is how he feels about me. He believes I am strong and smart and beautiful and capable and funny and dedicated. Somehow he sees beyond all the times I am weak and not-so-smart and look like a mac truck ran over me and am completely incapable and not at all humorous and can’t finish a job to save my life. He overlooks the baskets of laundry that need folded, the meals that aren’t prepared, the times I lock myself out of the car, the hurtful things I say and sees the good. He sees the little diamonds buried deep under all my stuff and helps me see them too. His vision of how wonderful I am helps me pick up all the broken, little shards of me and put them back together so I can grow into the person I so want to be.

Afterwards we took Blythe and Aliysa…our double dates for the night…to Red Robin for heaps of garlic fries.

Such a fun night smooching with the one I love best, listening to our old favorite songs, and falling in love with her new ones. Check out Oh No!, Pocketful of Poetry, I Take Flight, and Picture Show from her new album. They are full of win!

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happy “us” day

Oct 15, 2013 by

I’d say yes all over again.

In fact this time I’d say YES!!!

Twenty years ago at this very moment I was saying yes over the altar of the Salt Lake Temple. I had no idea how good of a man I was marrying. I had no idea how much he would teach me about love and patience and serving and loving. I had no idea he would teach me about the love of our Heavenly Father. I had no idea how much fun he would be. I had no idea how much I would love bringing our babies into the world together. I had no idea what a wonderful father he would be and how he would balance out all my mothering weaknesses. I had no idea we would be sent down the paths of homebirthing or homeschooling. I had no idea our house would burn down seven weeks after our wedding. I had no idea we would move 13 times in the first 8 years of our marriage. I had no idea I would fall apart emotionally and spiritually and that all my fears and issues of trusting men would spill over like a toxic oil spill onto the one I loved most. I had no idea he would know how to put the pieces of me back together again. I had no idea we would go through the heartbreak of miscarriage ten times. I had no idea the challenges my body would put us both through and how he would love me and serve me and stand by me firmly planted in devotion to us. I had no idea he would know me inside and out, the good, the bad, and the downright ugly, AND STILL ADORE ME.

I didn’t know.

But now I do.

And words will never be sufficient to express my gratitude.

Yes, Yes, YES. Forever and for always I will choose you.

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broken bones are everywhere

Oct 13, 2013 by

My little Fisher broke his arm on Friday at gym. He is in a lot of pain, not horrendous amounts, but a lot nonetheless. We were quite the sight at the doctor’s office with my big ‘ol robot looking boot, my hip that won’t allow me to sit, and his limp arm.

He was given a priesthood blessing by some of the fathers at gym before I took him in for x-rays and after the blessing he said, “I heard the most important part.” I asked him what that was and he replied “God loves me and I am not going to be scared.”

Tears from mama.

Isn’t that we all want for our children? For them to know that God loves them and is with them always so they don’t need to be scared.

He has been so, so brave. He is a trooper. I am so proud of him and his simple trust in his Heavenly Father. He is such a kind, loving boy who desires to do good and be good. I think his arm will heal quickly and he will back to normal in no time at all, but he will be at a new normal where he will have more compassion for those who are hurting. His prayers and those of his sisters have been so tender the past couple of nights as they have prayed for God to heal his arm. Somehow his broken arm is a lot more impactful on all of them than my broken foot – I guess they kind of view mine as par for the course!

Meanwhile I am trying to not feel guilty about the state of his bones. I know I did not nourish him well in the womb as he has always been deficient in calcium. I had just been through five miscarriages and was terribly ill his entire pregnancy. Survival was the name of the game. I did not eat well and my body was seriously lacking in mineral stores from the repeated miscarriages. I just need to focus on gratitude for his presence in my life and let the guilt for not building a perfect body for him go.

The good and bad – he is especially loving his inability to unload the dishwasher and especially not loving the inability he has to play with legos.

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are we back in business for realsy?

Oct 1, 2013 by

Two weeks without a blog is a long time for this girlie to go without processing through writing. Yes, I could have written in my commonplace book. Yes, I could have grabbed any old sheet of paper and poured my heart out on to the page, but I didn’t.

Now I can access this site with my iPad, but it still isn’t coming up on my desktop and the folks over at google say WOK is still infected with malware, so most of you probably won’t be able to read this anyway, but it feels so good for my fingers to fly across my keyboard and get some words onto the screen.

While my blog was sick with all sorts of infectious garbage, we celebrated Fisher’s birthday, got a haircut, finished Keziah’s bed, passed out several times in the most unflattering of ways, had a visit from Oaklyn, Easton, Mikelle, and Grandma, celebrated Kez’s birthday early with garlic fries at Red Robin, had a ferocious windstorm that blew many a branch of our trees, went to several XC races – some in lovely weather and some in freezing wind, read lots of books, fixed the dishwasher, fixed the dryer (Yes, my husband came to the rescue with cheapo parts and the help of youtube. How did we live without the internet? Oh, yes, we paid repairmen far more than necessary!), tried out an Elliptigo, and spent a fortune in gas.

I may find the time to go back and blog about those events, but most likely I won’t. Though the dryer story will knock your socks off…maybe I should share that one. And Fisher’s birthday does need recording for posterity, right? I’ll see if I can at least share those two stories once my desktop can access this site and upload photos.

This week we have Keziah’s birthday, a big lecture on the German invasion of Europe and a discussion on The Hiding Place and the holocaust in my Hero Project youth class, an adult discussion on Nothing To Envy, apple picking at the Honey Crisp orchard, maybe some potato gleaning, and General Conference this weekend. Somehow I need to fit in physical therapy, youth symphony rehearsals, XC practice, Pack Meeting, gymnastics, laundry, and cooking.

Hmmm. Guess, I better get up and at it. My little ones are waking and it is time to start our school day.

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a mom can brag, right?

Sep 10, 2013 by

a mom can brag, right?

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

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




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




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


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


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


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

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


:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: (those are the drumsticks wacking the screen.)

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

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

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

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to-do list

Sep 2, 2013 by

We are making progress on our giant to-do list. Slow progress, but progress nonetheless. I wanted to be to this point last Monday, but this broken foot is giving me a great opportunity to grow in my patience levels and to be okay with things not moving as quickly as I want them to. Have I told you we are doing a bedroom rearrangement? Well, we are. Keziah likes rearranging her room (just like her mama) and at the beginning of the summer she asked if her papa would build her a daybed that she could move around whenever her heart took a fancy to a new look (her current bed is a full-size bed with storage drawers under it and it has to be taken apart to be able to moved). She wanted it to be white and couch-like and wooden and cute. She also didn’t want it to take up much room and she didn’t want bunk beds or anything big and bulky. He promised her he would do it and she started looking up bed plans. At some point early on in this undertaking, we decided we should move Annesley out of Fisher’s room and into Keziah’s room…but Keziah refused to have Annesley sleep with her because Annesley likes/needs/wants to rub whoever she is sleeping with ALL.NIGHT.LONG. So, we all decided a trundle bed would be a great solution to that problem. Then Jen offered her metal daybed to Keziah for free. Kez, being a mastermind at earning money and spending it wisely, jumped on the opportunity at spending little moolah. But then she decided she really DID want a wooden daybed. So Richard and I took metal daybed parts and combined it with one of the wooden daybed plans and wrote our own plans with enough room for the trundle underneath and several weeks ago we started building in the wee hours of the night.

In the midst of all this bedroom rearranging we decided we should take Fisher’s (formerly Blythe’s – she lost it in the last great bedroom rearrangement) loft bed down and put Keziah’s storage bed in his room. Our home only has four bedrooms, so there isn’t a dedicated room for guests when they come and we often have a houseful of people all needing beds. No adults can sleep in Fisher’s bed because it is quite a climb to get to it and is only about 20″ from the ceiling. If we put Keziah’s bed in Fisher’s room, an adult (or even two if they are friendly) can sleep in his room, two-three people can sleep in Keziah’s new daybed/trundle arrangement, two-three can sleep in Blythe’s bed, and we have two cots and two couches for the rest. I think this will be a better arrangement for our guests, but boy, howdy is it a lot of work!

While all of this has been going on, I have decided I absolutely must have a clean bedroom and closet in order to keep my sanity. I cannot homeschool these precious little ones another year with my room in constant disarray. Last year was a nightmare, but I didn’t have enough time, energy, or capability to get it done, so we survived. So, I have been cleaning…a little bit every day for the past 21 days or so. Here is our list of what has been done and what needs to be done.


  • Our bedroom is clean! For the first time in a long time, it is clean. Actually clean, top to bottom and left to right.
  • Piles of clothing and household goods that are not needed anymore have been taken to DI.
  • Taken Fisher and Annesley’s bed apart AND stored in the garage until Blythe would like to use it for her future children.
  • Bought the paint for Keziah’s bed with a $10 off coupon – Wahoo!
  • Taken last year’s potatoes out of the crawl space

To Be Accomplished

  • Finish Keziah’s bed. Richard put it all together on Saturday, then took it apart again to fill the holes, sand it down one more time, prime it, paint it, then put it back together again. I am thinking this is going to take at least another week.
  • Dejunk and clean Fisher’s room
  • Move Keziah’s existing bed to Fisher’s room
  • Clean sewing room and get it ready for school
  • Clean school room
  • Finish cleaning my bathroom/closet. This is almost done, but not quite.
  • Hang up our maps and timelines for the year.
  • Make cover sheets for my Math Alive: Eureka! students.
  • Move the buckets of wheat that were behind my bed down to the crawl space.
  • Clean out the bookshelf in the wood room, find room for all those books on other bookshelves, and put books on it for this year’s homeschool focus.
  • Prepare my lecture on generational archetypes for The Hero Project class I am teaching at iFamily.
  • Finish sorting Fisher’s and Anne’s too-small clothes and assess what things they need for the next year.
  • Sleep
  • Go grocery shopping.

That is my small list…not my everything I wish I could accomplish list, just my small list of things that really, really, really need to get done this week, some sooner than others. iFamily starts Wednesday, so I have to get those things done today or tomorrow at the latest. Fisher’s bed is now removed from his room, so I would like to get Keziah’s bed moved into Fisher’s room tonight when Richard gets home from work so we can start getting his room into some semblance of order. I guess Keziah can sleep with Blythe for a few days until her bed is finished.

Off to work on my bathroom some more.

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porcupine quills

Aug 29, 2013 by

After a long week of repeatedly feeling irritated, grumptastic, and lashing out at people, I have decided a few things. I am a giant ball of crabbiness. I am not morbidly depressed, I am not even a little depressed – no, I am up to my eyeballs in AAAARRRRGGGHHHH. I need Jessica’s porcupine to illustrate this post. Maybe I should order a hundred of them and hand them out to all my loved ones who are getting poked with my quills.

This morning as my dear sweetie listened to me apologize yet again for my grumpiness, he gave me his cute little smile, a kiss on my nose, and these words of wisdom.

“Trace, it is okay. You cannot do what you want to do. You cannot do what you feel you need to be doing to run this home and mother our children. You are in pain and it is wearing you down. It is okay. I love you. Our children love you. God loves you. I think you are doing great. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to have a long list of things to do and not be able to do them because your foot hurts too badly. I don’t see how you have kept your chin up for so long. You have been in pain for a long, long time and it is okay if you are grumpy.”

Pretty darn sweet, eh? Also pretty undeserved because really I am one prickly pear lately. But his words have been swirling around in my head today, replaying, being torn apart and put back together, and I have realized a few things.

I have been in significant amounts of pain since mid-April 2011. We are almost at 2 1/2 years of pain. There is one small window from about December 2011 – February 2012 where I was feeling great. The breast lump pain was finally gone and the hip pain hadn’t started. I took up running and early morning strength training. I had a fairly clean house and a fairly good system for keeping it that way. I felt on top of things. And then my hip was injured and it has all been downhill since then.

Sure, I can beat myself up (and believe me, I have been giving myself some good undercuts to the chin) every time I feel irritated with one of my precious children or impatiently respond to them. But this afternoon, I am trying to give myself some love. I am trying to let my logical mind convince my guilt-ridden heart that I am dealing with a lot and I should give myself a break.

I can’t umph my way through this. The pain is too much. I can’t stay on my foot for very long and when it is done for the day, I have to stay completely off it till it is rested. I can’t heal it and I can’t overcome it. I have to live with it. I have to modify my life to cater to my body’s needs. And that is hard. On the days my hip is flared up, I can’t walk hardly at all. It is almost too much to just go to the bathroom. But people don’t see that part of it. They only see me when I am up. When I am dressed. When the pain is manageable. So, it seems I am doing okay. And some days I am okay, not great, but okay. But often, I am not okay. Often I am covered in ice packs and moaning in bed. Often I cannot think straight enough to find the right words (Kat says she always knows when I am hurting a lot because I cannot utilize my normal vocabulary). Often I cannot sleep because my shoulder or elbow or ribs are dislocated. Often I want to scream.

I am an exuberant, joyful person and I have a huge smile on my face most of the time, but truth be told, it is getting harder and harder for that smile to stay there. It doesn’t leap to my face like it used to – drawing the world in and radiating my love. There is a reticence that I don’t think I have ever experienced before. I look at the wrinkles etched deep into my face and I think, “those are from the last 18 months of pain” – for I have aged over the course of this injury. I no longer look like a young lass. I have a plethora of white hairs. I am worn out. I feel beaten down. It is hard to stay positive when I am continually wincing. How did my grandmother do it? How did she keep smiling and loving and laughing when she was in pain?

I have decided to reimmerse myself in my core books of scripture and my relationship with God. I need to spend time every day drinking in truth and hope and love from my Savior. I need to spend more time listening to Him and learning from Him. So, on tap for me is morning scripture study and a dedicated prayer session. All alone. Well, not all alone, just me and God talking together without the distractions of people.

Another decision is to focus on really giving my children my heart during our learning time and not letting myself be distracted by my to-do list. As we are getting ready to start our fall schedule in a few days, I have been pondering how I want our days to flow. A big part of the flowing is my fully-present heart and the softness in my eyes and the gentle excitement in my voice and the magic of a mom and child learning together.

Pain is wearing me down, but it hasn’t beat me. I still have trust. I still have hope. I still have love…all mushed together with some grumpiness…but that is okay, I am going to try to increase the love I am sending out, the gratitude I let my thoughts marinate in, and the words of truth I take in from The Lord. Maybe then the grumpiness will dissipate?

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grl 2013

Aug 16, 2013 by

grl 2013

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


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


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

Here is our dishwashing station.


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



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


Fisher all bundled up for dinner.


Finally the rain stopped and he took his hood off.


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

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


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


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


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


Then we thought we would get creative…hilarity ensued.


The Three Muskateers


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


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


Mom and Grandpa Leonard with all the grandchildren.


And finally all seventeen of us together.


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

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




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


One final wave.


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


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

Nicole learning how to kayak.


Cameron and Nicole kayaking out to the lake.


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




Here is cousin Marcus in one of our kayaks.


Blythe, Annesley, and Fisher out on the lake.


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

Keziah jumping.



Cameron’s splash into the river.


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



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


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





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


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

Setting out.


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


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

Cam and Mom.


Cameron and Nicole


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


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


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


Mikelle and her two babes.


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





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


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



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



A few days later, the curls were lovely.


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


Annes and Grandma soaking the layers of filth away.



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

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


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

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

The girls’ Charlie’s Angels pose.


Blythe’s cake complete with baby Snickers.



Eating the cake…yes, they are goofballs.



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


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


More knives.


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


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


Andie’s cake complete with oreos.


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



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


New nightgowns from grandma.



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

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


See these rocks? They are magical.



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


Andie and Grandma on their tube mountain.



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




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



And with poses.







Filthy, tired Sadie.


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


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



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


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


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

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

I love this place.

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the hungry fox

Jul 22, 2013 by

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

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

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

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

Words of wisdom in that boy.

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

Yesterday he even got four eggs!

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whoosh – the summer is flying by

Jul 9, 2013 by

whoosh – the summer is flying by

Full days, oh, so full. The past twelve days have been chock-full of excitement and due to a missing camera, then a found camera and dead camera batteries, I have almost zero pictures to document them.

Ugggh. I hate when I do that.

My brother and his daughter, Scott and Andie, came to visit for five days of swimming, kayaking, fireworks, a patriotic celebration that Annes, Fisher, Blythe, and Andie sang in, movie in an empty theater, splash park, warm watermelon, lots of big girl giggling, and kitten attacks. Andie ran a 5K and won first place – she is a dedicated and speedy runner. We had a wonderful visit and I am grateful they were willing to make the eight hour drive to come spend some time with us. Blythe and Andie were born just two days apart and have been best buds ever since. They left on Tuesday and I worked on the iFamily website non-stop till Independence Day.

Then my mom came to visit on the 4th for four days of fireworks, small town parade full of tractors and horses, a wonderful movie (I loved Epic!), a temple trip, shopping for Blythe’s birthday, and making dozens of lemon crinkle cookies and lemon brownies with Fisher and Annes. She also put her superhero cape on and put a dent in my piles of laundry.

I think these cookie photos are the only ones I snapped all Independence weekend!



In the midst of all of this fun, I made a big error in judgment. I decided to stand on a tall barstool in my bathroom to clean the upper walls and ceilings. As I was leaned far over to the left to get just one more spot spic and span, the stool tipped to the right and I came crashing down in a splayed out, Russian dancer position. My left foot took the brunt of the force which is a huge blessing because of the shambles my pelvis is already in. Even with the foot taking so much of the force, my pubic symphysis is nearly completely separated and the inguinal ligament is inflamed. My left foot isn’t doing so hot – sometimes it feels absolutely and completely broken and sometimes it just feels sore. Driving is the worst. The vibrations of the engine through the floor make my foot shriek at me in pain. I can walk on it which makes me think it is not broken, but who knows, it very well could be. I am treating it with BF&C, wintergreen oil, arnica, and wrapping it up nice and tight every day.

Saturday night a group of friends and my mama went to the temple with me to complete more sealing ordinances for my family. We did 113 parents and children and six couples. It was a lovely night in the temple even though I was hobbling around.

Every spare minute I have had in the past few weeks has been spent on getting the iFamily website ready for registration for the upcoming fall semester. I am thrilled to announce it is finally done! Last night around midnight I hit publish and then immediately fell asleep. I know there will be some little things to fix, but it feels so good to have the bulk of it done!

Tomorrow I am off to LEMI training and then a girls’ retreat with Tami and friends. Ten days till I see my home or hubby again. I better get packing!

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fun in the sun

Jul 7, 2013 by

fun in the sun

We love going to the lake. My kids are swim-aholics. They could swim for 12 hours straight if I let them (and sometimes I do!). We spend a lot of our summer afternoons paddling around in our kayaks.

The flotilla.


Making sand angels…yes, it takes days for the sand to come out of her hair.



Crazy poses – she is such a silly girlie.



I didn’t catch any pictures of Fisher. He spent the whole day kayaking and my camera died before I was able to track him down.

Fun in the sun is so good for my soul.

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