a new do

Feb 19, 2013 by

a new do

This morning I wrote to my friends and said “Sooo, I have been feeling dumpy, lumpy, frumpy, and grumpy. I am thinking of getting my hair done like this…including the color. Thoughts? Am I pixie enough to pull it off or is my face shape all wrong? Or am I just too old to be cute anymore and I need to start looking at matronly styles? If so, what are your suggestions?

Here is the hair cut I was considering…I am in love with it. I love everything about it. The cut, the color, the girl’s beautiful skin. Couldn’t I just pay someone a bajillion bucks to transform me into this?

My friends responded with encouragement and tips on color (keep it dark, they all said) and suggestions for stylists since this NEEDED to be done today and my darling stylist, Mikelle, has moved herself four hours away from me.

Jessica, however, gave me a whole earful of helpful advice. I can’t stop laughing hysterically over it and must share it with you all because you might need some hair help (matronly OR not) just as badly as I do.

“Top L-R: 1. The first one is always nice, you don’t even need a clip on hair wig to create the minimal, conservative beehive with flip. 2. For the next one, you’ll need a perm, but just think of the low maintenance. And you’ll have a soft pillow wherever you go. 3. This one is just perfect for the younger mother, just crossing over into matronly-dom. All you need are some side wings and some light as air, teased bangs. 4. I know lots of moms just love the Donny Osmond helmet head. It’s a great option, and keeps your forehead and ears warm through the winter.

Middle L-R: 1. The queen of all matrons everywhere. What could be more classic? 2. The wanna-be queen of matrons everywhere. All you need is a pixie with a mullet. Hot diggity dog. 3. An impressive beehive always says ‘matriarch’ to me. 4. I had this haircut when I was six. My mom must have gotten confused, because surely donut-heads are only for mothers of advanced age.

Bottom L-R: 1. Lucy and Ethel. Matrons everywhere still copy this hairstyle. It requires a weekly trip to the salon to sit under the heat, and then sleeping carefully on a satin pillow in a hairnet. Perfect for your active lifestyle. 2. When all else fails. 3. Because his lipstick and hint of some denim apron something or other makes me laugh.

So. Just pick one of those, and I’ll get you a floral housecoat and pink fuzzy slippers and you’ll be all set to sail into your old, matronly, non-cute world. Since you’re only what, like a year older than me, I’ll prepare to retire my rainbow assortments of jeans and prepare to crop my hair as well. Perhaps I should do the Mrs. Brady since I’ve already got the mullet length. Does this mean we’re signing up for Bingo next year?

All silliness aside, including your email, how could your face shape be wrong? That looks just like the a-line cut you and I both had. I love your hair dark, too, but I’m biased. Whatever makes you happy, and that haircut is cute on both of us, Annesley and B. agree, remember?”

Isn’t she the funniest person ever? Oh, she brought a smile to my face and made me not feel so lumpy, dumpy, frumpy, and how could I ever be grumpy for long when she is around?

Well, it is now cut…not colored…though I really want to highlight the heck out of it just like in the original picture. Here are the pics…taken on my Mac in terrible lighting and a messy school room in the background.

I guess my hair is too thick to pull off the wispyness of the original, but this is an improvement over the lifeless, heavy look I have been sporting for the past few weeks.

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oaklyn is here

Dec 23, 2012 by

Remember when this cutie was born? Well, now Easton has a sister!


Mikelle gave birth on Thursday to an adorable little girlie! Her name is Oaklyn Noel and we share a middle name of Noel and while I don’t know how much she is being named after me and how much she is named for the season of her birth, I do know I am in love. She is about the cutest thing ever! I have recently fallen deeper in love with my name. A noel is a song proclaiming Christ’s birth. I want to think I proclaim the joy of his birth in the small things I do to reach out to others and bless them with His love. I want to be a living Noel. Now there are two of us!


And look at all that hair!


Welcome Oaklyn Noel! I can’t wait to snuggle you again! When can you come visit?

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christmas play

Dec 11, 2012 by

christmas play

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

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

Getting everyone assembled



Angel Annesley and Abby as Mary


During our practice run


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

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

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

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tree, gingerbread houses, and friends

Dec 11, 2012 by

tree, gingerbread houses, and friends

My friend, Jodie (of Make It For Maggie fame), brought her whole family to come visit us and taught us how to make gingerbread houses with graham crackers (confession time…I have never made gingerbread houses with my children!). It was so FUN! Mostly because Jodie is a professional make-things-with-children mama (me, not so much) .Jodie had each child’s parts and pieces assembled in their own individual baggies and had each child’s frosting portion in their own ziplock with a small hole cut in the corner. She led them through the build-the-house steps one at at time and then let them loose to create their masterpiece with their own bag of candy. She is brilliant, oh yes, she is.

Annes and Mary


Kat, Jack, and Oz…notice the grass out my back door? Yep, it is still there, no snow yet.


Starting to put the pieces together.



About halfway through…and look, no crying children yet!


Fisher and Trey concentrating hard.


Maggie’s house in process.


Some finished houses.



Two days later we decorated our Christmas tree. I had to try hard not to cry during the festivities as I thought about how few Christmases I have left with all my children at home. These mothering days are growing short and I am feeling a great desire to hold on and savor each and every one of them. I kept looking at Blythe and soon my eyes were full of tears. I love having my children with me. I love being a mother. I think the last few years have been so full of pain and stress and worry that I haven’t enjoyed them as much as I could have. So I am trying to turn a new leaf of full-on savoring.

Everyone working on the tree.


Blythe and Kez spent most of the night wrestling instead of decorating.


Keziah’s muscle pose…it is one we see a lot in pics at our house.


Oh, how I love this mug.


Annesley putting the star on.


The finished tree with my five cuties.


Oh, I love Christmas!

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all under the same roof

Nov 27, 2012 by

all under the same roof

My siblings were all here this past week for Thanksgiving. It is a pretty rare event, so before everyone took off we had some pics taken. Not professional pics, not good lighting pics, not matching outfits pics, not do everyone’s hair cute pics, just everyone in the same picture pics. We had our little friend Courtney take them because she was here hanging out with Keziah. She did a great job with the tools she had.

Here is one with all of us…except Andie, my niece, and Leonard, my stepfather.


My mom and all her children with Mikelle, Mom, and me on the back row and Stephen, Scott, and Cameron on the front row.


Adults…Logan, Mikelle, Me, Mom, Nicole on the back row and Stephen, Richard, Scott, and Cameron on the front row.


Love this pic of my brother Cameron and Nicole. I haven’t see that light in his eyes for a long, long time.


Here are some snapshots of our squished Thanksgiving dinner. My dining room is full of a piano and six large bookshelves, so there isn’t a whole lot of room left for feeding people. Somehow we got two tables and fourteen people to fit.

Getting their food



Using the piano bench as a serving table.


Mom and Mikelle


Scott and Logan carving the turkey.


Richard making his delicious mashed potatoes in the giant 22 quart pan.


We love them with the peels on.


Nicole feeding Cameron breakfast on Thanksgiving morning…how big a bite can he handle?


On Tuesday, Mikelle did six haircuts and two colors (mine and Jessica’s) and her pregnant feet were bruised by the end of the day.

Here is Cam’s


Nicole cut 12 inches off her hair and has a whole new look! I wish I had better before pics, but the after ones are super cute.





While all the haircuts were happening, I had the crazy idea to clean out my kitchen cupboards. They were disgusting! No before pics, but don’t they look fabulous afterwards?




Mine colored, but not cut…I had to lie down for a while and rest my hip before I could get into position to cut it.


Annesley’s cut…took quite a bit of convincing this time. She wants to grow her hair out long like her friend Abby’s. But she finally consented and told us exactly where to cut it to.



Keziah and Jessica also received new cuts, but somehow we missed taking pictures of their long locks. You can see my cut in the family pics up above…suffice it to say, I have bangs for the first time since I was a little girl! Just a few, but it is enough to drive me batty. It is also asymmetrical, which is a new thing that I am adjusting to. I love my cut when I can figure out how to style it, but there is a learning curve here and I don’t have it mastered yet.

I wish I had taken pics of all the Rook playing, football catching, and other silliness that went on, but I missed it all. I need to figure out how to REMEMBER to take pictures!

Hope your Thanksgiving was filled with family and love and fun!

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fisher’s baptism

Oct 7, 2012 by

fisher’s baptism

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

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



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


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

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

Singing right before Fisher is baptized.


Still dry


Fresh out of the water


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

Grandma and Grandpa


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


Here we are a little more put together.


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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First we have
White clothes
New name

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

You have two special names.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beautiful isn’t it?

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Sep 18, 2012 by


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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GRL 2012

Aug 16, 2012 by

GRL 2012

I know I’ve told you before how much I love this place.

It reaches me in a way nothing else does. The trees give me hope, the trails give me constant-ness, and the mountains give me resolve. On an annual basis I am filled.

This year, I was a tad bit nervous about going camping with my on-going hip issues, but there was no way I could not go. You see, I need the air, the water, and the view of my mountains. I need them in a way I can’t explain. So, even though some friends were worried about my mobility and pain levels, we packed up and headed out.

I won’t lie. I was hurting. The drive was not enjoyable (except for listening to The Time Pirate…loved that part!). The bending and bouncing about did me in and I winced in pain for much of the last ninety minutes of the drive.

But, it was worth it. Rounding the last corner and seeing my mountain of fierce determination made the long dirt road all worth it.


The first few days of camp I needed help walking up the hill from the bathroom and overall I was moving pretty slowly, but after a week of my mountain air, something miraculous happened. I could walk up the hill with no pain! I could walk to the lake with no pain! I could sit skewampus in a camp chair! I could move quickly!

It was so exciting.

On day eight I tried to sit in a kayak, fully believing it was a huge mistake, but daring to try because I so desperately wanted to join in the fun.


Not one little bit.


I had SO much fun paddling up and down the river and across the lake. I felt strong and capable and most of all, healed.

Now that I am home, I am hurting a teensy, tiny bit, and I can tell I still have a bit of healing to do, but I believe I have made a huge leap in progress and am so grateful for it.

Now, on to the rest of the family’s fun.

Fisher and Annes fished and fished and fished.



And we enjoyed eating them.


Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the kayaks we got in a bartering trade for our rarely used Bass Hound boat. Best trade ever!


Love that we can put two kids in them!


Grandma getting in on the action.


A foursome


Fisher become quite the kayaker…he can even go upriver!


Annesley on the shore practicing out her paddling.


Showing us her muscles are big enough to go out on her own.


This photo of her cracks me up. I have no idea what she is doing…napping? Not letting anyone else in?


Blythe and Richard went on an 8-9 mile kayak trip in the wee morning hours of her 16th birthday. Here they are coming back into port.


Tired after their journey, but they loved spending those birthday hours together.


Then it was time for presents!



Her birthday book this year is Lehi’s Dream which has lovely artwork and and a fabulous discussion of the Tree of Life.


A laminated, typed-up copy of her recently received Patriarchal Blessing


Blythe’s birthday cake



Two days later we celebrated Andie’s 16th. She is so excited for her new Kindle.


A Life Is Good shirt from us.


And an iTunes card from Grandma…her smiles are quite silly, don’t you think?


Andie’s cake (these girls always blow out their candles together since their birthdays are just two days apart).


Aren’t they adorable…and silly!


By the end of our trip, I felt so great, I got in the water and went tubing with all the big girls.





Unfortunately I got dumped in the rapids and whacked my arm on a boulder, so I had to stop my tubing expeditions early. The girls kept going though and found better paths through the tricky waters. Since I was stuck in the middle of the river, my family jumped to my rescue. Richard, Scott, and Blythe were all determined to get me out of the river in one piece. I want to remember the look on my brother’s face forever. He came to rescue me and truly, I have never felt more loved by him. A moment to remember.

I didn’t go on any hikes this year, but these guys did. Here is their before-setting-off pic. This pic of Kez is SO her, ready to conquer the world..makes me laugh.


And heading out.


That cute little pink munchkin insists she walked the whole five miles (don’t know if that is true or not, but she swears she did). The big girls put Annesley in charge of holding Sadie’s leash and let Sadie pull her along the trail. Brilliant idea, me thinks.

Easton is almost two and has all of us wrapped around his finger, especially Uncle Scott. Those two are quite the pair. Here he is in all his cuteness.


And here he is jumping dropping off the bridge.




Mikelle’s funky socks…what a goofball!


There were ten deer walking through the campground and four of them that came into our camp every day. This guy showed not a lick of worry about us and walked right through our tent area regularly.


We had a hair washing day for Annes, Mikelle, and Grandma and Annes insisted on getting her hair braided…quite a task with her short A-line!



Annesley loves the camera and making crazy faces…here she is in all her glory.



Winking…or trying to.




We had so much fun…so, so much fun.

Watching my husband with our children fills my heart right up. Sometimes I think I will explode with joy when I see them together. He enjoys teaching, loving, and being, just being with them. And they adore him. All they want is more time with him and I am determined to make that happen. Somehow it must happen.

I am so thankful to my grandparents for creating this family tradition and to my mom for carrying it on. Camping in these mountains is exactly what we need…this year and always.

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Jul 6, 2012 by


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


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

I think Dad did a fabulous job!





Blythe…isn’t she lovely!




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


Annes and Fisher





Kez and her cousin, Talya


Our whole family


And now drumroll

: : : : : : : : : : :

: : : : : : : : : : :

: : : : : : : : : : :

An actual photo of me that I like…it is a miracle (isn’t it Jessica?)!

Maybe we will do it again someday…but it will probably only happen if I don’t have to make any decisions about it!

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Kat’s Granola Bars

Jun 27, 2012 by

Kat’s Granola Bars

I hired Kat to make hundreds of these granola bars for me to sell at concessions back in February at Blythe’s play and to feed us when we weren’t at the play…because of course, I can’t cook during play week. They were a huge hit with my customers and everyone here loved them as well. If you are in the mood for some chewy, healthy goodness for your summer camping trips, you won’t go wrong with these!

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book bonanza: lots of audios

Jun 26, 2012 by

book bonanza: lots of audios

We are spending a lot of time cleaning these days. Having a mama be out of commission for months on end has done a number on this already cluttered house. My children have tried hard to fill in the gaps for me, but quite frankly, what this house needs is ME! So, the last several days we have cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. We have rearranged the school room in our seemingly never-ending quest to find the most functional arrangement, we have started on the sewing room, are getting ready to tackle the storage room (do I have the courage?), and then the garage. Oh my, SO MUCH WORK! Yes, you should read those all-caps as screaming because that is just what I am feeling.

Anyway, during all this cleaning we have been listening to some great books and thought you might enjoy them if you are doing any big projects or taking some summer drives.

This morning we listened to Only Passing Through which is the story of Sojourner Truth. What a woman! I hope my children learned (once again) that God calls us to a mission and it is our privilege to step up to the plate with faith and do what He asks us to do. This story also comes in a picture book version if you would rather read it aloud.

Saturday we listened to Amos Fortune, Free Man. We must be in bit of a freedom mood, eh? Must be the time of the year to think about liberty and working for it for all of God’s children as was stated so strongly in The Declaration of Independence that was being drafted right about now 236 years ago. We loved the strength spirit Amos demonstrates again and again and his determination to make the best of his situation.

Now we are listening to The Land of Oz. I read the whole series to Blythe years ago, but haven’t revisited it since. Fisher decided he was interested in it and Blythe wanted to hear it again, so now we are immersed in Mr. Baum’s classic series of conquering our fears, serving others, and believing in goodness.

I can’t wait to listen to The Time Pirate which is the sequel to Nick of Time which was a huge hit with all of us a few years ago.

You can probably find these at your local library, but if not, they are all available on Amazon. What are your favorite audio books?

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day at the lake

Jun 18, 2012 by

day at the lake

What is summer without water and sunshine? A big, fat, boring heatwave! My children have been missing going on hikes, hanging out at the park, and most of all, the lake. So, Saturday, while my mom was here, we spent the afternoon soaking up the sun. I laid on a blanket, mom hung out in a chair and the kids ran around from water to towel over and over again.

Hold your breath…Tracy has found her camera, remembered to take it with her, snapped some cute pictures, and uploaded them for y’all to enjoy. I know, this hip injury has about done my blog in, but at least for today you can enjoy some actual photographic proof our existence!

Noodle-sword fights




Annesley making new friends


And some more new friends…this time surf-board owners




Love his big smile


The goggles crack me up


Now they want to go everyday…and I am pretty tempted to let this be the summer of the lake.

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puppies 2012

May 13, 2012 by

puppies 2012

On March 19, Sadie gave birth to eight puppies. We have been loving on them for the past eight weeks and the children have worked their little behinds right off taking care of them. They are now ready to be adopted. Three of them are already claimed, so only five are left. If you would like one of these sweeties, let us know ASAP. They are sure to be sold quick as a wink!













A whole group of them swarming Kez


Don’t you need a new family member?

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passover seder 2012

Apr 7, 2012 by

passover seder 2012

Last night we held our annual Passover Seder! We invited my Worldviews students, their parents and one student’s younger siblings to come experience our favorite holiday of the year. Due to my need to be horizontal at almost all times, my girls did most of the set-up and cleaning all day Thursday and then Keziah stayed home from gymnastics on Friday to finish up. It is a huge production to create AND it is absolutely worth it. I assigned out almost all of the food to my students (and I hope they made it, not their mothers, but I don’t know what really happened there), so setting up the ceremonial plates after people arrived took quite a bit of time and effort by everyone. The pictures are grainy, but they are all I have, so I am posting them anyway.

Fisher took over a new role this year as the “youngest child” who asks the Four Questions. He did a great job – I was SO proud of him for speaking loudly enough that our large group could hear him. It takes him quite a bit of courage to speak in front of people and he worked hard to be ready for his special job.

Annesley and her little friend, Elijah, sat by each other and whispered non-stop the whole night about matzah, juice, eggs, salt water, Elijah the prophet, boils, darkness, frogs, and Jesus. It was so precious to hear them jabbering away so excitedly for hours on end.

Excuse the blurriness…



Blythe took over my role as the woman of the house who lights the festival candles. She did a great job for her first time. In her own eventual family, she will play this role many times. I loved catching a glimpse of her future.

Keziah was the lucky child who found the afikomen! I think this is the first time one of our children has found the hidden matzah. Our hider was so sneaky it took a loooonnnnggggg time for them to find it and unfortunately Fisher banged his eye on a cinder block under our specially built Passover table and cried his eyes out for ages.

I brought a cheese (wedge-shaped mat) home from gym and laid on it during our three hour meal. It worked out perfectly! Unfortunately we didn’t get a picture of me on it.

I am so thankful to our guests for bringing the food and to my girls for setting everything up. A few weeks into this injury, I realized I was not going to be able to do Passover. It about broke my heart, so I started brainstorming how to make it happen in spite of the pain and need to be off my feet. When I proposed my food and set-up plan, everyone jumped at the chance to be involved and through many hands and hearts, we did it!

Richard breaking the matzah


A few of my students…how I love these boys!


A few of my girls…love them too!


More of the crowd


Five of them…missing three of them


Our guests loving on the puppies


Brother Jones getting the Fruit of the Vine ready…master filler! If you look carefully you can see my black skirt and grey legs in the bottom right of the picture laying down on my cheese.

Brother Lamoreaux topping off the pitchers


Somehow, we didn’t get a complete group photo like we usually do! Where is my brain sometimes? We had 25 people at our Seder Table, plus a place set for Elijah in case he showed up. As a side note, the part of our Seder about Elijah really touched me this year. I cried as I thought about the mission of Elijah to turn the hearts of the children to the fathers and the hearts of the fathers to the children. I am experiencing some pretty amazing miracles right now with Elijah’s role in bringing families together and last night I was overcome with the reality of it all. Such a tender mercy.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this happen! We were thrilled to be able to share it with you!

Here are some past Passover memories and some explanations of why we celebrate Passover: 2011, 2010.

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Rewind and Move Forward

Dec 31, 2011 by

Rewind and Move Forward

I didn’t get a Christmas Letter (or even a Christmas card) mailed this year. I think it has actually been several years since I have done so. I love receiving letters and pictures from friends and family, but it is such an incredibly difficult task for me, that I gave up somewhere around the time of Annesley’s birth…which would make sense since she would have been four weeks old at Christmas of 2008 and I wasn’t up to doing much of anything.

It isn’t the writing that is difficult…it is the stamp buying, the envelope addressing, the getting to the Post Office to actually get them in the mail. The details! I am not good with details. I am good with the big stuff and I fall apart on the details. I am working to conquer that though. Perhaps ‘conquer’ is too strong a word there…maybe ‘slightly improve’ would be more apt.

Anyway, imagine you got a lovely card from us with all of us smiling and having open eyes at the same time (never has happened in all our years of family life) and imagine it came somewhere around December 15th and you hung it up in your house and have been looking at it for the last several weeks thinking how adorable we all are. Big stretch, I know, but I trust you all have very active imaginations.

Now it is New Year’s Eve and I have half of my family with me at my mom’s while the other half is back home hosting a New Year’s Eve party at our home. Yesterday Annesley had a dentist appointment in Salt Lake for a large cavity I found a few days ago. While we were there, we found out she needed more dental work and that they had a cancellation on Monday, so we decided to stay down here instead of having to come all the way back in the next few weeks. It is a strange experience to be separated on New Year’s Eve instead of playing games together.

Since you didn’t get a Christmas letter, here is a look back at 2011. It is written for three groups of people.
1. Those of you who can’t get enough of us!
2. Those who missed the happenings of our life the first time around because you are busy living your own.
3. Those of you who are not one of my regular blog readers.


Eve, my cousin Camille’s daughter, came to live with us for four months so she could attend classes at iFamily. We had a wonderful time with her and hope she can come and stay with us again. Her stay brought back so many memories of Camille and I living with each other as children. I am so grateful our mothers let us be together so much. Our friendship has been going strong for 30+ years and has sustained both of us through thick and thin.

Richard worked long hours and was never home when the sun was shining. He thought he may give in to physical and emotional collapse and the rest of us thought we might lose our minds without him.

I taught a second semester of my Math Alive! class to children at iFamily. We spent a whole semester studying Archimedes, recreating his experiments, building his tools, and ending the semester with a Catapult Contest.





Blythe auditioned for iShakespeare Live’s Spring Play and was awarded two roles. One as a musician playing background violin music and one as a servant. She also helped teach a knitting class and took a Logic and Debate class.


I got terribly ill and was in bed for several days and thanks to several friends bringing dinner that week, our children were able to eat.

My dear friend, Delinda, birthed her fifth baby in a glorious show of courage and faith and I was blessed to doula her through her birth once again. She was my first official doula client and I have attended all of her births. She is an amazing woman of God who has taught me much about walking with Christ, leading through love, and fully partnering with her husband in family life.

We baked a gazillion sugar cookies on Valentine’s Day, chased a moose, and then I went to bed with crazy thoughts of “bad-wifehood” because I completely forgot to do anything for my sweetie for Valentine’s.


We read A Tale of Two Cities and LOVED it. What an amazing author Mr. Dickens is. I learn so much about myself and human nature every time I immerse myself in one of his books.


We started off the month by taking 80 youth to see A Tale of Two Cities at Hale Centre Theatre in Salt Lake City. It was an amazing experience to share one of my favorite places with youth I adore. The youth were transformed by the performance and were able to really feel the power of the stage to communicate with people’s hearts.

We celebrated Richard’s 41st birthday with lemon meringue pie, homemade presents, and lots of love. He and I are growing older and while we may not be as spry as we once were, we are still madly in love.




We started a dejunking project that lasted about three days instead of the forty I had planned and I realized once again that I am terrible at actually sticking with anything.

Blythe’s days were full of Shakespeare as rehearsals moved into high gear for the production in April and the rest of our family’s schedule revolved around her schedule. Allowing a child to participate in a huge production is a gift of time, energy, and lots of support from the rest of the family. It is worth it, but it is taxing on everyone involved.

Once again, we attended the TJED Forum in Salt Lake City and had a wonderful time. My mom came down and grandmothered all over our children while Richard, Blythe, and I attended classes all day. Then we all danced the night away at the Family Ball. This is one of our favorite events of the year and we are so grateful to my mom for making it special for our little ones so we can attend classes without worrying how they are doing.

The rest of the month was filled with grief for my friends and clients, Jacob and Natasha, whose baby, Daniel, passed away during labor. As Christmas rolls around, I am thinking of them once again and wondering how I can make their hearts lighter. I know it must be incredibly difficult to not have a baby in their arms at this time.


April was Shakespeare time. Rehearsals, rehearsals, rehearsals ruled our lived. It was so fun to see the play come together and to observe the transformation of youth into real actors who put on an amazing show. The performances started toward the end of April and continued on through the first week of May. The directors, stage crew, actors, and parents deserved a week at a spa after all the long hours they put in to creating a first-class performance for our community. I am so grateful Blythe had this experience!

Mid-April I discovered a strange sensation moving through my breast. It got stronger and more intense until it consumed most of my waking thoughts…and most of my sound asleep ones as well.

Once again, we held a Passover Seder at our home. Keri’s and Jessica’s families joined us as we lit the candles, recounted the history of the Children of Israel, ate the ritual foods, hid the afikomen, and invited Elijah to join us. This is our most cherished holiday and even though it is a ton of work, it is totally worth it.

The Passover Table before we start eating and making a ginormous mess.


Our Passover guests



On May 1st, I found a lump in my right breast. This was confirmed to be an abnormal growth at a Clinical Breast Exam a few days later. This began a journey in search of truth about my body, my faith, my beliefs, my emotions, and my courage. It is a journey I never want to go on again, but one I am grateful for. I learned much about myself, about God, about goodness, about the power of family, the support of friends, and the depth of communion. I learned to submit my will. I learned I am in God’s hands. You can read all about my journey with and past my lump right here.

We also celebrated my 37th birthday during the first week of May. My mom took me clothes shopping, Mikelle and mom did a make-up intervention on me, (apparently I was wearing make-up that was out-of-date, the wrong colors, the wrong type for my skin, and just altogether WRONG!), a big group of us went to the Mindy Gledhill concert and had piles of Asphalt Pie, and then Mikelle treated me to a new haircut. Fabulous week surrounded by friends, family, gifts, and fun!

Blythe’s vocal group had their spring recital. It was the same night as the homeschool prom so most of the girls wore their formals to the recital. They did an amazing job on both their group and individual musical numbers. Blythe loves singing and it is so fun to hear her singing throughout the day. She usually studies for awhile and then practices her violin, they studies some more, then practices her voice work. Back and forth all day long. I am so grateful she is surrounded by music that she loves.


On Memorial Day, our black lab, Sadie, gave birth to nine puppies on Keziah’s bedroom floor surrounded by our four children and six of Tami’s. The next several months were filled with barking, pooping, nursing, wrestling, snuggling, and adopting. It was a lot of work!



We started off the month of June with our 8th Annual Homeschool Swim Camp. It is always so much fun to camp, swim, and play with our friends for a whole week.

Blythe attended the Climb Your Mountain Youth Conference with many of her friends and had a wonderful experience learning more about herself, leadership, and how to become who she wants to be.

The rest of the month was filled with doctor’s appointments, lots of tears, amazing blessings, and an outpouring of love from our friends and family.


July was a busy, busy month. We started it off with Independence Day festivities full of picnics, fireworks, parades, and family. The children all sang in the Celebration of Liberty’s Tribute program and little Annesley stole the show in front of thousands of people by singing and dancing her little heart out front and center on the stage. She loves watching herself on the video over and over again. I think she may have a future in show business.

For the first time in my life, we missed my big family reunion. I was in so much pain, emotionally and physically, that I could not get myself to go. Instead, I stayed home and worked on my 21-day cleanse.

Blythe attended her fourth year of Girls’ Camp and then travelled to southern Utah to attend YFF (Youth For Freedom) youth conference. She had an amazing experience and can’t wait to attend this next year as well.

The next week after that we were blessed to be able to attend MAT (Music, Art, and Technology) Camp in Wyoming. I was able to work for the camp throughout the week to pay for our tuition. It was a lot of work, but completely worth it to help my children and our friend, Alanna, have a week of fabulous instruction from top musicians on their violins and flutes, and with art, singing, and dancing. SO MUCH FUN!

The morning after we got home from MAT Camp, I went to the hospital to have the lump removed and tested. I spent a long week in bed, had a terrible two week bout with anesthesia-caused dizziness, and found out the lump was benign. We were thrilled it wasn’t cancer, but not so thrilled to be told I am at enormous (almost 600% increased) risk of developing breast cancer because of the large amounts of estrogen being stored in my breasts.


The big news of August is always our annual camping trip to Green River Lakes.




We celebrated Blythe’s 15th Birthday. It is amazing to me that she is fifteen and that her days in my home are growing short. Somehow I didn’t see this phase of life coming. I have been in a baby-in-my-arms stage for so long that it feels really strange to have a daughter on the cusp of driving, dating, moving out, etc. I am not ready for all of this, but I am proud of the young woman she is and am grateful to be her mama.


The rest of the month was spent recovering from surgery, recovering from camping, getting ready for the classes we were teaching and taking at iFamily, helping all the iFamily members to get registered, rearranging the school room so our learning space would work well for us this year, and trying to spend some time in the sunshine.

I organized another Lava Hot Springs Day for our homeschool group and loved sitting in the shallow end of the pool for about 8 straight hours. My arm and breast were still so sore that I could not do much more than that. First time I didn’t go down the slides or jump off the platforms, but my children had a wonderful time with their friends and Fisher worked up his courage to jump off the diving boards.


Keziah hired our friend, Kat, to help her with a sewing project and it turned out adorable.

By some miracle, I was able to get my bomb-gone-off-debris-is-everywhere bedroom clean, but was completely unable to conquer my bathroom and closet. That space took me another four months and was finally finished on December 23.


For some reason, I can’t really remember anything much about September. Hmmmmm.

Oh yes, we did celebrate Fisher’s 7th birthday. He is growing up and is so stinkin’ adorable when we can get a real smile out of him. He cracks me up with his funny faces, hilarious statements, crooked smile out the side of his mouth, and his many creations. He is constantly building or exploring or dreaming about doing one or the other.

We also decided to put on Make It For Maggie again, which is an annual fundraiser we started in 2010 as part of Maggie’s Month to raise money for our friend, Maggie Palmer. This year, we raised money for both Maggie and a family in my ward who have three boys with a seizure disorder.

I think the rest of the month was spent adjusting to our fall schedule of iFamily, violin lessons, gymnastics classes, and Richard’s crazy work schedule. During the summer he only worked 45-55 hours, but as soon as school started again he was back to leaving before 6 a.m. and getting home after 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. six days a week. It is incredibly difficult to have him gone so much, but we are grateful for his hard work, the blessing of him staying fairly healthy and able to keep up such a demanding schedule, and his enjoyment of us when he is able to be home.

One of Blythe’s biggest dreams came true when she was able to buy a violin that is properly sized for her AND one she loves. She was gifted some violin money and she used all of her savings to make up the difference. She has loved practicing on her new violin and has made significant progress. We are so grateful for the money she was given to make her dream come true. Another dream came true for her when we let her start taking a karate class. She had been studying various martial arts for several years and has probably read forty or fifty books on the subject, so she was thrilled when we found a class that would work for her and for the rest of us.

I started teaching two Worldviews classes, one for youth and one for adults. We are studying six different worldviews, defining our own worldview and having lots of fabulous discussions. It is challenging for me to spend so much time in study and I am grateful for the opportunity I have to share myself with my students.

Keziah also taught a class at iFamily for 3-6 year olds. She planned out an entire semester of art projects, storytimes, singing time, games, and treats…and she did it all by herself. It was amazing to see her get an idea and completely own it. She enjoyed teaching so much she has created another class for this upcoming semester.


October was full of Make It For Maggie fundraising work, but we also found time to celebrate Keziah’s 11th birthday with a trip to Salt Lake and General Conference and our 18th anniversary. Our date that night started out less than stellar because I had such a bad attitude, but through humor and patience, we turned it around into one of our favorite dates ever.

Make It For Maggie turned out to be a huge success! Through the generosity and hard work of our family and friends we were able to raise $3200 for the Palmer and Lear families. It was super-duper exciting and brought us so much joy to be able to bring people together for a day of wonderful classes, delicious food, charitable giving, gobs of love, and loads of laughter. Next year will be even better!

Miss Maggie


Some attendees


Kat at the microphone and my adorable self holding the sign.



In November I started two big projects. First, I learned how to make whole-wheat sourdough bread and have now been making it consistently for two months! Second, I started a giant blog overhaul. I couldn’t stand to look at my site another minute and consequently I didn’t sleep for several days while I worked on it. It still isn’t finished, but it is SO much more adorable and fun for me to write on now that I can stand to look at it again. I am hoping to get it all complete during January.

We focused on art and artists all month long. We are learning to not beat ourselves up when our pictures don’t turn out perfectly and how to enjoy creating and exploring different mediums.

We also started studying Columbus and the world during the 1400’s. We have already learned so much and look forward to our history read-aloud time each day.

At the end of the month, we went to my sister’s home for Thanksgiving and also celebrated Annesley’s 4th birthday. We were squished into a little apartment, played games all day (and much of the night), and had enough food to feed an army. So FUN!




December was spent cleaning, listening to audio books, and carrying out our secret Christmas projects. Our home has been in desperate need of attention for a very long time, but it is not all that enjoyable to me and there are many things pressing for my time and attention, so deep house cleaning is often at the bottom of my list. We spent every available (and many non-available!) moment cleaning, decluttering, and rearranging. I’m sad to say my children are all ‘cleaned out’ and I don’t know if they will recover any time soon. All this cleaning was for two reasons. I knew that December (when I am not teaching at iFamily) was the only time I would be able to devote a significant amount of time to it before May and I couldn’t handle my family all coming to spend time at our home after Christmas and not being able to enjoy themselves with the house in such disarray. I’m thrilled to say signiicant progress was made. All the bedrooms and bathrooms were dejunked and completely organized (including mine!!!!!!!!!). The laundry room was cleaned and rearranged to better meet our needs (and I solved the problem of the leak!). The dining room was cleaned as well as the school room, the area under the stairs, the kitchen, and the family room. We still need to conquer the garage and the storage room and the sewing room needs some attention, but I am proud of the hard work we have put in.

The other exciting news for December is I sewed an adorable Advent Calendar…a dream I have had for years. It took me a LONG time, a lot of tears, and some serious coaching from Kat, but I did it!


We have had family at our home all week long and I am exhausted from the late nights, but am so grateful for the Rook games, laughter and middle-of-the-night talks under blankets with my cousins, and great times with my siblings and mama. I am so grateful people drove from all over to come and spend time with us. It means the world to me that they love me enough to come.

As this year draws to a close, I am full of gratitude. Gratitude for the lessons my Father in Heaven has taught us, and especially me, this year. Gratitude for the nurturing love of my husband. Gratitude for the amazingness of my children and their ability to forgive me and love me. Gratitude for the many, many people who have served our family in ways both large and small. At times, the “angels” in our lives have literally been God’s hands in providing food, gas, heat, and most importantly, hope. We have been blessed beyond all our understanding and although we often don’t know who has been serving us, we pray for them and hope they will know how precious they are to us.

I am glad 2011 is over. It brought with it lessons that needed to be learned, joys that needed to be felt, friends that needed to be loved, and family that needed to be savored. But now, I am ready to move on to 2012. I don’t know what it will bring, but I step forward with increased knowledge of who God is, how He works in our lives, and a deeper sense of peace that we are in His hands. I am ready to love more fully, live more in the now, and trust more in His care. I am ready to be a more dedicated disciple of my Savior, to serve more, to know more, to listen more, and to BE more.

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friends, food, and fhe

Dec 13, 2011 by

friends, food, and fhe

We have some dear friends, the Lamoreaux family, who invited us over for a night of festivity. They prepared a full-course Christmas dinner with turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cabbage salad, green beans, cranberry relish, carrots, rolls, pumpkin pie, and Jace’s signature dish, pecan pie. All homemade with healthy ingredients (except the pecan pie) and all delicious. I must get her recipe for cranberry relish…it was the most fantabulous cranberry dish I have ever had. I wish I had remembered to take a picture of the amazing spread they must have worked all day long preparing, but I was so overwhelmed with the scrumptiousness of it all, I just enjoyed it. There is no way in a million years I could prepare a meal like that!

They wanted us to come and share an evening of food and fun with them and all they asked us to do was share our nightly Christmas devotional with them. Easy-peasy! We shared a story of Jesus, sang Christmas songs, and then I read everyone Grandfather’s Christmas Tree and A Christmas Dress For Ellen, two of our most favorite Christmas books. After story time, we handed out papers, colored pencils, and markers, and everyone drew a picture for or wrote a letter to someone they love.


Fisher’s dreams came true when the boys finished up quickly and started playing football. He doesn’t get nearly enough roughhousing in our house full of girls and he loves going and playing with the Lamoreaux boys…they have four and their dad is quite a boy too, so that makes five playmates for our little guy who wishes he had a house full of brothers. The girls went to their secret hiding places and talked and talked AND talked. They hid so well that Annesley couldn’t find them and she eventually gave up and joined in the football game.



Most plays ended up in a wrestling match.


Here are seven of their nine children (Taycie Grace and Abigail were already in bed by the time I remembered to take a picture of everyone) and our four all piled on top of each other. Pretty cute bunch of kids, eh?


We are so grateful to have such a wonderful family as our good friends. We share children, books, and food quite frequently and they have saved my behind more times than I can count. Thank you, Lam Family, for being stalwart disciples of Christ, joyful sojourners on earth, examples of truth, and dear friends to each of us. You are all GEMS!

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decorating for christmas

Dec 3, 2011 by

decorating for christmas

We finally got our decorations (and by decorations, I mean three nativities and lots of books, not anything fancy-schmancy) and tree up today and had our first night of our month-long Christmas devotionals. We are supposed to start on the 1st, but on that night, I was still sewing our advent calendar and came home in the middle of the night to a sleeping house. Last night we bought the tree and got it set up, but it was 10 p.m. by the time that happened, so we went to bed and put off decorating till today.

Nativity the first


Nativity the second…and my favorite one. Maybe someday I will have all the other parts that go to it.


Notice that Mary is holding her precious baby? I cannot handle looking at Jesus in a manger so my nativities have to have him in her arms. This peculiar belief of mine greatly limits the selection of nativities we can buy, which is why we only have two real ones and one soft play one for the kids.

Christmas Books



Decorating the tree (notice the advent calendar hanging on the wall behind me?)




Hanging the star on top



Most of my decorations were made by me back in the winter of 1995 when I was pregnant with Blythe. They aren’t very current, but they are homey and I love them. Tonight Keziah said “we need some new decorations” and Richard responded, “No, we don’t, your mother made these and I hope we are still decorating with them when I am 90.” Warmed my heart right up.

Are your decorations up?

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bantu knots

Nov 17, 2011 by

bantu knots

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

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

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

Freshly unknotted, not combed or fingered-through.


Hurrah! It worked! Bouncy curls!

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

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fiar: the clown of God

Nov 10, 2011 by

fiar: the clown of God

Fisher and I are reading The Clown of God by Tomie de Paulo this week.

Tomie is one of our favorite authors. If you haven’t read The Art Lesson and Nana Upstairs, Nana Downstairs, run to your nearest library and check them out today! They are such lovely ways to connect big ideas into our little ones’ hearts.

So far, we have we learned how to say “arrivederci” and that it means “till we meet again” in Italian. Ironically, he can say it pretty well! We have discussed that happiness is a choice and just because we are hungry or orphaned or made fun of doesn’t mean we need to choose to be miserable. We learned that each of us have skills we can develop and use to bring others joy. We have talked about what we can do to serve Jesus and how we can bring Him joy, just like Giovanni brings Him joy in the story.

I adore FIAR. I am not great at doing projects that go along with the books, but I have found that great benefits come when I snuggle up with Fisher and read him the same book day after day. He falls in love with each book we read and most importantly, he knows I value him enough to have our special reading time together. Our FIAR time is our time to be together and share ourselves ..I am able to see into his heart and learn of his compassion for the characters we read about. I see how his brain works and makes connections. I see what interests him most and get ideas for teaching him about other things.

If you are interested in FIAR, you can check it out here.

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this face

Nov 8, 2011 by

this face


I love it.

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pumpkin carving

Nov 8, 2011 by

pumpkin carving

A few weeks ago I attended the wedding of my cousin Josh and came home with six pumpkins from the luncheon decorations. I have never carved a pumpkin. Gasp! How is it possible to have reached this stage of my life and never done something so basic as carving a pumpkin? I don’t know, I just know I never have. Maybe I thought it was too hard or too gross or too what??? Well, whatever I thought, I was wrong…it was fun and messy and I am pretty sure everyone will want to do it next year.

Anyway, we covered the island with plastic tablecloths, pulled out our assortment of very dull knives and got to work. Richard quickly gave up on using the dull knives and grabbed his Leatherman and using the saw blade made fast progress.


So much so that everyone else wanted to use it as well.


We cleaned out all the guts, saved piles of seeds to dry, laughed ourselves silly, and ended up with a fairly cute pumpkin family.



I think there is a little bit of resemblance, don’t you think? They are in age order from left to right: Richard’s looks gentle and happy, mine looks like it is screaming in surprise, Blythe’s is a castle, which is where her mind often is, Keziah’s looks determined, Fisher’s looks like a gentle lil’ boy, and Annesley’s has a huge smile and zest for life.


Is this kind of like those Rorschach tests? Maybe so, maybe I am seeing things that aren’t really there.

We haven’t put candles in them or anything, but they are on our front porch bringing some festivity to our fall.

Thank you for the fun activity Aunt Carol!

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make it for maggie wrap-up

Oct 30, 2011 by

make it for maggie wrap-up

Katherine and I are grateful and filled with love for each and every participant in Make It For Maggie. Words cannot do justice to the feelings we have in our hearts after yesterday’s event.

I walked through the day with a smile on my face and oodles of gratitude in my heart at the greatness of soul that was demonstrated by our community. It was a privilege to spend a day learning, serving, and laughing with you.

There were SO many amazing and wonderful and delightful moments throughout the day. Here are just a few of them.

1. Bill and Linda Watts helped us set up chairs and get each room ready for our classes to begin. We couldn’t have been ready on time without them!

2. Charlene walked in with the box of Handout Booklets at just the right time. We gasped when we saw how beautifully they turned out! They are lovely. Thanks to Charlene Hertzberg for her hours of work putting them together! We hope they prove to be useful in the lives of our supporters and they get used and used and used!

3. Several attendees showed up with friends! Yeah for spreading the love!

4. Check-in was super fun (although a little bit of a bottleneck!) because we were able to speak to each person, give lots of hugs, and connect with our attendees.

5. The decorations, table settings, and the whole flow of our lunch together was FABULOUS! Thank you to Kim, Stevie, and Zoie Conder for going the extra mile to make Make It For Maggie run a gazillion times more smoothly than it did last year. Your efforts are greatly appreciated!

6. Liz sang to us at lunch and what can I say…her voice melts me every time. There were many tears throughout the room. Thank you for sharing your heart with us and blessing us with the gift of music.

7. The Silent Auction was a HUGE success! Thank you for your generous support and for bidding at the last minute!

8. Christine Paugas gave Maggie a cute little knitted turtle…wish I had a picture of it because it is adorable!

9. Our classes were thoroughly enjoyed! One participant said “I have been inspired by this group of amazing women. I can’t wait to come back next year!” Yes, we have wonderful teachers!

10. An anonymous and generous donor wrote us a lovely letter and put it in our donation box. Thank you to whomever you are…and may God shower you with blessings!

10. The Bartell family showed up at 5:00 and said “Put us to work! We are here to clean the building.” Woo-hoo!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

11. When Eric Browning saw that Brian Bartell was the only man putting up tables, he dropped his schedule and got right to work! Thank you Eric!

12. Lots of people put up chairs, swept floors, and got the building put back together! I drove away at 6:39! Yes, only 1 hour and 39 minutes after it ended! Thank YOU to everyone who helped!

13. I received so many wonderful hugs yesterday…and not your average-pat-on-the-back-hugs, but tight squeezes full of love!

14. Another donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, made a very generous last minute donation. She brought Kat and me to tears with her love for the Lear family. Thank you!

15. Melissa Bartell donated money from her Halloween Costume Party…such a fabulous idea! Thank you!

16. Many people brought in door prizes at the last minute and filled our day with fun and lots of winners. A special thank you to my mama, Dorothy, for bringing so many adorable and yummy items! Thank YOU!

17. I was able to snuggle my nephew, Easton, so his overworked mama could attend Jodie’s relationship class. He promptly fell asleep on my shoulder and I was in baby heaven for an hour. Isn’t the sound of a baby breathing in your arms one of the most precious things in the world?

Here are some pictures of our day:



Miss Maggie at lunchtime


Sharing information about some of our donors


Picking Door Prize winners


Lincoln Lear and lil’ guy Damon



Giving Maggie’s mom, Jodie, money for Maggie’s new Proloquo2Go Communication Program and two Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatments. Yippee!!


Jodie sharing her words of inspiration and gratitude for Make It For Maggie. She showed us some of the blessings that came into Maggie’s life through Maggie’s Month last year.


Liz singing her heart out and bringing us to tears









Bill and Linda Watt’s amazing display of preparedness items to use without electricity


Silent Auction


Door Prizes


Making Tea Towels Aprons





Cosette’s Stewardship Approach to Chores class


Amy’s Just Add Water class


Dorothy’s Make It, Take It Wooden Craft Class


Kim, our amazing luncheon chairman


Liz’s Green Smoothie Class


Thank YOU to everyone for making Make It For Maggie a huge success! Thank you for joining with us in Changing The World One Family At A Time. Every single donation from $10 to $500 made a difference and we are humbled to be surrounded by such greatness of spirit.

Please feel our love for you and please spread the word, build the momentum, and join us next year.

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a new place to eat

Oct 22, 2011 by

a new place to eat

Today in the midst of working on Make It For Maggie and a gazillion loads of laundry, I decided I couldn’t live with my dining room disaster another minute. I dove right in and started moving things around, putting things in their correct places, and throwing things away. My friend, Rachel, came over in the midst of the project and said “you are a fall nester!” by which she meant I try to make my house a home every autumn. Her comment intrigued me, so I went back to last year’s posts and sure enough, I deep-cleaned this exact same room on October 26th a year ago!

Even though I fight schedules to the death sometimes, I must be on some kind of internal clock that propels me to do things on its own schedule! Fine with me as long as said clock doesn’t let me know of its existence!

I took a Magic Eraser to the walls and baseboards, put all of the Math Alive! stuff in our learning room (it is has been sitting in our dining room since April when I finished teaching that class! Yes, I am that negligent about housekeeping!), cleaned out all the bookshelves, moved the library and block baskets, dusted and dusted and dusted some more, vacuumed up spider webs, moved the piano, the table, the Usborne bookshelf, and the bench, set out my beloved cello, and threw out gobs of old mail. I don’t know why I let things stack up for so long, but I do and I accept that about myself. It is a fault, but it is not the end of the world or anything.

Here it is, all cleaned up and rearranged.




I would really like to have cozy family dinners in here every night instead of at the island in the kitchen. I would like to gather here for connection and conversation instead of letting it become the dumping ground it so often is. Maybe I just need to force myself to have guests over for dinner on a frequent basis so that this room will stay spic-n-span.

Tonight I am going to revel in its cleanliness and order…I would sleep in there if I could!

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so ready for a change

Oct 20, 2011 by

so ready for a change

I needed a change. I have been sporting an A-line for the last 25 years or so, with a few short departures of perming it, growing it out, and Demi Moore’s Ghost haircut, but I always go back to the chin length A-line. It is a great cut on me. It looks fabulous with my face, is super easy for me to do, I only have to do my hair about once a week with it, and I can tuck it behind my ears which for some reason is my default hair position.

Having said all that, I needed a change. On some deep level, I needed something else. I was hoping for a Meg Ryan You’ve Got Mail look, but it ended up shorter than that and I’m okay with it.

Last night I took off and drove a few hours to my sister’s house and we stayed up till midnight cutting and coloring. When we were halfway done, I decided I had made a huga-mongo mistake and couldn’t believe I was looking at myself in the mirror. Mikelle clipped and thinned and colored and styled and then I styled it some more and then I thought it might possibly work out.

This morning, I got ready for my cousin’s wedding, (why do I always do things like this the moment before big events?) and I started liking it. And by the way, the wedding? One of my favorites. The look on Josh’s face as he looked at his bride melted my heart…such adoration, respect, and protection in his eyes. Love him!

After a day with it, I think I made the right choice. I was feeling congested in my standard haircut. I needed some new energy in my life and I sure as heck have it.

Thanks to Mikelle for putting up with my I-need-you-to-make-me-cute-no-matter-how-long-it-takes insistence – you are a hero!

Unfortunately, I think I’ll have to do my hair every day and may need to invest in the company who makes my pomade – I’ll be needing a lot of it!

Photo 191

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Eleven, Eleven, How Can It Be?

Oct 3, 2011 by

Eleven, Eleven, How Can It Be?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At iFamily sewing class


With her adorable purse she sewed


Building a raft with cousins


With Easton at Green River Lakes


With Annesley and Eve at Green River Lakes


Maiden voyage on Austin’s kayak

Three girlies in braids


Pure silliness


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


With Cousin Tiegen on a hike


With Sadie


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



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


Her catapult she built for Math Alive!



Her iFamily Vocal Jazz class




Math Alive! class…learning about levers and balance


Math Alive! with the famous blocks


Climbing our trees in the dead of winter



Christmas morning with her skirt I Kat made her


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




Christmas party


Thanksgiving 2010 with Uncle Cameron


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

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mr. fisher turns seven

Sep 18, 2011 by

mr. fisher turns seven



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


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

His childhood is going by quickly. Too quickly.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Here are some pictures of him from this past year.









Pretty cute boy, eh?

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pencil bags

Aug 30, 2011 by

pencil bags

I am blessed to have the lovely Jessica of Balancing Everything fame as one of my best friends. Last week she whipped up some pencil bags for her children and I immediately fell in love. She is one of the most creative people I have ever met and I regularly swoon over her creations. She told me to bring over some fat quarters and zippers and she would teach me how to make some for my family.

I loved her Japanese fabric, but I let my children pick out their own stuff and design them in their own style…and then Jessica sewed for us today! I barely helped with pinning and unpicking, but perhaps my picking up the playdough, getting the toddler dressed, and our lovely conversation made up for my lack of sewing contributions? Maybe, just maybe, I will be brave enough to attempt it on my own so I can have my own super-duper adorable bag too!

I don’t know why they are showed up all wrinkly in the pictures. They lay flat quite nicely in real life. Maybe the fact that Keziah was taking the pictures with little ones crawling all over her has something to do with it?








Fisher’s…with his praying mantis



Blythe’s sans the initial…I guess she thought the initial was childish.



The children have already filled them up with their colored pencils and are silly excited for their Nature Studies classes this fall. I know I could have gone out and bought a cheap plastic pencil case, but cheap plastic doesn’t speak to my soul. Homemade. Cotton. Felt. Those are the things that connect with me and I love taking the time and effort to give my children homemade treasures…and having friends to help me do so!

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annual lava day

Aug 30, 2011 by

annual lava day

Every year I plan a big homeschool social at Lava Hot Springs. We always have tons of fun seeing friends from all over Southeast Idaho and of course, the speed slides can’t be beat. This year I spent the day soaking my feet in the shallow end of the pool watching Annesley and Fisher jump in again and again and again. I didn’t dare swim or slide for fear of hurting myself…for some reason my arm and breast are still SO sore after the lumpectomy. Keziah and Blythe played with friends all day and I barely saw them. Around closing time I finally remembered to take a few pics of the children.

Fisher spent hours pushing Annesley around in her “boat”.



Fisher mastered jumping off the diving board and swimming to the side of the pool. I think he did it about 20 times.


Keziah and her friend, Arianna…both of them exhausted from swimming for about eight hours at this point.


Blythe with her friends.


How I love this face…sunburned, exhausted and all.


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room clean

Aug 28, 2011 by

room clean

Clean Room

Floors, windows, walls, and bed are DONE!!

Bathroom and closet still to go.

I can’t even tell you how lovely it was to wake up in our bedroom this morning. I actually didn’t know where I was!

Bed made within 10 seconds of exiting horizontal position. No messes made this morning.

I am determined to keep it this way!

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keziah’s new bag

Aug 23, 2011 by

keziah’s new bag

Keziah bought a bag pattern about a year ago and ever since then she has desperately wanted to create the bag. Clear back in February or March she bought her fabric and then came right home and started working on it. She got a few pieces cut out and then asked me for help. The problem was that for me reading a pattern is like reading Mandarin. It simply makes no sense to my brain at all. She kept trying to work on it here and there, but had little success because I couldn’t help her. She would call our dear friend, Kat, and get input on what to do next, do it, and then be stuck again. It was really frustrating for her, but she kept working on it a little bit at a time.

Last week she worked out a deal with Kat…she wanted Kat to come over and help her and in return she would babysit for her or do something else needed and wanted. Kat agreed and yesterday she spent about 12 hours at our home guiding Keziah through the whole process. Kez did all the sewing, but Kat did all the pattern interpretation which I fail so miserably at. Kat and I talked and laughed and ate and every few minutes Keziah would come out and report what she had done and ask what to do next. I was able to clean the mountains of precariously perched papers, books, and minutia off my desk while Kat worked on the internet, and all of our little children collected loads of bugs and went on grand adventures outside.

Well, at about midnight last night, Keziah finished the last step! It turned out adorable! I am so proud of her for sewing for twelve hours straight and sticking with it even she was frustrated with her lack of perfection. I’m proud of her for making tough decisions about how to improvise when she ran out of fabric halfway through. I’m proud of her for not screaming at her machine when it kept going berserk. I’m proud of her for not allowing my ineptness to stop her from making her bag.

Thanks Kat! It was wonderful to spend the day with you and yours, share our food and conversation with you, and see our little ones so happy to be together once again. You are a gem!

Here is the finished product…pretty cute, eh?



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Green River Lakes

Aug 22, 2011 by

Green River Lakes

Ready for the longest post ever? Read on…knowing full well that I have to chronicle the trip for my family so there are gobs of pictures you may or may not want to see.

We have been back from our annual camping trip for a week now and I am finally getting around to writing about it. See, I hate writing about things when I don’t have my pictures of the event and I didn’t have time to sit down and upload a gazillion pictures (nor could I find my camera) until today. My sister had to call me today begging for pictures off my camera before I actually decided to send Keziah on a camera finding mission.


Green River Lakes is magical. It is the place I love most in all the world and the place where I feel the most me. I spent my summers there as a child with my precious Grandma and my bestest cousin, Camille. Camille and I would talk all night, wake up to a delicious many-course breakfast, go clean the campground and outhouses with Grandpa, talk to campers and backpackers from all over the world and then come back to the lodge for lunch with Grandma. The afternoons were ours for swimming in the lake and going on hikes, which we did pretty much every day. Those summers gave me a sense of safety, family, and goodness that changed the dynamics of my soul. They taught me what I wanted to have in my family and created a yearning for family life that would give those same things to my children. I think those summers were the lifelines I needed to get through my childhood and they have greatly influenced my life choices as an adult. I will forever be grateful for the weeks I was able to spend with my grandparents.

The Wind Rivers are rugged and oh, so real. They feed my soul with strength, determination to endure well, and a type of deep grounding into my soul of what is essential in my life, who I am, and what is truth. I need these reminders every year and my mountains always deliver.

This deer wasn’t concerned with us at all. We were THIS close.


Due to the extremely wet and long spring, the mosquitoes were plentiful. By the time we had been in camp for about 24 hours, Fisher had over 200 bites on his legs alone. The bites on Annesley and Fisher will probably be healing for weeks to come. We had to drive out into cell phone range and call Tami to ask her to bring up another ten cans of bug spray.

Mom and Tami…two of my favorite people.


Scott built a swing off the bridge and everyone had loads of fun swinging out over the river.



Keziah swinging on the tree swing.


Blythe braving the frigid water. Even though it’s tradition, one never gets used to it.


My brother, Stephen, going after some trout.


Blythe and Andie.


Bridge jumping – another tradition that doesn’t get easier. There was none for me this year- drat that incision!





Raft building…not quite as stable as Huck Finn’s.


The girls spent a lot of time canoeing and Mikelle, with her leg recently having ACL, MCL, and meniscus surgery was transported all over the place in the thing, but I didn’t ever get in due to my lack of strength in my right arm. Our friend, Austin, let them borrow her kayak for an evening and now Keziah and Blythe want to buy kayaks…wouldn’t that be fun!


Cam’s rad waterproof shorts from Eddie Bauer…love the butt gusset!


I hadn’t been on a hike to the Upper Lake for a couple of years, so I was determined to make it up there this year and take my girls. Thanks to Tami keeping Annesley for me, I was able to go hiking with Richard, Blythe, Keziah, Fisher, Jared, Tiegen, Andie, and Scott. It felt so, so good to be hiking in my mountains again, to be crossing rivers and streams, and to smell the trees. There is something deeply fulfilling about walking on a trail you have walked on hundreds of times before. All the other journeys are remembered and become part of the new journey. It is something I needed this year.

View from the Upper Lake.



A bizarre way to get some rest?


Mid-hike dancing lessons…waltz anyone?


Teaching Tiegen how to dance the Swing…I even took a turn!


Keziah and Sadie…oh, how she loves our dog.


Keziah, Andie, Tiegen, Sadie, and Blythe.


The hikers on the bridge across Clear Creek. I guess if I am the one with the camera I don’t get to be in the picture. Just picture me soaking wet from the shoulders down with hair that hasn’t been washed for 14 days at this point.


Keziah and Tiegen…such good friends.


Uncle Scott refilled everyone’s water bottles with his Katadyn filter.


Blythe and Richard taking a rest


Scott and Andie


Clear Creek Falls…and yes, I could fall to my death at any moment! Had nightmares about Jared and Fisher falling off the cliff all night after our hike!


Our two smallest hikers.


Almost back to camp.


I was determined to teach my girls how to go butt-sliding down the river from the Upper Lake to the Lower Lake and we did it…fully dressed. My friend, Tonya, and my cousin, Camille, and I had done the exact same thing the summer we were sixteen and I needed to do it again. I needed to feel like I was still me and my body could still do hard things. I needed my body to remember that it is healthy and strong and brave and all this nonsense with breast lumps hadn’t changed any of that. I needed to remember as well. It feels so long since the day back in April when I knew something was growing inside of me…I feel like I have lived an entire life in that time. Somehow this hike came to symbolize a journey to remember who I am. I knew it would hurt my incision to go swimming, but I hoped just floating along with the current would be okay. It was SO fun, but I still ended up hurting pretty badly that night.

We had a few tiny hikes, one day we hiked to the cove, another day a group of cousins hiked to the cave, and my brother, Cameron and his girlfriend, Nicole, hiked around the lake and to the Upper Lake in three hours flat. Richard and Scott took children fishing every day and cooked up plenty of trout for us to enjoy.




This guy? He mastered gutting his catches with his new multi-tool from his Grandma.




We also spent lots of time playing Rook and teaching newbies how to play…a mistake since Mikelle and Nicole figured it out pretty darn quick and went on to win several games! Midnight games were enjoyed by all.

Miraculously, Mikelle made it through 11 days of camping on crutches with ten month old Easton…quite a formidable task if you ask me. Grandma played with Easton for hours and hours every day and when she was worn out, Uncle Scott took over.






Uncle Scott and Easton:


Fisher and Jared spent their days collecting bugs and bones and going on their own adventures.


It must be so fun to be a six-year-old boy without anything more important to do than finding butterflies and caterpillars. On our hike to the Upper Lake, Tiegen caught a black caterpillar for them and when we got back to camp all sorts of yellow things came out of it. It was SO bizarre to see these tiny babies come out of the caterpillar right in Fisher’s hands and all of us were baffled as to what was going on because there were hundreds of teensy creatures coming out the caterpillar’s skin and caterpillars don’t give birth, they lay eggs. When we got home, we did some research and found the explanation…wasp parasites!


Annesley and Jared, or Bubba, as she calls him are technically third cousins since Tami and I are second cousins, so I guess they could actually get married. Of course, right now, they aren’t thinking those thoughts at all, but they do love each other to pieces.


Tami’s ear got burned during a mid-day Rook game, so instead of ending the game, she decided to just hang a sock on it to prevent further damage.


Jace and Annesley playing in the water faucet.


Freezing cold head baths.


Keziah’s puppy, Scout, getting a belly rub.


Tami came all the way from Colorado, my friend, Boo, came from Utah, my brother and Nicole came all the way from Wisconsin, and Stephen and Leonard even made it up for a couple of days, so we had a huge group of people around our fire. I love sitting around the fire late at night, listening to stories and watching the stars.


Cam and Nicole.


Thanks to my mom getting there a day early and scoping out all the best campsites, we had a shady one with a stream running through camp to keep all of our food cold, lots of trees, hammocks, and our 12 x 12 and 10 x 10.



We had other visitors too! My mom’s sister Diane came up with a couple of Camille’s children. They went on big hikes almost every day…they had more energy, less little ones, and no recent surgeries in their camp!


My Auntie Beth (my grandma’s sister) and her daughter, Kathy, came up for a day and surprised us all! Kathy had never been to our mountains before and Auntie Beth had only been once many year ago.


While we were there Blythe and Andie turned fifteen and of course, we had gobs of birthday cakes and plenty of presents.












My filthy, but precious Annesley.


Two of my favorite people.


Doing yoga and all sorts of strange poses on the beach.




Eve, Keziah, and Annes spent lots of time at the lake, this time with Easton as well.


Absolute silliness.


Mikelle figured out how to curl mom’s hair with sticks or something…didn’t really work out well for her when it was combed.


Mom’s saggy eyelid


On the way home, we had the tire incident, and Tami somehow lost her pop-up camper poles, but everyone made it home safe and sound, ready to return next year to the mountains we all love.

And this mountain?


This mountain is mine. Just looking at this mountain gives me strength. A few years back I determined I would be climbing it for my 40th birthday. I am three years out and it is time to get serious about this plan and figure out just what I need to do to make it happen. Who is in?

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Six Weeks Old

Jul 12, 2011 by

Six Weeks Old

We have been having so much fun with these puppies. Keziah does most of the work with them, but we all have had to pitch in to keep them safe, socialized, warm, fed, and dry…and chase off the owls that keep eyeing them. We have all loved holding them and watching them grow up. It is amazing to see the progression. It seems like each day they are bigger than the day before.

Keziah is selling these puppies for $20. They are lab mix puppies. Sadie is a pure bred black lab and one of the fathers is a black lab. We think there are three fathers and we don’t know what the others are. All the puppies are friendly and have been handled by lots of children. Sadie is an extremely calm and gentle lab. She loves our family, sleeps in Keziah’s room, lets babies crawl all over her, thoroughly enjoys being rubbed, and has been a fabulous addition to our family. One of the white lab puppies has already sold, but is staying here for a few more weeks. The rest are available and you are welcome to come pick yours out now and we will hold it until they are eight weeks or you are ready to bring your puppy home.













Pretty cute, eh?

I am SO not an animal person, but having animals in our lives has been really wonderful for our family. My children have to work hard taking care of them, it softens their hearts to have stewardship for some other living creature, they have learned a lot of lessons about birth, death, and sickness, and they have been blessed by the companionship an animal brings. When the girls were little, they were terrified of dogs. It drove me batty. Every time we were near a dog, they would start screaming. I decided the only way to cure them of this was to get a puppy for our family. Even though Shiloh wasn’t that great of a dog for us, they fell in love with him and have been dog lovers ever since. Now they are the ones helping children feel safe around dogs and luckily, we now have the perfect dog to help children conquer their fears because Sadie is the gentlest dog I have ever seen. She is so incredibly patient with us humans that some people even bring their children to our home just to play with Sadie.

Orders are being taken now…first come, first served.

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book bonanza: houdini

Jul 8, 2011 by

book bonanza: houdini


I have posted before about Kathleen Krull. I love her books! Today Fisher and I read another of her books and thoroughly enjoyed learning about Houdini. Besides teaching us about some of his magic tricks, escape acts, and daredevil antics, we learned about his childhood of poverty, early physical coordination, life-long love for exercise, love of books, entrepreneurial spirit, and some of his secrets. We learned of his determination to get an education and his unfortunate death. Fisher was amazed by Houdini’s skills. I just love exposing this boy to the greatness in this world because it is almost as if I can see the gears turning in his mind wondering what he will be great at. He is blossoming into such an inquisitive boy and I love nurturing that part of him with great books, plenty of free time to explore, and answering his questions in ways that encourage him to think up more questions to wonder about.

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keziah’s new love

Jun 23, 2011 by

keziah’s new love

Photo 157

We are all loving on these puppies a lot, but one in particular is Keziah’s favorite. She holds him during scripture reading, she holds him during play time, she holds him while she reads…she is SO in love. She is begging us to let her keep him, but we are none too keen on the idea of having a new puppy to teach for the next two years.

There are eight others, cute as can be, looking for their forever home!

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book bonanza: why don’t you get a horse, sam adams?

Jun 22, 2011 by

book bonanza: why don’t you get a horse, sam adams?

Sam Adams

I was up early this morning working on creating bylaws and forms for iFamily Leadership Academy and Fisher came down and brought me this book to read. I told him I wouldn’t be able to read it all because I had so much to do, but after we got started on it, we read it clear through.

What a fun story! I never knew that Sam Adams didn’t know how to ride a horse! This delightful tale shares the story of the colonists and their growing opposition to England’s policies and what part Sam Adams, John Hancock, John Adams, George Washington, and Paul Revere played in the eventual War of Independence.

We love all of Jean Fritz’s books and are always on the lookout for them at used book stores. Some of our other favorites are Where Was Patrick Henry on the 29th of May?, Will You Sign Here, John Hancock?, George Washington’s Breakfast, Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution, and The Cabin Faced West. They are fabulous for introducing young people to the events of history and sharing details that are often overlooked in more advanced history books.

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book bonanza: revenge of the whale

Jun 21, 2011 by

book bonanza: revenge of the whale

Revenge of the Whale

We picked this up a few weeks ago at our favorite used book store when we were searching for books for Keziah’s upcoming study of Early American History. We started it yesterday as our morning read-aloud. It’s a hit! All of the children are determined not to miss a word of the adventure.

Revenge of the Whale is the true story of the Essex, a whaling ship that sailed out of Nantucket in August of 1820. Sometime after rounding Cape Horn and proceeding up the coast of Chile, a sperm whale rammed the ship. This is a famous story that the end of Moby Dick is based on. In the introduction of the book, it says that every child in America during the 18th and 19th centuries would have been known this story. Somehow, this 20th century child didn’t know about it! We have already learned so much about the Quakers, New England, the shipping industry, whaling, geography, trade winds, sails, mates, and so much more. Revenge of the Whale is based on the cabin boy’s journals and is a departure from the tale that the first mate recorded in his journals. Whenever there is a difference in the two records, there is information in the book about it. We are having lots of interesting discussions about the differences and why they might exist. What a fabulous lesson in differing perspectives, how writers protect themselves, and what it means to record the truth.

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mr. big, fat bear

Jun 15, 2011 by

Uncle Scott is moving to be closer to his daughter, Andie, and has been cleaning out his house. We have been the lucky recipients of some of his stuff. Fisher loves large stuffed animals. He has been saving up his money to buy a ginormous lion from a cute, little toy shop in town for months…MONTHS. I don’t think he will ever raise the requisite funds, but he has diligently saved his quarters up that he earns from scratching his papa’s head each night and he is convinced that eventually he will be able to buy the lion.

Since that moment in time could be years away, Uncle Scott has come to the rescue and passed on a huge bear for him to snuggle with. He sleeps in his bed with him, eats meals with him, and comes to story time on the couch. The bear is much to big for my liking…he crowds out the rest of us…but Fisher is in heaven with him. He sleeps all curled up in the bear’s lap, gets him dressed for various activities throughout the day and talks to him like he is his best friend.


Thanks Uncle Scott…you have made one little boy grin from ear to ear!

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Jun 15, 2011 by

On the first day of swim camp, Sadie, our black lab and the bestest (that is a real word, right!) dog in the whole world, gave birth to nine puppies. They are the cutest things ever and we are having a ton of fun with them. They are kind of wearing us out at night because they keep crawling out of their house and can’t find their way back in, but the rest of the time everyone spends lots of time loving on them.

These pictures were taken four days ago and they are already outdated…now their eyes are open and they are even plumper…Sadie must have super-creamy milk because all nine of them are little fat balls of fur.









The overworked mama:


If you are interested in adopting them, please contact us to set up a time to pick yours out and reserve him/her for when they are ready to move in with their new families. Sadie is the calmest, gentlest dog I’ve ever known. She lives in our home and is gentle and loving with all of us and all our guests. I’m sure her puppies will be fabulous as well.

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swim camp 2011

Jun 9, 2011 by

swim camp 2011

Way back in 2004, four homeschooling families ended up camping together for a week of swimming lessons. We had the time of our lives and decided we needed to create a camping event for all of our friends to be able to attend with us. We wanted it to be a ginormous event for homeschoolers to get out into nature and make deep friendships with other homeschooling families. We wanted to build our community of homeschoolers and make this little corner of Idaho the best place in the world to homeschool.

I think we have succeeded!

This year, we had over 200 people at our Annual Potluck Dinner, more than fifty families join us throughout the week, and hundreds of children playing, swimming, laughing, and learning together. There were the Capture the Flag games that have been played since that very first year, Red-Rover, football, baseball, volleyball, skit night, story time by the fire, an Improv performance, hikes to the cave, snakes captured, lots of delicious treats consumed, meals shared, and hugs given.

I loved snuggling into our tiny camper with all of my children and reading scriptures with them late at night. I loved watching them cheer for each other during their lessons. I loved sitting and visiting with my friends while relaxing in the sunshine. I loved eating my homemade granola with greek yogurt and bananas every day for breakfast. I loved playing a real volleyball game on Saturday afternoon with six players who were awesome. I loved being away from the phone, the internet, and all the distractions of daily living and instead focus on being a mother and a friend. I loved walking across the frost covered grass early in the morning and watching the sun come over the mountain. I loved watching all the children play together…children of all ages having fun together is a rare sight these days when our age-segregated classrooms and sports teams take up the vast majority of children’s time.

Here are some pics of our fun:

Our camping neighbors, the Lamoreaux’s and the Brownings.


An exhausted Keziah after she swam 20 laps to pass her Level 6 swim test.


My camping partner for the past seven years, Mary Beth.


Keziah’s awesome teacher, Tony.


The famous David…anyone who knows about me and swim camp has heard how much I love this swim instructor. He was Fisher’s teacher again this year.


Fisher in his goggle get-up.


Keziah swimming her twenty laps.


One of the many Red-Rover games. Annesley is wearing her signature yellow rain coat that she thinks needs to be worn at all times during a camping trip.



Annesley and Teryn, her third cousin, who came all the way from Colorado to play with us.


Keziah passed Level 6 and Fisher passed Level 2. They are both pretty proud of themselves and I am thrilled I have four children who love swimming and are quite competent in the water. I can’t wait for next year…Annesley will get to be in lessons!

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book bonanza: the story about ping

May 25, 2011 by

book bonanza: the story about ping

the story about pin

Fisher and I have started a new learning adventure. Today was our first day with Five In A Row, which is an educational program designed around fabulous children’s literature. A parent and child read one book together for five days in a row, falling more in love with it each time. Each day you get to share some special activities together about some aspect of the book..like it’s geography, art, mathematics, history, language, etc.

The Story About Ping is delightful! Ping is a little duck who hides from his master when he is late coming home and ends up lost and all alone. Eventually he makes it back to his family and faces his consequence for being late. So many wonderful life lessons are packed into this book…you will have to find it and enjoy it with your little ones.

I can’t believe I’ve never read this gem of a story before! I can’t wait to read it again tomorrow!

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