book bonanza: where the river ends

May 17, 2011 by

book bonanza: where the river ends

Where The River Ends

Awhile back, my mom recommended I read The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin. I quickly put it on hold at our local library and when I came up on the list brought it home and devoured it in one late night sitting and one morning session. I was worried the whole time that I would hate it…but I loved it. It happened near my home town, was full of courage, loyalty, depth of feeling, adventure, and just plain goodness. Loved it.

Next, she recommended I read another of Martin’s books, Where The River Ends. This one finally became available at the library on Friday and I have been reading it since then. It is a great book to curl up in bed with and let the hours melt away.

Just finished.

Loved it. Loved, loved, loved it.

The recommendation came before the lump showed up…otherwise, I’m sure my mother would never have suggested I read a book about a woman dying of breast cancer…but nevertheless, it was a great read.

The husband in the book sacrifices everything for his wife. He loves and serves her till the end. He is committed to her and she to him. It is an amazing love story.

As I turned the last page, I thought to myself “My Richard would do the same thing.”

No doubt in my mind.

And that, my friends, is quite an enormous bolstering of my soul when I am just embarking on this journey of finding out what my own lump is.

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book bonanza: the creature from jekyll island

May 13, 2011 by

book bonanza: the creature from jekyll island


I have been reading this book for the past several weeks and I want to shout from the rooftops “READ THIS BOOK!!”


Every American, every human being on this planet should read this book and find out exactly how the financial systems of the world are operating and how wrong it is.






Read. Learn. Understand how the system works.

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passover seder 2011

Apr 26, 2011 by

Last night’s Passover Seder was wonderful! We joined with two of our favorite families to celebrate the redemption of the children of Israel and each of our own personal redemptions through our Savior, Jesus Christ. I love the prayers, the singing, the togetherness in worship that occurs during a Seder. I treasure the legacy we are giving our children. I love the Dayenu, which is a section of the Seder where we ponder and recite all that God has given us. Dayenu means “it would have been enough” and as we think about each blessing God has given us, we all shout “Dayenu!”. Think about that. Think about the blessings in your life that would have been enough, but how God has given you so much more than those blessings. I love seeing people’s faces as they eat the maror or bitter herbs. I love the joy of the hillel sandwich after the bitterness of the maror. I love drinking fruit of the vine. I love springtime with Passover and Easter together. I love sharing the magic of Passover with other families and I hope they leave with a renewed gratitude for their Savior and an increased knowledge of His great love for each one of us.

The table before everyone arrived.



I should have taken a picture of the table at the end…it is amazing how much mess is created during the meal!

Here are the children after they played night games for awhile.


Pretty cute kids, eh?


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all this for two dollars?

Apr 16, 2011 by

all this for two dollars?

Yesterday after gym we made our weekly trip to the library and were surprised to find a Library Book Sale! All of us were squealing with delight wondering what we would find and find we did!


Fifteen fabulous books for only two buckaroos! Can’t shake a stick at that!

Just realizing I have already used six exclamation points…well, I guess you can really feel my excitement, huh?

Fisher is currently obsessed with My Father’s Dragon. He has listened to the audio book of the series every night for the past twelve weeks. We only have the first book, but yesterday we found Elmer and The Dragon! I can’t even tell you how big Fisher’s smile was. I wish I had had my camera with me because it was a priceless toothy grin full of the wonder of the world.


We also found an old copy of Pippi Longstocking!


Rifles for Waite

Rifles for Watie

The Return Of The Great Brain

The Return of the The Great Brain

Oops! Manners Guide For Girls


How Babies Are Made

Anno’s Counting House – yippee! We LOVE all things Anno!

Anno's Counting House

The Carrot Seed

Carrot Seed

How Big Is A Foot


The Dress I’ll Wear To The Party


The Thanksgiving Story
…check out the vintage green hardcover! Isn’t it so lovely?

The Thanksgiving Story

The Birchbark House

The Birchbark House

We also found Winter Cottage by Carol Ririe Brink, The World of Animals by Desmond Morris (which has long been one of our favorite library check-outs!), and Kate by Jean Little, but I couldn’t find any fabulous photos of those three, so you will just have to imagine lovely covers in your mind.

All this adventure, beauty, human nature, and learning for two little dollars? What a treasure!

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Apr 14, 2011 by


Annesley is pure delight. She brings me joy every single day. Right now she is obsessed with swimming in the bath tub. Our tub is so big she can stand in it and dive to the bottom. Then she turns around and around and around under the water like a seal. She loves it and loves showing everyone who will watch just how long she can stay under the water.

During today’s bath, she said so many cute things…here is a sampling:

This is an enormous, dangerous problem! Want to see the enormous, dangerous problem?

Isn’t that amazing!

I am amazing!

Can you even believe it? I am amazing!

Are you ready for this dangerous thing? It is the most dangerous thing of all!

Watch! Watch! Watch! Mom, are you watching me? I am going to do a dangerous thing!

I am NOT ready to get out of the bath! I am swimming.

It is my swimming time. You can just leave me in here.

Did you see that amazing thing? It WAS A-MAAAAAAAAZZZZZZING!

While she was in there I said I love you and she said “No, you don’t!” with a big playful grin. I said “Oh, yes I do! I gave birth to you!” She said “No, you didn’t” with another big playful grin. Then I said, “Oh, yes, I did! You were in my uterus and then you came out and you were born in my birth pool and then I nursed you.” She said “Yes, yes, yes! I liked that. I want to do that again! Can I be borned again?”

I love you mom, I love you mom, I love you mom, I love you mom! Do you know how much I love you?

Oh my, she cracks me up!

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book bonanza: albert

Apr 13, 2011 by

book bonanza: albert


Becky recommended this book on her blog, so I put it on our reserve list at the library. Yesterday I read it to my three youngest and they loved it. Today, at Fisher’s request, I am reading it at Story Station. I love the gentle language, the way it deals with a debilitating fear, and the silliness of the tale. Albert is a man who is reluctant or terrified, hard to know which, to leave his home. Every day he checks the weather and listens at his window to the state of affairs outside his apartment. He likes the good noises, but inevitably hears some “bad” noises and decides it’s not such a good day to go outside afterall. One day, while he is sticking his arm out the window to check the weather, two birds start building a nest in his hand. Albert doesn’t quite know what to do because he doesn’t want to hurt the birds or their nest. He resigns himself to holding it and hold it he does for the next twelve days until the babies are born. Then he holds it some more until the babies grow up enough to leave the nest. When his nest holding duties are done, Albert decides he will leave his house and he does! Something in the process of caring for another gives Albert the courage to face the world.

Fisher loved how the papa bird feeds Albert. Annesley loved the silliness of it, and Keziah and I loved the whole story. Check it out…we think you will love it, too!

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my first sundress

Apr 10, 2011 by

I think this may very well be the first piece of clothing I have made for anyone all by myself. If not, it is DEFINITELY the first piece of clothing that is wearable. So wearable that Keziah wore it to church today! Woo-hoo for me!!!!

Granted, most of the work was already done on this pre-smocked yardage and all I had to do was cut the fabric, sew a seam, make the straps, sew them on, and hem it, but just those so-called simple tasks were nearly enough to do me in. As soon as I started cutting, I nearly gave up because my cutting skills are severely lacking and somehow I cut big gashes out of the fabric due to the volume of the skirt part folding over on itself…luckily you can’t even tell now. Pinning the two sides together was a frustrating task due to the poor cutting, but working together, Keziah and I got it to work. I created my own plan for the straps and they turned out quite well. I tried to sew them onto the top smocking lines, but I missed on three of the seams. I figured it out by the last one. I am super proud of the hem – it is quite straight!

Keziah loves the end result and I am happy as can be that she spent $9.50 on fabric and actually has a dress she can wear!


Let’s hear a collective “Hurrah!” for me!

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book bonanza: it’s a book

Mar 29, 2011 by

book bonanza: it’s a book

It's a Book

We love this book at our home. It is hilarious and I can’t help laughing right out loud every time I read it. The whole book is a conversation between two characters about the object one of them is immersed in. The first asks things like “Where is your mouse?” and “How do you scroll down?” to which the second always responds, “It’s a book.”

Cracks me up!

In today’s techno-savvy world, it is a not only a great way to make fun of ourselves, but a fabulous reminder that there is life outside of all the latest gadgets. I love the computer as much as the next person, but I love books even more.

Here is the back cover:



Disclaimer: One of the characters is a donkey and he is called by his other name…I just leave those parts out when I read it aloud.

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book bonanza: mom and dad are palindromes

Mar 15, 2011 by

book bonanza: mom and dad are palindromes

Mom and Dad are Palindromes

This book is a hilarious introduction to the world of Palindromes! My children all loved it and upon finishing it Keziah said “Can we have a challenge this week to see who can come up with the most palindromes?” “Of course!” I enthusiastically replied.

Bob discovers he is a palindrome and quickly discovers his entire family is made up of palindromes…Mom, Dad, Anna, Nan, and Otto, his pup. He tries to escape the palindromes of his house, but finds himself on the S.S. Hannah with three jobs available. He could run the radar, fix the rotor, or pull up the anchor! The palindromes will not leave him be, he is surrounded by them and he cannot escape! Top spot, steel fleets, and every day there is that pesky time of noon. Bob finally decides to go by his full name and to call all his family members by theirs as well…but he makes an interesting discovery…he really can’t escape from the palindromes!

This is a great read-a-loud and is sure to spawn an interest in words in your whole family!

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book bonanza: twenty and ten

Mar 7, 2011 by

book bonanza: twenty and ten

twenty and ten

We just finished this delightful book this morning with me reading and the girls knitting up a storm. If you are looking for a charming book that illustrates the simplicity of childhood with the savagery of war, this is the book for you! Twenty and Ten tells the story of a group of children at a French school and how they harbor ten Jewish children while dealing with less food for each of them and a constant fear of discovery. When the Nazis come looking for the missing children, the French children act with courage, ingenuity, and determination to keep the Jewish children safe. Our whole family loved this book! We have read lots of WWII books and are thrilled to add this one to our collection of favorites.

The cover pictured above is just like the one I have…a lovely hardbound edition. It is much nicer than the tiny paperback currently available. Do yourself a favor and search for the old hardcover!

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first thoughts on a-t-o-t-c

Feb 17, 2011 by

first thoughts on a-t-o-t-c

I curled up in bed this afternoon with Annesley and finished reading A Tale of Two Cities. The last 30 pages were delicious. I had a million other things to do, but instead I took the time to savor the ending of this great book while Annesley snoozed beside me.

Right now, I want to scream, “YES!!!”

YES! to the heroism.

YES! to the worth of souls.

YES! to the unnoticed goodness in the world.

It took a while for me to get in to this book…like 140 pages or so…but I have been intoxicated with it since. To all of you who have started and not finished…trust me…it is completely and totally worth it…FINISH IT!

Ideas I want to discuss with my colloquia group?






Class warfare

True love of the human soul

Mental illness

Survival strategies

Has France recovered from her revolution(s)?

Has healing grown in that land or is it tortured still?

Power of law

Rule of law

Power of kindness


Responsibilities of leaders

What could have changed the course of the French Revolution?

Ahh, I want to pick it up and reread it all over again tonight!

That is the sign of a good book!

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the famous blocks

Jan 18, 2011 by

the famous blocks

The deal-of-a-lifetime blocks were a huge hit at math class last week. The children LOVED them. We had scorpions, corrals, ships, snakes, cars, and a tower built by standing on a chair that was ON TOP of a table. Super fun stuff! Find yourself some Kapla, Keva, or Citi-Blocs and find yourself amazed at the creativity that emerges! These blocks are built in a 1:3:5 ratio and are perfect for discovering balance, geometry, weight, and strength principles.

Because of the before mentioned deal-of-a-lifetime we have 3000 blocks. I would say any family would want around 1000 blocks. We got ours for over 90% off, but even without the deal-of-a-lifetime price, I would highly recommend them. My children have loved playing with them at science museums and children’s discovery centers for years. We have longed to have them in our home, but could never justify the cost until the price of the century hit me in the head ($6.97 for 300 blocks vs. $99 for 300! Gotta love clearance sales at stores that have no idea what they are doing! I wish I would have been able to buy hundreds of boxes and sold them to all my friends!). Now that we have them, I wish I would have splurged on them years ago. I see my children and my students learning about construction in a very tangible way that is in some ways more forgiving and in some ways less forgiving than other construction sets. I see the wheels in their brains turning as they figure out what the possibilities are. I see the smiles on their faces and know that much more than a fun time is being had. I know they are in full immersion learning and I am beyond thrilled!

Here are some pics from math class and then some more from today when we got them out to play with some friends who came to visit and couldn’t wait to try them out.













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book bonanza – ender

Jan 10, 2011 by

book bonanza – ender

I finished the Ender Quartet…Ender’s Game, Speaker For The Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind.

I don’t even really know what to say.

My mind is full of swirling thoughts coming faster than I have time to think them.

I had so many ideas triggered by these books, such as:

Alien species…what do those words mean to me? Do I have “aliens” in my life and if so, how do I treat them?

Do I treat people differently if I feel they are different than me? Do I try to understand others language style or do I write them off as not worth the effort it takes.

What part does fear of others differences have in my life?

What would a Speaker For The Dead speak at my funeral?

Would I like it?

How do I view intelligence?

Am I open to others’ customs?

What is the power of love?

How can I have influence in this world?

What role does memory have in progression?

Are our memories blessings or curses?

What is the value of life?

When is it acceptable to eliminate life?

When is it honorable to eliminate life?

What pain is stopping me from loving fully?

How can I develop empathy like Ender’s?

What does friendship mean to me?

Are expectations of people healthy and helpful or damaging and burdensome?

Was the government right to exterminate the Buggers?

Do I behave in any similar manner?

Ender’s guilt was carried with him for 3,000 years. What guilt am I carrying?

What will I do with these new perspectives?

Lots to think about…lots to process.

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some pics

Dec 27, 2010 by

At the Christmas Eve party, we had some pics taken and thought we would share them with y’all.

Richard’s side of the family…not everybody, but everybody that was there.


Our lil’ family


Somehow it looks as if Blythe is being squished by my head, but I don’t think she really was. Well, who knows? Maybe I tripped right then or something!

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some thanksgiving pics

Nov 28, 2010 by

some thanksgiving pics

Here are a few pics from my week with my family. They didn’t turn out that great, but they are all I have, so I will post them here for posterity!

My little brother, Cameron, and Keziah. Cameron flew in from Wisconsin! It is the first Thanksgiving I have spent with him since 1991!


Grandpa Leonard and Annesley


My little brother, Stephen…excuse the blurriness, it is the only shot I got of this camera-phobic guy.


My big brother, Scott…camera-phobic as well…


Uncle Logan and Annesley snuggled up sleeping…well, at least Logan is snoring away.


Cameron, Richard, me, Mikelle, and Logan


Cameron and Annesley




More Easton


And More Easton…get a load of those chunky cheeks!


Easton and his mama


Somehow I failed to get a single picture of my mom…she was always busy taking care of everyone: washing dishes, cooking food, or entertaining children. I guess I somehow missed her while she was working so hard!

Thank you to everyone for coming – let’s do it again next year!

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annesley turns three

Nov 26, 2010 by

annesley turns three

My baby girl is so not a baby anymore. Ask anyone who knows her well and they will tell you she changed her name months ago to “Big Girl” and today she celebrated her long-awaited for third birthday.

Three years ago I gave birth to her in a fast, powerful, and completely healing home birth. Her birth was hard physically, as they probably all will be from now on because of my pelvic injuries, but emotionally and spiritually I was wrapped in tender care, bounteous love, and faith in my body from all who attended. Annes’ birth was exactly what I needed to learn to trust my body again, to heal my soul from Fisher’s birth, and to fall in love with childbirth again. How God worked all those miracles into one five hour experience I will never comprehend, but I know He did.

He gave me back hope.

He gave me back joy.

He gave me back faith.

And He gave me Annesely Aliyah, the most delightful child I have ever known. This girl is so full of joy, it spills out of her eyes and fills her world again and again. She helps me remember the important things in life are having someone to hold, someone to love, someone to trust.

I remember the last few weeks of her pregnancy were full of foreboding fear of the possible pain of birth, full of debilitating anxiety that I would not be able to birth this precious baby, full of great concern that I would be injured from her birth as I was from Fisher’s. One day, I felt her spirit send me the message “Mama, it’s okay. It will be okay. Just trust me, it will all be okay.” Everything changed. Her spiritual message was so strong that it wiped away my fear. I was able to move towards her birth with calmness.

And she was right, it was okay. More than okay, it was wonderful.

And it still is. Her life teaches me that it’s all going to be okay.

Annesley’s birthday party was attended by three uncles, one grandpa, one grandma, one aunt, one cousin, three siblings, and her mama and papa. She received a wooden food set, a pan set, an adorable skirt, a Life is Good shirt, and her birthday book, I Know That My Savior Loves Me. So many presents for a little girlie! We had ice cream cake and she thoroughly enjoyed every bite of her oreo and mint chocolate creation.

After her party, she was given a birthday haircut by her Aunt Mikelle. She looks like a little pixie.

Pictures of her three-year-old day:










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because i love you

Nov 13, 2010 by

Annesley has this need to rub me. She rubs my arms, my back, my neck, my chest, my cheeks. She loves, loves, loves to rub me. Down my shirt, up my sleeves, all over and inside and more and more and more. This morning she was rubbing me once again (which about drives me bonkers most of the time) and I so I asked her why.

Me: “Why do you rub me?”
Annesley: “Because I like to rub you.”
Me: “Why do you like to rub me?”
Annesley: “Because I love you.”

Okay, pretty precious. I will try to keep putting up with it. Sometimes I am even able to enjoy it a little bit and envision it is a massage full of the biggest and bestest love in the whole world.

Because really, that is exactly what it is.

How could I say no to this adorable little cherub?



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sacred sabbaths: add to your faith

Oct 30, 2010 by

I have a painting in my home called Add To Your Faith by Walter Rane. He is my favorite artist. He speaks to my soul. His art connects to me in a way that art rarely does.


This painting sits on the wall at the bottom of our stairs on the way to our school room. It sits there intentionally to remind me of the proper order of things.

Tonight at a church meeting I was reminded again how much I love 2 Peter.

Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindess charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I have often been drawn to knowledge above all else. I love learning. I love research. I love to prove things. I love being right. I love knowing things.

But Peter says knowledge is third. Faith is first. Virtue is second. Faith and virtue are so hard, while knowledge is so easy. At least for me.

So I placed my painting where I would see it every day on our way downstairs to study and learn and grow together. I want to remind myself every single day that the development of faith is of utmost importance. I need to give all diligence to the sacred work of growing in faith. Of believing in things which are not seen. On developing the power of faith in my life. Of nurturing faith in my children. I need to be reminded because I am weak. I am drawn to other things. I have some silly notion that I can actually think my way right back to heaven. Peter reminds me that I cannot and that some other things are far more important.

Now reread Peter’s words again. Slowly.

He says grace and peace are multiplied through our knowledge of God and of Jesus.

I need grace and peace desperately. The mountain of stress, fear, anxiety, and burdens is greater than I can handle. I’m sure it is greater than anyone can handle. Tonight this verse said to me that as my knowledge of my Heavenly Father and His Son increases, my grace and peace will be multiplied. I must spend more time on my knees in prayer speaking to Him. I must immerse myself in God’s word that I may come to know them better.

In verse three it says He hath called us to glory and virtue. I am called. You are called. We are called to glory and virtue! Called by God to glory! What an immense and amazing blessing.

In verse four we are given precious blessings, blessings that I need in abundance. We are promised to be partakers of the divine nature. What is the divine nature? It is God. He is divine. The way to be partakers of that divine nature is by coming to know Him, building faith in Him, adding to that virtue, then knowledge, then temperance, then patience, then godliness, then brotherly kindness, then charity.

Then, THEN, we will not be barren or unfruitful in our knowledge of Christ because we will know Jesus is the Christ and we will know Jesus the Christ.

I love 2 Peter. I love Peter all the time actually, in whatever letter he is writing. I love his boldness and his steadfastness and his faith and his courage and his humility and his great love for the body of Christ that he helped nurture and build. Can you imagine being Peter? Being one of the few followers of Jesus and given the mandate to spread His words to all the world and to strengthen the church and to calm confusion over Christ’s words and to travel in less than stellar conditions and to be in charge of the whole shebang?

And I sometimes think my life is daunting?

I needed Peter’s reminder tonight.

I still don’t know what to do about our vehicle situation, but I poured my heart out to God and cried and it felt really good to trust that He knows what is needed and He will show us the way.

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keziah’s pillow

Oct 30, 2010 by

Courtney, Keziah’s friend, had a birthday this week and Kez was determined to finish this pillow she started at least six months ago. She finally did it and Courtney loved it.

Their were moments during the process that Kez was so frustrated I was afraid she would never touch a sewing machine again, especially my somewhat temperamental machine (or perhaps my machine is just fine and we are all inept). I am proud of her for persevering and that her love for her friend fueled her determination to stick with it through many unpickings and resewings.



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catching up

Oct 26, 2010 by

I am slowly catching up on my housework after the great-bedroom-rearrangement-project. Yesterday I cleaned the much neglected and overflowing-with-all-sorts-of-math-sewing-mail-and-messes-dining-room. It was a spur of the moment decision that hit me late afternoon. All of a sudden I decided I could not live another day with it being a federally declared disaster area. The little ones were gone and I was able to dig in and work quickly and efficiently. The big girls helped me and after many hours of work we finished! I still need to transfer books into the bookshelves, but for right now, I am declaring it finished…and spotless!



Wondering what that ginormous bin of golf balls is for? No, I don’t think they are cute decorations. That is the shelf I am going to keep my Math Alive! supplies on and those golf balls have been a big hit with my little mathematicians. We build pyramids with them and the kids all love it. Find yourself some golf balls and you will have kids (and adults) enthralled for hours!

Despite the freezing temperatures, we still have some remnants of fall in our yard. Here are the last of the leaves. They will all be coming down in the next day or so.

I am trying not to cry my eyes out about it. I love autumn. I am not ready for winter. I love my trees and how they surround our home and make us feel like we are in our own little secret world. Winter exposes us, freezes us, makes everything stark and bare. I am not ready to leave the coziness of fall for the rawness of winter.




Last night we had Dinner-In-a-Pumpkin!!! My favorite! The Lamoreaux family makes it for us the last week of October and we all love it. I have never made it and have no idea how, but if I can get the recipe from Tasha I will share it here.


Scrumptious looking, isn’t it? Trust me, it is!

Keziah let me braid her hair for the Primary Program on Sunday. She is a ponytail girl and hates me to even touch her thick tresses, so each time I get to braid it and make her look angelic, I have to snap a photo. Here she is all dolled up:




Today we are snuggling up under blankets and reading Rolf and the Viking Bow. We are on page fifty and need to finish by Tuesday, so we are hoping to read about 80 pages today. We will see how long my voice lasts!

I think that is all I need to catch you up on for now. Cleaning, freezing, eating, and braiding…these are the days of our lives…

p.s. Have you signed up for Make It For Maggie? It’s time to decide what classes you want and send in your check.

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easton and his family

Oct 25, 2010 by

Three heads in love

Logan, Mikelle, and Easton…isn’t this adorable?

Here is one of Mikelle and Logan all cute-i-fied.

Mikelle and Logan

Mikelle is coming for Make It For Maggie…which means I get to love on Easton in less than two weeks!

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just look at him

Oct 23, 2010 by


Isn’t he precious!!?? Seeing this picture makes me want to hop in my car and go see him this very minute. I can hardly force myself to stay here and be a responsible adult.

Mikelle is transitioning into motherhood and she is doing fabulously well. Easton is growing by leaps and bounds on his mama’s milk and she is learning to trust the process of motherhood, learning to listen to her heart, follow her baby’s lead, and let the non-essentials go. She is becoming. I love both of them more than they know.

This picture reminds me of this poem:

When God wants something special done
in this world…

He sends a baby and then…

He waits.

I don’t know what Baby Easton’s mission is, but I know he has one. I am so glad I get to be his auntie and watch him change the world. Of course, I also get to love on him forever!

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fisher gets a haircut

Oct 23, 2010 by

My little Fisher only allows his Aunt Mikelle to cut his hair. The problem is, Aunt Mikelle doesn’t live here, she just had a baby, and Fisher’s hair resembles a lion mane when it gets long.

He didn’t want anyone else to cut his hair. He kept hoping we would go down and visit Baby Easton and get haircuts for himself and Annes, but that hasn’t happened the last few weeks and the situation was getting desperate. The last few days we couldn’t see his eyes very well, and the bushy-ness in the back made his head look like he had a football helmet on.

Well, I finally convinced him to let someone else try and we ran out this afternoon for a date together. His hair cut turned out super cute and then he asked if I would take him to Papa Kelsey’s for fries. We had a great mommy-son date and now I can see his adorable freckles and sparkling eyes.



Pretty cute boy, eh?

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Oct 3, 2010 by

Today my Keziah turns ten. I have spent an entire decade watching this girl grow up. I cannot believe my time with her being in my home on a daily basis is more than half over. She is growing up far too fast for my liking.

This spirited girl has enough energy and get-up-and-go to accomplish great things in this life. She makes her plans and sets out to accomplish them. To nurture this greatness within her, her birthday book this year is All By Herself by Ann Whitford Paul.

All By Herself

This treasure of a book is a collection of fourteen poems about girls who made a difference. Some of the girls are famous like Amelia Earheart, Rachel Carson, and Sacajawea. Some of the girls are relatively unknown like Kate Shelley, Frances Ward, and Harriet Hanson. Each of the girls were full of zest, courage, and determination to choose right, serve well, and work hard. I cannot wait to delve into the stories of these girls’ lives with my Keziah. I hope she is inspired by them to use her gifts for the good of others.

Richard and I write in the front of each Birthday Book and this is what he wrote this year:

Happy Birthday Dear Keziah,

I am so proud of you as you take life on and learn new things. I love your energy and love of life. Never lose it. In this book there are stories of greatness and girls who DID! You have greatness inside of you. Have God, who knows you best, help you find that greatness. It is not just people who have their stories remembered in books that do great things. People of greatness are all around you. Find them and learn what makes them great. I love you very much!


See why I love this man? He knows just how to express the feelings of his heart and how to guide our children to goodness and to God. He loves being a papa.

This morning we were at Mikelle’s and Keziah got to spend some time snuggling up with Easton. The look on her face was priceless and filled with a gentleness we don’t always see on her determined brow.



Pretty precious!

Right this minute, Keziah and Annes are snuggled up in their new room and Keziah is reading The Complete Book of Farmyard Tales to her little sister. This is especially endearing to me because not that long ago this was an impossibility. Keziah would not allow Annesley in her room at all. Now they are snuggled up together and both of them are so excited about it.

I am so proud of Keziah for allowing her nurturing side to shine through. She needs both sides of her to grow and develop in order to fulfill her mission on earth.

She has come a long way in ten years.

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Sep 25, 2010 by


I have been down with my lil’ sis doulaing her for the last two days…and the good news is…he is here! No name yet, but we do have an adorable little boy with the cutest, kissable cheeks, beautiful-stare-into-forever-eyes, and a calm, gentle spirit that has melted all our hearts.





I could do this for always.

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peaches galore

Sep 14, 2010 by

Let me tell you about my amazing friend, Katherine. She organized a group of family and friends into a canning battalion. When I arrived they had two turkey roasters set up for blanching (brilliant idea!), an enormous cooler with a cold hose running in it to cool the hot peaches down quickly, two buckets with ascorbic acid for the peaches to sit in while they were waiting to be peeled, a large canopy to provide shade to all of us while we worked, a table with bins and knives for our peeling and slicing pleasures, more water with ascorbic acid for the peeled peaches to sit in while they waited for us to slice them, a table with hot, freshly sterilized jars wrapped in Saran Wrap, two camp stoves (then we added in mine), six water bath canners, a table covered with lids and rings, and two huge tables awaiting our completed jars.




Amazing. Simply amazing. Kat is a domestic goddess and I have oh so much to learn from her.

We got right to work and continued to work till about long past dark. Eleven hours of blanching, peeling, slicing, filling, wiping, hauling, scalding, lifting, roasting, laughing, talking, dancing, and ooh-aah-ing over our beautiful jars. It was so fun working with Kat’s whole family. Her father is hilarious and kept us all in line and all the brothers and sister-in-laws truly seemed to enjoy one another’s company. It is just what I want my family to be like when all these kiddos are grown up – everyone coming home for massive canning days.

Thanks to Blythe and Keziah’s babysitting, the children were kept happy and entertained and the adults were able to work mostly uninterrupted.





We were able to do 12 bushels and get 234 quarts of lovely peaches, sweetened with apple juice. None of that slimy high fructose corn syrup for us!


My share is 72 jars and a quarter bushel of fresh peaches to eat this week.


p.s. Notice my fabulous, cover-your-entire-front apron? It is my grandmother’s and I am filled with joy from head to toe when I wear one of her aprons while cooking, canning, or baking. Her aprons don’t quite fit me perfectly and I am hoping Kat will make a pattern off of this one and then we can make up some new ones in honor of my grandmother. Maybe I could give them as gifts to my daughters or something. And yes, Kat is that amazing…she can look at things and make patterns for them…not just a duplicate, but an adjustable pattern for a variety of sizes.

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triathlon number four

Sep 11, 2010 by

Keziah is in love with triathlons. She ran her first one last September, then did a freezing cold one in March, then one in July, and now another one today. She is getting better each time and today it really seemed like it was a walk in the park for her.

The water in the open lake was pretty darn cold. Even the kids and adults in the fancy-schmancy wet suits thought it was cold, so I know it must have been quite frigid. When she was drying off and hurriedly putting her shoes on, I was trying to get her to move faster and she completely stopped what she was doing and said “Mom, I am FREEZING. The water was FREEZING!” In a few seconds she pulled herself back together, hopped on her bike, and sped away. Since she is usually so independent, capable, and ultra-responsible, I sometimes forget she is a little nine-year-old that sometimes needs comfort and nurturing, and that of course she was freezing.

In her first triathlon, her running seemed strained, but today she flew down the path and didn’t seem winded at all. She finished strong!

It is super fun to watch her race and since this seems to be a passion for her, I just may need to get her some better gear!

Getting ready to swim


In the water


Getting out of the water and headed for her bike


Finishing her bike race


Running strong




Moments after she finished…notice she is not huffing and puffing like I would be!


Way to go, Keziah!

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sacred sabbaths 8/22: remember

Aug 22, 2010 by

Keziah and Blythe were asked to sing in sacrament today. The song they chose is called “Remember” and it is one of the lovely songs from Stories of Jesus, which is our favorite CD about our Savior. This is the same CD that has “Gethsemane” and “See the Joy” that I have written about in the past. The whole album is incredible! You can download the whole thing at Hoffman House for only 6.99!

I tried to get a picture of the girls all dressed up, but due to Keziah’s feistyness none of them turned out. Keziah is making silly faces in all of them. Just trust me…they looked beautiful.

Since the front shots didn’t turn out, here are some pictures of the braiding creation I did for Keziah. According to someone at church, she looked like an angel.


Here are the words to the song…enjoy!


Remember the Man who walked on the water.
Remember the Man who talked to the sea.
Remember the Man whose hands healed the sick;
Who cared about children and what they can be.

Oh, remember. He asks us to remember.
Oh, remember. Always remember Him.

Remember the Man, the gentle Good Shepherd.
The one who fed thousands and brought us good news.
Remember the Man who came to save everyone,
Gave us the truth and taught us to choose.

Oh, remember. He asks us to remember.
Oh, remember. Always remember Him.

Remember the Man who carried our sorrows.
The Man who in three days rose from the dead.
Remember the Man who said “Be of good cheer”
And kept all His promises just as He said.

Oh, remember. He asks us to remember.
Oh, remember. Always remember Him.

Oh, remember. He asks us to remember.
Oh, remember. Always remember Him.

by Roger and Melanie Hoffman

Isn’t that beautiful! The girls did a wonderful job. I love hearing them sing and am grateful the Lord has blessed them with this talent so they can spread His love.

May we more fully remember Him, today and always.

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blythe’s gift to me

Aug 17, 2010 by

My oldest child recently turned 14 years old. I am still bewildered that I have a child this age. How can that be even remotely possible?

I thought I had written about her gift to me before, but I can’t find what I thought I said, so I am going to write about it some more.

Pre-BMW (Blythe Moriah Ward), I had far different priorities than I did post-BMW. In fact, I was a different person. I did not want to be a mother. I wanted to spend my life doing important things – like traveling the world, studying the Torah, and teaching people God’s ancient words. I wanted to be known for doing important things. I wanted to fill my time with scholarly research and the subsequent presentations of my findings. I wanted to stretch my mind and challenge myself with doing really hard things.

I had absolutely no desire to have a child need me. I had no desire to ever change a diaper again. And if by some chance, I was given a child, he or she was not going to interfere with my life, my plans, my needs.

Throughout the first three years of our marriage, all of this started changing. I decided I wanted to have children. I started researching the role and value of motherhood. I started arguing with my feminist professors who advocated a position of “daycare is best for children.” I began to feel disgust for the mothers I saw dropping off their six-week old babies at a daycare at seven in the morning and picking them up at seven at night. I began to desire to be a mother who would be with her children…someday.

But, I was still ambivalent about actually being a mother. I had been told by two different doctors that I would die if I tried to have a baby and we believed them. We decided we would not have biological children and would look into adopting when I was done with my college education.

And then, in spite of doing everything we could to prevent pregnancy, I became pregnant. I was not happy. I was, in fact, pretty much terrified that I was going to die. Not only that, it felt like a huge interruption to my life. I was in the middle of my Speech Pathology program and I wanted to complete it. I couldn’t see how it would all work out. I worried about my education and my job and my life and a million other things that seem so trivial now.

We decided to let the pregnancy continue…to just see what would happen. Our OB sent for the reports from the previous two doctors and he disagreed with their findings. He felt like I was not in danger of death and could safely be a pregnant and birthing woman. We were comforted, but not convinced. As the months of pregnancy continued, all seemed to be well, and I began to believe that the first two doctors were completely wrong.

At 36 weeks pregnant, when my uterus had stretched as far as it was going to stretch, our OB pronounced that my abdominal wall was sound, that it was not going to rupture as had been declared by the prior physicians. He said, “See, I was right, everything is going to be just fine.” At that moment, I knew he was correct and I also knew I could not give birth with him. I informed him I would be birthing at home. He flipped out and quickly informed me how dangerous and insane that would be (he later called me at home and apologized for his outlandish behavior). I stood my ground because I knew in my heart that birthing at home was what I needed to do.

We found a midwife and started preparing for a home birth. It was so wonderful to finally be excited about our baby and not to be full of fear about dying. We gathered supplies and Tami came around 38 weeks for the birth that was sure to be right around the corner and we walked and walked and walked. And no baby came.

And then, in her 43rd week of gestation, Blythe was born. After ten months of throwing up every single day and hours of throwing up every 15 minutes throughout her labor, she was born! As I held her that first day, I fell completely in love with her, with motherhood, with homeschooling her, with devoting my life to her. All of a sudden, I knew what motherhood meant and it was not drudgery, it was not a waste of time. It was the most important work I could ever do. It was exactly the work God wanted me to do. It was exactly the work my soul needed to do to grow and learn and develop into the woman I was created to be.

It saddens me to think how backward my thinking used to be and I am filled with gratitude for my brave Blythe who came into my life before I even knew I wanted her, before I valued motherhood, before I knew how absolutely essential motherhood is to the foundation of each family, community, nation, and world.

She taught me that I am doing the most important work. I am spending my days teaching the next generation what it means to be good. I am teaching them about freedom, government, history, God, math, cooking, serving, patience, and family.

I am so grateful for this 14-year-old girl. Thankful for her courage to follow her own path. Thankful she chose me as her mother. Thankful she forgives me and gives me another chance. Thankful she was born at what I thought was an inconvenient time. Thankful for her deep, inner knowing and her absolute devotion to what is right. I am humbled to think of the love God has for me to have sent me a child I didn’t know I needed, but He knew I needed. He knew what motherhood would come to mean to me and how it would change my life forever.

Here are some pics of this beautiful girl:

Blessing Day

Blythe's Blessing Day

Blythe and Grandpa Ward

Blythe and Grandpa Ward

Blythe and Grandma Smith

Blythe and Grandma Smith

Blythe taking a bath


Blythe and her papa



Blythe and her mama


Blythe with Andie and Grandma Dorothy

Blythe w/ sunglasses and bandana

Blythe and Marcus at Bear Lake

Blythe and Marcus at Bear Lake

Blythe and Stephen at Bear Lake


Two years old at GRL


Third Birthday at GRL


Crazy dress-up with her first cat, Spike




5th Birthday


Another Birthday party…with Cousin Becca and Aunt Mikelle


Blythe and Andie’s birthday at Bear Lake


Somewhere around the age of six




Baptism…and me at 38 weeks pregnant with Fisher


Eight-years-old with Keziah and Great-Grandma


With Grandpa’s horses


Pioneer Days rodeo…almost nine-years-old


Christmas at nine-and-a-half




Twelve-years-old…beautiful, isn’t she!




Blythe and Andie Tug of War



Isn’t she adorable!

I am so blessed to have her in my life and to have the privilege of being her mother. She has taught me much about love, patience, sacrifice, acceptance, putting people first, doing hard things, and so much more.

Most importantly, she was willing to come as my first child. Willing to let me learn how to mother on her. Willing to teach me the power of motherhood before I knew I was ready to learn that lesson.

Happy Birthday, my girl.

I love you.

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grl top twenty

Aug 13, 2010 by

My favorite place in the whole world.


Pink clouds over Cat Ears

This little piece of heaven brings me peace, joy clear down to my little toes, courage to face hard things, and so much more. I am so grateful for these mountains, the frigid water, the moose that wander on the beach in the early morning hours, the wind in the trees, the sunrise over Osborne, the rugged sturdiness of Square Top, the seven little streams on the shady side of the lake, Mill Creek, rainbow trout and the mighty fishermen who catch them, the Sleeping Giant, Clear Creek Meadow, the tradition our family has had for forty years of camping there, the friends who join us, the strangers we meet, and the connection we all feel to this beautiful place.

Here are the Top Twenty from our Green River Lakes camping trip this year – in no particular order!

1. Watching Fisher jump off the bridge all by his little own self AND swim about 20 feet to me.

2. Scott pitching to Fisher.

3. Blythe and Andie’s 14th birthday parties…with 28 people at the first one and 18 people at the second. Plus, we got to eat two different birthday cakes and yummy ice cream. Good thing we have girls with August birthdays so we have a reason to have a big treat up there every year!

Guests at the first party


First Birthday cake



Head scratchers from Grandma
Head scratchers from Grandma

“LIfe is Good” shirts from Grandma


"Life is Good" shirts from Grandma

Annesley and birthday cake

Annesley & birthday cake

Blythe’s Birthday book
Blythe's Birthday book

Blythe’s new “Life is Good” hat
"Life is Good" hat

The second birthday cake

Andie's Birthday cake

Andie’s new battery charger

Andie's new battery charger

4. Setting up camp three times in less than 24 hours.

5. Watching Jared and Fisher catch bugs together for hours on end.

6. Jumping off the bridge, swinging on Scott’s ingenius swing under the bridge, and swimming in the water hole in the river. Courage awards for bridge jumping go to Samuel (4), Fisher (5), Teryn (5), Christian (7), Jaxon (8), Keziah (9), Eve (10), Tiegen (11), Marcus (13), Tod (13), Blythe (14), Andie (14), Scott, Tracy, Camille, Austin, Tonya, Chance (8), Alyssa (11), and Logan. Yes, we are awesome.

Here is Fisher’s whole jumping process:

Watching everyone else jump


Thinking about jumping…how far is it anyway?
Fisher thinking about the bridge

Being lifted over by Uncle Scott


Getting ready to jump

Getting ready to jump

In the air!

In the air!

Coming up out of the water

Coming up out of the water

He made it!

He made it!

In mama’s arms at last!

In mama's arms at last

Andie on the swing


Teryn on the swing

Teryn on the swing


Annesley on the swing


Fisher on Scott's ingenius swing





Camille jumping off the bridge


Camille again


7. Beating Mom and Scott at Rook…I’m sure it is the first and last time that will ever happen.

8. Annesley and Teryn lovin’ on Uncle Logan. Teryn was basically glued on to him the entire time. Uncle Logan made them both bracelets and gave Fisher his own necklace to take care of till he can make one for him as well.



9. Going on a hike all alone with Camille and Tami (and of course, her little cutie, Jace). Yes, Tami came clear from Colorado to camp with us and Camille rearranged her college test schedule so she could be up there when we were there. Thank you guys for making my camping trip wonderful. I love you both!

Our hike was made possible by Tracy, Camille’s oldest, taking eleven children with her on their own hike. What an amazing girl she is!

Tami and Jace

Tami & Jace

10. Discovering my long-lost friend Tonya camped right next to us! It has been 11+ years since we have seen each other and 20 years since I first took her to Green River Lakes. Spotting her walking through the campground is one of the tender mercies God has given me. Thank goodness we decided to canoe across the lake at 6:30 a.m. on our last morning there. Beautiful mountains, good conversation, a bald eagle right above us, and two golden eagles flying nearby.

Tami, Tonya, and Moi

Bald Eagle

Other side of the lake

Golden Eagles

11. Lots of cousin time together…all told we had 21 second and third cousins playing with each other…not including our generation of 1st and 2nd cousins.

Blythe, Andie, and Tod

Blthe, Andie, & Marcus

Eve, Teryn, and Keziah

Annes and Jace

Annesley and Jace



12. Swimming at the Aquatic Center on our way home with Tonya and her adorable family and then being treated to a delicious dinner by her stubborn and insistent husband, Ryan.

13. Keziah climbing on top of our new-to-us-given-to-us forty-year-old camper to put a tarp on top to stop the leaking from the rainstorm our first night there. She should be a mountain climber some day.

14. Playing softball with family and friends and watching Fisher tackle cousins to get the ball in his mitt first. He has come a long way from the shy little boy he used to be.

15. Logan’s dutch oven peach cobbler. Yummm!

16. Grandma playing Garbage with all the kids on her blanket in the shade.

17. Sleeping eight people and all our gear in a camper made for half that many.

18. Scott holding Annesley, Jace, or Taz on an daily hourly basis and helping them be happy while games are played, meals are cooked, or older siblings are attended to. What a great uncle he is!

Scott & Annesley

19. Watching Sadie leap over Mill Creek and dash into the water.

20. Sitting around the campfire at night, seeing shooting stars, gorgeous constellations, and the Milky Way while listening to Scott’s hilarious stories with the people I love most in this world.

21. I couldn’t stop with 20…my favorite thing of all is watching my husband fish with a smile on his face and contentment oozing out of his body. He needs this trip even more than I do and I am so glad he got to fish and catch some big ones.



How many fishing poles can these guys use at one time?


Green River Lakes is not really mine, but it sure feels like it. It is the place I think of when I think of love, family, hope, fun, good meals, growing up, laughing with Camille, and of course, my dear grandparents. I can’t imagine a summer going by without this annual trip. The beauty and the majesty of these mountains is just what I need to get me through another year.

More pics…

Blythe and Grandma

Blythe and Grandma

Keziah and Sadie

Keziah and Sadie

Annesley and the worms

Annesley and the worms

Fisher and Sadie

Fisher and Sadie

Mikelle, Andie, and Kez


Fisher and his papa

Fisher and his papa

The cutest two-year-old ever


Fisher and his catch


Mikelle and Logan


Tami, Teryn, Scott, Christian, the handsome Steevo, Annesley, Fisher, and Richard


Blythe and Andie


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Mar 31, 2010 by

We celebrated Passover on Monday night and it was glorious! I love, love, love Passover. I love sharing it with others and creating a magical experience for my family and guests. We are in our fifth year of celebrating Passover and it keeps getting better and better.

It is a lot of work. More work than I think I can pull off each year, but it is totally, 100% worth it. I love the sense of mission it gives our family. I love being connected to millions of people who are doing the same thing at the same time all over the world. I love teaching my children about the House of Israel. I love the beauty of a Passover Seder. I love hearing my husband’s voice as he teaches us the story of the Exodus. I love lighting the Sabbath candles. I love reading books to my children about how other families celebrate Passover. I love how celebrating Passover is a perfect transition into spring, into Easter, and into the Savior’s real birthday.

We have had many people ask us why we celebrate Passover. The short answer is Exodus 12:17 where God says:

And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this self-same day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.

Leviticus 23, Numbers 9, Deuteronomy 16, 2 Kings 23:21, and many more scriptural references command us to keep the Passover.

But really, the reason we celebrate Passover is deeper than that. More personal.

I have always felt a strong connection to Israel, to the Old Testament, to Jerusalem, to all things Jewish, to the twelve tribes. As a youth I would devour books involving Jewish characters, Old Testament maps, and Sunday School lessons about the ancient symbolism. I planned to go to Jerusalem and live my life out there, studying the Torah, speaking Hebrew, and walking where Jesus walked.

That is not the path God called me to. Instead, he asked me to be a wife and mother. He asked me to homeschool our children. He gave me a different life. A much different life, but one that I love. One that I need. One that teaches me more about love, sacrifice, and faith than a life studying the scriptures would have because I am immersed in the trenches of giving. Giving to those I have grown, birthed, and love more than my own life. Of putting someone else’s needs before my own. He knew my selfishness and self-righteousness would not be cured by living in Jerusalem studying His words.

So I am here.

However, I am trying to create a family culture of love for Christ. Of understanding of symbolism. Of thirst for the ancient truths that testify of the Savior. Of devotion to their Redeemer that is so strong it will last their whole lives through and will nourish them when they are in the difficult places of their lives.

Passover is one of my tools for doing that. The three hour meal is full of beauty that opens the heart, symbolism that opens the mind, and truth that fills the soul with knowledge.

Recently I have been reading The Hidden Christ by James Ferrell. In his chapter on Passover, he says:

In light of their enslavement, the Israelites had a real problem: They were kept from the covenant land that had been promised to their fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Somehow, in order to fulfill prophecy, Israel had to be taken out of Egypt. But, as we have discussed in earlier chapters, the covenants made to Abraham, and renewed through Isaac and Jacob were spiritual as well as temporal. Or, more precisely, the temporal aspects of those covenants were types and shadows of the greater spiritual blessings. The biggest problem for the Israelites was not that they were stuck in Egypt. The biggest problem was that Egypt had become stuck in them. In order to fulfill prophecy, Egypt – including the allure of Egypt – had to be taken out of Israel. Unless Israel could be reoriented to Christ, the blessings pronounced upon Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would be for naught.

Our situation is analogous. We too are separated from our promised land – that is, we are separated from God and are not of ourselves worthy to enter into his presence. That is our problem. But we have a bigger problem: We have come to enjoy the the things that will keep us separated from God. As with the Israelites, our hearts are not fully turned to the Savior.

…and like ancient Israel, latter-day Israel is in danger of becoming intoxicated by the power of the modern culture – the gods, for example, of entertainment, technology, and commerce. If the gods of our culture have captivated us to any degree, then we too, like the ancient Israelites, are in bondage in Egypt.

Given the similitudes, the Israelite story is our story, and their predicament is our predicament. This means that their exodus must be our exodus as well, and the key to their deliverance is likely to be the way to our own.

The heart and soul of the Exodus story – and our story – is found in Exodus 6:6-8: “I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burden of the Egyptians, and I will rid you of out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a streched out arm, and with great judgments. And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God…And I will bring you in unto the [promised] land…I am the Lord.”

Those promises reflect both a physical and spiritual deliverance. Significantly, each promise begins with the words “I will.” If we are to be brought out from under our burdens, or freed from bondage, or redeemed, or accounted children of God, or awarded a place in the eternities, it will be because Christ has affirmatively reached out to us with “a stretched out arm.” Without Him there is no promise, for He is the promise.

Thought provoking, isn’t it? I am so loving this book! If you want help unearthing the mysteries and majesty of the Old Testament, go get this book today!

It is my great hope that through our annual Passover Seder my children will learn the path of freedom both temporally and spiritually is through Christ, that they can absolutely count on Him to do His part and that it is up to them to do theirs, and that they are of the House of Israel, not just in words, but that they identify with it on a very personal level.

This is why we celebrate Passover.

This year we had the Lamoreaux family, our Bishop and his dear wife, and the Kessinger family join us. We are always blessed with wonderful guests who help make the night a success.

The table with some pillows already placed (yes, we sit on the floor and recline – it represents freedom from bondage because slaves were required to eat standing up).


A close-up of the name tags Keziah made for everyone:


If you would like to create a Passover experience for your family, I would love to help you. It is so worth it!

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thankful thursdays 3/11

Mar 11, 2010 by

* Today we had the privilege of taking 170 books to F.A.I.T.H. – what a remarkable experience! I started the day off still agitated, impatient, and rather snarly, but delivering the books changed all that. I am filled with gratitude for the families that participated, the sponsors that gave generously, and the children that came today with big smiles on their faces to fill a bookshelf. I am grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in the world. I am grateful for fellow homeschoolers that came together to benefit our community and to change lives. I know the children at F.A.I.T.H. are going to LOVE these books. I can’t wait to do this again next year!

The empty bookshelf:


Posters about homelessness in America:


Putting labels on the books:



All filled up!


Some of the amazing home schooling children who donated books to F.A.I.T.H.:


* Fisher Eli is an adorable boy. Today he said “I wonder if I will do colloquia when I get big?” I asked, “Do you want to?” He excitedly said “YES! When I am as big as Keziah! Do you think I can?” I love homeschooling and I love that we are to the point of seeing results. Having my younger children look forward to learning experiences that they have seen their older siblings and parents participate in is so fun!
* I have finally completed Book One of my cello program! Woo-hoo! I am starting Book Two this week and hope to get through this book much faster!
* My sweetie turned 40 and our children made him some presents from their hearts.

Fisher’s giraffe for his papa:


Fisher’s whale for his papa:


Keziah’s card for her papa:

* I get to take Blythe and Keziah to Fiddler on the Roof on Saturday. It was their Christmas present from Richard and I and they have had to wait a while to get it fulfilled. We are all super excited to see this favorite play in person!
* Razor blades and metal spoons are simply amazing cleaning tools. The drink holders in the suburban had melted crayons, stuck-on gunk, old food decaying into solid rock, and more flower petals than I care to think about…after soaking in Purification essential oil and scrubbing with these magical tools, all the grime is GONE!
Time to go read Jerry Muskrat to Fisher…it is his new favorite book.

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new looks

Feb 23, 2010 by

My lil’ sister came and transformed all of us with some new haircuts, waxing, and color. She is amazing! She did six haircuts, two waxes, two highlights, and ended up with a smile on her face at the end.

We tried to get before and after shots of everyone, but we forgot on Blythe and I and Logan’s is such a horrible shot I don’t think he would like it if I put it on here.

Annesley’s hair is extremely fine and flyaway and she looks like an orphaned child pretty much every day. Her hair doesn’t hold curl, barrettes, clips and ponytails don’t stay in, and it is a bird’s nest every morning when she wakes up…so we chopped it off. None of my children have ever had a haircut before the age of three. I like them to look like babies for as long as possible and there has never been a ton of hair to cut on my bald babies anyway…but Annesley’s hair has been driving me crazy for months, so I put my “rules” on the back burner and told Mikelle to give her an A-Line cut if at all possible with her wiggling and if not, just a straight bob.




In process:



In spite of Annesley’s bouncing, turning, dancing, singing, throwing her cape over top of her head, and all sorts of other nonsens, Mikelle created an adorable pixie cut. Annesley should be in a Peter Pan movie as Tinkerbell’s little sister. It is so stinkin’ cute!


I thought Fisher’s haircut was short last time, but this time Mikelle was determined to give him a missionary haircut. So, when I was distracted with other things she cut it WAY SHORT! It is really cute on him and it is going to be easy-peasy to take care of!



In Process:


All Done!


Keziah is growing her hair out, so she just got a little 1/2″ trim. Here is a pic of her cut in progress.

Pic coming soon…

Logan’s hair was pretty scraggly, which is just how he likes it. After his hair cut, it is still scraggly, but I think he looks great!


Blythe got some more layers put in to help her naturally curly hair have some more bounce and she got the leftovers of my highlighting goop to add some blond streaks. She also got her eyebrows waxed for the first time! She has always been beautiful and this latest makeover looks great on her.


Then there is me. I really dislike pictures of myself. I don’t photograph well and I hate the look of my crooked eyes, yellow teeth, and blotchy skin, but I am trying to own that this is what I look like and I need to be comfortable in my own skin…which I am…as long it isn’t in a photo! I love these A-Line cuts Mikelle is so good at giving me. It helps my enormously thick hair have a chance of not being as wide as a travel trailer and I think it looks pretty cute on me.


Richard is the only one who didn’t get a hair cut because he just got it cut two weeks ago.

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joy pillow give-away

Feb 17, 2010 by

Dear readers,

My children are participating in the First Annual Idaho Homeschool Read-A-Thon and are reading to earn money to buy Usborne books for themselves and for F.A.I.T.H. – Families in Transitional Housing. They have been reading non-stop for the last 10 days and have been trying to find sponsors for themselves. I hatched up an idea to do a give-away to help them raise funds.

I made a pillow…yes, me the sewing impaired mama made a very cute pillow to give to some lucky soul!

Joy pillowBack of pillow

Isn’t that cute!

If you post about this on your blog and link back to this post and then leave me a comment with your website’s post, you will get one entry for this adorable 8 1/2″ square pillow. For every dollar that you paypal to the read-a-thon, you will earn two entries. All entries must be in by Saturday night at midnight and the winner will be announced Monday morning. Let’s spread this far and wide! Just think, if 1000 people donated $1, they would reach their goal of $1000. Let’s help them do it!

To paypal, my account is

If you prefer to mail a check, email me and I will send you our home address.

Thanks much! My little ones are having great time reading and earning books and are so excited to give books to the children at F.A.I.T.H. – Families in Transitional Housing.

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valentine, valentine, how sweet you are

Feb 14, 2010 by

This morning we were greeted by a festive table – red tablecloth, silver sparkly streamers, pancakes, raspberry syrup, whip cream, omelettes, and orange juice. What a yummy surprise! My dearest had been up all morning decorating and preparing delicious food for all of his Valentines…us!

Breakfast on Valentine's Day

He often whips up occasions like this for us – he is the resident cook for Christmas Eve, our anniversary, Valentine’s Day, my birthday, any day when I am not up to cooking, and every single Sunday…yes, I am blessed. It all started when we were first married and I had NO idea how to cook. Then I had two surgeries and months of having my arms in slings due to injured shoulders and Richard cooked almost constantly that first year of marriage. Ever since then he has been grateful whenever I DO cook.

My husband pampers me. He adores me. He supports me in all that I do. He rescues me on a regular basis. He listens to me when he really should be sleeping. He holds me. He believes in me. He builds me. He prays with me. He laughs with me. He is patient with me. He changes diapers, stays up late with babies, reads stories to our children, takes us all fishing, and is forgiving with my laundry habits. He is Mr. Wonderful…although he would die of embarrassment to be called that, especially in public. He thinks he is dull, boring as snot, and not at all attractive. To me, he is my rock, my friend, and my lover.

On other Valentine news, Grandma sent Blythe and Keziah some new adorable hats – here is Keziah sporting hers with her crazy smile:
Keziah with hat from Grandma

And here is Blythe, all fancied up to go to a Valentine’s Ball last night with about 150 other homeschooled youth. Isn’t she lovely!
Blythe - Valentine Ball

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thankful thursdays 1/7

Jan 7, 2010 by

* Books. I know I say this a lot, but it is always at the forefront of my mind! Today I decided to redo several of the bookshelves in my house – actually I rearranged them. I took the bookshelf from my hallway and completely emptied it out (the books are still in piles all over the hall. I moved it to the kitchen and filled it up with all my Usborne books and the books I am currently reading. They now have a home so I can stop searching for them all over the house. My children had so much fun today discovering books they hadn’t seen in a while. While in the midst of this huge project we studied Asia, Vikings, ABC’s, spying, bugs, art, diggers, horses, numbers, and lots more. We had a great time and once again I was so grateful to have a home full of books that we can enjoy and learn from every day.
* Fisher. This little boy is simply delightful. He and I had our Magical Moments With Mom this afternoon and he cracked me up. He would put a sticker on the page and then say “I’m so smart” or “Just as I suspected!” or something else adorable. We found bugs in his 1001 Bugs to Spot book and he giggled his head off when he would find all the bugs. He especially loved finding pink spiders and peacock butterflies. They were new bugs to him and he thought they were really funny. I don’t often spend time with just him, so our new once a week Magical Moment has been a real treat for both of us.
* Family. We went to a viewing tonight for Richard’s uncle and it was amazing to see how many people a couple can bring together. This uncle has 10 children and they each have children. Then he had 5 siblings and lots of their families were there as well. As I looked around the room at all these people, most of whom I don’t know, I was grateful that God created families and that we get to co-create with Him and make these big families that love each other.
* Mikelle, my baby sister. Mikelle was almost like my own child (she even called me mommy when she was little) and I have loved her fiercely since the day she was born. I named her. I have driven hours and hours to see her play basketball and volleyball. She has turned out to be a fabulous twenty-year-old that I love to pieces. She is getting married this weekend to a guy we all really like (in fact, we added him to our wall where we keep track of everyone’s height a few months ago – the sign of true acceptance into our family!) It will be so fun to be married women together, to be mothers together! Isn’t she beautiful!

Mikelle and Logan

Red Socks

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one year

Dec 17, 2009 by

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

IMG_0833_2Isn’t she adorable?

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

I miss her and selfishly want her back.

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pencil rolls on their way!

Dec 1, 2009 by

Hallelujah! The pencil roll project has been a huge success! The pencil rolls have been coming in all month long, but the last few days have been the jackpot with 70 coming in on Sunday, 132 coming in on Monday, and 66 coming in today! Simply amazing!

The families that have participated in this project have given their time, money, materials, and hearts to the children of Katie’s school. They have shown me what a small group of willing women can do…I tell you we can do anything! We can make a difference. We can work together. We can touch lives, soften hearts, and bring joy.

There are people involved in this project that I have never met, people that I know and see regularly, and people who live far away. We have volunteers from Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Alaska, and England! We have seamstresses of all ages, from girls under ten to grandmas over 70, and all abilities, from beginner all the way to professional. We have papas that watched babies so mamas could sew. We have people that donated fabric, sewed on buttons, delivered pencil rolls, and created patterns. We have a small army of volunteers who have taught me how to be give more selflessly. I counted up our volunteers and there are over 60 people who directly helped. One small blog, written by one mother in Idaho, has brought all of this goodness together to create something magical!

Here are some pics of the 516 (yes, we made it to 500!) pencil rolls:

Pencil Rolls 2

Pencil Rolls


Look at this cute inside fabric! It is pencils! Isn’t that adorable? You can get it at Hancock Fabrics.Roll with pencil fabric

And here is one of my pencil rolls I did by my very own self. I truly am sewing challenged and I’m sure my rolls took me ten times longer than they would have taken someone who is not inept in this area, but I did it and did lots of them. It was a wonderful project for me to overcome my fear of sewing and I improved a lot by the time I was done. Thanks to my mom, I learned how to sew buttons on with my machine!!! Hoorah!My pencil roll

I just took them to the shipping office and after repacking them into one big box from my three boxes and then repacking them AGAIN into a slightly smaller box (It was quite the sight, to have me inside a huge box on the floor, surrounded by pencil rolls, as I loaded up stack after stack of them! Why so many repackings you ask? Well, my three boxes would have cost about $120 with FedEx and $160 with the USPS with UPS somewhere in the middle, so we tried to save moo-lah by repacking them into one box, which was then a tad too big, so we repacked again, and got the price all the way down to 90 buckaroos.) they are on their way to Tennessee and then on to Uganda!

Thank you to all of you. Thank you for your sacrifices, your love, and your generosity. I pray that you will be blessed. I ask that you join me in prayer that our gifts will make it to Uganda in safety and that they will bring happiness to the children of Katie’s school.

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annesley aliyah

Nov 26, 2009 by

I asked for a miracle
I got one!
It was not what I asked for,
but it was exactly what I needed.

I remember so clearly the week that Annesley’s life began. Maybe it is because she is my youngest child and it wasn’t all that long ago – but maybe it is because God wants me to remember exactly who is guiding me.

I remember being told by our business partners that our business was going to close in two weeks. I remember being shocked, angry, in fact, even furious. I remember the helplessness I felt to solve this problem…and I remember praying to my Heavenly Father to please give us a miracle. Please help there be SOME other answer. Please don’t take away what we have worked so hard for nearly 5 years to build. Please, please, please.

I remember reading a book that week called A Mom Just Like You by Vickie Farris, a homeschooling mother of ten. There is a chapter in that book about letting God plan your family and not using birth control. We had been opposed to birth control for years and I had been teaching Natural Family Planning classes to interested couples for a long time, so I thought, hmmm, this sounds like something I already agree with, I’ll just skim it a little while I fall asleep. Something in Vickie’s words pricked my heart and made me realize I was not being completely willing to let God plan our family. I realized I had been telling Him I was not ready to try again to have a baby after numerous miscarriages. I was not ready to let my heart be broken again. I was not ready to throw up repeatedly day after day. I was not ready to deal with a baby again. I was not ready to bring a child into the world when our business was falling apart.

I read Richard some of the chapter and told him I thought we needed to really leave this in the Lord’s hands…and even though I was not entirely convinced myself…we told God He could send us a baby if He felt that this was the right time, knowing everything that was going on in our lives and the fragility of my wounded heart. Well, less than 24 hours later I was throwing up (yes, supposedly this is impossible, but it happens to me every time!) and craving Johnny Carino’s Caesar salad.

That Friday afternoon at ice skating, I remember thinking, this is NOT even funny. How can I be nauseated already? How will we make it through this pregnancy with our last check coming in two weeks? How will my children survive mom being sick, exhausted, and in pain? How will my pelvis hold up? What is the status of my uterine ligaments and for that matter, my uterus itself? See, I had been told after Fisher’s birth that my pelvis and ligaments were so damaged in the car accident I had at 40 weeks pregnant with him that I shouldn’t have more children. I really, really knew that I could not endure another birth and recovery like I had had with Fisher and was scared to death that that might happen. I didn’t really know if I could even carry this pregnancy to term because I had just had 2 miscarriages in a row. I was full to the brim with fear, worry, and a definite lack of faith.

I also remember being a little giddy thinking of a new little baby and if this one could possibly make it into my arms since he/she was so obviously an answer from God. I remember laughing and joking with my friend and talking about having a November baby.

By eight weeks I was in maternity clothes and I started to believe maybe this baby would make it. By twelve weeks I was showing a ton and getting pretty sure this baby would make it. I remember hearing her heartbeat and being ecstatic. At fifteen weeks we went camping for a week for swim camp and I made chocolate peanut butter smoothies for all the pregnant moms each morning. The weeks went by, I grew, the baby grew, and all my energies were focused on being a pregnant mama and overcoming the debilitating fear I had stored in my body from Fisher’s birth. Soon, November arrived along with lots of contractions. For some reason, I always thought I would have this baby before Thanksgiving. I thought that having Fisher at 40 weeks meant I no longer had to go days and days and days past 40 weeks. We made Thanksgiving plans, knowing I would have a 1 or 2 week old baby. But, no. I am destined to have long pregnancies, just like my mother and grandmother and four days AFTER Thanksgiving our little girlie arrived.

I remember being on the phone the night of the 25th with my sister-in-law, Sandy, working on Mom & Dad’s Christmas present that she was making. I needed to send her family photos and for some reason Richard’s computer was not making it easy for me to get these photos to her. I remember her asking me about the baby and me basically saying that I didn’t feel like the birth was going to be anytime soon. I was feeling nothing and figured I could easily go another week. Then I talked to my dear friend and doula who was leaving at 9 a.m. the next morning for a ten day trip to Washington. We cried together because we both knew she would not be able to attend my birth and both our hearts were broken at this turn of events. She tried hard to give me a pep talk about that God knew I could give birth without her because He wasn’t sending this baby yet and that maybe I needed this experience, that it would be a new and different experience that I would learn great things from. I really didn’t want to hear any of it. I wanted to have given birth two weeks before so that none of this was an issue. I wanted to look into her eyes as I labored and to feel the strength of her faith fill my soul.

Next, I talked to my midwife and she tried to give me the same pep talk that my doula gave me. Again, I wanted to hear none of it and went to bed devastated that my dear friend would not be there. See, I have attended all her births and she has attended all of mine but Blythe’s. We have shared miscarriages, worry, prayer, hope, tears, hugs, 2 hour phone calls, and everything in between. I could not imagine giving birth without her…and I knew now that it was 10 p.m. on the night before she was leaving that I had to somehow wrap myself around this new plan. I didn’t want to do it. I was so, so frustrated.

Around 3 a.m. I woke up to labor! What a delightful surprise! I could not believe it was really happening and quickly called my mom to get her on her way and then called my doula and midwife. Everyone started on their way, Richard started filling the tub, and I rocked through contractions. Soon, I needed Richard to be right with me, pushing on my sacrum once again. Around 5 a.m. my doula slipped into my bedroom and right into place next to me on my bed. I was still laughing and talking in between contractions at this point, but they quickly changed into “this is serious business, do not distract me by talking about miscellaneous topics” contractions. After multiple visits to the restroom to empty my bowels and my stomach (Do you know what an out of control experience it is to have volumes of fluid coming out your mouth, nose, and bottom all at the same time? Let me tell you, it is NOT enjoyable!) I slipped into the birth pool and was enveloped by its warmth and support.

Laboring in water is HEAVEN!

My pelvis was really hurting by this time and I was feeling a lot like I did during Fisher’s birth physically, but emotionally it was all different. I knew I was okay. I knew I was going to make it. I knew God wanted me to have this baby. That He had given her to us and that somehow He had healed my body enough for me to make it through this pregnancy. Because of this, I knew He had a plan for this birth.

Richard pushed on my pelvis, Delinda looked in my eyes, Keziah fed me homemade popsicles (you’ve got to try the R.W. Knudson Morning Blend juice to make your labor popsicles with…they are, hands down, the best), and Blythe was helpful in every way. Everything I needed she did with a gentleness that astounded me. She nurtured me that day in a way that hasn’t happened since she was a little girl and still thought I was the most amazing mom ever. My midwife arrived, my mom arrived, and everyone was thrilled that I was giving birth after such a journey to get to that point.

We could not figure out how to relieve the pressure on my pubic bone. It was hurting so much and I could not get any relief from numerous position changes. We tried using a hot water bottle, but it was not pliable enough to bend and fit how I needed it to. Someone had the brilliant idea to use a camelback…PERFECTION! It was plenty squishy and conformed to my body fabulously well.

A huge contraction came, my water broke, and out came Annesley into the hands of our midwife around 8:30 in the morning! What JOY! She laid on my chest for awhile, snuggled up and looking into my eyes. The depth of spirit that a brand new baby shows in her eyes is breathtaking. It is like looking straight into the essence of creation. I can always see that this soul has understanding that we don’t have. Their eyes are giant pools of wisdom, love, and truth.

That is exactly how Annesely’s eyes were that day. I remember feeling her great love for me. Her patience with me. And most of all, her joyful confidence that everything would be okay.

My doula left shortly afterwards so she could make it on her trip and we rejoiced together at the perfect timing of the Lord that enabled her to attend our birth.

Snuggling up with her in my bed that day healed so much of the pain of Fisher’s birth. I was not injured. I was not incapacitated. I was living proof that God CAN and DOES work miracles today. I was told my uterine ligaments would never heal…and yet, her birth, was proof that through His power they were healed. What a gift to be given from a loving Father…to be a miracle…and to have a child.

Annesely is now turning two years old. She is full of love, full of joy, and most of all, full of peace. Her eyes are bright and communicate the message that “it’s okay, it’s all gonna be okay.” I love this little girl so much. She has changed me and helped me to remember the joy of life and what is really most important.

You see, God knew that what we needed to get through our financial disaster was a little bundle of happiness and adorableness all wrapped up into one blue-eyed girlie who brings us joy everyday.

Happy Birthday Goo! We all love you!

Two days old

Two weeks old

Six weeks old







With her signature white hat made by Amy


Remember my post about the ranch dressing and yellow paint disaster? Here is the proof…





Look at her eyes in all these pictures. See how they are full of joy and love? Doesn’t it fill you with happiness just to see her?

Thank you for coming when you did my girlie, you are exactly what I needed then and your smiles help get me through every single day.

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two weeks out

Oct 19, 2009 by

It has been two weeks since the first sign of spotting. It is both disturbing and comforting to see that life goes on. It just keeps going on as normal for the rest of the world and even for me in many ways. Children need fed, dishes need washed, classes need taught, books need read, friends need nurtured, and the endless list of commitments doesn’t let up. It is almost as if this little life that was inside of me has been gone for ages. As I was contemplating this thought this weekend, I was depressed about it. I thought “It has only been 12 days and I don’t want life to just go on, I want to memorialize this baby, this journey. I want to shout it from the rooftops that my babies have lived and died.”

Another part of me does want life to go on. It is familiar. It is what I do. It is busy and distracting and fulfilling and a myriad of other things. I know life cannot stop because I had a miscarriage. I know many people don’t view it the same as the death of an already born human being. I know, I know, I know. I have done this over and over and I totally get that people have no idea what to say, people are too busy to even think of it after a few days, and life just goes on. It does. I get that and yet…I needed to do something to mark this passage of my life. I didn’t know what to do. I was at a loss. I wanted a way to remember.

In walks a miracle.

My friend, Jessica, gave me the most perfect gift ever. She had an etsy seller make me a miscarriage necklace that is simply precious.

I love it.

I mean, I really, really love it.

I am not a jewelry person, but lately I have been drawn to jewelry that speaks to my soul. My mother gave me a Crowning Necklace for my birthday last year and I treasure it. I wear it often and make sure I have it on when I want to be more me. It helps me feel more alive, more hopeful, and more grounded. I am stronger and surer when I wear it.

The necklace Jessica gave me is perfect. It has nine shimmery crystals on it for each of our nine babies that have come into my womb and never made it into our arms. I don’t want to take it off. It is the exact thing I would have chosen if I had had the presence of mind to be able to figure out what I needed; it is a symbol of their souls, it is exquisitely beautiful, and it allows me to share my story or not depending on my mood and current emotional state.

I know, absolutely know, she was guided by God to have this gift made for me, because He knew exactly what I needed to move forward with peace in my heart.

Miscarriage Necklace

Thank you Jessica – thanks for listening.

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