some recent book treasures

May 9, 2013 by

some recent book treasures

My mom recently surprised Fisher with There Was A Coyote Who Swallowed A Flea and he can’t put it down. He reads it over and over and giggles the whole time. It is written in the same style as There Was An Old Woman Who Swallowed A Fly, but it is much more hilarious. Fisher’s favorite parts are when the coyote swallows the cactus…sideways…and when he swallows the moon. Every single time he gets to those pages he curls up in a ball and shakes uncontrollably in fits of laughter.

I taught a class this semester on Jewish Festivals and loved sharing my passion for all things Jewish-y. I checked out gobs of books from the library and found a few gems. Jewish Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook is SO fun. Not only are the stories charming, the illustrations are delightful and the recipes look delicious.

The book is constructed to share a folk tale type of story and then teach how to make one of the traditional festival foods, like challah, hamantaschen, latkes, or noodle kugel. I think any family interested in different cultures would swoon over this book. I can’t wait to buy it for myself!

We had a road trip last week and listened to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz with Anne Hathaway reading. Oh my. What a delight. Her voices for each character were phenomenal and we loved it so much we listened to it two times all the way through! I guess my little ones are ready for a journey into Oz. The last time I visited was when Blythe was about six and we read all the Oz books over the course of a year. Here is a really fun YouTube video of Anne discussing this performance…so fun to see her reading the story!

I am currently reading Frankenstein for my colloquia group. My dear friend, Kate, recommended it to me several years ago and I am finally taking her up on the suggestion and having my whole discussion group read it. I thought I knew the story, but I totally didn’t. It is SO much more thought provoking than I ever imagined. I cannot stop thinking about creation and my responsibilities as a creator, treating people as children of God vs. treating them as irritants or even worse as monsters, the power of the atonement to make things right, judging a person by their outward appearance, and good vs. evil.

What are you reading right now?

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three more are off

Apr 29, 2013 by

three more are off

On Sunday we attended three missionary farewells. Three! Two of them are Worldviews students from last year and one of them is the oldest brother (of 10!) of one of our favorite families. I still can’t believe we are to this stage of life when our children’s friends are leaving home. I will miss these youth so, so much.

Another of my Worldviews students leaves in six short weeks. She will be serving her mission in California. I am grateful for the year I had to spend with these students studying various religions, cultures, and perspectives that are different from our own. I think it will be quite helpful to them on their missions and throughout their lives.

After the three farewells, two of the boys hosted a huge get-together for their friends and family and even though the wind was ferocious and the temperatures were a little too cold to be comfortable, we had a wonderful time feasting on delicious food and precious friendships.

Dustin on the left – going to Guatemala and Morgan on the right (going to Peru).

Annesley and Fisher having fun on the tire swing.

Annes poking people with her super-long stick.

Group hug with lots of sad faces over how much we will miss these awesome boys.

Lots more smiles this time around.

Goodbye Elders…serve well.

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hurrah for chalkboard markers

Apr 9, 2013 by

hurrah for chalkboard markers

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

The original frame.

The original UGLY picture.

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

In all its red glory.

Mikelle and I trying to solve the brightness problem.

Success! Notice how the black smudges fix everything!

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

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

Love it!

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

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yes, they are that wide

Mar 18, 2013 by

yes, they are that wide

I have hobbit feet. Not hairy hobbit feet. Not super long hobbit feet.

Super wwwiiiiiiiiddddde hobbit feet. As in Triple E wide. You know, on those metal foot meausurer thingys, I am a Triple E.

See the width measurer on the left side? It goes A, B, C, D, E. Then the second E line. Well, I am a Triple E. The line that isn’t there.

My hobbit feet make shoe shopping and shoe wearing fairly difficult.

I have only found three brands of shoes I can fit my hobbit feet into – Chacos sandals, most styles of Keens, and some styles of Danskos (not the clogs, my high arches can’t get inside of a clog unless I size up a gazillion sizes and what is the point of wearing shoes several sizes to big, it’s not like I can walk in shoes that are flopping all over the place).

But I have been dying for some little casual Converse-y type sneakers. I have tried on gobs of different pairs and either can’t get my feet into them or as soon as I do my feet have a full-blown panic attack from being squeezed to death.

But Saturday was Kat’s birthday and she wanted to go out to eat and then go errand running (she is somewhat anti-consumerism, so she can’t really call it shopping, but shopping is really what it was) for whatever we needed.

Well, what I needed was a pair of cute, comfortable shoes.

And hip-hip-hoorah, we found some! They aren’t Converses, nor are they Keds, though I tried plenty of both of them on. They are Dr. Scholl’s in the Jennie style in the wide width, which sounds a bit like orthopaedic footwear for the elderly, but they are actually cute! Kat, Jen, and Amy all said so, so it must be true. They insisted I didn’t look like a geriatric patient and after walking around the store and being sure my feet weren’t going to be strangled to death, then checking online on Jen’s fancy phone for a better price (the in store price was better by $15!), I bought them on the spot.

 

I am in love. I want several more pairs as well. Like these polka dot ones.

The problem I am now facing is I can’t find any wides at any of the online shops. ARGH!

For those of you who don’t know, women’s shoes are sized to be a size B-width. Wides are sized to be a size D-width. These shoes are extra wide because many of the online reviews said the regular width is too wide for people, so I think that is why I am able to wear the wide width, they are sized wide to begin with.

If anyone sees the Jennie or the Jamie in a wide width, call me stat. I need a size 7 and would love some of the super colorful ones. Wanna join the find-Tracy-some-wide-shoes team?

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purim

Mar 5, 2013 by

purim

Last week was Purim, which is a Jewish Festival celebrating the story of Esther. Ever since we first read All-Of-A-Kind Family about ten years ago we have wanted to celebrate Purim. But, we have never done it. I have never felt like we had anyone else to do it with, which, now that we have done it, I realize is not important, but it sure seemed important at the time. It seemed like we needed others to know what we are doing and it to be a community event just like it is in All-Of-A-Kind Family.

But it doesn’t need to be. We brought Purim gifts to four neighbor families and only one of them had any idea what we were doing. They all loved it and it was a wonderful opportunity for us to explain our love for Jewish stuff.

We made Hamantaschen cookies. I handed Keziah the recipe during afternoon project time and she made the dough all by herself. I have no idea if she did it right or not, but one of our recipients loved them enough to ask for the recipe so they must have turned out somewhat okay. Unfortunately I didn’t even get to try one! After the dough had chilled for several hours we started rolling it out and cutting out the circles. Annes and Fisher were pretty much experts at this task. Then fruit preserves into the center, fold up the circles into triangles, transfer cookies to a greased cookie sheet and bake.

If you are wondering if I felt like death warmed over, yes, I was in a lot of pain that day…and it shows in this pic.

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The cookies I folded up ended up looking a bit lot homeless, but Blythe’s were beautiful. I don’t know how that girl does it, but she creates beauty wherever she goes. Look at mine.

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Look at hers. Pretty amazing, eh? She is such an artist.

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Part of Purim is dressing up and Annesley was all over that idea. How do you like her outfit?

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There are four mitzvahs to observing Purim. This year we did all four (except the first one – we only listened to the entire Book of Esther once) and are super proud of ourselves.

1. Hear the Megillah! Listen or read the entire Book of Esther two times, once at night and once in the day. You must hear or read every single word and make noise whenever Haman’s name is said.

2. Give Gifts of Food! Purim is a day we show extra special friendship to our friends. Send your friends gifts of food that include at least two different types of food ready-to-eat foods. For example: fruits and candies; cookies and a bottle of juice; etc. We gave Hamantashen and Sparkling Cider.

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3. Give Tzedakah (Charity)! Give some money to two poor people (or more), or put at least two coins in your favorite charity box. We rolled up dollar bills and took them to two different families. I don’t think our Tzedakah did much for their bottom lines, but it was fun to surprise them with a little gift.

4. Eat and Rejoice! Participate in a festive meal on Purim afternoon. Sit together with your family and friends, sing Jewish songs, tell the story of Purim, and be merry! Our meal wasn’t as merry as it could have been and we didn’t invite friends over, but we still had a good time making noise makers, listening to the ten chapters of the Book of Esther, and drinking our Sparkling Cider.

Even though I was hurting a lot that night, I am so glad we celebrated our first Purim. We were also Purimed (surely that must be a word?) by one of my Sheva & Shalom students. Thanks Sheri! It was super fun!

Hamantaschen

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup orange or pineapple juice
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 TB. oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 5 1/2 C. flour
  • Fruit preserves. You can also use Nutella.

Mix butter and sugar. Cream well. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Divide the dough into three sections and chill several hours or overnight. Roll out to 1/8 inch thick and cut with a 3-inch round cookie cutter or drinking glass. Place a teaspoon of filling each circle and fold over the edges to create a triangle shape. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake for about 15 minutes (until golden) at 350 degrees. You can brush the cookies with egg before baking, if desired. They will come out browner if you do.

What did I learn from Purim?

  • Festivals, special days, or celebrations of any kind are so fun for my little children and I need remember that it is worth the work it takes to create this magic in their lives.
  • Esther walked forward with faith without knowing the end result. She had no promise of safety or success in her endeavor. So it is often with us and especially with me and my hip…remember Esther!
  • Inviting friends into our traditions is met with gratitude.
  • Esther learned the culture of the kingdom and used those customs to find favor with the King. She did not force her ways onto the palace.
  • Esther fasted and invited others to join her. I need to remember the power of fasting to strengthen my spirit and my reliance on my Savior.

Happy Purim!

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cinderella: the trip

Mar 4, 2013 by

cinderella: the trip

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

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

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

Staring at the Ballet West sign

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

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Posing in the Capital Theater.

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

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They are a lil’ bit excited.

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They died over the ceiling and chandelier.

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

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

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

Or how about…

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

And I love this one…

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

I think this needs to be shouted from the rooftops…

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

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

To capture a miracle, you must first believe.

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

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

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

Welcome To Our Sewcial Lounge

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

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And these ones.

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And especially these ones.

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

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But I think she loves this pillow.

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

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What was Madi doing?

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Was she really this tired?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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hearts and brains

Feb 28, 2013 by

hearts and brains

I love this picture so much. Mary Engelbreit is one of my favorite artists and her whimsical style always brings a smile to my face. This year I have her calendar on the wall in my kitchen and I am actually changing over the months in a timely manner (versus last year when I changed from April to October right before Halloween!). February features this Follow Your Heart picture and has had me thinking all month long.

Something about these words has worked its way down deep in my soul. I have thought and thought and thought about the balance between heart following and brain following, about reason vs. faith, about logic vs. passion, and have decided there is no “versus.” At least there doesn’t need to be. We don’t need to have reason or faith. We don’t need to have a heart or a brain. We need to have both. At least I do. I am most happy when my logic and my passion take me to the same result, but that doesn’t always happen, so I try to navigate my way through this life with both sides of me working together.

I taught at church on Sunday on this talk and was so grateful for the picture of airplane wings working together gave me.

Bearing in mind that faith and reason are necessary companions, consider the following analogy: faith and reason are like the two wings of an aircraft. Both are essential to maintain flight. If, from your perspective, reason seems to contradict faith, pause and remember that our perspective is extremely limited compared with the Lord’s. Do not discard faith any more than you would detach a wing from an aircraft in flight. Instead, nurture a particle of faith and permit the hope it produces to be an anchor to your soul — and to your reason.

Isn’t that a beautiful visual? Both parts are necessary. Both can work together to help us find peace. I want my airplane to fly with my heart and my brain.

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one year later and wiser, too

Feb 25, 2013 by

one year later and wiser, too

Wednesday, February 20 marked the one year anniversary of my labral tear (if you would like to read the whole story of my injury, here is the archive of all the hip posts). I wanted to commemorate this time…I needed to commemorate this time to bring me some sort of okay-ness about having a whole year pass by and me still being injured. For the past week or more I had been living in a deep, dark hole of despair that year after year after year will pass by and I will continue to have hip pain, continue to be unable to do the things I yearn to do, and continue to be unable to have a baby.

So, on Tuesday I made a decision to cut my hair. If I was feeling frumpy and grumpy, I figured, at least I could look cute on the outside. Then I decided to throw a Hippie Party for myself and as many friends as could come. Then I decided to attend the temple.

All good choices, but I couldn’t figure out how on earth I would have the energy for all of them. Somehow it all worked out. Tuesday I was able to get in with my friend Becky’s stylist at the very last minute and she did a great job cutting my hair while I propped myself up in her chair on two large pillows. Wednesday I attended the temple and had a precious experience with the Lord. Thursday a whole gang of hippies devoured seven PARTY size gator bites.

It was exactly what I needed. I needed to tame my hair, re-covenant with the Lord that I was still committed to doing the work He has asked me to do with my ancestors, and laugh myself silly with my friends.

I am feeling much more at peace about being at the year mark and still being injured. I am learning to accept that this may be my life. I may always have this hip injury and the resulting pain and inability to do all the things I want. I am not thrilled at that idea, but I am learning to have some measure of peace about it.

I have learned a lot over the past year. Lessons I want to remember forever…lessons I don’t want to try to remember, but instead hope they have become part of my soul and will serve me for the rest of my life.

  • God knows me.
  • God loves me.
  • My Richard is full of love for me and will do anything to help me.
  • My children are strong.
  • Pain is a humbling affliction.
  • Pain turns me to the Lord.
  • Pain gets really old, really quick, changes perceptions and behaviors, and I need to have compassion on others who are hurting, physically or spiritually.
  • Laughter is good for my soul.
  • We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.
  • God can heal me. My job is to trust Him.
  • My ancestors know me.
  • My ancestors love me.
  • My family of aunts, uncles, and cousins is amazing and full of support and love for me.
  • Healing is a process, both physically and spiritually.
  • The power of God is real.
  • Priesthood blessings can and do work miracles.
  • My support network of friends and family is absolutely wonderful. When I think back on the past year of service I have been given I am completely overwhelmed with tears of gratitude. I have been fed, clothed, driven, held, prayed for, loved, cleaned for, hugged, and anything else I have needed for the past twelve months. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Every single act of kindness has been recorded in my heart and has got me through many dark days.
  • Immersing myself in the word of God brings peace.
  • Spending time in the temple brings joy.
  • Reality is not always what it seems to be.
  • Some things are unexplainable with our mortal minds.
  • Miracles happen. Daily.
  • Clean sheets can transform me.
  • Life goes on in spite of what is going on in my individual life.
  • Little things make a big difference in my ability to cope. I want to be one of those little things for others who are struggling to cope as well.
  • Jesus’ atonement is the only thing I really, really need. Coming to depend solely on Him is what I am here to learn.
  • The covenants made in the house of the Lord change souls.
  • Love always wins.
  • God is teaching me and will continue to do so so I can grow in His ways.
  • Living in the moment is a much better plan than living in fear of the future.
  • There are seasons in our lives. I can learn and grow in each season of my life instead of wishing to be in a different season.
  • Teaching my children is a precious stewardship.
  • My marriage is a gift from God and I need to treat it as such. Richard is such a special treasure and I am blessed beyond measure to have him as my eternal companion. His love for me has created in me a new being and enabled me to fully trust God and give Him my heart.

Now for some pictures from our awesome Hippie Party. Everyone dressed up as a hippie (except for Joy, who is dressed up as a Scout, having rushed over from Den Meeting!) wrote on my poster board, laughed hysterically at the memories of this past year, and ate loads of delicious gator bites (little potatoes cooked in some secret manner and covered in cheese AND bacon – I don’t eat pork, but on gator bites I thoroughly enjoy the bacon – and then dipped in gator sauce). So much fun! Every time Kat and Jessica share the pee incident on the MRI trip, I die laughing. They are so, so funny. Now, these pictures are pretty funny…please laugh and give yourself a little joy. And yes, I know I look ridiculous…and my shirt makes me look pregnant…or maybe I have really gained that much weight in the past year…who knows?

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Yes, it is blurry, but I love it so much. Kat and Jessica are dying that I am so loud and flamboyant.

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A lot of our group, but not all…

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Sherry

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Gary and Kari (if you are local and need your car cleaned, Gary is amaze-balls!

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Just ignore all those red eyes, I will fix them later…I love this photo of Sarah, Kat, Jess, Amy, and moi.

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Jess and Amy

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Everyone wrote love notes to me – thank you, your words bring me so much joy! Yes, I have awesome friends…

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Then Keri gave me the most beautiful green (my favorite color of the moment) wooden bowl that her husband made. She shared some lovely thoughts with me about knots and nots and strength and beauty and filled my soul with her wisdom. I could listen to Keri and her heart-shaped words every single day.

Ready for the superhero moment? Some secret someone stole my bill for the seven party-size gator bites and PAID for them all! How fun is that! Whoever you are, THANK YOU! You totally made my night!

Thank you to everyone who has helped me this year. Thank you for your prayers, your time, and most of all, your hearts. I don’t think I could have gotten through this year without everyone’s love – it has made all the difference.

I love you all!

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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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math alive!

Feb 11, 2013 by

math alive!

I decided to teach a semester of everyone’s favorite math class, Math Alive!, because there are quite a few children that weren’t able to take it when I taught it in 2010 – 2011 and they will be too old to take it when I teach it for Fisher in 2014 – 2015. I hemmed and hawed because it is a GOB of work, but finally I decided I had to do it so Jacob and Rachel and the other twelve year olds who missed out the first time would be able to have the chance to discover math in a whole new way.

We have met two times so far and I am in love with these kids! The first week we talked about what math is, introduced them to my super-fun Challenges of The Week, and read The King’s Chessboard which is all about the risks one takes when one doesn’t understand math.

At the beginning of each class we have a ten minute math activity where we build things, solve puzzles, play math games, or create something…a get-your-brain-on-fire activity. The first week I took my magic blocks and the kids had a blast. The second week we made designs on Geoboards. At the 9 1/2 minute mark, the race begins and all the students work as fast as they can to put their supplies away and get ready to learn about our mathematician of the day.

Here are the awesome blocks.

 

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Last week we learned about Thales and built pyramids out of golf balls. It is always a huge hit and super challenging to solve the puzzles. Drat it all, I forgot my camera! This week we will continue to learn about Thales and will figure out how he measured the Egyptian pyramids.

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thankful thursdays 2/7

Feb 7, 2013 by

thankful thursdays 2/7

It is Thursday and I am going to start my Thankful Thursdays posts again. I haven’t written one since March 1 of last year and am filled with regret that I have missed the last eleven months of gratitude posts. My formatting got messed up in one of my blog overhauls and I just couldn’t write a bulleted post without cute bullets and dashes. It seems a little silly now, but at the time I just couldn’t stand to look at my list of thankful things when it wasn’t wrapped up in cuteness.

Well, Jessica fixed that. She is amaze-balls with all things techie and is hands-down, the best web designer out there. She just redid my mom’s site and while it isn’t quite finished yet, it is looking fabulouso!

Anyway, I am sad to not have a weekly record of gratitude of the past year with this hip injury because I have had blessing after blessing heaped upon me and now I don’t have a really great record of it. But, I will be starting again today and now is certainly better than never.

This isn’t going to be a comprehensive list or anything…no need to list out the 238 million things my heart is full of at the moment…but it will be things that have really meant a lot to me and I haven’t mentioned on here.

  • Kat gave me this awesome herbal tea maker for Christmas. I love it oh, so much. You just pour 1/2 C. of loose tea in the bottom, fill it with boiling water, plunge the tea down to the halfway point, set the timer for 15 minutes, and voila, delicious, perfectly made tea with no mess and no big clean-up. No more muslin wrapped tea! No more herb parts stuck in my tiny strainer! No more tea spilling all over my counter when I miss my tiny strainer. It is utter delight.
  • While I was stuck in bed, Liz came over and cleaned my bedroom. While she was on her cleaning rampage she found a vinyl wall hanging and wasn’t disgusted at all that I have been waiting for four whole years to hang it up. Instead, she got right to work and hung it up! I didn’t see it for a few days because I was stuck in bed, but when I did, I shrieked with joy! I love this saying and have therefore, stocked my house with thousands of books.
  • My girls have been blessed by a wonderful new music teacher. She is teaching them both piano and violin AND she comes to our home. I am so grateful for the opportunity my children have to become musicians and while I have been in bed for the past month I have loved listening to them practice and develop their skills.
  • Yesterday on the way home from iFamily, we stopped at Great Harvest right at closing time. The sweet girl behind the counter gave us two wraps for free! How delicious is that?
  • My classes at iFamily are going really, really well. I love teaching and sharing my passions with others and I have a big group of students who are thoroughly engaged in learning what I have to share with them…perfect scenario!
  • I am in love with my new orange bullets and pink dashes, larger font, bigger line height, paragraphing in my blockquotes, and a brighter picture of me over there on the side. Thank you Jessica!

Tea Maker…if you want one, I think she got it at Ikea.

My dining room wall with my awesome quote…thanks Liz!

Our new music teacher, Emily, teaching piano to Miss Kez.

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christmas play

Dec 11, 2012 by

christmas play

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

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

Getting everyone assembled

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Angel Annesley and Abby as Mary

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During our practice run

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

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

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

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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

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

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Starting to put the pieces together.

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

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Fisher and Trey concentrating hard.

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Maggie’s house in process.

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Some finished houses.

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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.

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

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

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Oh, how I love this mug.

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Annesley putting the star on.

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The finished tree with my five cuties.

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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.

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

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

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

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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

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Using the piano bench as a serving table.

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Mom and Mikelle

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Scott and Logan carving the turkey.

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

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We love them with the peels on.

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

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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

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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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annesley is five

Nov 26, 2012 by

annesley is five

Five!!!

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Miss Annesley is a big five year old. She has been counting down to her birthday for months. Fisher and Kez’s are so close together that it feels like an eternity to her to have to wait all the way through October AND November for hers to roll around.

Getting her birthday haircut from her Aunt Mikelle

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This girlie brings us so much joy. SO MUCH. She radiates joy everywhere she goes…along with singing, twirling, laughing, and telling stories full of nonsense. Let’s just say she has a rich imagination.

Annesley has adopted all the elderly people in our ward. She gives them giant hugs every week and spends most of her time at church going from lap to lap.

This year, thanks to two leap years in her short life, her birthday is on the same day of the week as it was the first time around. I always love synchronized birthdays because I feel like I can completely relive each moment of their births on the same day as when they actually happened. I remember going to church on the day of her birth and telling my friend, Bonnie, “I am here to worship my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and NOT to talk about my pregnancy. Spread the word!”

I remember coming home from church and working on Christmas presents and being grumpy, grumpy, grumpy that I had not had my baby yet and that my doula was leaving the next day.

I remember waking up at 3:30 a.m. to a contraction. A real contraction! I remember being shocked out of my gourd and thrilled to pieces and calling my mom, my midwife, and my doula, and telling them to come. I remember puking and pooping and snotting all at the same time and feeling like my body had been taken over by a force completely out of my control. I remember moaning through seemingly endless contractions, eating homemade popsicles the children held in front of me, and Blythe doing everything she could to nurture me. I remember pushing her out and being completely full of joy. I remember her spirit reassuring me that everything would be okay…and me believing her.

And now she is five. She loves life, people, pretending, and everything in between. Annesley is all about the process of doing things. She does not care about results in any way, just the process is important. She lives in the moment with zest and smiles and throw-back-her-head-laughter.

It is so hard for me to list her favorite books or things to do because it is basically everything. She loves everything. She especially loves headstands and singing and making food for us in her play kitchen and rubbing my back and giving her papa foot massages and doing math with me. She loves jumping and wiggling and rubbing anyone who is near her. She rubs and rubs and rubs…up and down their arms, their legs, all over their face. Keziah has even started charging her nickels and dimes to rub and Annesley pays the fees! Her current favorite songs are “I Am A Child of God”, “God Bless The U.S.A.”, and “The Hope of America.” She loves to play with Fisher and the two of them explore outside for many hours most days of the week. They love finding bugs and leaves and dirt and rocks and anything else they can find. She is super strong and excels at gymnastics. In the headstand contest last week she stayed up for fifty-five seconds and came in second in her class.

Her birthday celebration began on Friday when Grandma Dorothy took her to Big Jud’s for a shake and fries. She has been begging to go to Big Jud’s since her maiden trip back in July.

This morning we were up a little before 6:00 a.m. (which is REALLY early for our house!) to hide and open her presents.

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

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An awesome set of chalkboard letters and numbers from an adorable etsy seller that wrapped them up all fancy for her. She has been writing on them all morning long and loves them to pieces.

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Her birthday book is The Kiss Box. It is a darling story about a mama and her child making kiss boxes to store kisses in so when they are separated they can open their boxes and remember how much they are loved. Annesley is painting her kiss box a bright yellow later today because it is her favorite color and her wooden heart inside she will paint red because it is my favorite color.

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After she opened her presents she and I went back to bed for a little bit of snuggling while I worked on Jessica’s auction. She rubbed my back and was quickly sound asleep. Then she woke up to french toast with strawberries made by big sister Blythe and got right to work writing on her new chalkboard letters.

I am so grateful for this girlie. Her spirit is joy embodied. She radiates it and it spreads to everyone around her. We are so, so blessed to have her in our family. Just thinking about her conception and birth makes me well up with tears. God gave her to us and she is a shining testimony of His miracles and His great love for us.

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fisher’s baptism

Oct 7, 2012 by

fisher’s baptism

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

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

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

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

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

Singing right before Fisher is baptized.

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Still dry

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Fresh out of the water

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

Grandma and Grandpa

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

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Here we are a little more put together.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You have two special names.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beautiful isn’t it?

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twelve

Oct 2, 2012 by

twelve

It is finally here. Miss Keziah is twelve. At least she will be at 12:36 a.m. You can read all about her birth and her past birthday posts (2011, 2010, 2009) if you want to know more about this lovely young lady.

I remember my twelfth birthday. My father left on my twelfth birthday to start a new life. I remember begging him to take me with him because I couldn’t begin to imagine my life without him. I remember being full of anger. More anger than I could hold within me and it exploding out of me again and again and again over the next many years. I remember missing him so, so much.

Today as I looked at her as she listened to Little Women for the umpteenth time, I saw her beautiful face with freckles and fiery eyes and I was overcome with gratitude that she is not facing the same challenges I faced. Her father is not leaving her. Her family is not falling apart. Her parents are committed to each other and committed to her. My heart welled up with joy for the privilege she has of being a child and not being forced to be a grown-up long before she is ready.

See, she is having a little bit of a hard time transitioning to youth-dom. She is getting sillier by the day.

And while it is driving us all batty, it is okay, because she doesn’t have to be anything else. She can be silly if she wants to be. She doesn’t have to be the peacemaker like I needed to be. She doesn’t have to listen to grown-up concerns and carry them. She can be a twelve-year-old girl who is super responsible most of the time and pretty silly the rest of the time.

Tomorrow, on her actual birthday, I am taking her to the temple for her first time. She will enter the waters of baptism for her ancestors – my father’s ancestors, and feel the Spirit of the Lord in His Holy House. She will then go to the Salt Lake Temple on Friday and be baptized again – this time in the place her parents, great-grandparents, and great-great grandparents were married and sealed. She will become a welding link between these two families. This has been her plan for the last six months and I am thrilled to pieces to make it happen for her. Saturday she will get to go to General Conference with her friends and they are planning on throwing in some thrift store shopping as well. Sounds like a pretty fabulous twelfth birthday.

What else is Keziah up to besides silliness? Well, she loves teaching a class at iFamily to the little three – six year olds and has all of her lesson plans ready weeks in advance. Running, swimming, violin, piano, gymnastics, and kayaking are all big interests and she recently started taking ballet at our friend’s studio. She is playing in a beginning Orchestra at iFamily and can’t get enough of it. She organizes (and reorganizes) everything in her life and doesn’t understand what is wrong with the rest of us and our chaotic ways. She used to be obsessed with the color blue, but now she is obsessed with all things Zebra. Bizarre, if you ask me, but we did get her two zebra things for her birthday that she is going to shriek (loudly!) over. She has a hard time being serious and I spend much of my time trying to get into her soul. Sometime, someday, I will find her deep thoughts buried and they will amaze me, I’m sure of it.

Her birthday book for this year is Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People To Freedom. I also considered The Librarian of Basra: A True Story From Iraq and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making (which I did end up getting for her birthday, but not for her birthday book. I just couldn’t resist the fanciful tale of September traveling through Valente’s magical world! And, hey, Book Two came out today!)

What a lovely, inspiring book! I am swooning over the art and the story, but most especially Harriet’s prayers and God’s answers to his precious daughter. I chose this book because I want Keziah to know, really know, she can AND must rely on God as she sojourns through this life. He will guide her, comfort her, and show her what her mission is. He will. I want this knowledge to sink into the marrow of her soul. She is super competent in most areas of her life and super competent people sometimes have a hard time relying on God. I know because I have been there. I hope she is inspired by Harriet’s courage, dedication, and most off all, her humility and willingness to trust God’s plan for her life. Keziah is a do-er and if she will let God lead her, she will do great things.

All three of my girlies

Happy Birthday Keziah. Thank you for being exactly who you are and being such a blessing to our family. We love you.

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eight

Sep 18, 2012 by

eight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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first dates

Sep 16, 2012 by

first dates

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

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

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

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Isn’t she lovely?

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Pinning on the boutonnière

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

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

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slip-n-slide

Sep 15, 2012 by

slip-n-slide

My friend Robin made a huge slip-n-slide out of a billboard and some of their friends made one out of viqueen. She raved about how fabulous it was and I decided I wanted to do it for our iFamily Opening Social, but because it was injection week I didn’t really do much about it except think.

On Wednesday, during iFamily, I checked the weather for the next 10 days and figured out that Friday was going to be the only day we could do it. So I hurriedly conducted a poll of the eight or so mothers who were nearby the couch I was lying on and we decided we should go for it. Jennifer volunteered to buy the $36 of visqeen, I called the city to arrange for rental of the spigot, and another Jennifer ran over to Parks & Rec to sign all the paperwork.

The weather was perfect, the kids had a blast, and I think we will make it an annual event. I can’t wait to do it when I can actually slide with all the kids (this time I was a very good girl and laid down and watched, yes, watched!). Next time we will have even more visqueen and I think we should make a super steep slide for the big kids and adults who are mega-adventurous.

So. much. fun.

 

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If you want to make your own slip-n-slide, buy at least 4 mil visqueen (plastic sheeting) in whatever length you want. Ours was 8 ft. x 100 ft. I think 200 ft. would be perfect and possibly 10 ft. wide would have been better, but ours was wonderful and totally got the job done. Our 4 mil. did rip in one spot, so maybe 6 mil. would be a better choice, but all of that starts getting real expensive, so I guess you just have to decide what it is worth to you. We had hoses dumping water at three spots down the 100 feet and that seemed to work pretty well. About an hour into it, we put some baby shampoo all over the place to make it more slippery. It was too slippery for our youngest sliders, but perfect for anyone ten and up.

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taking flight

Aug 30, 2012 by

taking flight

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

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

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slime

Aug 29, 2012 by

slime

The other day I saw a great photo on Pinterest of a little one’s hands covered in a rainbow of slime. I pinned it and showed it to Annesley. She decided we HAD to do it right away and told her papa in their Mentor Meeting (weekly snuggle and chat time) that he needed to get the ingredients so we could make it this week.

Well, tonight was the night! Walmart only had one bottle of clear glue, so we could only make a little bit, but it turned out perfect and we have been playing with it and having a blast.

Here are the directions we followed:

Perfect Slime

Equal Parts

Sta-Flo Liquid Starch
Elmer’s Clear School Glue

Stir together with a spoon, then dig in with your hands and squish and knead and squish and knead and squish and knead until it is the right consistency.

Separate it into the number of globs that you want to color. We did all four of our food coloring bottles. Mix in a few drops until the color is thoroughly mixed.

When done playing with put in an airtight container in the fridge.

Before stirring

Very wet squishing stage

Almost the right consistency

Food coloring added

How long can the snake get?

Fisher was up bright and early this morning to play with it again. I think we will be making this again and again. Now to find a fabulous bulk price on Elmer’s clear glue.

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fiar: the glorious flight

Aug 28, 2012 by

fiar: the glorious flight

We are having a wonderful school week so far. I think my kids are so ready for some order in their lives (and more importantly, for me to be fully present with them) that they are eating up our learning time. We started our Five In A Row read-aloud yesterday and thought The Glorious Flight has been on my shelf for years this is the first time I have read the famous story of Louis Bleirot who flew across the English Channel in 1909.

I am in love with this book.

1. It is so French. The sentence structure screams France (and while I don’t love France, I love books that exude a culture so thoroughly you can feel it).

2. Louis had gumption and determination and courage. My children need to be surrounded by examples of people doing hard things and not giving up the first, second, or gazillionth time.

3. Louis’ dream to fly became a family project.

Yesterday we read it and loved seeing Louis succeed at the cliffs of Dover. Today we read it again and found the English Channel on the map and talked about how Louis and his family could have given up when his first plane couldn’t fly at all or his fourth that moved around in circles on the pond or his sixth that got snagged on a rock. He could have given up after he finally got a plane in the air, but after just a few minutes would come crashing down, often injuring him.

But he didn’t. He persevered. He stayed true to his dream. He kept working and thinking and experimenting and DARING to do something no one had ever done.

Courage…we all need more of it.

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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.

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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.

It.didn’t.hurt.

Not one little bit.

HALLELUJAH!

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.

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And we enjoyed eating them.

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

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Love that we can put two kids in them!

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Grandma getting in on the action.

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A foursome

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

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Annesley on the shore practicing out her paddling.

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

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

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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.

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

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Then it was time for presents!

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

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

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Blythe’s birthday cake

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

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A Life Is Good shirt from us.

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

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

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Aren’t they adorable…and silly!

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

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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.

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And heading out.

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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.

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And here he is jumping dropping off the bridge.

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Mikelle’s funky socks…what a goofball!

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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.

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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!

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

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Winking…or trying to.

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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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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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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

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Annesley making new friends

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

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Love his big smile

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The goggles crack me up

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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!

Bolt

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Zorro

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Sam

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Snowy

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Perry

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A whole group of them swarming Kez

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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…

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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

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

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A few of my girls…love them too!

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More of the crowd

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Five of them…missing three of them

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Our guests loving on the puppies

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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.
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Brother Lamoreaux topping off the pitchers

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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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the beginning…

Feb 7, 2012 by

the beginning…

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

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

Just the thought of it is discomfiting.

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

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

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

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

Yes, I am that crazy.

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

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