Sunday, December 6, 2015

the Unwrappable Gift Challenge

For the last three years, during December I pick one unwrappable gift to give to my kids and to Justin. For instance, three years ago, I sat down with my kids for lunch every day in December instead of doing the dishes or sweeping while they were seated and eating. Seems small but it made a big difference in our day. 
Two years ago, I gave the gift of mercy and forgiveness. Instead of getting angry or being too stern, I tried to be forgiving and be generous in second chances. 
Last year I gave my kids the gift of fun by making sure each day I played a game with them whether it be "don't break the ice," "hide and go seek" or even just a round of "Ring around the Rosie." 

Last year I gave Justin the gift of greeting him with a positive attitude when he came home from work instead of handing him a crying baby as soon as he walked in the door or unloading all my stress on him the minute he got home. 

I never tell them about my gift to them. I just watch the effects and enjoy the happy results. This little tradition has become one of my favorite parts of Christmas because it always makes my heart grow three sizes. And it most definitely brings me a little closer to my Savior. 

Do you want to give it a try? What will be your unwrappable gift, and who will you give it to? 

Friday, November 20, 2015

My thanksgiving challenge

3 years ago I gave myself a challenge to only say prayers of gratitude for two weeks leading up to thanksgiving. When I put my plan into action, I immediately felt a difference ripple through my days. My prayers changed from "please help me, please help me" to "I'm grateful for" and "thank Thee for." 

I stopped asking for help parenting my stubborn kid, and started expressing gratitude that she is persistent, hard working, and creative-I started telling My God  "I am grateful I have a kid that achieves what she sets her mind to, doesn't give up or back down from challenges, and thrives on self sufficiency." Suddenly I went from having a difficult child to a dream child. Gratitude changed my attitude.

I stopped asking God to bless the poor and the needy, and started expressing gratitude that I have enough to share, and "thank Thee for the opportunities to do so." Suddenly I wasn't worried about the poor, I was helping the poor. Gratitude moved me to action. 

And so on and so on. 

Then came the big test. One night after a phone call with a loved one wading through deep challenges, I knelt with a very heavy heart. My lips parted, and I almost started to plead for a blessing for this dear one. I stopped short and swallowed down my plea. I had to quiet my aching heart, and ask myself to find gratitude. I started simply by saying how grateful I was for my relationship with this person. And with just a simple start, my heart burst with sorrow and gratitude sweetly mixed together. Once I got started, it was hard to stop. So I didn't-until ALL my gratitude was out.  I poured out my heart in gratitude for Jesus Christ and the hope, light, and Life He gives. I praised the Lord for giving all men second and third and fourth and 52nd chances. I gloried in God's ability to heal all hurts and bind up all wounds. And I humbly thanked Him for His unconditional love for me and all His children. 

And I felt peace descend upon my troubled heart. It was so healing, so relieving to be grateful. All my anguish for my dear one was soothed away, and replaced with peace, love, and hope. So much hope. Gratitude washed away my grief. 

Rarely have I ever felt so near to my Father. Gratitude brought me closer to Him, and it can bring you closer too. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Trick or Treat

Grace in her peacock glory
Amelia as Super Why. The happiness this costume produced cannot be measured.

I have YET to take a picture of Katie in her costume, so we will have to reenact it! 
I snapped this picture after trick or treating. Katie's head was drenched and she even had a wig on over her hair most of the time. It was raining buckets and buckets and buckets, but our kids were determined to go anyway. I mean we've gone trick or treating in the rain pretty much every year since we've been here, but this was a torrential down pour. The kids lasted two blocks and were done. Whew. Our neighbors were giving out handfuls and handfuls because so few trick or treaters dared the weather, and they didn't want to be stuck with the candy. So even with doing two blocks instead of the four we usually do, they still got tons of what to do with it all? Happy Halloween

Happy haunting

Like I said before, the kids talked me into doing a haunted house. With sick kids
and a busy month, this is what we came up with. 
Grace made just about the cutest witch ever stirring our witches brew. 
Katie arranged this little vignette in the laundry room. 
The end of the haunted house was in the garage where we had a black light and an assortment of glow in the dark decorations with Halloween music playing. It was fun and the girls really enjoyed it even though we didn't have the time to do things as elaborate as they originally envisioned. 

I don't know if I am up to it next year though. As simple as we did it, it was still a lot of work. Totally worth their smiles and giggles, but I hope they don't rope me into it next year.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

I love Autumn

Isn't autumn wonderful? Crunchy leaves. Cool mornings, warm afternoons. Apple cider. Pumpkin muffins. Rich colors. 

I was very sad to let summer go, but a beautiful, slow Fall makes up for it. Every year I am surprised by the beauty of fall. You would think that because fall hAppens every year, I wouldn't be dazzled by it as much as I am each year. 

But when autumn rolls around, I gAsp in delight to find a tree turned completely golden or a carpet of ruby leaves under bare branches. And I never tire of finding perfect leaf after perfect leaf in bright hues. 

The cool mornings invigorate me, and I enjoy the warm, soft sunlight in the afternoons. I take the kids outside in those lovely afternoons, and it is perfect playing weather. They gather leaves and sticks, and they listen for the frogs.

I just love it all. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015


I have been in a rut...only a a certain area of my life. I haven't been taking care of my body the last month. Too many indulgences and not enough exercise. You see, I've been burnt out. 

I did my 100 miles of Summer, and while it always made me feel good to get those miles in, I lost enthusiasm. My heart just wasn't in it.

I intended to do Fifty Miles of Fall, but I just can't.

After thinking out loud a little last night, I nailed down one thing. I want to be outside. I want to do what it takes to get my miles done outside. And I need a new goal. A 5k. That's one of my resolutions I set way back when in January, and time is running down for that goal. So being the goal achieving junkie that I am, I have set my eyes on a 5k, and worked out a schedule with Justin to be home with the kids so I can train.

And I am starting to get excited. I feel my interest in being fit coming back on. I even went for a run this morning. So here's to my next adventure! 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Say yes

I said yes today when I could. 

Grace and Amelia started digging out paints and paper this morning, and my head started to ache as I thought about the dishes that need to be done, the disgusting floor that has been neglected, and the laundry mountain on the couch that needing folding. But I took a deep breath and said, "go get your art shirts on." And then I helped for a few minutes setting the environment up for succes so that I could supervise while attempting to get a little housework done. 
I am so glad I said yes. Their smiles were worth it, and I always love seeing their creative side.

Being a mom is so tough. Such a balancing act. When to say yes and when to say no. 

The girls have their hearts set on making a haunted house. I usually would say no to something like this, but they had stars in their eyes, and I just couldn't. So I am collecting creepy decorations and trying to figure out how in the world we are going to do a haunted house. 

But their excitement is palpable. Grace even told me "mom, I got a great idea for our haunted house from a nightmare I had!" Ha! She is so excited about all the creepy things we will include in our haunted house, and can hardly wait to get started on it.
 I love my kids, and I love seeing their eyes light up when I say yes. I just hope they know someday how much I tried to say yes..,how hard I tried not to say no.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Elder Scott

Each time an apostle dies, I am a little sad because I will miss them. But when I found out Elder Scott had passed on, I felt sucker punched. I didn't realize he was even sick beforehand. That would have lessened the blow. 

I cried. And to be honest, I felt a little lost.  Elder Scott has always spoken to me. I've always perked up when he took his place at the pulpit. Always paid a little more attention. 
And now he's gone. Who will be there to speak to me the way he does when I really need it? That's what I asked myself in somewhat disbelief that he was gone. And I couldn't help but feel a little abandoned. Who will be there to guide me the way Elder Scott did? 
I did what I always do when I am upset. I texted Justin and my mom. Justin of course took the eternal perspective on things saying he was happy Elder Scott finally got to reunited with his wife. I didn't want to happy for him. I just wanted him back. 
So many times Elder Scott answered my prayers. He's changed my life more than once. The influence he's had on the decisions I make and the way I make decisions has been huge! 

I suppose I will be able to go on living. My consolation is that I still have all his words to go back and reread. His previous counsel is not gone; I will always have it to read and reread.  And in my heart of hearts, I am happy for him that he is with his beloved wife again. 

But oh, Elder Scott, how I will miss you. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Somebody's been sleeping in my bed...

Henry has been teething, and he's often up at night lately. So he usually ends up in our bed as an attempt on my part to survive. 
But Grace has been really freaked out at night the last month or two, and she almost always ends up in our bed as well...which gets really squishy. I tried to make a bed for her on the floor by our bed, but that doesn't cut it anymore. 
And Amelia has just decided that Lamanites are trying to get her (with a miniaturizer, of course) when she sleeps, so she has been waking up as well. 
This ends up in a game of ring around the beds EVERY night, and quite honestly I am all worn out, and I want out of this game. I have never drugged my kids with melatonin or Benadryl to get them to sleep, but last night around 3:30am, I was considering it. 
Since Henry has become a part of our family, I can count on one hand the number of times I have had three consecutive hours of sleep. 

When Henry isn't teething or sick, he sleeps great. But his sisters are up all the time freaked out that something is going to get them. (By the way, they barely watch tv let alone anything remotely scary so it's not like we are setting ourselves up for failure. They just have active imaginations). 

I got pictures of Christ to put in their rooms so when they are scared they can look at it. Didn't help. They are too out of it at night to think rationally.
We got them stuffed animals and night lights to help them not be afraid. Doesn't work.
We've tried all kinds of rationalization. Nothing. 
We tried leaving the lamp on. They woke up even more.
I think our only option left is either Justin or I sleeping in their room every night.
Oh man. I need a nap.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Back to School

My heart ached sending my kids to school, but they are enjoying it so much that I have accepted the fact and am trying to be cheerful about it. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Simple things.

I found a grasshopper today in the grass. August is such a good time for finding grasshoppers. I knew right away Amelia (my jumper) would love to see a grasshopper, so I held still and called her over. Just before she got to me, I put my toe behind the grasshopper to make it jump. She was so surprised, and instantly intrigued. I inched up behind it to make it jump again. Her little hands crept up by her cheeks, and she toddler "whispered" excitedly, "Let's catch it!"

Henry met White Cat for the first time time today. I had to hold him back. He saw that cat cat and headed straight for him or should I say his tail. He was grunting and squealing like he does when he gets excited. His chubby arms and legs moving so quickly to get him over to that cat. He even tried to push Amelia and grace out of his way! I held his hand in mine, and helped him stroke white cat's back. But each time he let out his high pitched squeal of delight, I was afraid white cat would freak out and scratch. So I shooed white cat away for the good of everyone.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Grace turns 5

Birthdays are bittersweet for me. My mommy heart aches a little too see them grow up. It's a fulfilling ache though. I think it hurts because it can't last forever. 

Oh sweet Grace, how I love you so.

Singing always singing.
Elsa Elsa Elsa
Ninjas, Pirates, spies, and explorers
Princess in black
Reading time with mom (Kirsten books)
Drawing and writing
Pretend nurse

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

the Great Outdoors

Some times I get in a funk. There are several things I do to get myself out of the funk or put myself into a safe place to ride it out. When I say safe place, I mean a setting where I am not required to give or do more than I can offer while in my low sense of mind. (Don't have to prepare big, messy meals. Not required to discipline, enforce, or referee kids. No time schedule to meet or places we have to be.) 

One of the most powerful and potent medicines I use for curing funks is getting outside. The more mountains, trees, rivers, streams, lakes, flowers, grass, and clouds the better. The outdoors has a dual function. It is both a safe place for me to ride out the funk, and it also repairs my mind. 

My kids are less apt to whine for screen time, play with friends, sugary treats, and entertainment when we are in nature. They play happily on their own which gives me time to be still. To think. To replenish my stores.

I soak in the sunshine. The flowers. The breeze. The branches swaying. The water flowing. And then I feel the fractured pieces of my mind come back together. I feel centered again. 

I have learned when I start snipping and snapping and feeling angry at the world or feeling sorry for myself, it is time to pack the kids in the car and go find nature. And I am never disappointed.

Some one is growing up....

Sunday, July 12, 2015


beautiful evening in the field behind our house

 TEmple Square
 red rocks in St. George, UT
train ride in slc

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Little happenings

New swim suits (mostly used for gymnastics)
Henry starts eating solid food via mesh feeder
Katie's friend unintentionally knocks out Katie's loose tooth
Henry gets first two teeth

We survived a round of ear infections, sinus infections, and bad allergies. finally starting to feel healthy again. let's hope it lasts. 

I think Henry has had mor prescriptions in his short little life than any of the girls. This kid is stretching my abilities that's for sure! I don't know if we will ever be out of survival mode! 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Friday, March 20, 2015

Mommy melt down day

I didn't sleep last night. When I say I didn't sleep last night, I mean I was awake around the clock sucking boogers out and putting drops in ears and rubbing Vicks on feet...EVERY TEN MINUTES. Repeat. Repeat.
 Aaaaaaaand, this was night number 3 of this routine. I cried this morning out of pure and utter exhaustion. I called my mom for a question about a recipe and ended up bawling about how exhausted I was. 

But now I have chopped onions in every bedroom. Garlic oil in ears. Vicks on feet PLUS SOCKS, and I don't hear any coughing, sneezing, or crying out in pain. I might, fingers crossed, get more than  twenty minutes of sleep tonight. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015


Today I simultaneously enjoyed four things:
Watching a beautiful sunset
Nursing a sweet baby
Listening to my three sillies splash in the tub
And smelling the delicious creations justin was whipping up

My life is good

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A time and season

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught, “We need not worry if we can’t simultaneously do all of the things that the Lord has counseled us to do. … In response to our sincere prayers for guidance, He will direct us in what should be emphasized at each phase of our life. We can learn, grow, and become like Him one consistent step at a time.”1

I often feel like I am letting the ball drop in certain areas of my life but I need to remember, there is a time and a season for all things.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Miss Amelia

These are real life conversations with my two year old: 

Me: Mia, it's time for your nap.
Mia: (face palm) Not again....

(while getting her diaper changed) "help! My mom is trying to kill me!"

Me: Amelia, you want to wear this one?
Amelia: No! It's too wrong to me. Too wrong to me.

Me: what should we have for dinner?
Amelia: MEAT!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Random Things

If I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life, it would be cookies. Hands down. 
Sometimes I do something so clever, I have to tell everyone about it. I hid the girls' barbies in the playhouse, and left a ransom note for them from Captain Hook. Kept my kids occupied and playing outside all afternoon. Also Grace kept peering over her shoulder the rest of the day, making sure Captain Hook wasn't going to sneak up on her....she knows in her mind he isn't real, but hasn't quite convinced her heart that he isn't. Hahahaha. 

Henry likes eye contact. Eye contact with me. If he doesn't have eye contact, he screams. This makes life very interesting. Squeezing in a shower is at a whole new level of difficulty. As is going ANYWHERE in the car.

I really like to listen to Rock and Roll music from the 60s. 

Every morning I open all the blinds and curtains in the house to let any natural light in.

I hate sending Katie to school everyday. If I didn't think she would never forgive me, I would homeschool her. Summer is too far away.

My life is good. I am happy.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Hard things

Being a mom is hard. But hard does not mean bad. It means learning and growing and stretching and becoming stronger. 
It means I will go without sleep. It means I will not have much if any privacy...even when using the bathroom. It means eating the leftover crusts from someone's sandwich and counting it as lunch. It means holding a baby while doing my workout. It means holding in my angry words and walking out of the room. It means saying yes when I really want to say no. 

It means loving and giving and finding strength beyond my own. It means losing myself and because I have lost myself, I have find myself...a better self than the one I lost.

My motto for 2015 is "dig down deep and do hard things." 


I did every one of my resolutions from last year...except one that ended up being more expensive than I thought it would be so I nixed it. Completing resolutions....or me a natural high. I am a goal-achieving junkie. I love setting goals and making things happen. 

This year I want to:
Run a 5k
Finish a quilt
Read the New Testament cover to cover
Get back to my prepregnancy weight
Write a thank you note or a note of encouragement once a week