My inspiration for this record of my days:

“The biggest mistake I made [as a parent] is the one that most of us make. . . . I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of [my three children] sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages six, four, and one. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less” -Anna Quindlen

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas highlights

I have had such a happy, relaxing Christmas season this year.  I’ve been trying to analyze what made it so easy so I can do it again every year!  Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1.  I’ve been milking the “I just had a baby” excuse for all it’s worth.  I didn’t sign up for ANYTHING extra.  No helping in classes, no hosting parties, no taking meals to those in need.  Nada.  I realize that may not be the best long-term approach to life, but it sure has allowed me to relax and enjoy my own family this year.


This is the newest addition to our Christmas book collection.  Gingerbread Pirates.  I think it’s funny that I have to read to them “classroom style.”  It’s the only way everyone can see!

2.  The one exception to #1 was that I was asked to direct the choir for the Stake Christmas concert.  I was a bit hesitant, because I knew it would be hard.  And it was!  As of the day before the concert, I was still a nervous wreck!  Wondering if we would have an orchestra or not was the biggest stressor. (Well, that, and the fact that I have never even been IN an orchestra, let alone direct one!  Scary!)  But the night of the concert, everything came together perfectly!  We had over 50 people in the choir, and a 15(ish) piece orchestra.  They were amazing!!  What a rush to stand up there and wave my arms, and have such beautiful music happen!  The church was completely filled all the way back to the stage, and I got so many compliments.  Every single musical number that night was outstanding.  I still get goosebumps remembering…

3.  We got our Christmas shopping done early, and mostly online.  The kids’ shopping was much more fun this year too.  Instead of taking them all at the same time and trying to hide all of their presents from each other, I took them in shifts.  Simon and I went to the dollar store while the other kids were at school, and I had so much fun being able to listen to just him, and talk through what each of his siblings would like.  It was hard to convince him that the girls, for example, would not especially want a dinosaur or a truck!

4.  We planned ahead.  We had a family home evening where each child got to pick a Christmas tradition that was important to them, and we made a list.  Then when we had a free evening, (which we seemed to have more than usual.  See #1) we would do one of those activities.  Temple Christmas lights, gingerbread houses, caroling, ice skating, hot chocolate and Christmas movies, and secret santa-ing a family.  Check, check and check!


With everything else running so smoothly, I felt like I had time to really think about what Christmas means in my life.  Yes it means fun family activities and heart-stirring music, but the birth of Jesus Christ brought so much more than that to me. 

Because He was born on the earth, I have his life and example to follow.  Because He died for me, I can repent and change.  I can become better.  Because He lives still, He can help to carry my burdens and bring peace to my life.  I feel like I have come to know Him and depend on Him more this year than I had before.  And the closer I get to Him, the more I am filled with love.  For Him, for my family, for my fellowman, and for myself.

To be continued…

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Less than perfect


On Sunday I listened to President Uchdorf’s Christmas message.  He talked about how we sometimes try so hard to make the Christmas season too perfect.  Then when things go wrong, as they always do, we feel disappointed.  “We have in our minds a picture of how everything should be—the perfect tree, the perfect lights, the perfect gifts, and the perfect family events. … [But] sooner or later, something unpleasant occurs … and the picture-perfect Christmas we had imagined, the magic we had intended to create, shatters around us.”

His words couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time for us.  On Monday we put up our Christmas tree for family home evening.


We have what some would call a “junk tree.” Each year we give the kids an ornament that reminds us of them during that year.  Consequently, we have everything from Yoda to Scout Shirts to Spatulas hanging there.  We were doing the math, and in 10 years we will have at least 70 more ornaments on that tree!

Toward the end of the evening we turned off the lights to sing Christmas carols.  The kids who take piano lessons accompanied the singing- each of the older four knew at least one Christmas song.  When it was Simon’s turn to choose a carol, he wanted to accompany us, too.  He climbed up onto the piano bench, waited for me to start him, and confidently plunked out our “accompaniment” with 2 fingers.  When the song was over he climbed down, satisfied._MG_2559

I have to mention that during this time Jonah was curled up under a chair with his hands over his ears, yelling his own song to block out what we were singing.

Jeff and I just looked at each other and couldn’t stop laughing.  Good thing we weren’t worried about perfection!  At  the end of the night Savannah made the comment that it was a great evening, so I guess perfection is not what great memories are made of. 


Friday, December 2, 2011

Elijah’s blessing

For logistical reasons, we decided to bless little Eli at my parents house on the same day that Lindsey blessed Milo.

(Milo on the left, Eli on the right.  We had a hard time getting them to co-operate for pictures!)


It was such a lovely day.  The Bishop of my parents’ ward was there to preside, and my dad conducted.  After a prayer, Jeff gave Elijah Jeffrey a name and a blessing.  I can’t find the paper that we took notes on, but I remember a couple of details:

He was blessed that he would be a good example to his brothers and sisters, and also that he would learn to follow their good examples.

He was blessed with health and strength.

And my favorite- he was blessed that he would have the desire to seek out truth, and the wisdom to recognize it.



After the blessing my dad invited Lindsey and I to bear our testimonies.  I mentioned how grateful I am for my family members who keep coming, even after 7 baby blessings, to show their support.  Somehow it makes me feel like Elijah is officially part of the family, and that his life is important.



Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Giving Thanks

It was a great Thanksgiving.  People count – 61.  Homemade (by the girls and me)roll count – 194.  Pie count –34.  You get the idea… it was a bountiful feast!

It was everybody’s “on year.”  Meaning that nobody was missing, spending the holiday with their in-laws.  All of my siblings, except for Aunt Kami in Guatemala, were there with their spouses.  All of the Griffith cousins had come- some from out of state.  Even sweet cousin Jill, who is fighting cancer, was there to celebrate.  Our family has grown through marriages and births, and it was a big, joyful reunion.

As I peeked around that kitchen during the prayer (when my eyes should have been closed,) I felt such a swelling of gratitude.  My heart and my eyes overflowed as I thought about the abundance of good things in my life.  I am married to my very best friend, who loves me and takes care of me.  My children are happy and healthy.  They have never known hunger or war.  We live in a land of peace and freedom, full of opportunities.  I could go on and on.

Crowding into the front room for our traditional singing time,  I thought about my Father in Heaven, and what the Book of Mormon calls “the great plan of happiness.”    This is exactly what he wants for us.  He wants us to feel joy, in spite of all the hard things that happen in life.   He wants for our families to be united- to strengthen and support each other.  I felt strongly that following His commandments and guidelines is the surest way to be happy.  I had to take a little break from singing so I could soak up all that love and happiness! 

I am so grateful for all of the blessings in my life.  Especially my family.  And I picture heaven as a bigger, better, Thanksgiving day!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Shake well

The other day I noticed, a few times, that the kids were shaking the silverware drawer.  They would open it, shake it a few times, then grab a fork or spoon and be on their way.

I didn’t think much of it because, well, kids do things like that sometimes.  Only when Savannah asked about it did I realize what was going on.  As she was taking her turn to shake the silverware drawer she asked “Mom, why do you want us to shake this before we use it?”

Confused, I asked what she was talking about.  She pointed out the “instructions” stuck to the front of the drawer.



Someone had put this sticker on the front of the drawer.  Since I have been labeling everything lately, (light switches, closet shelves, bathroom cabinets, etc.) the kids just assumed it was put there by me.

With their usual unquestioning obedience, (HA!) they were faithfully following my instructions.  Shake well before each use.

When I explained that it wasn’t put there by me at all, we all had a good laugh.  For the rest of the day the kids had fun trying to sneak that sticker to each others’ behinds.

Too bad I didn’t get any pictures of that!  Or better yet, videos!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

In the trenches (of motherhood)

Savannah took this picture of the glamorous life that I lead.  Ha!


And to re-post from last year:

Trying to get Caleb to do anything that was not his idea is at least as pointless as banging your head repeatedly against the kitchen cabinets.

I should know. I tried both today. I prefer the head banging.

I didn’t physically bang my head against the cabinets today, but it’s the same feeling.  I can’t talk him into eating breakfast OR packing a decent lunch these days.

On the bright side…



Elijah is learning to make cooing sounds.  It’s so cute to watch his whole body work so hard to get one little sound out.  And then he acts surprised and tries again.  He’s a smiley, good natured little guy!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Birthday boy

Happy 9th Birthday to Josh!  We had a nice family celebration at home.  He requested a barbeque for his special dinner, and Aunt Theresa helped make a cake.

We got a video of him blowing out his candles, but no pictures.  The only actual photo we have is this one of him holding his new birthday quilt that is mostly finished in this picture:


Some things that I love about that boy:

The way his eyes and his WHOLE FACE lights up when he’s really excited.

He is super thoughtful, and tells me often how much he appreciates me.

He is a good big brother.  He does a great job when I need him to babysit Simon and Jonah so I can nap or get things done.

He’s very creative, and has a great imagination.  Right now he loves to make origami and duck tape creations.

He loves basketball, and really likes to be coached.  I love to see him willing to work so hard at something.

I love that he loves to read, maybe as much as I do!

He is generous.  When I take him to the dollar store, he always wants to spend a couple of dollars on things to share.

I have such a clear memory of the day he was born.  The moment I saw him, I knew that this was Joshua.  (We had been a little uncertain of his name up to that point.) It was like I had known this boy forever, and he had been a  part of our family forever.

Happy Birthday Josh!  I’m so glad you’re a part of our family!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Moments and Filters


I wish there was a way to really capture moments and hang on to them.  I want to keep more than pictures and words.  I want to remember all of the details and feelings of this moment.

I’m up late at night with a sweet newborn baby nuzzling my neck.  He has just finished nursing, and is drowsy and content.  His hair is so soft that I can barely feel it as I stroke his little head.  His legs and arms are curled up under him so that he makes a compact little bundle up against my chest.  He smells sweet and makes little grunting sounds as he tries to get comfortable.

The lights are dim, and the house is clean and quiet.  I am feeling blessed to have such a beautiful life.  I’m looking at the pictures of my other kids on the walls, thinking how fast the time has gone.  I’m so grateful that I have gotten to experience these sweet moments so many times. 

There is something about having a new baby in the house that makes the atmosphere more peaceful.  Even sacred.  It’s like we have a soft filter over our home.  The kids can feel it, I know, because they have been happier and kinder to each other.  Not perfect, of course, but really sweet.

I can see Caleb, in particular, watching, absorbing the way his dad takes care of me and the baby and storing that information away for future use.  I hope that one day he will be as sweet and gentle and caring as his dad is with me.

Of course there are plenty of details that I don’t care to keep forever, but these sweet ones are what make life beautiful.  I am grateful for moments.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Welcome Baby Elijah!

You know the old saying of “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all?”  Well that’s why my blog has really been sparse.   I was having a hard time there towards the end of the pregnancy.

I’m happy to announce that little Elijah Jeffrey Davis, also known as Eli, has finally arrived!  He was a healthy 10 lbs. 3 oz. and 20 1/2 in. long.


He was born Thursday, September 22nd.  I went in at 9:00 am to be induced (he was already 2 days late) and he was born at 7:30 pm.



After: (We were both pretty happy he was out of there!)


It took several hours of Pitocen to get my labor going, but once the Dr broke my water, things really took off.  He came in to check me about an hour and a half later, and it was already time to push.  About 3 minutes later we had a baby!

Grandma and Grandpa Alston had taken the kids out to Organ Stop Pizza for dinner, and came by the hospital on the way home.  They were just in time to meet Eli when he was nice and alert.  We had our first family prayer together, and everyone got to hold him.


I sure love my sweet family.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mystery talking

This morning on the way to school, Jonah (a first grader) said “I really don’t like all that mystery talking in the morning.”

Having no idea what he was talking about, I asked “What is mystery talking?”

“You know, the one that always ends with ‘Have a great day!”

Caleb caught on a little faster than I did.  He asked “Jonah, does this mystery talking come from a little box up high on the wall in your classroom?”


“Does everyone in your class think it’s a mystery?”


“That box is called a speaker, and the mystery talking is called the morning announcements.”

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Random goings-on

To be totally honest, this has not been the most joyful summer of my life.  I’m hugely pregnant, hot, and extremely irritable.  Just ask my kids.  Nevertheless, I feel the need to document a few summer happenings.

Caleb and Josh have spent HOURS making things out of duck tape.  That was not a typo, by the way. Duck tape is the much more interesting cousin of duct tape.  It comes in lots of colors and patterns, and can be used to make everything from wallets to roses to bookbags.  It has been a double dream come true for me.  It has kept the boys entertained quietly indoors, which is not at all easy to do, and it has kept them asking for more chores all summer.  “Please, Mom?  Can I have another job to do for another roll of duck tape?”

Jonah has lost his first tooth, and already has two more wiggly ones.

(I plan on adding a few pictures later, but for now I just better get this posted!)

We’ve had lots of mama hens sitting on their eggs with some success.  We’ve had a total of 6 baby chicks.  Two of them have died, but four of them are still following their mama all around the yard, while she teaches them important things, like how to scratch in the dirt.  So cute!


Jeff has been working like a madman on our back yard.  He has pulled up lots of unwanted trees and bushes, pulled down what was left of the old shed, hauled something like 16 loads to the dump, and re-arranged tons (literally) of dirt.

When it was all ready, we flooded the dirt lot and let the kids all invite friends for a “mud bowl” party.  I think it was a success.



Simon has discovered a love of puzzles. He wants to do them over and over again, which works pretty well for me. It’s something we can do together that allows me to sit on the couch.

Speaking of couches, we got a big, new sectional for the family room. It was really long past time to replace the old ones. I also re-finished the kitchen island, re-painted the coffee table, and re-did the kids computer area. We also got a cabinet to contain the kids’ toys. I was trying to squeeze in as many projects as I could (a kind of “nesting”?) before I got too big to function.

That time has arrived, by the way. I spend most of my days sitting on the couch whining that my back hurts, which it really, really does. The other day I asked one of the kids to get something for Simon so I wouldn’t have to get up. The response I got was “Boy… I can’t wait until you’re not pregnant anymore, so you can actually do some things around here!” All I can say to that is… me too, guys. Me too.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Conspiracy

I’m pretty sure I know what my kids talk about, late at night, when they are supposed to be sleeping.  I suspect they lie there and talk about how they can create the maximum amount of work for me, while maintaining a facade of innocence.

I can hear it now:

“When mom asks me to do something, I’m gonna pretend to be agreeable, and then when she turns her back, I’ll ‘forget’ to do it.  That way she’ll have to ask me several times, and follow me around to make sure it gets done.”

“Oh yeah?  Well my plan is to sneak all the clean laundry back into the dirty baskets so she’ll have to wash things over and over again.”

“I’ve been leaving wet towels on the carpet in the corners of my room.  By the time she thinks to look for them there, they’ll smell so bad she’ll have to wash them with bleach!”

“Well when I clear my dishes, I leave big chunks of food in them.  By the time mom figures it out, stuff is always crusted on there, and she has to scrub them double the amount of time.”

“One of the easiest ways to drive her crazy is to put things away in the wrong place.  She’ll spend forever looking for things!”

“Yeah!  That’s a good one!  She may catch on to some of our tricks, but by the time she has to ask each person to find out who made which mess, it probably won’t be worth it.  It’ll just be easier to clean it up herself!

Even Simon has joined in on the fun.  His secret weapon is to suck on the top of the salt shaker, so that every time I want to use it, I have to clean it out to unclog it.

Jeff tries to assure me that it isn’t conscious sabotage, but I’m not so sure.  Maybe tonight I’ll listen outside their bedroom doors…

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Alston Family Reunion 2011

Here are a few pictures from the recent Alston reunion in Payson.  I don’t really have anything eloquent to say about it, but only because my brain is barely functional these days.


Simon slept in the bathtub of our hotel room.  We’ve got to make good use of the space, you know!


Swimming with cousins in the hotel pool.


We spent one afternoon at the Verde River, where I remember playing as a kid.  The next generation jumped off the rocks, swung from the rope, and hunted for crawdads.  Of course my dad was the first one all the way in the water.  And fully clothed!

_MG_8844 IMG_8922

One of the highlights for me was sitting and listening to Uncle RT and Aunt Frankye, two of the “origional” siblings, sit and tell stories from their childhood.   They talked about working long, hard days in the fields, and only getting to keep $.25 of their earnings each week.  The rest went toward supporting the family!  It made realize, again, that I really don’t require too much of my kids. 


Monday, June 27, 2011

Oh What Do You Do In the Summertime?


We’re finding all sorts of creative ways to stay entertained!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fwee dollars


Simon asks me every day: “Da baby come out your tummy today?”  And every day I have to answer “Not today, buddy.”  It’s going to be a long 3 months of waiting!

Yesterday he was on my bed rubbing my tummy and talking about all the things he will do to help when the baby comes out.  He will hold it, and hug it, and bring mommy diapers.  Those ideas all came from my coaching.

He came up with one idea all on his own.  “When da baby comes out,” he said with an air of importance, “I give it fwee dollars.” (Translation $3.)  I asked, “You think the baby will need three dollars, huh?”  He answered confidently, “Ya. And diapers, and binkies, and blankies.”

Sounds like Simon knows just what his little brother will need.   I’m glad he’s planning ahead!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Savannah – 12 years old!

This is a big birthday for Savannah!  She turned 12, which means she gets to go to Young Women’s at church.  That includes weekly activities and girls camp this summer!  She also gets to wear make-up, and takes on the responsibility of managing her own yearly clothing budget.


To celebrate the big step, she got to have a sleep-over party.  That’s a big deal, because we don’t do sleepovers… ever!

The girls had fun with a snowball fight (ordered from Bahama Bucks) and water balloons.  They stayed up late and watched a movie, and spent some time just hanging out and having fun.

_MG_8516Savannah is such a great girl.  When she was a toddler, I wished that I had given her the middle name of Joy, because she had such a happy disposition.  She still does.

She always notices when I am having a hard time, and is quick to offer to help.

She is FUNNY!  Her sense of humor keeps us all laughing.  I often hear her and Rebecca in their room giggling long after they should be asleep!

She is really smart.  I’m not sure she realizes how smart she really is.

Besides just natural brains, she is also a high achiever.  She always tries her very best on whatever she does.  In some of her classes she earned higher than 100%!

She loves to learn new things, and has a variety of interests.  She makes rolls from scratch, takes really artistic photos, excels at piano lessons, and has a list of other things she’d like to learn.

Happy Birthday, my sweet Savannah!  You are truly a joy to me!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Why I love 2 year olds


This guy makes me smile so many times a day!  He spent the afternoon, happy as can be, wearing only his big boys, his new “fli-flops,” and his stickers.


He’s  a willing participant in whatever schemes his siblings think up:



And he’s full of enthusiasm!  He runs, jumps, and dances all day long.  If only I could borrow a fraction of that energy!


Having a 2 year old in the house makes life a lot of fun!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Jonah – age 6

Jonah had promised me that he would stay 5 forever… but it was a promise he just couldn’t keep.

He turned 6 on May 21st, and planned a super fun Halloween-themed party to celebrate!


All the guests came in costumes.  We had pizza and a jack-o-lantern cake, and then everyone went Trick-or-Treating.  He got a Lego watch (which he’s been wanting for months), a glow in the dark doodle pad, and lots of other cool stuff.

Some things we love about Jonah at this age:

He is super smart.  He reads his chapter books in his bed at night, and tells me what happened in the book the next morning.

He’s crafty.  He spends lots of time making cards and pictures for all of us.  Many of them are stuck to the walls around the house with duct tape.

He’s a good big brother.  He and Simon can spend hours outside together jumping on the trampoline or playing in the sandbox.

He’s very loving.  He likes to tell us that he loves us frequently, and gives really good hugs when I ask him.

He’s got a great imagination, and a vocabulary to match it!

We love you Jonah!  Happy Birthday!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

My own personal cheerleader


The other night I was trying to open a new box of diapers.  It was a big box, with tape running all the way around it.

As I was tugging at the tape, trying to get it off, Simon came up and stood in front of me.  He started cheering.

“Come on, Mom!  Pull!  Pull, Mom pull!  You could do it!”

“Gimme a O!  Gimme a S!   Goooo Mommy!”

Who could  possibly fail with a cheering section like that?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Secret Weapon

Jonah has been getting picked on at school._MG_6638

Some mean boys at school tell him that he HAS TO play the chasing game at recess, and  that he HAS TO be on the girls’ team.  Then they chase him down and shove him into the fence or wrestle him to the ground.

Recess was becoming less than fun for him.  Until yesterday.

We were having a talk about standing up to those boys.  I told him that he did NOT have to do anything they said!  He came up with an idea of his own.

“I know!  I can just breathe in their noses and they will run away screaming!”

It’s a technique that has proved successful against his brothers and sisters, due to a chronic and potent case of halitosis.

Yesterday he came home from school feeling successful and powerful.

“It worked!” he proclaimed.  “I just breathed in their noses and they all ran away!”

They haven’t dared to bully him since.  I’m so proud!

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Jeff and I wanted to visit Lindsey (and Preston, I should add,) in Seattle before she moves in June.  So we left all the kids with Sarah and my Mom – bless their hearts- and took off!

Lindsey was a great hostess/ personal tour guide. She even provided us with lovely, sunshiny weather, which I hear is pretty hard to come by!


We visited the famous Pike’s Place Market, and ate the yummy homemade doughnuts.  We sampled lots of fun things, and took home some delicious rosemary-garlic pasta!


We toured the underground of Seattle.


We got to ride on a ferry, and tour some gorgeous countryside!


We saw beautiful Snoqualmie (sp?) falls, and got caught in a little hail storm.


We took some “couples pictures,” as proposed by Lindsey.  First Jeff and I…


Then Lindsey and I…


We Tiptoed Through the Tulips at the annual tulip festival.


It’s too bad I can’t include all of the pictures. Jeff really got some great ones!  It’s interesting though… as much as I loved all the entertainment, and the new sights, they weren’t the highlight of the trip.  For me, the best part of the trip was getting to sleep in every day.  I rested when I felt like it.  I ate when I felt like it, and didn’t have to worry about any responsibilities for a couple of days.  What a treat!

It sure was nice to get home though, to my wonderful kids.  It’s nice to be missed and loved and needed!

Sunday, April 3, 2011





And last, but not least… the spring/summer haircuts!