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

Monday, December 30, 2013

Before I forget...

A few days before Christmas, Josh and I were trying to figure out which siblings he still had to get gifts for.  He was in the other room, so I yelled across the house, "Hey!  I have an idea what you could get Caleb."

From the bathroom, I heard Caleb's panicked voice shouting "I am here!  Hey!  I am here!"  It's a good thing he yelled, because I thought he was out with his friends.

For some reason, that just really struck my funny bone.  The mental picture of Caleb, sitting on the pot, shouting to make his presence known.   It makes me chuckle, even now.

A couple of years ago, he went on before Christmas and accidentally discovered what he was getting for Christmas.  Apparently, it was really disappointing to him, and he didn't want to repeat that.

That's all.  Just a funny moment that I didn't want to forget.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Right now there are shoes on the couch and shoes on the table.  About half of the cupboards in the kitchen are hanging open.  The juicer is still full of pulp from this morning's orange juice.

I spent the day taking care of a very sick little Eli, who thought, apparently, that spitting at me or hitting me in the face would somehow make him feel better.  I missed the girls' choir concert, because I haven't been here for the little boys' bedtime routine for 8 days in a row.

There was a big mix-up with the irrigation, a doctors appointment, my turn to cook for three large families, and a minor emotional break-down on my part.

Yet somehow, as I knelt down by my bed tonight, I felt such a flood of gratitude for all of the blessings in my life.  Even, or right now especially, for the messiness of life.

I am grateful to be here, in the middle of this beautiful chaos that goes along with raising a family.

When I was straddling the irrigation ditch, hoping I would be able to hoist myself back up without falling in the water, I happened to look up and see the most beautiful bright yellow leaves on the trees down the road.

When Savannah saw the signs of my impending emotional break-down, she jumped right in and helped with dinner.  Jeff went out after dinner to get me some chocolate chip cookies that felt really important in that moment.

And for only the second or third time so far this month, I got to sit with the boys and read our "traditional, nightly" Christmas story.

I love moments of clarity that come, usually unexpectedly, in the midst of the daily whirlwind.  It feels like time stops racing forward just long enough for me to take a deep breath and let the beauty of my life make an imprint on my heart.

And tomorrow the whirlwind will begin again, but my heart will be just a little bit different.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Nighttime (one-sided) conversations

Jonah has been really into making comic books lately.  They're pretty cute!

The other day, Caleb was seated up to the counter eating something (as usual) and I was in the kitchen working.  Jonah made some comment, as he passed through, about his latest comic.

When he had left the room, Caleb said "Oh believe me, I have heard ALL about it!  It's called 'Dead Man's Chest', and the cover has a picture of a skeleton with an arrow pointing to his chest."  He proceeded to give me lots and lots of details about it.

He said that is what Jonah talks about all night, while Caleb is trying to fall asleep.

I couldn't stop smiling to myself thinking about what that looks like.

Caleb lying in his bed, eyes closed, trying to sleep.  Jonah lying face up, wheels in his head turning non-stop, mouth going on and on, not really caring if Caleb responds or not.  He has a captive audience!

To appreciated this scenario, you must know that Jonah loves nothing in this world more than talking, and I can never seem to give him as much listening time as he would like.

It sure warmed my heart to think of the memories those cute brothers are making.

This room swap is working out exactly as I hoped!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Sports are such a large part of our lives these days!  

It was Simon's first time playing soccer this season

You can see that he took it pretty seriously.  Much more so than some of the little girls.

Savannah played on the freshman volleyball team at Williams Field this year.  They had a great season, and Savannah was awarded "most improved player."  It was so fun to watch her play!

And Eli thinks that he is just as big and capable as all the other kids around here!

Josh and Jonah are, of course, playing basketball again this season, but somehow I don't have any pictures of that on my computer.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

My favorite place

The girls and I attended a special Mother-Daughter dinner on Wednesday night.

We played a game where we were asked questions about each other and had to compare answers to see how well we know each other.  One of the questions was "What is your mom's favorite place in the world?"

When we turned over our cards to reveal our answers, all three of us had written "our house/home."

There was a little catch in my throat as we celebrated that we had gotten that one right.  I am so glad they know how much I love my home.  Yes, I love my house, but I especially love my home.

I love home because that is where my family is.  I really enjoy every one of those wonderful kids who bring their own talents and humor to contribute to our family.   I love the feeling there as we learn and grow together. I love that it feels like a refuge and a safe place to gather to escape the world.

It made me feel like I am doing something right.  My girls recognize that I am content with what I have, and that there is nowhere in the world I would rather be than at home with my family.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

New Roommates

Caleb and Josh have been roommates for about 11 years now.  They have had their ups and downs for sure, but they have mostly learned to get along.

Jonah and Simon have only been together for 4 1/2 years so far, and they are great friends.

Jeff and I have gone back and forth with the pros and cons of rearranging the bedroom situation.  I really want the boys to have a chance to bond with a variety of brothers!

Jonah has long looked up to Caleb, and I thought how fun it would be for him to get to share a room with his idol.  (Although within the first 10 minutes we heard Caleb trying to con Jonah out of a dollar!)  Josh and Simon seem to have similar personalities, both very thoughtful.  I think that they could be great friends.

The biggest deterrent has been the bedtime issue.  The older boys go to bed at 9:00, and the youngers are still at 8:00.  That hour has been some really fun playtime for Jonah and Simon.

This weekend Caleb and Josh got in a bit of a fight, each complaining about the other.  So Jeff took the leap and announced that, starting that very minute, we would be switching room assignments.

Josh moved in with Simon, and Jonah went to join Caleb.

It took all 6 of us about an hour, but we got the job done!  Most of the time was spent sorting through Jonah's piles and stacks of "important stuff."  Lets just say that this was a much needed de-junking session!

All of a sudden, Caleb and Josh are very worried about the younger boys not living up to their high standards of cleanliness.  HUH???????  Maybe some unexpected good will come of this switch!

One of the first items of business in Josh and Simon's room was to come up with a list of rules to post on the wall:

I think they're off to a good start!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Life according to my iPhone. Because I have one.

I finally joined civilization and got an iPhone.  Now I can get directions any time I need them, participate in group texts with my family, and snap a picture any time I want!

Here is what I have captured this week:

The girls had their first choir concert of the year.  Becca is in the top choir, and scored for herself the BEST solo!  She did great!  Savannah is in the show choir, which was super fun to watch!  She danced and sang and looked just darling.

I took Eli shoe shopping for some new sandals.  He REALLY wanted the silver flower ones, but they were a little too big.  I can't blame him, though.  They were a lot more fun than the boy shoes!

20 hamburgers devoured in about 90 seconds

Caleb and his friends crack me up right now.  They are growing like crazy, and hungry all the time!  On Sunday Becca was telling me that her friends always say "Your mom is so pretty!" (Which is such a nice compliment, but not the point of this story.)  Caleb, who was listening, said "Really?  My friends always say 'I want food!' "  Pretty funny because it is so true!  I really need to step up my food game around here.  We are going to be in the hungry boys phase for many years!

Family home evening activity.  Jonah has been obsessed with doing Halloween crafts, so we all decided to join him.

The finished product.
 Three cheers for my iPhone!

Friday, October 4, 2013

What my kids do for fun

I have these pictures on my computer by the hundreds.  Literally, hundreds!

Please tell me that someday they will be valuable?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sweet Sixteen

Let it be documented that Rebecca turned 16 this year!  And I think she was pretty happy about it!

 Theresa and I spent MANY hours creating this masterpiece.  That was really above and beyond normal sisterly duty, I tell ya!  We chose piano keys because Becca loves music, a beach scene because the beach is her favorite place in the world, and chevron stripes because they are so now!
 We threw her a surprise party, and I think it was a legitimate surprise!  Except that she came in the door sooner than we expected, and we were all just sitting there in our party hats.  Ummm... Surprise!

Emet and Hazel
Opening gifts

Samantha and Camille
some of the boys (Alex, Justin and Scottie)

The cutest boy at the party

After the surprise, Jeff loaded up all the friends and took them to Skateland, then brought them back for dinner and cake.  I'm happy that she has such a good group of friends! And I couldn't be happier with the person Becca is becoming.  She is such a joy to me!  Happy birthday my sweet girl!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Good Mom: the ongoing quest

I read an article recently about all of the different "types" of moms there are.  Some examples are The Crafty Mom, the Super Fit Mom, the Well-Dressed Mom (with well-dressed kids, of course) and Organic Mom, who feeds her kids nothing but the healthiest, organic, whole foods.

Tangent:  I actually tried to be Organic Mom about a year ago for a few months.  I'm a firm believer in eating healthy and taking good care of our bodies.  I did a pretty good job of it for a while, but I came to a disappointing conclusion:  I really don't like spending SO much of my time and energy on food.  I don't like to be in the kitchen all day, and I felt like that's what it took to feed everyone completely healthy.  Although I felt good about what was going into our bodies, I wasn't happy.  It was too high a price for me to pay.

Anyway... that article used some stereotypes to make a point, and it really got me thinking.  There are lots of ways to be a good mom, and nobody is ALL of those things.  Super Fit mom does what she does because (presumably) it makes her happy.  Crafty mom must be really happy when she's doing crafts. (A little hard for me to relate to!)

So I started thinking, what kind of good mom do I want to be?  A happy one!  I want to be the kind of mom that spreads joy in the home, and makes her children feel happy and loved.

I'm sure that is every mom's goal, but it was good for me to come to that realization again.  The hard part, then, is to figure out how I, with my unique talents and personality, can best accomplish that in my own home.  I came to the conclusion that I am happiest when I have time to slow down and enjoy activities with my kids.  I love to take Simon and Eli to library story time.  I like to take the older ones out to lunch for some individual time.  I love to do things with my kids that help me get to know them better.  I love it when I have enough time to notice the little details that make life sweet.  That's what makes me a happy mom, which will hopefully translate to happy kids.

The problem is... with 7 kids to clean up after, shop for, cook for, etc., it takes a whole lot of effort to create those kinds of moments.  There is so much work that needs to be done!!

So I haven't totally solved my problem.  I know that organization helps.  If I make a good plan, I end up having more "slow" time.  I know that taking time for scriptures in the morning helps.  When I am doing well spiritually, I'm better able to discern what is most important, and I am more aware of blessings in my life.  And it helps to step back and remember the big picture.  To remember why I do all of the work that I do:  So that I can love and nurture and enjoy these children (and husband) that I am so blessed to have in my life.

So, to be a good mom, I need to be a happy mom.  Some days that comes easily, and other days I have to fake it 'til I make it.  But when my kids get old enough to reflect on their childhood, I want them to remember that their mom was happy being a mom.  For me, that would be the ultimate compliment.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013



You should hear my house right now.  It is silent.

Today is the first day with everyone back in school.  It's been a long, drawn-out ordeal this year, with kids in 3 different schools with 3 different start dates.  Or 4, if you count Simon going to preschool.

I used to be a bit judgmental of those moms that couldn't wait for school to start.  There was a time when summer felt like such a delightful break!  We had craft days, field trips and water days.  Literacy time, quiet time, and a 7:00 bedtime.  (Wow!  I had forgotten that my kids used to go to bed before me!)

Without spending time on the details, let's just say that is NOT what summer feels like anymore.  I am really ready to have everyone settled back into a productive routine that doesn't involve me trying to keep them all entertained all day.

I find myself overflowing with gratitude for all the great opportunities my kids have to choose from.  This year we have choir (x2), volleyball, band (Caleb on percussion and Josh on trombone), piano lessons, basketball, scouts, young women, preschool, National Honor Society, and AP classes.  So far. Yes, that can be a little stressful on the budget, especially at the beginning of the year.  But I feel so lucky that the kids can be exposed to so many wonderful things!

I have had a headache for the past 4 or 5 days, so today feels especially bright for me, since I woke up with no pain!  (The world is definitely a happier place without a headache!)   I have accomplished more today than I have in a week!

I know the day will come all too soon when I will have more silence in my house than I would wish for.  And I will miss these days when everyone was under my roof, and everyone needed me all day long.

But today I am glad for a moment of silence.  I might as well enjoy it!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Jonah's baptism

What a great day!

It's a really long story as to how it turned out this way, but suffice it to say that Jonah had his very own special baptismal service.

Jonah felt so special.  I was sharing my testimony toward the end, and he was on the front row just beaming up at me.  A couple of times his eyes filled up with tears as he felt the Holy Spirit.

I read his journal entry that night, and he said "Mom and Dad gave special talks just for me."  (We were invited up to share our testimonies right before the Bishop spoke.)

While we were waiting for him to change clothes, we handed out index cards for everyone to write a little note to him on his special day.  I need to get them all in a book so he can look at them over and over.

Jonah with his Grandpa Alston, whom he adores and idolizes.
Jonah is such a sweet boy.  He seems younger to me than his brothers and sisters did at this age, but I'm in no hurry for him to outgrow his little boy-ness.

He is kind and thoughtful, and generally undemanding.  If you let him, he will talk your ear off, but he's  patient when he needs to be.

He's got some great ideas, and the wheels in his head are always turning.  At any given moment you could ask him what he's imagining, and he would have an answer for you.  That makes it hard sometimes for him to stay focused on an assigned task!

At the end of second grade, he won the award for class clown.  He couldn't have been more proud!  He's always trying to come up with good new jokes.  One of his favorites that he claims to have made up:  What did one apple say to the other apple?  I wish we were a pear.

I sure am grateful to have Jonah in my life.  He is my little buddy, and such an important part of our family.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Good Life

It's late at night as I type this.  It's rare for me to find a time when I can use MY computer.  And even more rare to have a few consecutive minutes that I won't have to answer any questions.

I was at my parents' house for a few days, which was great.  The kids had non-stop fun with cousins.  Swimming... movies.... Nintendo...treats every day.  They wanted to stay all summer!

Ever since we got home, though, I have had such a feeling of gratitude for home.  My home.  I love the new bathroom Jeff just finished for me.  I love the view out my back windows.  I love my fluffy white bed.  I love all of my trees.  I love knowing where everything is in my kitchen. (Or at least where it should be!)  I love that I have comfortable rooms and enough food for all of my children.  I guess I'm just feeling very blessed.

Today for family home evening I took the kids bowling.  (Jeff and Eli stayed home, sick.)  Afterward, we had pizza and cookies.  Caleb asked if he could have another cookie, and I said yes.  Simon let out a quick laugh and said "Two cookies?  I didn't see that one comin'!"  Funny kid!  We all cracked up!

Eli has been so much fun lately.  He's starting to talk quite a bit.  We can get him to repeat almost anything... except for the kids' names.  He calls them all Gecka.  At first it was just for Becca, but now it can apply to any of his siblings.  He is constantly exploring around the house.  He especially loves my make-up drawer and the girls' room.  He can usually find gum or candy in there.

Maybe Eli's love for life is rubbing off on me.  I sure hope so.  He spends almost all day, every day, happy.  He is pretty much always smiling, and is always busy, looking for a good time!

So I guess the point of this post is that I have a really great life.  Sometimes it gets so hectic that I forget to notice how good things really are.  But years from now, when I try to recall the details of these years, it is this feeling that I want to remember.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Simon's birthday

Yes, I am aware that Simon's birthday was 6 months ago.

I actually just realized that I didn't document it!  He turned 4, which means he got to have his first "friend party."

I sure love my little "Mr. Minator"

Here are a few pictures:
We borrowed the "Payne train" and took rides around the property.  It was a hit!

These are some easy boys to entertain!  They just played outside, and had a great time!

His Lightning McQueen cake

The excitement!

Cousins Grant, Clark, and Collin.  Friends Mazden, Tigger, Colton, Cade and Pace.

Everybody checking out the goods

Monday, May 27, 2013

Birthday week

I really wish I had time to give a play-by-play of this past week.   It was a doozy!

Highlights would include my car breaking down and getting towed into the dealership in my pajamas, and splattering an uncooked, homemade pizza against the back of the seat in Jeff's car.  And celebrating  birthdays for 2 kids, which somehow worked out to be 4 birthday parties in one week!

But life is racing onward, and I don't have the time to say much more, so I'll just post some pictures:

This is Jonah's actual birthday.  We celebrated with our Davis cousins and some cake.  Jonah got to choose the meals for the day, so we ate well!  For breakfast we had waffles with strawberries and whipped cream.  For lunch at school he packed a hot dog, oatmeal cookies to share with his class, and for dinner he requested pizza, of course!

He got just about everything on his wish list: a sweatband (for basketball), his own personal pump for keeping his ball aired up, $50 to spend at the Lego store, and a bale of straw, for building the cob fort that he is planning.

The next day was Savannah's birthday.  She chose bacon, egg and cheese bagels for breakfast, and (the usual choice) homemade mac and cheese for dinner.  We had an eclair torte instead of a cake, which was delicious, if I do say so myself.

And the friend parties:

Jonah had a sports party, full of friendly contests and a basketball cake.

Savannah had a pj party with a breakfast bar, a photo booth, and lots of balloons.  Her cake was a rainbow inside.

And now... on to the next thing.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A sweet moment with Eli. And balls.

This cute little guy is obsessed with balls.  Seriously obsessed!

Anything that is round qualifies as a ball, so he is excited  pretty much everywhere we go.  He looks around the chapel and points at the lights.  "Ball!  Ball!  Ball!"  Or the nobs on his dresser.  "Ball!"  Or the balloons in the grocery store.  "Ball!  Ball!"  You get the idea.

The other night I was putting him to bed.  I always sit in the rocking chair and sing to him for a bit.  He likes to pull the neck of my shirt open so he can press his little cheek up against the skin of my chest.  He was all snuggled up against me, settling down for the night- or so I thought.  In the middle of my song he sat straight up and put his face right up in mine.   "Ball!  Ball! Ball!"  he kept repeating, very excitedly.  I had to giggle a little to my self, and I told him "Yes, honey.  I know you love balls."  Then he was content to rest his head back on my chest while I finished the song.

I wish there was something in my life that got me that excited every time the thought crossed my mind!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Words of Wisdom from Jonah

The other day Jeff took Jonah (age 7)  and Simon (age 4) to Walmart to help him shop for the things they needed for the father and sons campout.

After several isles of "I need" and "I want" and "please Daddy," Daddy started to tune out his "helpers" so he could concentrate on what he came for.

He tuned back in when he heard Jonah giving Simon some very wise counsel.

"Simon, grown-ups stop listening when you ask too much questions."

That was the voice of experience speaking.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The alignment of the stars- FHE

Tonight was one of those nights that I visualize every week, but that usually eludes me.  We have family home evening every Monday night, but it often feels like I'm wasting my time.  Kids fight, babies disrupt the lesson, somebody hates the treat or activity, etc.  But not tonight.

Simon was conducting, and he welcomed everyone to family home evening in a loud, happy voice.

Josh picked "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam" for the opening song, so all the little ones were excited.  The big kids helped toss little ones in the air every time we sang "beam," as per tradition.  There was only one minor injury, and everyone was happy with how high they "jumped."

Caleb shared a scripture that went with the theme of the evening.

Savannah gave a beautiful and well planned lesson on serving others, which everyone participated in.  Eli wasn't loud enough to be too distracting, and I really felt the spirit.

One short round of hide and seek, and then the homemade ice cream was ready.  We let everyone have as many servings as they wanted.  Even Lucy ended up with plenty!

After treat everyone gradually joined the circle for some volleyball practice.  Nobody got hurt or angry, we just had fun.  When Simon started to pout that he didn't get enough turns, Rebecca lovingly brought him back and helped him hit the ball.

When it got too dark to see, we came in for scriptures and prayers.  Jonah remembered to bless our extended family members who need extra help right now.

After tooth brushing and face washing, little ones were tucked into bed.  The "story" that Jonah requested was a non-fiction book about lost cities.  He's learning about ancient Greece right now in school, so he was really interested.

Today I was talking with a friend about how in life, the hard work and frustrations seem to outnumber  the beautiful, happy times.  But somehow, even thought they may be less numerous, those little moments of happiness far outweigh the rough times.

That one great hour tonight easily makes up for a day full of hard work, headaches, and chaos.  And as I peeked in to tell each of my children good night, my heart felt swollen with gratitude.  My life is full of goodness.

The End.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

What's been going on around here

Eli has spent hours this spring wandering around the lawn picking dandelions.  As you can see, he hasn't quite mastered the art of blowing them!

Josh built this super cool marble track using popsicle sticks and a hot glue gun.   I love the way his mind works!

Simon was a good helper with our juicing this season.

Caleb goes on a campout every month with his scout troupe.  They're preparing for a 50 mile backpacking trip later this year.

Josh's basketball team.  They call themselves the Big Daddy Dogs.  Uncle Emet is the best coach ever!!

My cute little (who is actually getting SO tall) volleyball player.  She mastered her overhand serve!

Jonah got to go to Monster Jam with Dad, Uncle Doug, and his cousins

These silly girls love the "cheese face."  I'm so glad they are such great friends.  Who else will do the cheese face with you?  Only a sister...