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, November 3, 2014

Kindergarten confidence

The other day Simon came home from school with a concern.

"Mom," he sighed, "I'm pretty much the awesomest guy in my class."

"Oh yeah?"  I prodded, wondering why he didn't seem pleased.

"So every day at recess, everybody is just like 'Simon! Simon!' and it's really hard to play with everyone all at the same time.  I really don't like being the awesomest one."

Poor guy.

A day or so later, our cousin Milo was stung by a bee in the back yard.  Simon really wished he had been there when it happened.

He told me "If I would have been there I would have just done this! (insert ninja moves and sound effects) That bee wouldn't have stung Milo!"

I'm so glad he recognizes the responsibility that comes with all that awesomeness!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Later, Mom. Later.

I love the quirky little things Eli says these days.

"Later" is the answer to everything.

Eli: Can I have a soda Mom? Can I?
Me: Not right now sweetheart.
Eli: Later Mom? Later?
Me: Sure. Maybe later.
Eli: (happily) Ok Mom. Later.

Eli: I go swim now Mom? Can I?
Me: I'm sorry, we can't swim today.
Eli: Later Mom? Later?
Me: Well... not today.  But maybe tomorrow we can swim!
Eli: Later? Ok Mom.  Later.

When it comes to suckers, though, later isn't specific enough.

Eli: Can I have sucker Mom? Can I?
Me: Sorry buddy, not right now.
Eli: I have sucker on my birday Mom? (birthday)
Me: That's a good idea! You can ask for a sucker for your birthday!
Eli: Birday coming up! Later. (nodding) Later.

You really have to see it in person to appreciate the cuteness of that "Later."

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


I am so glad I have daughters.  Of course I adore my boys too, but I am really grateful for these two wonderful girls of mine.

Today was a less-than-ideal day.  I was gone a lot, and the boys spent ridiculous amounts of time being entertained by TV and video games. Sometimes that's just how things go, and I know it won't kill them to have days like that, but it still really bothers me.

After dinner I headed out to run some more errands, and asked Savannah to babysit without using any media.  When I came home they were playing hide-and seek.  They were cuddling under the blankets and giggling, and my heart just swelled up with happiness.  Even though it couldn't come from me, I knew my little ones were feeling loved and happy.

During family scriptures, I was pretty drained, and it felt like all I could do to go through the motions of the bedtime routine.  Luckily my girls were there.  Savannah had Simon on her lap, and Becca held Eli.  They cuddled them, helped them read their verses, and whispered things that made them laugh when they should have been reverent.  Again, my heart wanted to overflow.

These beautiful daughters.  This kind of interaction comes naturally to them.  There is something so warm and nurturing about both of them.  They know how to love children and make them feel important and valued, without having to be told.

I picture them in a few short years with babies of their own.  Those lucky children!  These girls will be the kind of wise and caring mothers that the world needs.  But for now they get to love on my babies, and their brothers will always remember feeling special when they were with their big sisters.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Status update

Recently I posted a picture of what summer looks like around here.  It was happy children eating homemade popsicles on a hammock in the shade.

Turns out that is nothing like summer around here.  Summer looks like me getting up with Eli at 5:00 am and trying to pacify him with my iPad for at least an hour.  It looks like me staying up way past my bedtime with teenagers who push FIRMLY against my attempts to encourage order and productivity.

I usually start off with a cheerful morning routine for the little ones, but we can only take so many hours together indoors before summer starts to look like TV, video games or fist fights.

I tell you all of this to explain, or maybe rationalize, my lack of thoughtful blog posts.

So I have decided to take a different approach to blogging for now.  Whenever I have a moment or a coherent thought that I would like to remember, I will stop by the computer (if I can pry a child away from the screen) to post a "status update."  You know... like on Facebook.  It's perfectly acceptable there to just post a one line thought.  I have no interest in posting my random thoughts for the social media world to read, but I think it will be nice to have them collected here.  For posterity.

And so here you go.  Status update #1

Tonight Eli woke up and came out of his bed to tell Savannah that there was a scary bunny rabbit on his pillow that kept biting him.  When she walked him back to his room he was surprised but happy to find that it was gone.

Cute little nightmare!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Caleb's Eagle Project

This story started in November, when our family was in Mexico.  We had gone with a humanitarian group (A Child's Hope Foundation) to serve free breakfast to the people who live in "the canyon" of Tijuana.

The canyon used to be a dump.  At one point the government came in and poured dirt over it, and now people live there.  They scavenge for things from the dump to build their houses.  Tires, old metal or wood, garage doors... whatever they can find.  Many of them don't have running water or electricity.  And when it rains, the dirt gets washed away, making rivers of trash.

This was in November 2013

Caleb was really moved by the poor conditions he saw there.  He decided then and there that THIS is where he wanted to do his Eagle project.  His first idea was to try to improve the sewer system.  (We smelled the raw sewage running down the ditches.)  We quickly decided that was too big of a project for one Eagle scout!

But I started researching and asking and emailing around, trying to get in contact with someone who could help us know how to help.  At one point I was starting to get discouraged, and tried to talk Caleb into just doing something easier and more local.  But his heart was set on Mexico!  He wanted to help people that really needed help!  (And maybe he kinda wanted an excuse for him and his friends to go to Mexico.)

Anyway... we finally found the perfect contact.  Dave- who was already doing work in that community, and needed help to get a community center up and running.  It will be used to host free medical clinics, as well as a counseling center and other things.

Caleb and a couple of helpers made up flyers and went door to door (hand-picked doors) to collect donations to fund the project.  He raised over $1000!

There was a lot of coaching from Mom and Dad, but Caleb really did a lot of the work himself.  I think he learned a lot about leadership, and how much planning it takes to pull something like this off.  And I hope he learned how important it is to have good followers!  He got frustrated when he tried to give an assignment, and people wouldn't follow through with their jobs!  (I kinda know how he feels!!)

We had more than enough unskilled (and somewhat hesitant) workers.  There were a few super helpful ones, and they were much appreciated!  But I think everyone had a good time, and hopefully had their eyes opened to how other people live.

After a morning of hard work we headed to the beach for a little fun.

 Lunches were made for us by some local ladies (included in the group shot) and they were delicious!  Dinners were taco stands.  SO GOOD!

At one point somebody started shooting hoops, and soon we had a friendly game of basketball going on.  The teams were mixed with Spanish and English speakers on both sides.  It was fun to see everyone enjoying each other regardless of their differences.
(This was just the beginning of the game, by the way.  It got much bigger)

Saturday morning we ate breakfast at the beautiful La Fonda restaurant on the beach.  Almost everyone ordered the banana pancakes with coconut syrup.  (It's just now occurring to me that the food was kinda a highlight for me!)


Then all the girls went over to the Door of Faith orphanage for a tour and some fun with the babies

And here we have pictures of our finished projects.  We fixed a roof, straightened and re-enforced the fence, did some trash pick up, and dug a trench.

 Good job Caleb!  And... if I do say so myself... Good job mom and dad!

One Eagle project down, four more to go!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I am a flood gate

Sometimes I feel like a floodgate.

A floodgate is put in place to control the flow of water.  It has to hold back a powerful force, but it must be moveable to allow just the right amount of water to get by.

I am standing in my place as the floodgate in my home.  There are powerful forces trying to get by me to flood my home and wash my family away!  There are cell phones, with their accompanying texting and games and internet access.   There are friends to play with and meetings to go to and sports to practice.  Not that any of those things themselves are bad... they are all good things!   Just like the water behind the gate is not bad.  It just needs to be controlled.  Too much can be dangerous.

Yesterday I had kids spending too much time, in my opinion, on their phones.  I had kids wanting to hang out with friends on family night, and a meeting on that same night.  I had one kid asking for permission to see a movie that I wasn't so sure about, and one wanting more video game time.

And I felt like a floodgate.  I felt like had water in my eyes and forcing its way up my nose.  It gets exhausting sometimes.

But I am reminded of Julie Beck's General Conference talk "Mothers Who Know."

Mothers who know do less. They permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally. They allow less media in their homes, less distraction, less activity that draws their children away from their home. 

And I am determined to be a good, strong floodgate.  One day my family will thank me.

Thursday, May 29, 2014


This is what summer looks like around here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

After 8:00 (pm)

Here are a few things I really don't want to be doing after 8:00:

Answering questions that are shouted to me from kids in their beds.

Helping with homework.

Arguing about/defending our "family rules."

Putting away leftovers that are still sitting on the table.

Doing the dishes.

Nagging at children to do the dishes.

Checking phones and social media sites to see what my kids are up to.

Folding laundry so I can get to my bed.

Guess what I was doing last night after 8:00?  Pretty much all of the above.

On the bright side, I woke up to a reasonably clean house, and this is about the cutest little Albert Einstein I've ever seen!

Sunday, April 20, 2014


I found myself feeling a little off balance this week.

I was a little quicker to anger and slower to appreciate goodness than usual.  A little more rushed and scattered, a little less nurturing.

When I took the time to stop running around like a chicken with my head cut off, I realized why.  A huge majority of my time the preceding week had been spent on things that were not the most important things.

My days and minutes were filled with really good things, but those things had crowded out the crucial things.

Instead of reading books or playing trains with the little boys in the morning, I was busy answering emails or texts.  Trying to get ready for the basketball tournament or the music assignments for the upcoming conference.  For several evenings in a row, I was not here for our bedtime routine... scriptures, song, prayers, group hug.  I was busy singing in an amazing, powerful choir concert that really fed my soul.  I had an evening meeting for girls camp and led a Stake choir practice.

All of those things needed to be done, and I'm glad that I did them.  But now it is time for me to rebalance.  I played a game of Skip-bo with the kids, and oh how it filled me!  We had time to laugh and talk, with no interruptions.  (Unless, of course, you count the 2 year old that kept scattering the cards and sneezing grossness on people.)

Today we had our Easter Sunrise devotional, our special breakfast, and an egg hunt.  I got to share my testimony of the Savior with my family, and bask in the peace of the early morning.   I shared their excitement when the little ones found candy in their eggs, and I had time to listen to the funny things they said.

I could list about a hundred little, ordinary things that happened this weekend that helped me to regain my balance.  Stuffing eggs with Josh.  Telling Becca the story of Jeff's and my first kiss.  Wiping the chocolate drool off of Eli's chin over and over.  Hearing Jonah tell me he loves me, with those sparkling eyes and big gaps in his teeth.

It was a good reminder for me.  No matter how many good things I do, there is nothing more important than the little details of my family.  If I am too busy to enjoy those little things, it is time to slow down, take a breath, and re-focus.

It's going to be a good week.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

April Fool's Day

I had a funny memory surface this year on April Fool's Day.  My girls were little- maybe 3 and 5.  It was April Fool's Day, and they really wanted to pull a prank on Daddy.

We called him at work, and one of them said "Hi Jeff.  This is your boss calling."  Then together they yelled "You're fired!"  Immediately they both burst into laughter, thinking they really fooled Dad.  That memory made me smile multiple times yesterday.

This year Caleb woke Josh and Jonah up really early to put Cling Wrap on the toilet seat, the faucet, and the outside of Simon's door.  I don't think anyone really got  fooled, but they had a lot of fun planning it out!

When the big kids left for school, Simon wanted to "set some traps" of his own.  Here is what we came up with:

When the kids got home from school there was a pan on the stove covered with tin foil.  I left a note that said "Brownies for after school snack."

I think every single person that came home fell for it!  Including Jeff!  Simon thought we were pretty funny!  I felt a little bad that I got everyone's hopes up, but that didn't last too long.

We also made some red jello, and put it in a glass pitcher in the fridge.  Simon told people they could pour themselves a glass of fruit punch, but when they tried... it didn't move!  Another good one.

Every year lately, I tell myself that next year I will do a really great April Fool's prank on my kids.  They would love it!  Next year I won't be just barely keeping my head above water.  Next year I will have the energy to be a really fun mom.

I wonder if next year will ever really come...

Friday, March 28, 2014

Younger children

I remember, back in the days when my oldest was little, how shocking it was to have her hang around with kids her age who were the youngest in their families.  They talked differently.  They liked TV shows besides Barney and Teletubbies.  They just seemed so much more "worldly."

I knew they were good kids from good families, but I silently swore that I would always try to shelter my little ones, so they didn't grow up too fast.

Ha!  It's funny to look back on now.  Now that Eli (age 2) calls me "dude" occasionally.  Now that Simon (age 5) wants to play video games any chance he gets, and rolls his eyes if I suggest he watch Sesame Street.

Yesterday was Simon's turn to take the trash can out to the road.  I was helping him pull it at first, but then he decided he was strong enough to do it himself.  As soon as I let go, he grabbed it and took off running.  Over his shoulder he called back to me "Eat my dust!"  Definitely a child who has older siblings.  He can trash talk with the best of them!

The thing I didn't realize at the time was how many great things there are about having older siblings!  They can teach you to tie a tie or spike your hair in the front.  They can share (or you can sneak into) their treats and build really tall lego towers.  They can push you on the swing or bounce you on the trampoline.  And what a great feeling to have a whole house full of people to love you and cheer for you and think you're adorable!

They may not be quite as sheltered as their older siblings were, but around here I'd say the younger kids really have it made!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My Angel

The other day I went to  get Eli out of bed in the morning.  I grabbed him and squeezed him and kissed his cheeks.

"Good morning, my Eli!"  I said cheerfully.

He smiled back at me, but he was waiting for a different greeting.

He kept pointing to himself and said "Angel.  Angel."

I corrected my mistake.  "Good morning, my Angel!"  I said, with the same cheerful tone.

That made him happy.  He smiled and nodded and went happily on his way.  I guess I better not mess with that tradition!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The mile run

I got to go to Discovery Park and cheer for Jonah the day he ran the mile.

First you need some background:

Several weeks ago, Jonah's class ran a mile, and recorded their times.  Jonah came in third, with a time of 9:42.  Not bad!  

They knew they would be running it again, and were supposed to be working to improve their time.  I had heard him talk about it, but I didn't really stop to notice how seriously he was taking this training time.  

I did notice that he had asked to pack spinach in his lunch a few times.  Weird, but good.  He had also been making more of an effort not to gag and whine and cry when he saw what we were having for dinner.  Sometimes (certainly not every day) he would even have a positive attitude, and try to eat everything on his plate.  I didn't realize it at the time, but looking back I think this was all part of his training.  His dad has told him that if you want to get bigger and stronger, you have to eat healthy foods, and a good variety.  

A few days before the second run was going to take place, Jonah started doing exercises before school.  He was running laps around the hallway, jumping as high as he could, and using the pattern on the rug to practice his quick footwork.  He wanted me to measure him to see if he had gotten any taller.  Longer legs are better for running fast, you know!

So the big day finally arrived, and Simon, Eli and I went down to the park to cheer him on.  We brought him an ice cold water bottle (as requested), and he was off!

By this time, I had woken up to the fact that this race was really important to him, so I was a little bit nervous.  I watched him pace himself and slowly work his way to the front of the pack.  I cheered for him as he came around the halfway mark, and he looked like he was still going strong.  I (guiltily) got a little excited when the boy in first place started looking droopy, and Jonah slowly passed him.

There was a girl close on his heels, but she couldn't quite catch up to him.  Jonah won first place!! And he beat his time by more than a minute!  He was just beaming!

I was glad I had my sunglasses on so that none of the other moms could see the tears in my eyes.  The tears were mostly ones of joy for Jonah.  He gained some experience that tells him that his hard work will pay off.  He set his sights on a goal and he accomplished it.  I was so happy for him!

They were also tears of relief.  I'm so glad that I happened to tune in to what was going on.  It took me a while, but luckily I realized how important this race was in time to be there for him.  It was a great moment in his little life, and his mom was there to support him.  

I'm afraid that I miss out on way too many of those type of moments.  With so many kids, so many different ages, going so many different directions, I feel like I am constantly "letting some ball drop." In fact, part of my morning prayers nearly every day is "Please help me to choose the things that are the most important today."  I know I can't possibly do all of the good things that I would like to do each day, but I pray that I have the wisdom to know which ones to choose.

I'm so glad I chose the mile race.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Before I forget

There are a few things I want to record about Eli at this age before they slip into the black hole of my forgotten memories.

He is such a fun-loving, happy kid!  He can wander around all day, finding things to entertain himself.

He starts some of his words with a hard G sound.  He likes to "gump" on the trampoline.  My favorite is when he brings me an orange and wants me to "goose it" for him.

No matter how upset he is about having to stop what he is doing at nap time, he will be giddy with excitement as soon as I whisper "two binkies" into his ear.  He loves his bedtime routine: song, prayer, and two binkies.

When he gets really mad at me, he spits.

He likes to snack all day long.  My mom calls it "grazing."  He will ask for a yogurt, eat two bites of it, then ask for toast.  After a bite or two of that, he's ready to move on to an orange.  You get the idea.  If I let him, he would do that all day!

He loves to count things.  "One, two, twee, four!  One, two, twee, four!"  etc. etc.

I love the way he switches around his sentences.  "Read it, book!" or "goose it, orange!"  You notice that everything he says ends with an exclamation point.  And if I don't respond correctly, he will repeat it indefinitely.

He will repeat anything his siblings tell him to say.  One of their favorites right now is "Gomp-eye!"  No idea what that means or how to spell it, but its what the minions say on Despicable Me.  His brothers think it is hilarious!

And you can tell he has older brothers.  He loves anything that has to do with bodily functions.  Toot and poop are two of his favorite words.

Nothing is safe from him.  He will find candy no matter where it is hidden, or how high up it is placed.  He comes out of a siblings room many times a day with his mouth full of candy.

He loves to swing on the "red swing" on the back porch.

He is definitely a boy.  He loves trucks, balls, and destroying things.  But lately he also loves to carry around these cute little stuffed puppies and take care of them.  Or when he's at his friend Anna's house, he will carry a baby doll in one hand and a car in the other.

He likes to cuddle with me.  Thank goodness!  I'm really going to have to fight the urge to treat him like a baby forever.

I'm so happy to have my sweet little Eli!

Monday, February 17, 2014


It's a new word that Josh made up.  It looks a little something like this:

The other day Josh and I were on the hammock, eating pecans and oranges, enjoying the beautiful weather.

I commented that it was such a great feeling- being outdoors, soaking in the beauty of nature.  Josh put it in more technical terms.  "It's actually vitamin D that you are absorbing from the sunshine."

Somehow, that explanation didn't fit the beauty of the moment for me.  "No, no,"  I clarified.  "It's more than good for my body, it's nourishing to my soul."

"Ya, mom.  That's because vitamin D makes you feel happy."

I told him that such a medical description just didn't describe what I was feeling.

"Ok," he finally relented. "We will make up a special word for it.  How about QUALUMBY?"

So that is what we have been calling it.  When I need a little time outdoors enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery, I need a little qualumby.

Thanks, Josh, for keeping it magical for me!

Monday, February 3, 2014


Here is a little glimpse of what has been going on around here lately:

The Gilbert temple is finished!!  We have been looking forward to this for years!
We all went together (minus Eil, that is) for a tour during the open house.
It was so beautiful.

Becca went to her first formal dance.  It was "mormon winter formal."
Kami came to help her get ready, since I was directing a choir that evening.
Such a good-looking couple!  (Her date was Scottie Brown)

Savannah had her first club volleyball tournament.  She played amazing!!  The girl can jump!
Caleb is a dedicated scouter, and I love it!  I really, really love the scouting program.
He earned his Life this month, and has a goal to get his Eagle before he turns 14.

Josh, as always, taking his basketball very seriously!  It's so fun to watch his games.
I swear he improves from week to week!

Jonah's first pinewood derby!  He designed it himself, and did most of the work on it!
It was a lightning bolt, inspired by his recent love of "Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief."

Simon turned 5 years old!  He requested that we all wear costumes to the party.

Cute little Eli.  I don't think any of the boys have escaped this.
Getting dressed up is one of the "perks" of having olders sisters.

Savannah had her first family photo shoot.  She got some great shots!
I think it helps to have such a darling family as your subject.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Jonah's Christmas wish

When it was time for kids to make Christmas lists, I got some pretty interesting requests.  Everything from a "happy family" from Josh, to a "mini ferris wheel" from Becca, to a "small monkey" from Savannah.

Most of the lists were pretty long, and gave me lots of things to choose from.  Jonah's list, however, only had 3 items on it.

Translation: 1. Basketball pants
                    2. Money for the Door of Faith Orphanage in Mexico
                    3. Presents for the poor and sick

Side note:  I need a green Christmas tie for choir (complete with illustration)

In his stocking on Christmas morning, he found a special note from Santa.  It said that $100 had been donated to orphans in Mexico, as a gift to him.

I think that was the highlight of his Christmas.

What a sweet, tender-hearted boy.