Friday, August 29, 2014

happy weekend

What a week! Just kidding. Nothing happened around here at all this week. Well, that's not true. I reorganized our lego collection (into type instead of color, don't ask me why). It only took me two solid days. I'm not sure that my back is ever going to be the same again. Guess what! We have too many legos! But now they are tucked away in a little dresser in our family room that wasn't being used well before, so hopefully that will keep them from spreading over the entire length of our family room carpet. Oh, who am I kidding. I'm sure they'll still end up all over the place. I have a serious love/hate relationship with those things.

Also this week, I turned 35. I usually spend my birthdays feeling out of sorts, and this one was no different. I try really hard to treat it like any other day, but I must have some major subconscious expectations that doom me to feeling off. Does that happen to you, too? I'm almost relieved when it's over so that I can go back to feeling regular again. I didn't even want a birthday cake, and that is saying something. I'm hoping for a belated birthday ice cream date with Mike this weekend instead.

Have a happy weekend! I hope wherever you are will be cooler than our forecasted 108 degrees. If so, enjoy it for me. This heat is slowly crushing my spirit.

Over and out.

Friday, August 22, 2014

happy weekend

This photo is a pretty accurate description of our week here at home. Meaning, it has been very quiet, just the way I like it. Last week, I was looking for a new book to read, so I checked my to-read list on Goodreads and requested some of the books from our library. Then they all came ready on the same day! So I've had my nose stuck in a book every moment I could spare (and some that I could not). I'll post about the books soon. There have been some good ones in the bunch, like The Invention of Wings. A must-read!

Have you read anything good lately? I'm always looking to add to my list.

I hope you have a good weekend. The weather here has actually been bearable the last couple of days. It gives me hope for fall. How about let's all bake something pumpkiny this weekend. Sound good?

p.s. Happy birthday to my wonderful mother!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

how to break out of a funk

I've been in a funk all week. I'm completely blaming it on the weather. There is only so much of this darn heat that I can take before I want to curl up into a ball until fall. It has put me majorly out of sorts, and I feel like I've tried everything get over it. I've gone shopping. I've baked cookies. I've taken naps. I've cleaned out my closet. None of those things did the trick. I've been sort of mopey and lacking in motivation for days now. Then I remembered the best way to break out of a funk: physical activity, even when I don't feel like it. Especially when I don't feel like it. Yesterday I scrubbed my floors and mowed the lawn. I went running. I didn't want to do any of those things, but I felt better after I had. And today I went for a swim.

One of my goals this school year, now that Elliot is in preschool a few mornings a week, is to swim. I was a swimmer as a teenager, but that was half of my lifetime ago and I have missed it. Today was the day! I pulled on my swim cap, adjusted my goggles, and took the plunge. I swam for 30 minutes, which might not sound like much, but I'll tell you what, it was enough to turn my arms to jelly. I am having a hard time typing right now, if I'll be honest. But it felt so good to push myself! What I love most about swimming is the silence. It is so quiet (aside from the sound of my desperate gasps for air, of course), allowing me to focus on my thoughts. It's just me and the water. I like to feel my body stretching, propelling myself forward. It is calming and peaceful and invigorating all at the same time and it makes me happy.

Swimming might not be your jam. That's ok. Maybe you like to do yoga, or ride a bike. Sometimes a quick walk around the block is just the thing. But if you are in a funk, I promise that if you do something physical (outside if you can), you'll feel better. I know I do.

Friday, August 15, 2014

happy weekend

So, we are more than a week into the school year. Shouldn't we be wearing sweaters yet? Or at the very least eating pumpkin bread? Sheesh! It's about this time every year that I've had enough of the heat. I mean it.

Baby steps until November, when every day is the perfect temperature.

I hope you have a good weekend, filled with dreamy naps just like this one that Elliot took last week. He still naps nearly every day and I am so grateful.

Happy weekend!

p.s. Happy birthday to my little brother, Dr. Lincoln DMD!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

a new school year, a new theme

I love the idea of choosing a theme for the new school year, something for our family to focus on. I put a lot of thought into the theme I choose, taking into consideration each of my children and the struggles they might face during the year. This year, as Mabel and Oliver were starting at a new school, I wanted to choose something that would give them strength when they were feeling nervous, or scared, or lonely. The lyrics from the primary song, A Child's Prayer, kept coming into my mind, and I knew that this is what our family needed right now.

The night before school started, I gathered my children in the living room for a little lesson to introduce the theme. I used this excellent talk from President Faust called, The Lifeline of Prayer, as a basis for my words that night. We talked about what a prayer is, and how it can help us. We shared times when we prayed and felt comforted afterwards. I want my children to know that they are never alone, that our Heavenly Father is always there, and that He can hear their prayers, even those prayers that are uttered in the middle of crowded hallways in new schools.

It makes sending them off into the world just a little bit easier.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


A few days ago, my dad surprised me and Mabel with tickets to see Paul McCartney. A dream come true! Last night was the show and it was incredible (and also very, very loud). There were lasers! And Fireworks! And crazy fans! It was everything.

Grainy selfies are only appropriate when you are waiting to see Paul McCartney in the flesh on stage.

He was so funny and sweet. During his first encore, he brought a couple on the stage who had a sign that said "You're ordained. We're engaged. Marry us tonight!" And he did!

He sang all of my favorites, plus a few from his new album and his Wings days. He put on such a good show.

I love him.

Thanks Dad!

Monday, August 11, 2014

San Diego

We left Orange County for a beach house in Mission Beach. All 33 of us. It was the first time in more than four years that my parents and all six of their children and their families had been together. It was crazy crowded, but so fun.

As soon as we dropped our bags in the house, we headed to the ocean, where I of course told all of the kids not to get wet, but they got soaked anyway. It is impossible to resist those waves, I guess.

These cousins are the best of friends. I always say that Mabel needs more Annie and Audrey in her life. It's really too bad that they each live in a different state.

Baby Ben was still the main attraction.

Stella and Sadie played for hours and hours together everyday.

And oh boy, the three musketeers, Elliot, David, and Henry.

Getting ready for family pictures at sunset. We used a really great photographer. It is called my tripod and a self timer. Mike needs to work his photoshop magic on the pictures, and then I'll post our favorites. I'm sure you can't wait! ;)

Silly Uncle Neal and really silly baby Dane.

By the end of our three weeks away, we were ready to come home, even if it meant coming back to the desert heat and a new school year. But we made some really great memories!

Friday, August 08, 2014

happy weekend

We're getting back into the swing of things around here. I've started cooking dinner again and I'm even making the beds in the morning. It is good to be in a routine. It feels like a fresh start.

This week was full of new things for our family. New schedule, new school, new teachers, so many new experiences. It will be nice to take it easy this weekend. Do you have any fun plans? I think we'll order in a pizza and pick up a red box.

Have a good weekend!

p.s. I went into Target this week for school supplies and of course I came home with a new rug. Target!

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Orange County

We left pretty Sundance for pretty Orange County and the first thing we did when we got there was squish baby Ben, who had just flown in from the UK.

He graciously allowed much squishing.

My brother has a fantasy backyard. There are always lots of cousins, a darling play house, a trampoline, go karts, baseball games, not to mention year round perfect weather! My kids had so much fun.

Silly, silly boys.

And Ruby's! Ruby's played prominently into my adolescence, and a trip back home isn't complete without a veggie burger and a banana cream dream shake. (Although I was very strong and skipped the shake this time, a decision I regretted immediately.)

We don't see cousin David nearly often enough.

A walk to the nearby park rounded out a very fun few days. Up next, the beach!

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

back to school

Today was the day. The kids went back to school. Hooray! I think it's going to be a good year. Mabel and Oliver started at a new school, and were understandably nervous about the change. It will be quite a bit more rigorous than what they are used to, but they are bright kids and I know they will do just fine. Sending them there was not a decision Mike and I made lightly, but after lots of study and prayer, we felt really good about it. It is a smaller school, just fourth through eight grades, and I am happy that it eases us through the junior high years. We feel really lucky to have this option.

Stella was off to first grade at our neighborhood school. She picked up right where she left off last year, and had a really good day.

Next week Elliot will start preschool a few mornings a week. And then what am I going to do with myself?! Probably lay down on the couch with a good book. I am completely looking forward to it.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

our time in Sundance, in too many pictures

I can't tell you what a dream it is to escape the desert heat for the lush coolness of my parents' house in the Wasatch Mountains each summer. Just looking at these pictures brings me right back there, never mind the blistering heat outside my window. Oh Sundance, I didn't appreciate you when I lived in Provo all of those years!

The two day drive (we stopped over in Kanab on our way up) was worth it just for this sweet moment.

Sundance in the summer means hiking through waist high ferns and shady aspen trees.

Leslie and her kids beat us there by a few days. They found a homemade zip line near the stream beneath my parents' house. It got lots of use.

My mom's friend, Brenda, is always so nice to have us over for a swim when we're in town. She has quite possibly the most breathtaking pool in all the land.

And of course, no trip is complete without a little tour of the BYU. We went to the newly renovated Bean Life Museum (it was fantastic!), the Museum of Art, and of course, the bookstore.

These are my favorite kind of hiking trails (with my favorite trail guides up ahead, too).

On Sunday, we went to the live broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word in the Conference Center. It was such a treat. Afterward we found a Sacrament Meeting to attend in the Joseph Smith Building. Both meetings were wonderful. If you are ever in Salt Lake City on a Sunday, I highly recommend doing this!

A family photo op in front of the Salt Lake Temple.

One last hike through the summer rain.

And our traditional cousin bench photo outside the Foundry Grill at Sundance. What a week!

Monday, August 04, 2014

home again

We've been away for a few weeks, to my parents' house in the mountains and then to the beach. We had a good trip. I will post about it soon, but first there are pencils to sharpen and backpacks to pack. School starts on Wednesday!

Friday, July 11, 2014

happy weekend

Speaking of using time wisely, Mike and I spent a couple of hours at the temple last night. That is always a good use of my time. It is a quiet, thoughtful place, where I can put aside the cares of the world for a bit, and focus on the things of the spirit instead. I left with some much needed insight and a resolve to be a little better, particularly in one area where I am struggling.

Two things: When we entered the temple yesterday evening, the evening sun was blazing and the heat was stifling. We came out to darkened skies, and still the same oppressive heat. It is monsoon season here in the desert. We haven't seen much rain yet, but you can cut the air with a knife, it is so humid. We tried to beat the heat by running at 5:30 this morning, but it didn't work. Oh man, it was so hot.

Also, no one ever told me that when your first born child is old enough to babysit for you, the whole world opens up. Mabel has been babysitting for us for about a year, and it is life changing. Trips to the temple, or even the grocery store are possible like they never were before. If your oldest is still too young to babysit, hang in there. Your time will come. And when it does, it is marvelous.

I hope you have a good weekend!

p.s. My friend, Annie, wrote an essay about how the longer we are parents, the less likely we are to give parenting advice. So true!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

on the wise use of time

One day I woke up early, just as the first bright rays of sunlight were making their way through my bedroom window. I woke Mike beside me and we left the house for an early morning run. As we ran together, we discussed our plans for the day. We talked about each of our children, and some of the problems that they might be facing. Mike shared some concerns he had about work. We talked about solutions. It felt good to be up and moving.

When we got home, I stretched my legs and read my scriptures. I had several minutes of quiet study by myself before Elliot stumbled into our room, hungry for breakfast. I gave him a big hug and we went to the kitchen together to make waffles. As we were cooking, my other children woke up, each coming upstairs to the kitchen with puffy eyes and messy hair. I welcomed them with a kind voice and we ate a nice breakfast together as a family before Mike headed off to work.

The rest of the day flowed well. I was able to complete my household chores and even a few sewing projects while my children played together peacefully. I set up visiting teaching appointments and answered Relief Society emails. While I was working, I felt the spirit prompt me and I knew I had received an answer to a prayer.

At the end of the day, I tucked each child into bed with a hug and a kiss and I told them that I loved them. I didn't feel hurried or impatient, even when Stella was slow to come for family prayer. Our house ended the day as quietly as it had begun.

It was a good day.

But. . . on a different day, I woke up to Elliot poking my side, looking for breakfast. I had stayed up too late watching a movie the night before, and now I was paying the price. I rolled out of bed and shuffled into the kitchen without a word to my little Elliot. I hurriedly poured him some cereal and then I left him sitting at the table alone to eat, while I crashed back into bed. As the other kids came upstairs, I ignored the disappointment on their faces when I announced that it was cold cereal for breakfast.

Mike left for work without a kiss goodbye.

It seemed that no matter how much cleaning I did that day, the house was still a disaster. Beds were unmade, legos were strewn across the family room floor. My frustration was rising by the minute. There was no way I was going to finish my seemingly endless to-do list. I was grumpy.

And so I escaped to my phone. I checked Instagram for the hundredth time. I let myself be distracted by Facebook status updates and new blog posts. When my children needed me, I answered their questions without even taking my eyes off of the screen.

It was a very, very bad day.

Have you ever had days like these? I taught Relief Society this past Sunday on the wise use of time and on avoiding distractions. I used these slightly exaggerated accounts of some of my best and worst days as a mother to illustrate the difference that poor time management and prioritization can have in our lives.

We discussed this article, entitled "A Time to Prepare". It is wonderful to read, if you have a few minutes. One of my favorite quotes: "With the demands made of us, we must learn to prioritize our choices to match our goals or risk being exposed to the winds of procrastination and being blown from one time-wasting activity to another." Oh man, does that ever happen to you? It does to me, for sure. Elder Ardern, the author of the article, talks about finding those things that are distracting us from using our time most wisely, and eliminating them from our lives. He said, "I urge each of us to take those things which rob us of precious time and determine to be their master, rather than allowing them through their addictive nature to be the master of us." I had been having a hard time managing the time I spent on my phone, as you know. Finally, rather than trying to check things like Facebook and Pinterest "less", I just deleted them from my phone completely. And oh, the freedom! I felt so light, so good. It is all so silly, and I don't miss them one bit. The best part is that I find myself spending so much less time on my phone, and more time doing the important work of mothering instead.

I still have a ways to go, but I know that when I prayerfully approach each new day, seeking guidance on how to best spend my time, I am much more likely to relive a day like that first one up above. It is my choice. And I choose good days from here on out.

Friday, July 04, 2014

happy weekend

We've fallen into quite a good summertime routine around here. The kids sleep in. We eat a nice breakfast. Then we build forts or play with legos or even run errands if we're feeling particularly brave. We try really hard to not use the tv in the mornings, but sometimes it happens and it's not a big deal.

Something new I've been trying: I've made lunch our main meal. Mike has been working from home a lot lately, so he's around in the middle of the day. It's been awfully nice to get all of the major cooking out of the way before the heat sets in. After lunch, Elliot takes a nap and the other kids find a book and a cozy spot for quiet time. I don't even have to remind them anymore. We spend our afternoons at the pool, coming home for a quick bite (something like smoothies and cereal or fruit) and then bed.

My favorite thing so far: I've completely stopped stressing about bedtime. It's so nice to not feel rushed during this part of the day. This is something that I struggle with during the school year, and it feels good to go slow and not worry if someone is getting to bed a little later than they should. It might make the adjustment to earlier bedtimes next month tricky, but for now I am really enjoying it.

Do you have any fun Independence Day plans? Big surprise, we don't. :) I did buy a watermelon, so that's something. I hope you find some fireworks!

Have a happy weekend. And hooray for the USA!