Saturday, April 23, 2016

Birthday Waffles With My Birthday Twin

Meet Emily, my birthday twin. She is one of Julia's friends who also happens to be our neighbor who also happens to be awesome. This year on my birthday (March 26th!) Allen was gone on a winter campout (we call it the Alpine Challenge because they build and sleep in snow caves and race in teams to complete various scouty challenges) with All-a-Boy and Hubba so I decided birthday waffles were in order.

Emily texted me that morning to wish me a happy birthday and I invited her to join us so I could buy her a birthday waffle, too. But guess what?! When we were ordering our waffles I convinced the guy that the nutella waffles were the special of the day (because it said so on their website) and he finally agreed to give me the deal and I told him, "Thank you! If it makes it any better, it's my birthday and you just made my day!" The he says, "I'm going to make your day even better. Because we don't advertise it, but you get ANY waffle you want on your birthday for FREE." YOU GUYS. Waffles are FREE on your birthday at Waffle Love. Look how surprised and excited we are about this news!  

Here's the rest of the crew, enjoying their waffles. Best birthday breakfast, ever.

I love his freckles.

 I'm pretty sure you can take a bigger bite than that, Elle.

Challenge accepted.


Look, I'm a monster.

Now I'm a moose!

Now I'm a super happy moose!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Where's Mom?

You have no idea how many days I wish I owned this shirt and would wear it as a signal that it was a bad day for me in hopes of garnering some sympathy. Like those days when the kids hate me (I mean, those exact words have been used in our home: "I hate you, Mom!") or dinner is pancakes or when the eye rolls are happening so often I'm getting dizzy. The days when the homework is never-ending and I am trying to be encouraging and helpful but just become frustrated at how easily distracted my kids get when they really need to be focused on something. And so many tough things happen that I can't really write about because as my kids get older it's not really my privilege to tell their stories, you know what I mean?

Anyway, I was having one of those days on Monday. Allen happened to be home filling out our taxes (bless him) and I was down in the basement folding laundry as the 3 older kids got home from school. And I heard them all say the same thing as they walked in: "Hi Dad! Where's Mom?" Then, one by one, they came down to say hello and tell me about their day and ask me questions and whatnot. And somehow, that was such a beautiful thing to me. I love that they want me to be there when they get home, even if it means I'm going to nag them about their homework. 

Some days, I wish I owned THIS shirt, so I could wear it as a way of proudly proclaiming how much I love being a mother.  

(I need to give finders credit to Elle for sharing these shirts with me on Pinterest. I love them. And her.)

Friday, April 15, 2016

For Chip

Hey, friends.

Sorry I've been so neglectful over here on my little spot in the blogospere. Having older children that move out of the house, get married, go on missions for our church, none of that makes life easier. Just different. And having almost all of my children in school somehow doesn't free up a lot of time for me, either. It just gives me more time to run errands without 'assistants'. Once all the kids are home from school it's all about homework and snacks and meal preparations and getting people to lessons and scouts and whatnot. So, we're all busy, right? I'm sure you understand.

All that being said, THIS is something I wanted to take the time to post about.

You've probably all heard me talk about my brother, Chip and how awesome and amazing and kind and selfless and fun he is. If you haven't, all of the above is true. To make a long story way too short, I put together a fundraiser for him and his family. There are more details on the fundraiser page, found here:

My hope is that this fundraiser will provide some needed relief for Chip as he tends to his son Jaiden's full-time care and therapy while the two of them are living in Florida over the next few months. If you don't know his story, Jaiden endured some terrible abuse as an infant. He was removed from his home and Chip and his wife Becky fostered and then adopted Jaiden, starting at 10 months old. As a result of some of the abuse the growth plates in Jaiden's left femur stopped functioning. He is having his final leg-lengthening surgery and procedures in Florida to compensate for the lack of growth. (If you go to the link, I explain it better there.) 


If you can help at all, you are awesome! And thank you ever so much. If all you can give are your prayers and love, you are awesome! And thank you ever so much. Also, if you know anyone you can share this with, please pass it along.

Thanks for reading this whole post. If you have any questions about any of it, ask away!

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Original Newsie

I must have Newsies on my brain. Because this morning when I was reading my scriptures I had this meme appear in my mind and I knew I had to make it happen. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

I Love To See The Temple

Last night was great. Our entire immediate family (minus Julia, who is still serving her mission on the east coast, and plus my mom) was able to tour the new Provo City Center Temple while it is open to the public. I have never seen a more beautiful interior. It is seriously breathtaking! 

Once the tour was over Allen had to run to a meeting but the rest of us got our picture taken. I was amazed at how everyone was looking at the camera without much prompting from me. And then when I looked closely I saw that Princess was DEFINITELY looking at the camera. That girl. 

You better believe this picture will re-surface years later when it comes time to make her wedding video.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Random Thoughts

That cute Sister Julia Black on the far left makes me smile every time.

So. I guess I decided that NaBloWriMo is not so much for me. But hey, look at those first 5 days of November! When I can't think of anything to write about and it's 10:30 at night and I need some serious sleep - bed wins. I've written a lot of posts in my head and have some great topic ideas, but finding the time to write has not been happening.

For the last two mornings that I have made oatmeal for breakfast I have bribed my kids to eat it without complaining by offering a small bag of M&Ms to those who can finish within 7 minutes. It worked and I have no regrets.

My kids bring home reading calendars from school every month. There is NO WAY I would (or ever have) remember to mark how many minutes they read each day. I used to fill in the entire calendar when it was due, using different colors of pen to make it look like I've been marking it every day. Now I just throw the calendars away and write a note with an estimate of how much they've read.

When my kids bring home their Halloween candy it is a known fact that they are to dump the candy on the table to allow me to remove what I call The Undesirables (mostly the stuff that sticks to your teeth) so I can then pass those out to the kids who are still coming. It has always been this way and nobody in our family knows any different. There is also a thing called Parent Tax, and it is paid in Reese's.

It has been a long time since I have sung in public. However, here at home it is a regular occurrence. In the last month my 14-year-old daughter, Cowgirl, has said to me, "You could be on The Voice and win" and "I bet if you posted videos on YouTube you would get tons of views". I think those are the two nicest compliments I have ever heard regarding my singing.

I have also not been working as an ASL interpreter on a consistent basis in years. However, with Little X going in to kindergarten next year I have considered going back to it part-time. Not necessarily because I need to, but because I miss being a part of the Deaf community. It's something that will always be such an immense part of who I am, a place where I feel the most understood, that I am drawn to it. I've been putting myself out there, applying a couple of places, and it's awesome to see what I'm worth. A confidence-booster, really. It's been nice.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Places I've Been And Need To Go

I was pretty excited to fill out this map of the United States and see how many states I've been to, most of them with our family.
I'd sure love to be able to fill in Alaska (cruise!) and Hawaii!


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Random Thoughts

Most of my kids are more fluent in movie quotes and song lyrics than in actual speaking. And I think it's pretty great - especially the song lyrics. Because that's my kind of language. Movie quotes, not so much. Unless the movies are from the 80's. I watched a lot of those. But you know what stinks about movies from the 80's? I remember them a lot differently than they really are. Like, when I find one and get really excited to watch it with my kids and then there is more swearing in the first 5 minutes than I remember being in the entire movie, so we have to turn it off. And then the kids say, "But I thought you said you loved that movie?" And I respond, "I was a different person in high school than I am now." Only, to tell the truth, I think there are a lot of things about me that are the same.

I still have curly hair. And it's been long enough now since I've been pregnant that my hair is becoming itself again. It's slowly graying too, but my hair is a huge part of my identity and I love it. I know that sounds kind of... I don't know. Vain? I don't mean to be vain. I just love the curly hair God gave me. I know a lot of people who have naturally curly hair who take the time to straighten it all the time. I do that every once in a while. And then my kids tell me I look weird so I wash it and POOF! I'm back to being me.

One of these years I'm going to dye my hair a subtle red and dress like Miss Frizzle. Not for Halloween. Just because. Maybe for like a month. I'm going to work on my sewing skills by crafting dresses that represent the solar system and weather patterns and nocturnal animals and ant colonies and volcanoes and such. And when people ask if I'm supposed to be Miss Frizzle I'll just look at them like, huh? I can not wait.

Have you ever eaten a persimmon? Oh my goodness. I had never even heard of them until a couple of weeks ago when Elle and I went to visit some friends and the husband was eating one. He told me he got them at a local store, so the next time I was there I bought some. They look like a tomato but they are not a tomato. They are mildly sweet and just delicious. They are my new favorite food right now. Persimmons. Who knew??

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Echo and Stars

I am excited to be a part of a partnership between our local library and my kids' elementary school library as a Book Ambassador. This just means that once a month I get to choose a book from a selection provided by the public library, read it, and then come back to the school to share my thoughts on the book with a few classes. 

Last month I chose Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan. I loved it so much. So. Much.

If you have a passion for music and a love for history being weaved into stories and a fascination with the way words can be used to pierce the soul, you will love it too. It tells the tale of a harmonica that travels over years and continents to touch and inspire the lives and intertwine the stories of three musically talented children. The book touches on the struggles of life in Nazi Germany, the loneliness of the Great Depression and the difficulties faced by a migrant farm-working family who become caretakers for the home of a family sent to a Japanese internment camp. It was like a combination of August Rush and The Book Thief, with a little bit of Newsies thrown in.
The only thing that bothered me was the tidy conclusion to each person's individual story. There were points when the reader is left hanging as to what might have happened and at the end it was kind of like the author thought the book was too long and didn't want to elaborate on where the stories were going so they all had miraculously happy endings. I also kind of felt like the fairy tale that starts and ends the story was kind of cute but not necessary. However, I will say that I thought the way the three stories intertwine at the end was heartwarming and beautiful.

I also recently acquired The Fault In Our Stars while visiting a local Little Free Library. I just finished it yesterday.
I have heard nothing but great reviews of this book so I was excited to dig in. And yes, it was beautifully written in parts. In fact, I have fallen in love with the following passage (along with a few others):
“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.” 
Every book-lover can relate, right?
There were a few other moments in the book where I felt as if the author was peeking into my brain and putting my thoughts into words. I loved those parts. The love story between Hazel and Augustus was very sweet and perfect by most people's standards. However, I really didn't love this book. There was way too much swearing and the whole love story was kind of Twilight-esque to me. I'm sorry if you loved this book and you hate my review. But that's how I felt about it. It's also the kind of story that builds up a young woman's hope that a guy like Augustus exists and will say all the perfect words and do all the perfect things and have all the perfect feelings. I'm not a fan of those kind of stories.  
So, how about you? What books have you read lately that you love?

Monday, November 2, 2015

Pictures With My People

I have thought long and hard about what I would want if I could have any gift available. (It came up as a question at some point a long time ago and I haven't stopped considering it.) I have finally figured it out, and I'm feeling confident about this answer. I would like a large collection of photos of me with my friends and family. And what I mean by this is that I would like to have someone follow me around and take pictures of me with each of the people that I love.  Not just pictures of them. I want to be in the pictures with them. I love taking pictures but I'm so often behind the camera. I want to be in front of it, along with the people who have been a part of my life's story.

Some people are uncomfortable with the idea of telling others that they love them. Some say that "love" is overused and overstated. I've gotten to the point where I disagree. Love is the key to everything. And when I say that I want pictures with the people that I love I don't just mean my immediate family. I don't just mean my neighborhood family. I mean ALL of the people that I LOVE in my life. And that probably includes you, if you're reading this. Because I bet I love you, even if you don't know it.

I need to start carrying my camera with me everywhere I go so I can get started with this plan. I would guess it has been at least 5 years that the idea has been swirling around in my brain and the more I think about it, the more I love it.

I would love to make it a point to travel around, just to get these pictures, which I know would be such a treasured gift. And then I have thought about starting a blog that is just for posting these pictures and writing about why I love each person, what I respect and admire in them. I think I would call it "Pictures With My People". But that's not set in stone yet.

To complete the vision of what I want to accomplish here I would have to travel all over my state. I'd start in my own city then travel everywhere from Cedar City and Vernal to Layton and Blanding and then some. I would need to travel all over the United States. I would need at least a month in California, a trip to Montana and Boston and Texas and Nevada and Iowa and New Mexico and beyond. I would need to get a passport so I could get to Italy to meet Stephanie and Canada to meet Jerri and Shanghai to meet Heather, all of whom I have never met in person but feel connected to.

The enormity of this plan is what has stopped me from making it happen. But the more I think about it, the more passionate I feel about it. So maybe, little by little, I can make this happen.

Somehow, writing this all out, it feels so much more real. And bit by bit, so much more possible.

So if I run into you somewhere and I happen to have my camera with me and ask for a picture together, please just smile and say yes. And know that my asking means that you are loved. And that you will be helping me make a dream come true.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Being Thankful

So, it's already November 1st. And I really, really wanted to write every day this month for NaBloWriMo. (Is that even in November?) And also to take time to think about what I'm thankful for and how blessed I am. Without getting into too much detail, I had a less-than-stellar day this morning and I kind of just wanted to come home from church and feel sorry for myself. I was going to lock myself in my room and read for a while but decided I should first throw the clothes in the dryer since they've been sitting in the washer since yesterday.

I do not know how to describe the feeling of opening the washer to find that every item of clothing is covered in some unknown substance, then realizing that the unknown substance is the insides of a bedtime diaper that someone must have accidentally thrown into the laundry basket. I just closed the washer and walked away. I. Just. Can't.

I decided to make a list of all the good things in my life. OK, 10 things. That is do-able. I need to get out of this slump.

1. Despite the swollen diaper mush all over my latest load of clothes, I do have a washing machine. And it works great.

2. I have a dryer, too.

3. Everyone in my family is healthy right now.

4. I have a stove and oven that allow me to cook food inside my house.

5. I have water that almost magically comes to the sinks and showers and spigots all around my house. We can use as much of it as we need.

6. The weather has stayed warm enough for us to still be eating garden fresh tomatoes every day.

7. We have a family pet that requires no maintenance. His name is Bob. I am hoping that Bob will tide the kids over for EVER and we will never need to get an actual animal that requires care.
(Meet Bob.)

8. I have a refrigerator to keep my food cold.

9. I know how to sew. I can make some pretty cool things with my sewing machine, like the costumes I whipped up for the kids this year. I can also fix things that need mending.

10. I have two functional hands, which can remove the disgusting load of laundry from my washer and into a laundry basket. I have two functional legs, which can carry the basket full of clothes outside. I have two functional arms, which can shake the swollen diaper pellets off of the disgusting clothes. And then, when I need to wash the clothes again, I can go back to number 1.

I'm off to work on Number Ten.

UPDATE: I didn't go work on Number Ten. Instead I ate a bunch of chocolate from my kids' Halloween stashes. Then tonight, as we were all getting together for prayers, Elle brought a laundry basket full of clean clothes into my room. "Are those the clothes that were in the washer?" I asked, worried. Yes, She had read my post and shook all the grossness off of the clothes for me. Then vacuumed and cleaned out the washer. Tonight, I have a favorite child.

11. My kids are awesome.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween 2015

This year's Halloween costumes started off with All-a-Boy getting asked to the Halloween dance. He and his date decided to dress up as Peter Pan and Wendy. I didn't want to have to make too many costumes this year so I decided we would just rent him one from a local theater or costume company. The day before the dance we went to three different places to try on costumes and guess what? None of them worked. One was much too large, one had women's tights as the "pants" and a zigzag stitch across the chest to repair a tear, and the other was too much money for not much of a costume. So I headed to the thrift store and found some brown pants and a large green t-shirt. Then I got some felt to make a hat. A few hours later and: voilĂ ! Peter Pan.  

Every year for the last few years Princess has asked if she can be a trash can or a sleeping bag. I keep telling her that those are inanimate objects, not necessarily costumes, and she has found other things to be. This year, she said she wanted to be a kangaroo. Two days later Amazon delivered this cute and comfy costume...

Curly wanted to be Hermione Granger. She's so cute I can hardly stand it.

Cowgirl always knows waaaay ahead of time who she wants to be for Halloween. This year it was Darla from Finding Nemo. It came together really well! The hardest part was finding the logo for her sweater and making her headgear.   

Hubba chose to be a Jedi again, which I was thrilled about since I made this costume a few years ago and it still fits him.

And Little O wore Hubba's Fix It Felix costume from last year. 

Then there's this little yay-hoo. He looked through the costume box and found parts of a lion costume and parts of a fireman costume. He says he's a "firefighter lion-tiger because it's not a lion because it has no mane". Perfect.

I'm not sure I can even begin to tell you how much I love these two and their costume choice. I was so glad they stopped by to say hello yesterday! Seriously, have you ever seen a cuter couples costume? They are practically perfect in every way. The cutest Bert and Mary Poppins I have ever seen.

Elle was invited to a Halloween party the day of and needed to figure out a quick costume. This is why I keep everything. Since she already had the perfect spectacles for the job, she pulled off the Waldo costume effortlessly.  

Allen had his black afro from last year so I found him a plaid suit coat and some polyester pants from a couple of my favorite thrift stores and he was a believable 70's guy. But I didn't get a picture, dang it. Sorry.

This was one of the first years that I didn't really dress up. It was kind of sad, to tell you the truth. But I was so busy getting the kids costumes together that by the time we left for our neighborhood Halloween party it was all I could do to grab a pair of prop glasses and a bag of books and tell everyone I was a librarian. I don't wear glasses normally, but apparently nobody thought anything of it. I'll come back in a big way next year.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Great Pumpkins

Last year Little O's first grade teacher gave each of the students in his class a little baggie with 4 pumpkin seeds inside. He brought it home and begged me for weeks to let him plant them. I kept thinking I would be using all of the available space in our back yard for gardening but as the weeks passed I realized that the garden, unfortunately, was going to be a lot smaller than originally planned.

Much to O's delight, I let him plant his seeds. All by himself. And now he is the proud owner of his own little pumpkin patch which produced 11 potential jack-o-lanterns and one smiling boy. (One pumpkin is still dark green and ripening on the vine as we speak.)

All-a-Boy was asked to the school Halloween dance and asked if he could have one of O's pumpkins to use in answering his date. Little O did not hesitate to say yes. And when I asked if we could use a few to decorate Z Library for Halloween he chose his favorites and shared them with me.

He is such a generous boy with a tender and giving heart. We love him to all of infinity.    

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Quick Quips: Road Trip Version

Some things my kids said on our drive to Minnesota this summer:

Little X: Those clouds looks like they catched on FIRE!

Hubba: The sky looks like an ocean out here. I'm totally serious. Look at it. It's like an ocean in the sky. Like a floating ocean. I'm serious! Is everyone seeing this?

Little X: I wish there is never ending tunnels in the earth so our car can go places a lot faster!

Little O: Those are the biggest pointy mountains I have ever saw.

Little X: (in North Dakota) Whoa! That is a LOT of grass!

Little X: (as we're trying to complete an animal scavenger hunt in Yellowstone) Hey! I sawed a deer!
Everyone: Really? Where?
Little X: On that sign back there!
*1 minute later*
Little X: Hey! I sawed a bear!
Everyone: You did? Where?
Little X: On this paper they gaved us! I WIN!

In one of the hotels we stopped at we watched the last 40 minutes or so of the movie Rudy. Curly sees the closing credits and the following conversation ensues.
Curly: His name is Rudy? That's a funny name for a boy. 
Me: You just now realized his name was Rudy? It's the name of the movie! What did you think they were all chanting in the stadium at the end?
Curly: I thought they were saying, "Fruity! Fruity!"
Me: That doesn't even make any sense.
Little X: I thought they were saying, "Little X! Little X!"