May 30, 2011

50 nifty united states.

Just because my kids don't know the states or their capitals...
We're going to sing this song every morning at scripture time.
Don't you love this song??

Fifty Nifty United States from thirteen original colonies;

Fifty Nifty stars in the flag that billows so beautifully in the breeze.
Each individual state contributes a quality that is great.
Each individual state deserves a bow, We salute them now.

Fifty Nifty United States from thirteen original colonies,
Shout 'em, scout 'em, Tell all about 'em,
One by one,til we've given a day to every state in the USA
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut-
Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana-
Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine,
Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan,-
Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana,
Nebraska..., Nevada,-
New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York,-
North Carolina, North Dakota, O H I O,-
Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina,
South Dakota, Tennessee, Tex-as,-
Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
North, South, East, West in our calm, objective opinion (Name of favorite State)
Is the Best of the Fifty Nifty United States from thirteen original colonies
Shout 'em,scout'em, tell all about 'em
One by One, till we've given a day to every state in the good old U...S...A...... (hold all for three to four seconds)

Tomorrow we'll start by watching this video...

After we learn the states, we'll learn the capitals...

just because, i'm that kind of mother.
they love me.  :)

May 28, 2011

ghetto mcmuffins.

i love egg mcmuffins.
last weekend my sister showed me how to make my own in the microwave.
i love them!
But, they are a little bit ghetto.
Here's what I use...

 english muffin, american cheese, an egg, a mug, and vegetable spray.
 While you are toasting your english muffin, spray your mug and put an egg in it.
The egg in the mug is making your ghetto round egg.
(My sister says you need to break to yoke so it doesn't explode.  My eggs kinda explode even when I do break the egg-- that's why I say they are "ghetto".)
Cover the mug (with saran wrap or with another plate) and cook in the microwave for 1 minute.
The egg just slides out.
Layer muffin, egg and cheese.
mmmmm.  so good!

May 27, 2011

simply summer 2011.

today is the last day of school.
and, this year i had a baby and i'm moving and i haven't done ANY of the fun things that i'm used to doing.
no end of the year gifts for the teachers.
no summer baskets for my kids.
my kids are not in ANY spring sports- the only thing we're still doing is piano.
and, i haven't helped with ANY of my kids' end of the year parties.

i miss being active, creative and involved.
but, i know this is a transition time for our family.
I have no problem scaling back my life when I begin to feel overwhelmed.
In fact, scaling back has been exactly what we've needed.

Even though this new baby takes a lot of my time, my home is still clean enough for house showings every other day.
My kids are happy- because I'm not rushing them to and from activities.
And, we've enjoyed fun play dates with friends that we will be missing soon.

My theme for this summer is-- SIMPLY SUMMER 2011.
I really want to soak in the feeling of summer.
I want my kids to enjoy carefree afternoons with creative play, enjoying the outdoors and spending time with friends and family.
I want to take time to say goodbye to Lubbock, TX.  Before we move we hope to take pictures at our favorite places. 
And, I hope to get to know Corvallis, OR.  I am imagining lazy afternoons at the beach, hikes to beautiful Oregon waterfalls and trips to Portland's zoo or children't museums-- I'm imagining they have them there.

I hope this summer I can really cherish each day, cherish each child, cherish the places that we live and the people that surround us.  I want to live in the moments.
And to CHOOSE to be HAPPY.
Even when life is crazy and in boxes.
No matter what the outside looks like, I want to be calm and peaceful on the inside.
To me, Simply Summer means calm and peaceful and full of joy.

Wish me luck!!

Want to read about summer's past??
Here is a fun post on summer chores--  summer ideas- chore charts and NON-consistency
Here is our summer 2010 theme-- for the love of books
Here is our summer 2009 theme-- be a hero
Here is our summer 2008 theme-- doing great things-- inventors and explorers

May 26, 2011

14 years.

The professor and I just celebrated our anniversary. 
We have been married 14 years.  14 years and 7 kids.  Wow!

I have been thinking a lot lately about my life the past 14 years.  This weekend I flew back to Virginia, where I grew up.  I saw my best friend from high school get married.  I visited with many of my friends' parents who I hadn't seen since my wedding.  Visiting with people who knew me then, I felt just like the young girl I once was.  And, I wondered what they saw when they looked at me with my new little baby.  How am I different?  How am I the same?  Everyone was shocked that I have so many kids.  It was kind of funny the amazed reactions I got.

At the wedding I wore a knee-length skirt, a white shirt and a cardigan.  I had my hair in a pony tail, with a silver clip and a necklace/earring set I bought at Target for $15.  I could have worn that same outfit 15 years ago in high school.  I'm a bit softer and chubbier these days.  I wore high heels instead of penny loafers-- but outside I'm pretty much what I was then.    Part of me wishes for a more "grown up" appearance.
I mentally list all the extras that I could have... a tan, muscles from the gym, fake fingernails, a manicure and pedicure, eyelash extensions, a facial (to get rid of the age spot that's forming on my cheek), a new outfit from Talbots or Anne Taylor or JCrew, expensive shoes, a stylish purse, highlights in my hair, a new hairstyle, lipstick, diamond earrings, etc.
If I had the funds I would have loved to show up at the wedding all decked out.  And, I could have had all those things.  But, I don't.  Why?  Well, we're in school.  If I have extra money I spend it on new shoes for my kids who have feet that grow very fast.  I have lots of kids with birthdays and parties they are invited to go to... I buy books instead of shoes.  I like to look at other people who are fashionable, but really I'm just classic and predictable and boring.  I don't think I'll ever be the stylish icon I sometimes wish I was.

Outside, I'm not so different than I was 14 years ago... but, I've spent the past 14 years working on my inside.  If you could see my inside, I have changed a lot.
Having children has changed me.  I am more kind, more patient, more empathetic, more selfless.  I've learned to love-- the verb kind of love.  I've learned to sacrifice.
And, I am so rich. 

In Virginia, I only had baby Eve with me.  And, she was my treasure.  She is so darling.  Bright-eyed and beautiful.  How blessed I am to have that sweet baby.  Really, it didn't matter at all what I was wearing.  Because people didn't even look at me-- they looked at my sweet baby.  And she is perfect.  She smiled and cooed and slept and fussed.  She was shining brighter than diamonds.  And, she was just ONE. 

Every time I told people that she was my seventh baby I wished I had my other kids around me.  I wanted them to see Jakob.  To see how mature and responsible and good he is.  I wanted them to see how hard he works at everything he does and for them to see how good he is with his younger sisters.  I wanted them to meet Drew and see how dang cute that kid is.  To hear his witty jokes and how he knows so much about so many things.  I wanted them to meet sweet, lady like Anna, and bright-eyed, sensitive, creative Ellie.  To see Leah sparkling and excited about life, and darling Lily with her cute pigtails and tender mothering ways. 

Since I've been home, I have been thinking about the words of Anne Campbell, who wrote as she looked upon her children:

You are the trip I did not take;
You are the pearls I cannot buy;
You are my blue Italian lake;
You are my piece of foreign sky.
(“To My Child,” quoted in Charles L. Wallis, ed., The Treasure Chest [1965], 54)

Todd and I celebrated our anniversary by going out to lunch.
No big trips around the world or expensive gifts.
I was bouncing a fussy baby while we ate and we remembered 11 years ago celebrating our 2nd anniversary in Provo, Utah at China Lily.  We had a 3 month old Jakob who was fussy.  Todd ate while I bounced the baby outside and then I ate while he bounced the baby.  Things aren't that different today. 

I have a feeling that much will change in the next 14 years.  I have a feeling that I will get my manicures and diamond earrings, if that is what I want.  I think we will have more fun vacations and more time for pampering as our kids grow older.  But, I know that I will NEVER regret these first 14 years.  I won't regret the sacrifices we have made for the great bounty we have been given. 

Todd asked me what I felt the highlights were over the past 14 years.
We mentioned our cruise (for our 10th anniversary), and fun times with family and friends.
But really, the highlight of the past 14 years can't be measured in trips or events.
The highlights are moments-- and becoming.

Todd and I have become-- over the past fourteen years.
We work so good together.  The highlights were the middle of the night as we rocked a sick baby.  Setting time aside for lunch dates to stay connected during his PhD program.  14 years of being intimate-- learning and growing together.  14 years of learning how to be individuals together.  We laugh together A LOT.  We are both very funny, or at least we think we are!!  We're really good at family time and scripture study and budgeting and finding balance in alone and together time.  We've learned how to keep house and put our kids to bed without kids coming out of bed all night long.  We laugh together and communicate our differences without fighting. 

I remember hearing a talk on marriage when we were in college together.  I remember the speaker encouraging us to not be so volatile-- fight and make-up all the time.  She described this woman that when her wedding dress caught on fire she just said, "Oh well!" and laughed it off.  I remember thinking that I could NEVER be like that.  And, I am like that.  I have learned.  Together, Todd and I have learned how to fight nicely, most of the time. 

Again, this is a post that wasn't very well thought out... I'm just writing it very fast before I head to the store to buy a birthday gift and then to the school for another award assembly. 
But, it is for me.
For me to remember.  Yes, I have been married 14 years and I am still a young wife with no money, just graduating from school.  Our cars are old and our bank account is similar to what it was.  I still have cover girl make up, skirts from goodwill, and fake earrings from Target.
But, I am different.  My life is full and good.  And, I have a home that is Heavenly.  I've worked hard to learn how to be a good wife and mother and homemaker.  I'm still learning, but I LOVE the life I am living.

Sometimes I look at others and I yearn for the things I don't have. 
I wonder how my life could have been if I was just getting married, or just having my first baby...
But, I think we each have our own journey. 
And, this is my journey.
14 years.  And honestly, I wouldn't change a thing.
Life is good.

May 23, 2011

It's pool time!

 Today was opening day at the pool, and of course the kids were clamoring for a Family Home Evening there instead of indoors.  It's probably the planner in me, but at impromptu times like this I'm hesitant to throw everything to the wind and just go with the moment.  The kids prevailed this time, and I'm glad they did.  We had a great time!  Now the kids are in the tub and soon they'll be in dreamland...then I can tackle folding the laundry while I watch my favorite Netflix movie.  I love you Jen!

--the professor

May 22, 2011

Shhh--don't tell!

Well, since Jen's been gone for a few days I thought I'd try something I've never done before.  I'm growing a beard.  You see, Jen doesn't like beards, or rather, she doesn't like kissing them.  That's been the kiss of death for past beard attempts.  And after four days, I'm still on the fence.  Most of the kids like it, but it's funny that the little girls like to touch it with their hands, but they don't like kisses either.  Any beard lovers out there that could mediate on my behalf??

May 19, 2011

on a jet plane.

i'm on my way to virginia to visit with my sister and good friend from high school who is getting married.
it's just me and baby eve
(and all our luggage that we can't check-in unless we're willing to pay an extra $100- dumb)
I'm SOO excited!!
and a little bit nervous...
miss me!

May 18, 2011


it's the end of the school year and we have LOTS of fun planned.

for party invitations-- i've been using picnik...  it's pretty fun!

May 17, 2011


my big girls teach my little girls every day.
i love it.
and, i love these books...
(sorry some are stuck sideways-- i have a baby that is calling and i don't have time to straighten them!)

i'm so grateful for my little mother's helpers.

May 15, 2011

the truth about happily ever after.

I have always believed that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people.
As a young girl I dreamed of marrying my prince, living in my castle and raising a happy family with many children, a dog, and blue skies.
I knew with my mind that life would not always be easy, but with my heart I believed that if I did what I knew was right I would always be happy. 
I have learned much.
And, this week, I've been remembering.

Happily ever after is hard for everyone.  In fact, the BEST people I know have lived the hardest lives.  It's the concept of the refiner's fire.  I don't love that concept.

"When through firey trials thy pathway shall lie, My grace all sufficient shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee, I only design, Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine."
(How Firm a Foundation, verse 4)

President Boyd K. Packer said,
"Some are tested by poor health, some by a body that is deformed or homely. Others are tested by handsome and healthy bodies; some by the passion of youth; others by the erosions of age.

Some suffer disappointment in marriage, family problems; others live in poverty and obscurity. Some (perhaps this is the hardest test) find ease and luxury.
All are part of the test, and there is more equality in this testing than sometimes we suspect"
I love the story from Carlfred Brodrick's book The Uses of Adversity.  He tells of a youth night where the theme was the wizard of oz.  The YW leaders were teaching, follow the yellow brick road, marry in the temple and you will live happily ever after.  They asked Brother Broderick if he had anything to add.  He said,
"Girls, this has been a beautiful program.  I commend the gospel with all of it's auxiliaries and the temple to you, but i do not want you to believe for one minute that if you keep all the commandments and live as close to the Lord as you can and do everything right... and have a temple marriage, I do not want you to believe that bad things will not happen to you.  And when that happens, I do not want you to say that God was not true.  Or to say, 'They promised me in Primary... that if I were very, very good, I would be blessed. ... Sad things-- children who are sick or developmentally handicapped, husbands who are not faithful, illnesses that can cripple, or violence, betrayals, hurts, deaths, losses-- when those things happen, do not say God is not keeping his promises to me. 
The gospel of Jesus Christ is not an insurance against pain.  It is resource in event of pain, and when that pain comes (and it will come because we came here on earth to have pain among other things), when it comes, rejoice that you have resource to deal with your pain."

I LOVE this quote!!  I love it.  And, I love remembering this principle. 
Because I am good, and capable, God lets me have growing experiences.
Because I WANT to be better, He blesses me with a life that helps me to stretch.

When you exercise, and want to increase your strength... you RIP your muscles.  And, when those tiny rips heal, your muscles are bigger.  Strength comes from stretching.

This has been my favorite poem since I was young...
Good Timber
by Douglas Malloch

The tree that never had to fight
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out in the open plain
And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king
But lived and died a scrubby thing.

The man who never had to toil
To gain and farm his patch of soil,
Who never had to win his share
Of sun and sky and light and air,
Never became a manly man
But lived and died as he began.

Good timber does not grow with ease:
The stronger wind, the stronger trees;
The further sky, the greater length;
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.

Where thickest lies the forest growth,
We find the patriarchs of both.
And they hold counsel with the stars
Whose broken branches show the scars
Of many winds and much of strife.
This is the common law of life.

Today, I don't have many trials.
I just have an excess of blessings.  (Hah!)
It's true...  many kids, many house showings, moving, dinner, laundry, a baby who needs me...
This is my life, and it is oh so good.
So good.
and, hard.

I'm grateful for hard.  Because I am becoming.  My patience muscles are becoming stronger.  My discernment muscles are becoming stronger.  My procrastination muscles are shrinking.  My laziness muscles are shrinking.  My selfish muscles are shrinking.
I am making my happily ever after.
I'm choosing to be HAPPY in my ever after.
Because Happily Ever After is a choice not a gift.

Because I am good, I am blessed.
I am not blessed with easy.  But, I am blessed.
Blessed with an understanding that all of life's trials are for my good.
Blessed with moments of joy.
Blessed with moments of accomplishment.
Blessed with the sweet whispering of the Spirit who says at the end of my day, "well done."
Blessed with selflessness, patience, kindness...
Blessed to see things I can improve, and how God is teaching me.
Blessed with greater charity towards those I am trying to love.
Blessed with wisdom in the moments that I need it.
Blessed with peace when I see things I can not do.
Blessed with people in my path who teach me.

Today I'm so grateful to be living my happily ever after.
I'm grateful for hard.
I'm grateful for a Savior who leads me and guides me and walks beside me.
Today, I am happy.
And, I still have to go wrangle my brood into their church clothes and pray they will not get into a fist fight during church...
yup, this is the real happily ever after.

May 13, 2011


i love this goofy grin.
and, i love this quote...
“Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you're just coming out of one, or you're getting ready to go into another one. The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort.”  -Rick Warren
I got the quote from Shawni who was just elected National Mother of the Year.  
You can read her acceptance speech here...

I'm proud to be a mother with character. ;)

May 11, 2011


drew is 10.
he's really fun.
and creative...
want to make a ninja star?-- here are the directions.

his birthday is June 1st-- he's getting ready!
love that kid.

May 10, 2011


my girls take turns brushing one anothers hair while watching american idol.
i keep thinking how fun it is to have FIVE girls.

yup.  i love little girls.


I feel like i'm saying the C-word.
The strict medical definition of colic is a condition of a healthy baby in which it shows periods of intense, unexplained fussing/crying lasting more than 3 hours a day, more than 3 days a week for more than 3 weeks.

Before this baby was born, if you would have asked me what my "talent" was, I would have told you-- babies.
I do babies.
I'm good at babies.
Babies are my favorite.
I love fussy babies, and happy babies, and tired babies, and sick babies.
I have had many, and borrowed many, and babies are my thing.
giving eve a pacifier in the hospital...
I have never used a pacifier, because my theory has always been "if a baby is fussy, give them what they need and they will be happy."
With all my kids, crying meant they were hungry or tired or wet or burpy... I would fix their need and they would be happy, content and peaceful.
I'm very good at "baby whispering", I could talk baby talk and my babies are VERY content, happy babies.

But, this baby is giving me a run for my money.
I laughed when I read the definition of colic-- fussing or crying for 3 hours a day, more than 3 days a week...  um, try 10 hours a day, every day.
This sweet baby is very rarely content. 
CONTENTMENT is the difference between this baby and every other baby I've given birth to. 
She's just sad.
Not crying all the time, because I'm pretty good at bouncing and swaddling and distracting her... but, if I slow down for one minute, she's fussy.
She wakes up sad, and she goes to bed sad. 
The only time I can lay her down in her bed is if she is in a deep sleep.
She only sleeps if she doesn't hear any loud noises or have any burps or toots.
This baby is a lot of work.

The hardest thing about having a fussy baby is that when she cries all the time, I feel like a failure.
I pray and pray for WISDOM in mothering this baby, and I just don't know what to do to help her be happier.
And, I don't get much sleep... I'm so tired.

Honestly, babies are still my thing. 
And, I can DO a fussy baby. 
But, that is ALL I can do.
It is VERY hard for me to do anything besides this baby. 
And, I'm really sick of my husband or kids having to pick up my slack. 

The first night Eve was alive, the professor and I were both up all night in the hospital with her.  She was fussy all night long.  I remember laughing with Todd as we swaddled and bounced and sang and burped her.  We had never experienced an inconsolable baby before.
The nurse gave us one of those hospital baby brushes and we brushed her hair-- she loved it and was just happy for a few minutes while we brushed.  We were both like, Quick!  Take a picture, she's happy.

For the first four weeks, the only time Eve was content was when she was nursing... and nursing was excruciatingly painful for me.
Now, I thank God EVERY TIME I nurse-- because it isn't painful anymore.
I really think that God let me experience Very Hard so that I would be very grateful for just a little bit hard.

My baby doesn't CRY all the time.
She's little and she needs sleep.  Because she isn't great at sleeping for long periods of time, I can often nurse her and then hold her like I'm nursing her with a pacifier in her mouth and she will sleep.
It's not a restful sleep, she's still squirmy and gassy, but she will sleep when I'm holding her.
So, at church or activities, I usually have her fed and resting in my arms. 
She seems content. 
But people don't realize that I have been HOLDING her for the past 24 hours.

She screams in the car. 
She screams in a sling or carrier or car seat or swing. 
She's particularly fussy between 6pm and 1am.

And, she is SO CUTE!
She smiles and tries to coo sometimes-- oh how I love her happy moments.
How I cherish the times when I can just hold her and she's calm.

I HATE admitting to people that I'm having a hard time with this baby.
I hate it.
Babies are my thing.
But, I can't not tell the truth. 
When people ask me how it's going I try to say "great!" But, I have to add, "She's a fussy little thing and it's hard."

I would pick this trial.
Sometimes I laugh because really there is NOTHING I would rather do in the world than bounce a baby.
Need an excuse not to fold the laundry, I've got one.
But, I keep thinking I should be better at this by now.

Yesterday, I had gotten no sleep, so after the kids went to school, the professor took the baby and told me to lay down. 
I can't sleep when I hear the baby fussing in the family room-- that's part of the colic-curse.
She's my baby and I'm connected to her.  If she's sad, I'm sad too.
Then someone called and asked to go through our house at 12:30.
Todd and I both worked for a few hours to get the house straightened up, the lawn mowed, and the little girls dressed.
(I cleaned one handed, holding the baby in my other hand.)
I had to find a home for my dog and I took to little girls to McDonald's from 12:30 to 2pm.
The baby was pretty good, because I fed her before we left and held her when we got there. 
(She screamed the whole time in the car so she was pretty tired.)
Leah and Lily missed naps and were pretty fussy.
We got home and then I had to pack everybody into the car again at 3pm to pick the bigger kids up from school.
Poor eve was not so happy in the car the second time either.
By the time I got home, my toddlers were tired and cranky, my baby was over-tired and very fussy AND I told my big kids no TV because we had decided this weekend they were watching too much.
It was CRAZY.
Since the professor didn't get up to school till noon, he was planning on staying up there till 11pm to work on his dissertation. 
I called him around 5:30pm saying that I just couldn't get dinner on the table.
I HATE admitting defeat. 
He came home and cooked dinner.
I comforted the baby and directed the big kids into baths and pj's and bed.
I finally was able to lay the baby down at 11pm and she slept till 3am!! 
It was nice.  I fed her and she went back to sleep till 6:30 am.
(Most nights I feed her at 10pm, 12am, 2am, 4am, 6am... etc. and, she's fussy in between.)
She was up and fussy all morning-- but finally she zonked out around 10 and that's when I took a minute to write this blog.
I can hear her squirming now.
So, this is my life.
I don't think it will be this hard for long. 
Already it is getting better-- the days are pretty good.
And, I got a 4 hour block of sleep last night!!
I just want you to know that I have learned...
Colic is real.
And, it's hard. 

And I still really, really love this little stink.

This is one of those posts that I hate pushing publish post on.
I feel compelled to be REAL, but I wish I could always be ROSY.

May 09, 2011

goodbye snickers.

OK.  This week the professor and I are reclaiming our lives.
No more chocolate chip pancakes with ice cream and whipping cream on top...

Healthy food.
Less TV.
More family prayer and scripture time.
More purposeful living, less survival mode.

Oh, how I'm going to miss my Snickers milk shakes...

May 08, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Elder Deiter F. Uchdorf, "Happiness, Your Heritage"
"If you are a mother, you participate with God in His work of creation—not only by providing physical bodies for your children but also by teaching and nurturing them."

Elder M. Russel Ballard, "Daughters of God"
"What can . . . young mother[s] [do] . . . to reduce the pressure [of raising young children] and enjoy [their families] more? . . .

"Recognize that the joy of motherhood comes in moments. There will be hard times and frustrating times. But amid the challenges, there are shining moments of joy and satisfaction."

all my kids (and my husband) wrote me mother's day poems.
i LOVE them.
Today I am grateful for my mothers, and for the opportunity to be a mother.
I firmly believe that MOTHERHOOD does not come with having children. 
Motherhood is an innate, sacred quality that all women possess. 
You can feel the yearnings of motherhood in young girls as they hide baby dolls under their shirts or nurture their younger siblings.
Motherhood is a skill that we become better at with practice.

I have often felt that Motherhood is next to Godhood.
We create.  We nurture.  We comfort.  We heal.  We cleanse.  We forgive.  We serve.  We nourish.  We cherish.  We teach.  We sacrifice. 
We try... every day, to be the best we can be for those we love as much as we know how.
my morning was not glamorous, but it was FILLED with love.  baby eve wanted to spend every moment of this day with me, starting at 12 am, 2 am, 4 am, 6am...  she JUST went to sleep (around 10:30 am)... i think she'll sleep ALL day, so she'll be ready for our evening bonding tonight.  not much sleeping at my house-- but TONS of sweet baby bonding.
I LOVE being a mother!!
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