December 28, 2011


when i was growing up i was blessed to live near five of my grandparents.
even though my mom's parents were divorced, we still managed to see both grandparents most holidays.
my grandfather is great.
in his younger days he reminded me of Ken-- the dark haired ken.
today i love his gray haired pony tail and small diamond earring.
grandpa taught me how to socialize in a group.
he is happy and outgoing and i never feel uncomfortable sitting down and visiting even after months apart.
i have many fond memories of him plucking his ukulele and singing fun songs with us.
somehow, whenever we get together for the holidays i have to gather everyone for songs!

my grandfather just emailed me this link to a song he used to sing-- Casey Jones.
This song, along with "I've been working on the railroad" sure bring me back to the past...
love it.

thanks gramps!!

December 25, 2011

Christmas Morning!!

we awoke to leah's excited exclamation-- "Lily, come look!  Santa REALLY ate the cookies!!"
all is well!

Happy Birthday Jesus!!

The BEST thing about having seven kids is CHRISTMAS MORNING.
i can't wait!

Wishing you JOY on this joyous day.
We have much to be grateful for!!

Merry Christmas 2011!
i sent this picture on my Christmas card.
it's going to end up on a dumbest family picture ever blog.
it was late when i pushed send.  :)
May your days be merry and bright!!

December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas Eve!

visiting santa while mom cleans the house...
Our stockings are hung.
Our creatures are stirring.
We had a fun night last night and are enjoying the quiet times with our family today.
i didn't get great pictures last night... too busy welcoming and entertaining.  i sent the kids around with the camera a few times and have about 100 pictures of a white horse with a santa hat on it.  :)
here's a few...

 the kids downstairs...

Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas!

December 23, 2011

embrace the experience!

as i was washing dishes last night i was prompted to call my husband's aunt jill.
she's darling.
a very dedicated first grade teacher who has never had children of her own.
this year she has struggled much with her health, she's currently battling a cold that has her on her third round of antibiotics and kept her coughing and wheezing into the phone while we talked.
jill is a bubbly, happy, hard-working woman.
she has a mother's soul.
she is an example to me.

last night, i'm not sure she knew that she said exactly what i needed to hear.
she told me of a talk she heard, i think is was elder samuelson, who was cheerful even on his way to get his kidney replaced.
elder clark's motto was "embrace the experience."
embrace-- not just endure.

as i talked to jill i imagined all that she is "embracing" this season.
and it sounded hard.
way harder than my "i have a lot of kids to put to bed at night."
in fact, i imagined that jill would gladly trade me experiences this week.
i saw my life through new eyes.

i realized that i have a tendency to think that if i were doing things right life wouldn't be hard.
that is false.
even people much better than me have trials.
life is designed to test us-- and so some stretching is necessary.
in order to experience a fullness of JOY, our lives will require a fullness of effort.
my life is FULL of good things.
overflowingly full of goodness.
i am so blessed.

as we delivered secret santa gifts last night and my kids were squabbling over who would deliver to which house... i took a step backwards.
i thought of sweet aunt jill, recovering in her bed.
great grandma moss throwing up all night with the flu.
the family in their town who was in a car accident and now both the mom and the dad are in wheelchairs recovering from their injuries.
elder samuelson and his kidney transplant.
and i was grateful for my experience.
i embraced the JOY in my car along with the squabbling.
and i found it.
the JOY.
it was there-- even while my kids were still arguing...
there were Christmas carols playing in the background.
there were great plans of subterfuge as the gifts were dropped off.
there was offers of piggy back rides and "Mom, i did a great job, didn't I?"
there were so many houses blinking with Christmas cheer.
there was todd at home hanging my family collage on the wall- because i can't have a party without re-decorating can i?
there was santa and mrs. clause sitting in the front of a pick-up and a manger scene out back in somebody's barn.
and as i felt JOY, my children stopped quarreling.
i heard them being kind, "you can do this house today and i'll do it tomorrow."
they started to sing bellowing renditions of Feliz Navidad and Little Drummer Boy.
they asked, "Mom, what can i do when we get home to help you get ready for our party?"
and, "Can I do my hair in curlers?"
By the end of our little jaunt through town I couldn't remember what I was so stressed about in the first place.

thanks jill.
thanks for the perspective.

i'm off to embrace my day!!
am i ready? for tonight and tomorrow?
um.  nope.  :)
but, i am readily embracing!!
come what may and love it!

and, i just had to laugh as i read this quote from my husband's uncle this morning...
Hospitality is making your guests feel like they're at home, even if you wish they were. 
Merry Christmas!

December 22, 2011

santa baby.

the elves are hard at work.
we are cooking and cleaning for our party tomorrow night (we have 10 families RSVPed)!
if you have a great holiday recipe let me know.
do you think it's bad if i'm just doing appetizer/treat things no main dish?
i have punch and homemade egg nog and apple cider.
many savory things and many sweet things...
but just fill your plate goodness, not main dish goodness.
our party is from 5-7pm.
i thought of making italian stuffed shells- but i just think it will be a mess.

i have a table in the basement for the kids to cut out snowflakes and tape them all over our windows/sliding glass door.

i plan on making everyone sing some Christmas carols... from our Christmas Song Book (i posted it here).
because that is my favorite thing about Christmas.

my home will be fine.
my children are planning on sleeping in curlers tonight and dressing up in church clothes for the party.
i put silver aluminum foil-ish icicles on my christmas tree-- and i love them.
i'm baking today and making todd hang the family wall i've been wanting in my basement.
life is good.

merry christmas!

December 21, 2011

a mother's prayer.

i take moments with my children.
moments where my heart is swelling and my body pulses with hope for the sweet souls in my stewardship.
my heart beats with concern and dreams and awe for these individual souls i am learning to parent.

i have found a joyful habit of prayer as i'm close to my little ones.
it has become a sweet habit of mine.
as i nurse my precious baby, i pray over her...
i pray as i caress her, wondering if she can feel the love in my touch.
each day, my prayers change, but my hope is constant

i pray for her head that she will learn wisdom, that she will know right from wrong...
i pray for her eyes that she will see good in the examples of her siblings and recognize danger as she crawls near the stairs.
i pray that her nose will smell, that her mouth will be filled with healthy and good things.  
that she won't eat things that will harm her (like beads or pennies).
i pray for her sweet cheeks that they will be chunky and smiling.
that her ears will hear the depth of my love, the fullness of His love, the goodness of a happy family.
i pray that her arms will carry her forward, that she will be soft and kind, that she will explore and learn.
i pray that her heart will be full of love.  that she will breathe easily and dispel sickness.
i pray that her stomach will digest the food she eats, that her bowels will be soft and that she will be healthy.
i pray that her legs will be strong and carry her to good places.
i thank God for her silky skin, for her beauty and i consecrate her to Him.

i do the same as i sit near my teenage boys.
as i scruff their spiked gelled hair, i pray for them.
silently and strongly.
i wonder if they feel my dreams and aspiration.
it feels good for me to give sentence to my heart's desires.
as i give their hands a squeeze i pray that God will use their hands for goodness.
when they are rude to their sisters, i gently put my hand under their chin and i pray that their mouths will be filled with kindness.
sometimes i speak the words, "Oh Drew, you have such power in your words, i hope you always use your mouth for good."
sometimes i just feel my prayer, "Please God, help him to hear the words he is speaking.  Help him to feel the influence he has.  Help him to learn to control the strength of his soul."

at the end of the day, when my bigger girls lean next to me while i read a bedtime story,
i run my fingers through their hair, and i pray for them... 
it is fun for me to think of all i wish for them and all i'm grateful for.

at nap time, when my littler girls are having a hard time falling asleep, i rub their hair and their faces tracing my finger over their eyes and noses and ears and lips and chin.
as i tickle their back, i'm praying for them.
and, i pray for me too.
please bless my mind to be clear and free from despair.
bless my eyes to see the goodness in each child.
bless my ears to hear the whisper of the spirit.
bless my mouth to always speak love.
bless my nose to help me notice one who needs some mothering care.
bless my heart to feel full of love.
bless my arms to serve continually.  
to do good and avoid waste.
bless my shoulders to always carry an easy yoke, to feel Christ beside me helping me on my way.
bless my legs to run, to serve, to be active and playful.
bless my hormones to fill me with joy.
help me to love my husband and love my children naturally.
as i lay near my children, i pray for us... and i feel eternity surrounding us.
i feel angels listening and teaching me and reminding me that all is well.
reminding me that I am His child.  
That He loves me and has prayed for me and has endowed me with great power.
That because of Him, I will be enough.
reminding me that my child is really His child.
That He loves them and has prayed for them and has created them full of goodness and potential and power to become everything He needs them to be.

i'm not sure what my children will grow up to be.
but, i know that they will face the world armed with a mother's prayer.
and i know, there is power in a mother's prayer.  
There is power in a Father's answer.
He is with us.
i just know it.
my mother's prayers are sacred and holy.
i share this blog reverently.
because they have blessed my life.
what a blessing it is to learn to mother...

christmas videos.

I love this wiseman video... it's beautiful.

Can't figure out how to download it.
Too much fun going on for me to download all my pictures.
Merry Christmas!

December 20, 2011

Life's a HAPPY SONG!!

there are a few things that I find out about and KNOW that i NEED THEM.
this is one.
my NEW FAVORITE song in the whole world!!
i found it here-- thanks CTR MAMA
I need this song to play through my house every moment of every day!!
it's our THEME SONG!

I've got everything that I need RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!!
Life's a happy song when there's someone right beside to sing along!
{i had to play it again and dance with my sweet husband while we sang along together...  there is something magical about singing the line "i've got everything that i need right in front of" while dancing with your husband and holding your sweet baby"  life just melts into goodness.}

Oh, how i love this song.
i think i will love the whole soundtrack... and movie!
I haven't even heard of this movie...
Oh, Happy Day!

the other thing i think i NEED is an ipod-touch.
to organize my life.
i have a weird idea that if i had this one item i would never again miss a dentist appointment or loose my shopping list.
perhaps i'm decieved... but the idea is stuck in my brain.
Just two things in the world and I will  be happy forever!

December 19, 2011

Real Gingerbread Houses.

I'm trying this...
I'll let you know how it turns out.

a christmas miracle or 2.

we are full these days.
this year i do not have everything packaged nicely ahead of time.
i am a beat behind, but still in the song!

we have MANY that we are trying to love this season--
in our home, in our town, and in our extended families.
each gift of time i give is precious spent.
it's consecrated time and consecrated money.
our gifts are sent with grand prayers-- may it bring JOY.
how i hope we are bringing JOY to some this Christmas season.

this is a TRUE story.
my FAVORITE Christmas miracle thus far...
{and i've had many}

in November we were encouraged at Church to invite our friends and neighbors into our home this Chirstmas season.
it was a passing comment that amidst the activity on my bench at church i could have missed.
but, i didn't.
those words bore deep into my soul.
and i KNEW this was something i needed to do.
a neighborhood Christmas party.
we don't really know many of neighbors.
this was a fun thought-- but VERY intimidating to me.
as the days passed the thought stayed with me.
i started thinking of invitations and food and dates
"Twas the night before Christmas Eve" kept running through my mind...
I mentioned this "thought" to my dear husband.
His response, "BAH HUMBUG!"
We're too busy, it's too expensive, it's too hard.... let's just invite over a few people we KNOW not a whole street we don't know.
The days before Christmas were ticking by.
I mentioned the idea a few more times to Todd in random conversations only to meet the same BLAH response.

Last week, we were in our basement watching the final Harry Potter movie.
{{Todd had bet me ONE WEEK of him doing laundry that i couldn't stay awake through the whole movie.
ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME??  I could stay awake till midnight if it meant no laundry for A WEEK!!!  He had no idea what he was getting into.  The last Harry Potter is the only movie in the history of our 14 year marriage and one year courtship that i have EVER stayed awake for.  insert-- no laundry happy dance here!!  todd is still shocked.  i explained-- it's all about choices MOVIE vs. SLEEP-- sleep wins.  SLEEP vs. NO LAUNDRY-- no laundry wins.  duh!!  and, i cheated... i had MANY Christmas projects to work on while i watched.  he said that i cheated, but he still woke up early on Saturday to get a jump on that laundry!  Christmas miracle #2.}}

During the movie, i was nursing my baby and my thoughts turned to prayer.
Todd and i had not talked about the party for a few days, but i knew where he stood.
Because I again had the feeling that we needed to host a gathering, i said in my prayer...
"Father, I feel we are supposed to invite our neighbors, but Todd really doesn't want to.  Christmas is a busy time of year and I'm just not going to do it unless he is on board.  I love you, but if you want me to do this, YOU have to talk to Todd."

"jen, you know if you really want to do a Christmas party don't let me stand in your way."
i said shocked, "WHAT?!"
he said, "It's ok with me if you want to invite the neighbors over the night before Christmas eve."
i laughed.  REALLY laughed.
he said, "I know it's random, but i was just sitting here and THE THOUGHT CAME INTO MY MIND that if you wanted to host a party I shouldn't stop you."
I told him that I had just, at that minute told God my party contingency and that before i even ended my prayer he had said that...
We both laughed.

Todd said, "Jen, you've got some great connections."
I said, "My dear Joseph-- when God speaks you are QUICK to respond."
Then, my next thought was... ugh, i REALLY have to do this this don't i?
i'm calling it my "handmaid offering"
{as in-- "behold, the handmaid of the Lord"  not that my offering even compares to sweet Mary, but in my small way, like her I KNOW... and I will DO.}

God is real.
Prayer works.
We are having a Christmas Party the day before Christmas Eve.
Heaven help us!
Have a great week!!
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