November 29, 2013

A very white, Black Friday

Thanksgiving was perfect.
I was soo tired by the end of the day.  Doesn't it feel great to be tired and full?  We are so blessed.

It surprised me how nostalgic I was.  All day I just kept remembering how close I came and how grateful I am to still be here.  Cooking and baking and entertaining helps me feel like me.

It felt good to fill our home.  At the last minute Todd drove to pick up our widowed friend who was alone for the holidays.  I'm grateful for enough to share. 

Today, there is a winter wonderland outside my window.  It's beautiful.  BEAUTIFUL!  My kids and their cousins play outside for hours and hours.  We can see them building forts, sledding, and slowly paddling their sleds across our frozen pond.  Someone said our yard is like a winter resort.  And, it's true.  

There is a huge mall nearby.  3rd largest in the US.  It is maybe 5 stories high and has ropes courses, a carousel, and go karts.  I thought that it might be fun to take the kids over.  When Todd and I watched an online video advertisement for this mall, it made me SICK.  It reminded me of Pinocchio's Pleasure Island or the great and spacious building where " all your dreams come true."  Blah.

I will not be shopping today.
I plan on sipping hot chocolate by the fire, while my kids explore the woods.
Ps- we made our turkey...
Ben ate mashed potatoes.  His first food.  He LOVES to eat.  I love that Eve's first food was Oregon's blackberries and Ben's first was Thanksgiving potatoes.
(Yes, I have darling pictures... Soon.)
Life is good.

November 28, 2013

So Thankful.

'twas the morning of Thanksgiving and all through the house, not a creature was stirring except for the baby, and the mother, and the older sister who soon appeared.
Outside our window, the moon on the crest of new fallen snow really does give the luster of midday to creatures (objects?) below.  Objects.

Ben just spit up while he was laughing, cooing, and laying across my chest.  There is nothing like sweet baby giggles and warm throw up down your shirt first thing in the morning.  Ha!  So gross...

It's Thanksgiving day and oh, how I am thankful.

We have family with us and friends coming.  The professor put the turkey in early this morning.  We finished baking pies and rolls late last night.  (I may need to bake more rolls this morning.) I spent the night mentally setting tables (wanted to have that done already) and cooking my stuffing.  Mmmm.  I love food!

Our starvation dinner of beans and rice was fun last night (even if the video of starving kids may have inspired nightmares).  For years, we have watched the Australian man born with no arms or legs (David).  I was so happy to see that he is married and they have a baby!!!  So fun.
Last night, we put the younger kids to bed while the older teens/tweens played a rousing game of UNO.  The professor and I, along with Ellie, my brother and sister in law, made pies.  (Lovely sentence.) 

I sing often, although I'm not the opera singer I pretend to be, and I never get the words right.  I'm afraid my pie making rendition of "All I Ask Of You" was enough to drive my brother in law over the edge.  No apologies from me-- know why?  Because today I AM ALIVE!!  I am here, cooking and celebrating with my family.  It is glorious!!  I just kept reminding my brother in law how much he loves my singing.  He said I needed to get better so he could jab me in the ribs.  I reminded him that I'm still very sick and fragile, so I was allowed to sing the wrong words loudly.  

Todd helped me out by sticking in his iPhone.  Soon we were all singing with Celine Dion, Air Supply, Chicago, Bread, Macolm X, and the Phantom of the O-pe-ra...  Loved it.  We danced.  I remembered that only a few months ago, I could hardly dance.  I couldn't make it through one song.  How grateful I am to be stronger!  I am so in love with my life... I'm so grateful to be here today.  (My eyes brim with tears just typing this.)  Yup.  Today. I'm so thankful.

Today is going to be a beautiful day.  I know it.  
I hope you are surrounded by love this day and that your heart swells with gratitude.  
Because, life really is SO good.  
Especially with turkey and pie and cranberry sauce.  

Happy Thanksgiving friends.
Thank you for praying me here!!
It's a great day to breathe!

November 26, 2013

Two Things.

Don't you love it when you go to bed pondering and wake up inspired?

I woke early and rested this morning.
(Sleeping near my husband is not a blessing I overlook these days.  Months in the hospital reminded me how lovely it is to have a warm body near to cuddle into.  Mmmm.)
Two things were clear in my mind.

1- Work. 2- Individual Time.

One was an echo from my mother in law who reminded me last night to let my kids help.

This morning, we will have an active half hour morning devotional.  If each kid pitches in 30 minutes that will save me 3 hours of work.

Here is what I'm going to ask them to do happily before school...
Jakob-clean downstairs bathroom and unload dishwasher
Drew- sweep and mop kitchen floor, bring pictures from behind the couch to master bedroom storage closet 
Anna- gather pillowcases and sheets from beds, fold laundry in drier
Ellie- sinks and mirrors of upstairs bathrooms, be sure her clothes are all put away
Leah- pick up anything on the floor and vacuum living and family room
Lily- empty trash around the house
Eve- put away silverware
Ben- supply smiles and cuddles to kids who need positive reinforcement
Todd- snow plow and hang a few pictures that are currently leaning against wall

The second gentle whisper I had was a reminder to spend individual time each day with each child.  This won't change much of what I do, but it will change my focus.

At night, as I'm bathing the little girls, recognize this is my moment with Lily.  Take time to look deep into her eyes, smile, talk to her, listen about her day.  Times this by eight.  

One game of ping pong per day with Jakob.  Some focused, positive talk/touch time with Drew.  I can connect with him positively for ten minutes or spend three hours chasing him as he touches and teases his sisters.

On Sunday, Leah was disconnected and a bit wild at church.  After church I took a moment to hold her on my lap, hug her tight, look in her eyes and tell her how much I adore her bright, cheerful spirit (and I do).  She melted.  The rest of the day she was my best helper.

As the holidays approach, it is easy to let my kids melt into the background.  How grateful I am for a gentle reminder this morning to invest a few minutes each day with each child.  I feel the difference this investment will make.

We are all so excited for my family to come tonight!
I only wish that my home could hold as many as my heart.
Happy Tuesday!!
(This is how Mormon's party.)

November 25, 2013

Go Team.

I sent my children to school today in snow pants.
It was fun and exciting, not sad like I always imagined little freezing children never having a snow day would be.  (Ha! Sometimes I write awful sentences like that on purpose.)

We probably have almost 10 inches of snow on the ground.  Can I tell you how beautiful and hot cocoa-y it feels?

Tip #1- if you are having company for Thanksgiving, do not clean the week before.  Your house will be destroyed during the weekend and no one will notice that you mopped anyway.  Leave the day before for cleaning.  Duh.

Tip #2- if you have short hair, do not go to sleep with wet hair.  Ha!
(Ha! Sometimes I post awful pictures like that on purpose too!)

Tip #3- if your husband agrees to go in to work a couple hours late to help you hang pictures, do not hide in your bedroom writing a blog.


I've been meaning to tell you this great thing that I learned the other day!!  It has changed my mental life.

(But, one more random distracting note.  I'm sorry that I'm not posting things I'm thankful for this month.  I really am brimming with gratitude for so much.  But, I'm a rebel.  Really.  A good girl with a little rebel in me.  What's a little Mormon mother of 8, with some rebel in her, to do?  Not post Thankful posts the week before Thanksgiving.  I'd apologize again, only I'm NOT really sorry.  So there.)

Ok-- ready?!  I love this.

Jakob has played soccer since he was 3, too young to be on a team (he was a first child).  He's had so many great coaches who have helped him develop into the confident, athletic young man that he is.  We love coaches.

Last year, he was on a team with a coach we were warned against.  I'm a little rebel, and the coach seemed skilled to me, so we kept him on the team.  

We began to notice a trend.  Whenever they were playing a game, and the team started to lose, this coach would get whiney.  He would yell at the kids and even the parents.  He'd say things like, "You parents don't care about soccer, you don't even get your boys to practice on time."  He'd yell to the boys similar insults-- that while they may have been true, they were certainly not useful to say in the middle of a game.  

This coach spent more time complaining about his team, the parents of his team, the referees, and the unfairness of the way the other team played than he did COACHING the team!  Hello!!  He shot himself in the foot!  The rebel in me, wanted to yell right back at him that HE was the reason the boys were loosing.  HE needed to stop whining and start coaching his team.

Aren't we like that sometimes?  Don't we find ourselves sitting in the midst of a loosing team (or a car full of team players who are fighting each other instead of working together)?  Do we punish, argue, and blame or encourage, inspire and COACH?

In our families and on our team we have superstars and kids that can't run fast.  How well do we manage our team?  Do we use the skills in the game and build skills during practice times?  

We can yell from the sidelines at how out of control our team is-- but ultimately that is our team!  We can be mad at them OR we can teach and encourage them.  I have seen kids pretty bad at basketball learn to be more confident and aggressive with an encouraging coach.  We can coach our children when no one is watching as well as we could coach someone else's at a sports game.

Honestly-- every single team has children who are young and learning!  They will be what you inspire them to become.  You have seen good coaches.  You might even be a good coach.  Why is it easier to coach a basketball game than it is to coach an early morning when our "goals" are to get out the door, dressed, fed, and happy?  

Listen to the words you speak and remember, the child who you are coaching has a Heavenly parent sitting right there on the sideline.  Are you inspiring?  

We will loose the game every time if we are fighting our team.  We must accept weakness to avoid rebellion.  There is a difference between a team that looses because they are young and a team that looses because they are poor sports.

This is a great game!!  It really doesn't matter if our kids are the fastest or can shoot the most goals.  If they enjoy the game, they will get better every day.  Have fun out there!  Enjoy your team!  Be loyal to them!  

And, if your offensive coach is more strict, you be an inspiring defensive coach.  Don't start yelling at the other coaches... Or teachers... Or refs.  (Maybe just one "Come on ref" for a bad call, and then move on and coach your team!)

I'm all about teaching the skills of a game.  We want to win.  A good coach has great practices during the week.  Teach skills, run drills... And watch the words you speak!  

Our family is our eternal team!
We can make our home a place everyone wants to be.  
We can learn how to teach skills positively! 
Let us all be great coaches!
We can do this!
Go Team!
Maybe not 10 inches... Maybe 5?  Todd says 8 or 10.  Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore.

I am grateful for snow.  And a husband who snow blows for me.
(See, I've always been a lousy rebel.)

November 24, 2013

Eyes to see.

I love this talk.
The Windows of Heaven, be Elder Bednar
Read or watch it here. (It is only 6 minutes long.)

It is about tithing, but more importantly it is about SEEING the hand of The Lord in our lives.

God is real.
He is blessing our lives.
We need eyes to SEE His loving hand in our lives.

Life is good.

November 22, 2013


Look who I found in the magazine by my toilet...

Seriously, I have 5 minutes to post this morning.
1. Elemen"tarry" school was canceled yesterday.  (They say tarry here, instead of elemen-tree.) I like my kids happily on school while I'm getting ready for company.  Just sayin'
2. Shopped for a dress to wear to a wedding reception.  Have a wrapped belly to hide.  Although a friend may have suggested I look like my grandmother (haha) I like what I found.  Ellie and I spent some time trying to choose between straight skirt or ruffled skirt.  I think straight looked better, but chose ruffles because I was in a fun mood.  
3. Ben peed out of 4 outfits yesterday.  I miss my Huggies.  Anna put him in an outfit I bought when I was on bedrest.  It makes me smile! 
He's soooo cute.
4. See that wall of pictures behind me?  Todd hung them for me yesterday.  I love it and I love him.  A lot.
5.  Was going to get my haircut at a salon.  They were closed when I got there, so I went to Supercuts and got a $10 haircut.  I actually prayed while the lady was cutting.  I think she did a great job and I saved a bunch of money.  Love that.

Today I'm finishing up everything on my mega list.  (Or crossing things off.). Wish me luck!!

I love Thanksgiving!!

November 21, 2013

How To Eat A Mini Pepper.

My kids taught me this.
They bring mini-peppers in their lunch everyday.
You're Welcome!
Changed my life.
(The seeds are always at the top.)
Peppers are good.

And a mini PS...
I just talked to my surgeon to schedule my next surgery for the beginning of the new year.
It's going to be a big, scary surgery.
He wants me to plan on a one or two week hospital stay.
I'm going to beg to be allowed to heal at home.
I really, really, really don't want to leave my family again.
But-- this is a good thing.
They are fixing my ureter, my fistula, my scar, and taking out some stitches.  Blah.  
I'm going to be all fixed and ready to run for another 50 years.
I am SO grateful for surgeons.
Grateful to be alive, walking, and mothering again.
I can do this (even though I don't really want to).

November 20, 2013


I just finished cleaning my bathrooms really fast this morning.  Cleaning bathrooms is a very rewarding job.  Dirty turns to shining in a moment.  

(I hired a cleaning lady, actually an adorable couple, and I fired them.  Because I don't need a cleaning couple.  My house is just as clean without them.  I clean naturally.  I really loved them, but would rather spend my money elsewhere.  The hardest part about firing then was feeling like I "deserved" them.  Silly.)

My sweetest baby Ben sat and watched me clean.  He started to fuss by bathroom three so I cooed and smiled and sang to him as I scrubbed and rinsed.  He adores me.  He smiled and kicked and gooed right back.   

I could tell he was ready for his morning nap, so I changed his diaper.  

(Insert random gripe- I have had 8 children in diapers and I have always bought Huggies.  I like them and sometimes I feel dumb for buying name brand potty holders.  Once again, at BJs, I decided to try their generic Generation X, or something like that, diapers.  They were "good for the environment" and almost half the price of Huggies.   I HATE THEM.  They stink.  They leak.  They LEAK!!!!!!!! I have to change his whole outfit and sheets every morning.  Did they count an extra load of laundry a day when they said, "good for the environment"?  Back to Huggies for me- after I used up this stinkin' box of 256...)

I digress...
Diaper changed, smiling and tired baby.  I held him and just squeezed his thick little body.  (This guy is thick, wide and short, and squishy.  My girls have been long and squishy slender.) Ben's feet just barely reach my belt.  His whole body fits on my shirt.  He feels like a real, darling doll in my arms.

My big boys are taller than me.  I steal their hoodies and their shoes are too big for me.  When family folds my laundry, I find my jeans on my boys' shelf.  

Someday, my baby-est of all babies will be big, bigger than me. He will be big for eternity and is only my baby for this moment.  Today I get to hold him.  Today Eve and I sang to him and danced with him.  Today I squeezed him extra tight and thought that I always want to remember what this feels like.  NOW.  Holding my baby.  He fits just right and I adore him- now.

Then, I laid him down knowing that he will wake up a little bit bigger.

Yesterday, I had moments with my bigger kids.  Jakob baked blueberry muffins for his class today.  Drew told me over and over his speech on Earnest Hemmingway who committed suicide after becoming an addict.  Anna spent the evening singing and playing her clarinet and piano.  

Ellie was cuddly and adorable.  I spent time watching her do math- i say watching, not helping, because she is way faster at her multiplication facts than I am.

Leah sat by me as I read with Lily.  Lily is just sounding out words and Leah was the best reading coach ever.  Leah just learned to make her own paper airplanes.  She is so proud!  She spent all evening coloring paper gray so she could make another plane.  She woke up early this morning to practice flying again!

Eve just came in to me again and holding her head high above her head asked for a "really big bath."  I think this is becoming a tradition...  

Yesterday, I was cutting up onions for dinner and Eve wanted to help.  She grabbed some onion to eat and I warned her that they were yucky.  With sassy confidence, she assured me, "No Mom, I yike dem.  Deese is my fa-vo-wit."  

I watched her crunch down on her big, pungent onion.  She chewed for a few seconds and her eyes got wide.  In one moment she knew her mother was right.  She grabbed her neck and started coughing, looking at me with big eyes of concern she said coughing, "Help Mom! I'm vewy thirsty." Hahaha.  I LOVE her!  Right now.

The professor was justifiably upset this morning.  Our kids were teasing each other (hiding their siblings shoes or lunches) and complaining that a sister copied her outfit by wearing a similar scarf.  One child practiced her newfound reading ability and read Sam's New Red Bed, out loud to herself while we were reading, The Prodigal Son.  One child repeatedly practiced flying her paper airplane around the room.  

One child was concerned about getting to school late while another gently and methodically and SLOWLY packed a beautiful lunch, unloaded the dishwasher and assisted everyone around her.  Resulting in a departure time, very regular, but ten minutes later than ideal.

As I felt the Professor wishing them better and bigger and older, I wished for him joy right now.  Now in the imperfect, silly middle.  Yes!!! Yes, I want my kids to be better during scripture time.  I do!  But, we have scripture time.  And sometimes it is great.  I reminded him that there will ALWAYS be something they can do better.  ALWAYS.  

Today they all got dressed and came to scripture time.  They all knelt to pray, they all fixed their own lunches and were generally happy.  They helped with the youngest kids.  They are independent with piano and school and they want to be good.  They are good- very imperfect, very unfinished, but good. 

Tomorrow, when we have taught them not to tease, they will do something else that we will worry and pray over.  I'm 36 and my mother still sees things in me that I need to improve.  

If our goal is to have kids that are finished needing to learn something, we will never be happy.  We have to learn to love them right here in the middle.  

My bathroom cleaning friend has a feisty, smart son in 6th grade (maybe 7th).  She went to his parent teacher conferences and heard 6 teachers tell her ways he needed to improve.  His band teacher said he was the best trumpet player in his grade.  

This wise mom told me that on the way home from conference she made a very conscious decision to only tell her son the positive.

She could see him hold his head higher as she told him how great his teacher thought he was.  Can't you just see him running to practice his trumpet more?  Not only that, but this third child's dad also played the trumpet.  They practice together and the dad loves that his son plays with him.  Hmm.  

Can't you just FEEL why this boy is doing so well at the trumpet?!!!  Finally, my friend's son comes home from school a few days later and announces that he is going to do better in ALL his classes. He has a plan to do better on his homework and to study more.  I LOVE this!

We can do anything when we are loved.

Yes, I pray every single day that I will have wisdom to teach my kids how to be better.

(Trust me-  I SEE exactly how I want them to act, I know where I fall short and where they fall short.)

But, I pray harder that I will have eyes to see who they ARE right NOW.  I pray that I can love and adore them right here in their imperfect middle.

Oh to have each one of my children feel like they are really great at playing their individual trumpets even as they are still learning...  

Ha!  What a fun analogy- only one who has ever heard a beginning trumpet player can relate.  It is humorously awful. Drew plays the trumpet.  He started years ago and it was bad!!  He tooted that thing night and later at night.  If he wasn't tooting he was blowing raspberries.  I laughed a lot and encouraged moderation.  He won the best musician award in 6th grade.  

Now, his younger sister is learning.  She toots all night.  She takes great pride in tooting out hymns from the hymn book and would rather toot her piano songs than play them.  Her practicing drives Drew crazy!!  He hates to hear her mistakes!  He tries to teach her or complains that she is hurting his head.  I can't help but laugh.  Drew, I remind him daily, we loved you when you learned now love her.  He honestly believes he was never as bad as  she is.

Aren't we all like that?
Don't we all beg for mercy even as we are frustratingly trying to enforce the law someone else is breaking?

A wise friend once commented, "I always thought becoming like Christ meant being perfect like He is.  Maybe the harder part is loving imperfect people like He does."

Love them NOW.
Love yourself NOW.
Remember, you are just learning how to play your trumpet too.
And, I talked to your teacher last night.  Know what He told me?  He said you were the very best trumpet player in your whole life.  You are doing a great job!!  We are so proud of you!  Keep it up!!

Bite that onion and learn for yourself and know that someone who loves you still will be right there to give you a drink.
He is our perfect Father.
He loves His silly, imperfect children.

Life is beautiful.
This moment is fleeting and oh so good.

November 19, 2013


We are having company for Thanksgiving.
In the midst of cleaning, grocery shopping, planning meals, washing sheets and organizing toy rooms, I want to take a minute a plan some Thanksgiving fun.

The professor is in charge of finding you tube videos for our Thankful night before Thanksgiving.  (Did you hear that honey?). He'll post the links early in case you want to join us in showing your children starving children the day before we stuff ourselves.

Wouldn't it be cute to set up a table for writing Thank You cards?  I can imagine cute kids sticking notes on each others pillows or plates.  You could have little bowls of Extra gum or lifesavers, not for eating just for giving away.  So fun.

I want to engage my children making place holders... I've seen some cute pilgrim and Indian hats.  But, traced hand turkeys always work at the last minute.

I want to set a pretty table.  Like this (only not as posh).  Today I'm going to buy a piece of burlap.  
(Image stolen from 71 Toes). See the table?  Easy and cute.

I also want to get down my ghetto "blessed" sign and have the kids update it with more things they are grateful for.

I also have grand ideas of buying white muslin dish clothes, embroidery hoops, and dmc floss and having the kids stitch me (and maybe grandma) some cute dishcloths.  The professor could use some monogrammed hankies.
(Image stolen from the web...) cutest dish  rags ever!

This turkey looks fun...

What are you doing to add a little nutmeg to your eggnog?  Do you have any fun ideas for a sweet, simple Thanksgiving?

My kids tell me- "Mom, my bwain hurts." 
I don't want Thanksgiving to hurt my bwain... So, I pick a couple simple things, plan ahead, and enjoy the ride.  (Just so you know, I'll never do all these things-- I'll be happy if we get hand traced turkeys.)

I love Thanksgiving.
(Off to change a stinky diaper...)
Gobble, gobble!

November 18, 2013


My life is an odd twilight zone life.
Do you ever ask yourself what is real?
Why is it so easy to be fooled?

I'll be honest with you, even though it embarrasses me and shows my weakest parts.

Sometimes my pride keeps me from loving others.  Sometimes I'm embarrassed at the clothes my children have, the size of my family, the behavior of my kids, the sharpie marker on my couches. 

Sometimes I'm embarrassed that my life seems too put together or not put together enough.  Isn't it funny that in the same day I want to apologize for how perfect and imperfect my family seems?  Ha!

Sometimes I yearn for more hours in the day, more money, a more decorated home, children who were more kind to each other or more respectful to me, time to relax or party or pamper.  Sometimes I look around and swell with gratitude for all that we have.  Mine is not a pampered life and yet I live a very pampered life.

Sometimes I see new boots at the mall and just want to go shopping to buy myself the cutest things.  I wanted new boots, even though I have a brown and a black pair of boots that look new.  It's silly.

This weekend I visited a widow who lived content with hardly anything.  I sat in her humble apartment on a plastic lawn chair.  She told me about her alarm clock that broke weeks ago that she missed because she used to love to wake up early.  I wanted to buy her food.  To give her a new lamp to light her room.  She told me she had one outfit to wear to church and was teased by some that she  looked like a clown in bright colors.  I wanted to give her one of the 20 outfits I have for church.  I felt humble and ashamed of my pride.

Sometimes I ache that I am not a better mother.  We all do.  I ache that I have so many children I can't love them like a mother could who had only one or two.  (Eight is a lot of kids.)

This past week I walked by a home with a door ajar.  I saw a frustrated father handle his young son harshly.  As he dropped his crying baby to the floor in exasperation, I couldn't help but enter the room and scoop up the baby.  I offered to help for a moment, but I think the man thought I was crazy.  Although I continued on my way, that boy and his father have stayed in my heart and mind. How I ache for frustrated, tired parents and their innocent young children.  

I had a friend over the other day.  As I was gooing over baby Ben she asked, "Were you like that with all your kids?"  I didn't know what she was talking about. 

I asked, "Do you mean did I love them all this much?"  She nodded and I said confidently,  "Yes.  Yes I did."

My children are blessed.  Of course they are.  I am rich and still embarrassed.  My children are so good and still have so much to learn.  We all do.  Our days are full of goodness and yet we still ache to do more to be better.  It is ridiculous.

My time is up.  I have a hungry baby and a toddler who need me.
I have no great conclusion to this post other than I am embarrassed.  

I prayed this weekend for more.  I prayed that as Thanksgiving and Christmas approached I would be blessed.  I prayed that His will would be my will.  God blessed me with eyes to see just how much I have.  He showed me people grateful for so much less.

It is ridiculous that I can have hundreds of dollars to spend on food each month and ever feel that I have nothing to cook for dinner.  Shame on me.
Today I am grateful for what is real.  
How on Earth do I keep this perspective?

We all live a Twilight Zone life and it is good.

(This blog post drives me crazy.  I really shouldn't post on Mondays.)

Ps- eve took a "really big" bath while I was writing this post.  And then she put on her panties all by herself.
I love two.
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