January 31, 2014


Life is beautifully ordinary around here.
Rocco had a play date yesterday at my aunt's house.
He was really stressed out as you can see.
He was not scared at all as she drummeled his nails.
My aunt thinks he has husky (maybe even chihuahua) in him and not much shepherd.  ?? Mutt I say.
We came home with a new little pen which gives me a bit more freedom.
New York winters are brisk and beautiful.
I love the weather, surprisingly.
Excuse the awful photos, but this pup thinks he's taller than his 5'7" momma.
I don't know about that...
(He insists I only appear taller because my hair is puffed.  I'm sure to puff it higher before each picture.)

Life is good.
Happy Friday.

January 30, 2014

Jakob's dog.

(Can you see the foot trails forming?  Not the best time of day to take a picture.)

Even I was laughing as I trooped through the snow with a feisty pup.  Not even my own children have been able to convince me to venture out into the frozen beyond.

Yes, this silly dog has been good for all of us.  
(Me, in my robe, in the snow.  Who knew how often one tiny thing can poo?!!)
He loves me, a little bit.
He is darling with Eve and Ben.
And, as Jakob reminds me, he is only 2/3 his-- but 100% mine.
(This is how I folded the laundry yesterday.)
Life is good.

January 29, 2014

Rich beyond measure.

Last night at the dinner table, I read an article to my children written by a feminist that said 
"You will never have the time, energy, freedom or mobility to be exceptional if you have a husband and kids."

Jakob responded (quite animatedly) that he thinks I have a greater probability of being exceptional- I can be exceptional myself, plus when my eight children are exceptional it will be a reflection of me. 

Then, he asked with a sigh, "What if everyone thought this way?"
Anna said it would be the end of the world, literally.

When I read this paragraph--

"I hear women talk about how 'hard' it is to raise kids and manage a household all the time. I never hear men talk about this. It’s because women secretly like to talk about how hard managing a household is so they don’t have to explain their lack of real accomplishments. Men don’t care to 'manage a household.' They aren’t conditioned to think stupid things like that are 'important.'"

Drew said, "Well, she obviously doesn't have any kids.  I've hiked a mountain- that's not hard.  Being a good parent IS an accomplishment."  

Jakob quoted the Incredibles where one super hero asks his wife if she knows where his super suit is.  

She says "Oh no, we've got a date."

He replies, "It's for the greater good."

The wife quips back, "I am the greatest good you are ever gonna have."

As my bumbling family headed out the door this morning, I spotted one of Anna's essays sitting on the counter.

This essay is SO Anna.  She describes her room in detailed perfection.  "The nightstand is a type of blue that isn't light blue and not dark blue, it is more of a middle blue."  Cute kid.  Her belongings are described perfectly- because she is always exact.  Her things really are always positioned just as she described.

I described her years ago in a Christmas letter as one whose ponytails are always tight and whose socks do not have wrinkles.  I love her and wish I was more like her.

This is how her essay ended...

"I am rich beyond measure."

We visited some friends on Sunday night.  In the car on the way home, Anna asked if they were RICH.  I wondered why she thought that.  

She responded, "Well, they just have so many unnecessary things.  Like 20 different kinds of shampoo and a banana holder."  Haha.  I want to buy her a banana holder for her wedding so she can be rich also.

Three of my kids received black money boxes with keys for Christmas.  I smiled to see this...

And, can you enjoy this heart filled kindergarten worksheet with me?
(Even if it is upside down.)

Yes, my life is full.  I may never travel the world, have a bulging bank account, or become what some define as "exceptional".  
But, I really am RICH beyond measure.

Life is good.

You can read that silly feminist's article here- 

January 28, 2014

A gentle morning.

Peace is divine.  
It is more than the absence of war.
It is order, inspiration and contentment.
Peace grounds us and heals us.
Peace brings joy in the moment while showing us the now of eternity.
Peace realigns our priorities with our desires.

I have learned how to drink peace, instead of coffee, in the morning. 
It takes time, discipline and training.
It is an investment that blesses every other minute of my day to be purposeful and more productive.

How I cherish my "hour of peace and rest- unmarried by earthly cares.  Tis' then before The Lord I go, and kneel in secret prayer."

Life is good.
Peace is Heavenly.

January 27, 2014

Progress Reports.

(Yes, I am aware that these are awful photos.  I care, but good photography is low on my list these days...)

I remember my very first parent/teacher conference.  Jakob was a tender kindergartener who cried the first week of school because mean lunch ladies kept telling him to get in a "single-file lime" and he didn't know what that was.  Seems like yesterday, a lifetime ago.

Mrs. Hollister, who will forever be sealed in my mind in her full Snow White Halloween costume, was an older, calm, amazing teacher.  She taught me and my first two.  I learned how to be a mother of public school children from all of my beloved kindergarten teachers (we've had- and REQUESTED, the best).

I don't believe that children must all get straight A's to be good, bright kids.  (Although, I humbly admit that all of our children have always gotten all A's or A's and maybe a handful of B's- in spelling).  I don't really care about grades at all- although (or maybe this is why) my kids really care.

My first parent- teacher conference was surprisingly wonderful.  I sat down nervously and listened while a beautifully sage teacher described my son.  She knew him, like I did.  She saw his strengths and weakness.  She noticed my years of preparation and praised me for my work as a mother.  I specifically remember her saying, "Jakob is the only child in class who knows every nursery rhyme."

After five years of parenting I felt like Todd and I were not alone.  We had help raising our children.  There was someone else who knew and loved this child of mine, who was willing to spend hours each day teaching him. AND- this teacher thought we were doing a good job.  

I didn't realize that his first report card would feel like my first report card.  We both passed!  

Even as I write this, I am concerned by how that sounds.  I believe I could have felt the same love and support, even if the teacher was showing me a report card with failing grades.  

This semester one of my children got a 2/4 as her band practice grade and a 4/4 on band skill.  I'm GRATEFUL for the 2/4- not even a little embarrassed or upset.  A 2 helps her to see an area where she can improve.  I said nothing to her- at all- about her grade.  Her report card was an accurate portrayal of where I think she is right now.  She said to me as she handed me her grades, "I got a 2 in band practicing.  I really need to do better at getting my practice sheet signed."  I like grades.

Jakob has had his struggles (he is dyslexic), but even as we worked with both special ed and gifted and talented teachers, I have always felt support and encouragement.  Because of his dyslexia he could have gotten a grade buffer for spelling.  I opted out of this.  He is really smart and I didn't think a bad grade in spelling would hurt him.  

We all have strengths and weaknesses.  It was ok with me (and him) that spelling was not his strongest point.  He has always worked a little harder in the areas he was weak in.  We had THE BEST dyslexic training program (I love Texas schools).  He is still getting A's in honors English in high school. 

I LOVE public school, I thank heaven for the perfectly individualized teachers my children have had.  I'm grateful for the lessons that school has taught me about advocating for my children and working with a community.  

Communities are beautiful.  It takes a village to raise children- especially eight.  We have always been blessed to live in beautiful, inspiring villages surrounded by inspiring villagers.
I think we have a darling puppy.  Jakob is a cute new father.  He was up twice the first night for potty breaks (no accidents), and slept all through the night last night with no accidents.  Rocco did pee in the garage this morning while Jakob was getting in his snow gear (it is -20 here with lots of snow), but I still think they are both doing great.  Love these pups.

(Rocco and Ben both perk up when I baby talk to one of them... Oh, I suppose I may now have 9.)
PPS-  can you take a moment- right NOW, and join me in praying for a friend's son- Michael Connely?  He has double pneumonia and is on a ventilator. Just a few happy thoughts for his speedy recovery-- right now?  Prayer works- I have felt this power.  Miracles are real.

Life, prayer, school, and new puppies are good.
Happy Monday!
(Take a moment and appreciate a happy Monday with me!)
Ha! (Do you know how many years I have had 3 toddlers at home with me? A long time!!)

January 25, 2014

Yes we did.

Hello blog- meet Rocco.

Yes, we adopted a 10 week old Australian Shepherd mutt from a local shelter (who got him from Alabama).  He is smaller than a golden retriever and has blue eyes.
(We think he'll look like this when he grows up- with shorter hair.)
I had contacted many breeders, read too many books, scoured the Internet and you tube, prayed, and visited local shelters-- looking for a dog or puppy that felt right.  
We had a litter of beagle puppies due in April that we were leaning towards.  This morning the manager of one of the shelters I'd visited called me and told me about 30 puppies that they had just received.  She encouraged me to come look and promised I would know if it was right.
We knew.  This sweet dog was quiet and calm, but not afraid.  He bopped around the other dogs with his tail wagging.  We were looking for a middle energy dog, and I think we found him.  I still haven't heard him bark and he is so smart.
Rocco is officially Jakob's dog. 
Jakob paid for him, picked him out, named him, takes him potty every hour, cleans up all messes, and is doing a beautiful job training him.
We are a house full of dog whisperers.
I'm humble and nervous, but very happy.  This dog feels like my oldest son- easy, good, fun and a bit resilient.  I'm certain we will make mistakes (I just watched a YouTube about bringing your dog home, and we've already made a few mistakes), but I have a feeling this pup will do just fine.
A friend of mine, who has a darling dog of her own, came with us to the shelter.  I'm not sure I could have done it without her positive, calm energy.  Thanks Bryn!  She also offered to puppy-sit while I am in the hospital for my next surgery!  Isn't that so nice?  I couldn't have gotten a puppy now if it weren't for that offer.
Oh my.
We have a dog.
I feel... Healthy, normal, and excited to prove that I can handle my pack.
I'm nervous but grateful. 
Really, really you should feel how this pup fits into our family.
He will help me train my own pups to keep their toys picked up, their shoes in the garage, and to keep home a calm, positive environment.  
I feel he will be a great project for Jakob at a time when Jakob needs a project and a friend.
We have a lot of love to give this fella.
Life is too short NOT to adopt a pound puppy every now and then.  
Look at those ears!  Oh my- how could I resist him?!
Just FYI- Todd is totally on board, although he insists he does not clean up after dogs.
We shall see... ;)
Dogs are good.  
(At least after one day.)

January 24, 2014


Today is a good day.

Eve, Ben and I went to the library yesterday.  We are headed to the animal shelter today (heaven help me).

I feel my life easing a bit... 
I feel myself "continually holding fast" (1 Nephi 8:30) instead of "clinging to the rod" (1 Nephi 8:24).  Funny thing is- in my gentleness I am accomplishing more than I did in my stress.
Remind me of this 100 times, ok?!

I so enjoyed this book
I actually ordered a whole slew of children's books illustrated by her.
Her illustrations are charming.
(I just searched Tasha Tudor on Amazon.)

One of Tasha's favorite quotes was from a letter by Fra Giovanni in 1513... 
"The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet within our reach, is joy.  Take joy."

Take joy.  Joy is within our reach!
What a beautiful idea.
When I take a moment to clean up my blog, this quote will take a place on my sidebar.

Eve continually points to "Ben" in this picture...
Oh- we were all babies.

I absolutely loved this devotional by Elder Oaks, "Our strengths can become our downfall."  Sorry I can't link from my phone... You can copy and paste this link-it is really a great article.

Happy Friday friends.
I'm so grateful to be alive today.  I'm grateful to be a mother.  I'm humbled to see how quickly and beautifully my prayers are answered.  We are loved.
He hears you.  He is near.

I am reminded of one more of my favorite quotes,
"Nothing will surprise us more than when we get to Heaven and see the Father and realize how well we know Him and how familiar His face is to us."  
President Ezra Taft Benson

Life is good, because God loves us.
Take joy!
Don't you think my Eve is brilliant?
She builds these creations all by herself while I study and write my blog.
I love her.
Happy Weekend.

January 23, 2014


Please, don't mock my day job.
I fail to comprehend why children (it must be the neighbors, I hope it's not the professor) would possibly place boogies on the wall, when sitting right next to a roll of toilet paper!  (And yes, I'm still waiting for one hilarious child to place a live specimen right there on my paper.  It is so inviting.)

Boogie patrol and bum/teeth cleaning are some of my most difficult motherhood obstacles.  Don't judge.

Am I an epic failure?  
Lily was first to potty and read my sign.  She laughed and asked, "Mom?  Does that mean I shouldn't use other people's toothbrushes?"

I can't make these things up.

I laughed and told her honestly, "Yes it does AND it means no putting your boogies on the wall."  
(She, like every honest child of mine, insisted she NEVER does that.  It must be the neighbors.)

When Anna was Lily's age, I pointed out to them a particularly gross specimen on my wall and proceeded to explain where we put our boogies.

{tissues, toilet paper, hankies under your pillows- I learned that from Mary Poppins, if you MUST you may roll it in your fingers till it gets dry and then flick it so it can be vacuumed, and in extreme circumstances wiping on your pillowcase trumps the wall!  Yes, we get detailed here in our home.  I've been teaching proper boogie placement for 14 years.  Don't judge.}

Five year old Anna raised her hand (she does that sometimes) and in her most adult, smug voice explained, "I NEVER put my boogies on the wall, I either put them in a tissue or I EAT them."
{Smile.}  Perfect.  
Lesson 101 learned, on to lesson 102.

How do you make a tissue dance?

Put a little boogie in it.

Hope your day is beautiful and your tissues are dancing.
Pick a good one for me...
Sigh.  Motherhood, who knew?!

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