Thursday, May 30, 2013


I have a few random things to share with you today.

Summer is coming.  
There are things to do in the summer that can't be done (or is at least less effective) any other time of year.
  Around Christmas time, my sister puts her family's Christmas traditions on the calendar.  Even things like watching Christmas Story or making fudge are scheduled.  She knows that as busy as the season tends to be, one wasted evening means a tradition--often a beloved one-- is missed.

I've found that the same can be true for summer.  
We can get to the colder temperatures of autumn only to realize we never once had a water fight, picked berries or visited the local water park.  Many times those activities are missed just because we didn't think of it.  One more afternoon entertained by Netflix means one less afternoon watching clouds or drawing on the sidewalk.
So we made a list.  We may not do everything on the list (I don't want it to cause me stress!) and we will hopefully do other things we didn't think to write down.  
But, if we are sitting in the house one afternoon, wondering what to do, we can be inspired by the list.  
I, in my infinite motherly wisdom, can also use the list to bribe motivate the children to complete school work or chores.

The End
of Part One

The Children Must be Taught
My 12 year old daughter doesn't necessarily want to learn how to cut hair, but she is learning no matter.  My husband and I have saved literally thousands of dollars over the years by my being the barber in our house.  
The brothers are perfect guinea pigs because they aren't super sensitive of how they look.  Their hair, however, is about the most difficult to cut because it is thick, straight hair.  It is not forgiving.  If she can give them a nice haircut, she can give anyone a nice haircut!

The End
of Part Two

Who has ever heard of a Girl's Pinewood Derby?!
A group of girls, ages 8-11 meet bi-weekly at our church.  They do all kinds of things together from learning manners to memorizing scriptures to creating the crafty crap my daughter loves.  I like to support this program, but I almost yanked all support when they decided to do a Pinewood Derby.
Oh, I was a bad sport!  
We did our time when Isaac was a Cub Scout.  I usually had to make the cars because Dad was in school and had no spare time.  It was a project I didn't particularly enjoy.  There was always someone crying.  
Then, someone reminded me that it was called the Daddy Daughter Derby.
I had an out!

She and her father made a car.  It wasn't anything to write home about, but she actually had a great time doing it.  The night of the event was fun.  There wasn't the pressure of making it to regionals so no one cried!

The End
of Part Three

Saying Goodbye for the Summer
Isaac left yesterday for most of the duration of the summer.  Eliza, the baby and I will meet him in Orlando next week for the World Ballet Competition so it was a little easier to say goodbye, but only a little.

Babies change so quickly and it was especially hard for Ike to say goodbye to his brother.

This decision we have made to let our boy pursue his dream never gets easier.  Whenever I think about him, I am excited and happy; when I think about myself
I feel robbed.

The End
of Part Four

Christmas Gift
Our seven year old (in red) with the help of her grandmother, made these shirts for all of us for Christmas.  (Dad and I have one, too.)  The kids wore them to the hospital when our baby arrived, but I never got a good picture of them all wearing the gifts.  They all say SISTER or BRO and I am told she ironed on all of the letters.
What a treasure.  The girl, more than the shirts.

The End
of Part Five

Happy End of May, everyone!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Fairy House

My little brother, Levi, is in town for the weekend.  On the way over to Mom's house, I announced that we would be seeing Uncle Levi.  "Oh!  I love Uncle Levi!  He is one of my top favorite uncles!!"  

This is why:

He spends time with the children!  He helped them make a most fabulous fairy house.

The photo doesn't capture quite how cool this thing is, but you can get an idea.

Thank you for taking the time with your nieces, Uncle Levi.  
They will always, always remember this . . . and love you!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Six Wonderful Weeks

We have now enjoyed our beloved baby boy for six weeks.

His sleep is beginning to regulate; he nurses and goes right back to sleep.  Thankfully!
He smiles (mostly at Dad) and coos.
He is rarely fussy and is patient when the big sisters want to hold him.
He loves baths, but hates getting out of the bath (the being naked and the lotioning process).

My initial resolve to never go through pregnancy and delivery is beginning to weaken.  This baby is so good for my heart and soul that it makes me sad to think I could be ending this phase of my life forever.  
I'm not going to focus on that right now.  
I want to make sure I enjoy every minute of this time, 
just in case.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

More About Yellowstone

All of the children huddled in the warm, albeit stinky, steam.
Because the weather was so cold and rainy, we were glad for the chance to visit a couple of the historic buildings in Yellowstone.  One is the rustic Adirondack style Old Faithful Lodge.  While we wandered about there, it became time for Old Faithful to do her thing.  We discovered a viewing balcony.  It was a little more protected than the boardwalk, so we squished together on a bench and watched.  

It never ceases to impress.
(And I was glad to NOT be in the spray this time around.)

Later in the day, we visited the Yellowstone Inn, a massive yellow building that reminds me of Somewhere in Time.  

We were all glad to sit in the warm and fancy lobby to warm up our frozen toesies.  We didn't sleep in the fancy hotels, (we slept in the Suburban) but it was nice of them to let us visit, nonetheless.

Once we were warm, we  again ventured outside.  Here they are at the entrance to the dragon's cave where we had the youngest two convinced the dragon really sits breathing smoke.

I was a bit of a slowpoke, having been stopped by yet another set of baby-admiring tourists.  When I came around the bend, this is what I saw.  
Filled with gratitude for this wonderful bunch!

A woman who walked near us for much of this particular hike made a fabulously fitting comment:
"They look like so much fun!  I'll bet you guys are having such a fun time!"

Oh, look!  It's me.  I was there and smiling!
I love this job, this rewarding, demanding, exhausting, fun and interesting job.
It is what I always wanted to do with my life.

I'm not sure why she was grumpy (or even if she really was), but I thought this was a funny picture.

And out through the North Entrance.  

Dad couldn't come with us because he had to work, but it was probably for the best. 
I was in the car with 6 kids.  We did everything he hates on long drives: 
We listened to the Newsies soundtrack (and sang along loudly) at least three times.  
We sang every round I know--which is saying something--then every kid song we could remember, including commercial jingles.  
We listened to a Harry Potter audio book.  
We took our sweet time at the rest stops.  
We missed him very much, but I'm not sure he would have been happy in that car!  :)
Plus, with our sardine sleeping arrangements, he wouldn't have fit.

Goodbye, Yellowstone.  We will be back.  Next time, with Dad.
I promise.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Detour

Isaac's Spring Recital was Saturday night.  I decided to take the whole family and make a weekend of it.  For the price of 200 extra miles and a $25 park pass, we could take a detour on the way home and tour through one of our favorite places on earth.It was a bit of a spontaneous decision.  We threw in some extra clothes, sleeping bags and traveling food and took off.  

I had checked the forecast and knew it was going to be cold, but we got a bit more than we bargained for:  not only was it only about 45 degrees, but it also rained most of the trip.

The girls were remarkably good sports about it, but the oldest boy was a wimp!  (This was mostly due to the fact that he didn't have a coat, but only a thin sweatshirt.  To his credit, even though he was cold, he wasn't a brat wimp.)  He ran to stand in the steam every chance he got.

The geological features always amaze me.  It is a strangely beautiful place; I would say unearthly, but, here we are, on Earth.

The cold temperatures insured that we couldn't often see the heated features because of the steam.  We would stand in the steam and wait for a gust to blow the steam for a moment's glimpse.

This is how our baby saw the park.  All wrapped up in several blankets.  Every other tourist in the park paused when they saw him.  They asked his age, touched his little cheeks and fingers, counted the heads of the children gathered around and marveled that I had SIX children.

It was cold, but certainly not a waste of time!  I love Yellowstone in any condition--which makes me want to take the family on a snowmobile winter adventure in the park.  Someday, maybe.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Creative Kid

Self Portrait
This is my nine year old.  She has an artistic eye and I am often astounded at the things she notices--and then draws.  She is always cutting, gluing, drawing and otherwise creating.  

When I was a young mother, I subscribed to the Family Fun magazine.  It was cheap and every month it was full of darling ideas to make family life more fun.  The problem is that I don't enjoy the crafty crap and the other darling ideas (creative snacks and messy games) that I wasn't doing made me feel like a bad mother.
So I cancelled the subscription and never looked back.

Recently, I was sitting in a doctor's office and found myself thumbing through the latest edition of Family Fun magazine.  These ideas are so cute, I found myself thinking.  Too bad I would never do them.  My nine year old would love it.

My nine year old would love it!!

I ordered a new subscription in HER name.  
It was a stroke of genius.

She is old enough that she only needs minimal help and a few inexpensive supplies.  

She pours over each issue, trying to decide which craft or snack she'll make next, which game she'll teach to her sisters.  For her, it is all fun without the social pressures her mom felt.  It makes her happy--and happy daughters make happy mamas!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Blessing Day

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a baby is given a name and blessing by the Priesthood.  

(It is similar to a Christening, though without the baptism part; we save that ordinance for when the child is eight years old.)  When I was sixteen years old, I made a blessing gown for my future babies.  Our first-born is a boy, but since I didn't know if I would ever have girls, we decided to go traditional and have him blessed in the blessing gown.  After all, boys have worn Christening Gowns for centuries!

Then I had all these girls.  
The Blessing Gown I had made got plenty of use.
When our new brother was born, our oldest insisted that his brother would not wear "a dress"!

This baby boy was named after a grandpa and a great-great grandpa.  A couple of weeks before the baby was born, my mother-in-law brought out that great-great grandpa's Christening Gown.  

This beautiful Christening Gown in 154 years old and has been carefully preserved.

Sewing machines were not used by the general public 154 years ago.  
That means that a loving mother hand-stitched these million tiny stitches.    

After the loss of our last baby, I had a hollow, empty feeling in my womb.  For over a year, I struggled with the heartache of not knowing whether there would ever be another baby to fill my empty arms.
To say that this baby was wanted is a drastic understatement.  
He was needed.

The pregnancy was emotionally very difficult and his delivery was physically the hardest of them all.  
Night after night, I prayed and pleaded with my Heavenly Father to help and strengthen me.  
Night after night, He did.  
That father, the Father of my Spirit, loves me.  
His love for me is greater than I can comprehend; the way I couldn't comprehend my mother's love for me until I felt that love for my own child.

My Father's love for me is greater than mine for this needed baby and greater than that of the mother who, so many years ago, lovingly stitched those million perfect stitches.

In every condition in sickness, in health,
In poverty's vale or abounding in wealth,
At home or abroad, on the land or the sea
As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be.

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake!
--How Firm a Foundation by Robert Keen

How could I ever?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Grudgingly Getting Back To It

Our sweet baby boy is officially one month old.  Someone asked me today how I was doing.  My reply was that I was doing great--really great.  Probably too great.  I have savored my down time, staring at a tiny face.  My body has not rebounded as quickly as it has after other babies so I've tried to not force physical activity.  Our oldest child was home for a week and we participated in a lot of family activities while he was here.  In all, I have thoroughly enjoyed my vacation.

Taken by the 9 year old on her 3DS.
But, here at the one month marker, I've realized that I'm missing things, some important things, because I've been enjoying this past month so fully.  It is time for me to get back to my responsibilities.

This week, my focus has been on working outside.  Last Spring, I was doing landscaping work for someone else to help prepare for our Grand Celebration.  (Can you believe that was a year ago already?  We ALL want to go back!)  I worked hard in the yard last year, but it was too little, too late on our unworked land. We got about three tomatoes and that's about it.  I felt terribly guilty about it, but there wasn't much else I could have done.  

A couple of weeks ago, my dad brought his Troy-Bilt tiller over.  I'd previously borrowed a friend's tiller and explained to my father that the thing just bounced around on the top of the packed and deep sod.  "Was it a Troy-Bilt?"  he asked.

"No, it was orange."  He just looked at me over the top of his glasses and raised his eyebrows in an, Well, why do you think it didn't work? kind of look.  Honestly, what was I thinking?!

This is me--and the borrowed tiller--fighting with the pull string last year.
Anyway, he came over with his Troy-Bilt and tilled my garden for me.  It did a lovely job.


I let it sit for two weeks, then went out yesterday to dig the edges and the few green spots that dared try to live.  I'll let all of that stew this week and then plant honest-to-goodness vegetables next week.  Oh, I do hope we can make a go of it!

I limbed trees, moved gravel, dug dirt and sweated a lot.  My body has been sore; mostly the good kind of having worked it sore, but also some of the just had a baby sore.  Our temperatures have been rather unruly this week at 85+ degrees, but it still felt good to be moving and working my muscles.  Now, if Summer would leave and let Spring come back we can get to planting!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Brother for the Brother

Isaac came home a few days ago and finally got to meet his baby brother.
It was love at first sight.

It was incredibly emotional for all of us.  

Frankly, it is wonderful that Heavenly Father finally blessed us with another boy, but I would have felt this way about any baby meeting his out-of-town sibling for the first time.  It has been hard to have him away.

Isaac has hardly put his brother down all week.  Even when he does relent and let someone else hold the baby, Isaac isn't far away.

There really isn't much to say, except that it has been a wonderful week.  I adore both of my baby boys.