Monday, October 28, 2013


All at once, my baby is changing and passing by new milestones.
Six months old and the family favorite.
Is it bad that I think his crying face is so doggone cute?
And, time for something beside's what mama can provide.
His official first food was mashed potatoes, but today I offered him something else.

Oooh, what's this?  A pancake?
(Something funny about the angle of this picture makes his noggin look HUGE.

Yes!  I like it!
When my older children were babies, I was so excited about each milestone.  
Now, with my sixth, it makes me a little sad.  
Time is changing my perspective of time.
How I love this baby boy!

Family Photos

The week before Isaac left for Russia, we had family pictures.  If any of you need photos and don't want it to be drudgery, you need to contact Madeline James Photography.  It was so much fun and Arah handed us a CD full of wonderful photos.  With six children--each with their own level of difficulty, from the fussy baby to the cardboard smile to the sassy teen--it was a task to get even one great shot.  She got so many!

Thank you, Madeline James Photography!  You do amazing work!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Dress Up

Oh, this boy!  
He melts my heart daily--hourly!

Do you see a pattern?
Osh Gosh overalls are one reason I wanted a baby boy. 
I just can't get enough.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Nearly 16 Years

Justin and I will celebrate our 16th anniversary next month.  

Our wedding iron just bit the dust.  So sad. 
I doubt the new one will last as long!

Fairy God Mother and Sister and Niece

As I previously explained, I was letting the housework take care of itself for far too long.  I've never been known for my housekeeping as it was, but this experience, combined with living in a trailer that I less-than-love, has brought out the best of my worst.

The fairy's caught wind of the atrocities going on in my stinky house.  They sent three of their best workers.  In a matter of a few hours, my kitchen was clean--including hand-washing the dishes and putting them away, folding clothes, vacuuming and making a lovely dinner.

After church on Sunday, my husband asked, "Where are we going?"  I suggested that we go home.  
He said, "I don't want to go back to that trailer!"  
It is time for us to put the pedal to the metal in getting our house built.  We keep having to delay for one reason or another, but we are all going a bit loony in this bin.
But the mess was only making things worse!
Coming home to a clean house with dinner simmering on the stove was rejuvenating.

We don't know for sure know the identity of the fairies, but there were two giant clues.

Roses from my sister's rose bed.
Mom's favorite hand lotion by the sink.
"True love requires action. We can speak of love all day long—we can write notes or poems that proclaim it, sing songs that praise it, and preach sermons that encourage it—but until we manifest that love in action, our words are nothing but “sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” 11
Christ did not just speak about love; He showed it each day of His life. He did not remove Himself from the crowd. Being amidst the people, Jesus reached out to the one. He rescued the lost. He didn’t just teach a class about reaching out in love and then delegate the actual work to others. He not only taught but also showed us how to “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.” 12
Christ knows how to minister to others perfectly. When the Savior stretches out His hands, those He touches are uplifted and become greater, stronger, and better people as a result.
If we are His hands, should we not do the same?"  
Deiter F. Uchtdorf, April 2010 General Conference.

Thank you, Good Fairies!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Birthday Girl

Our third child turns ten soon.  I realized kind of at the last minute that Isaac would miss her birthday by just a few days.  We decided to have the celebration early.

Our cutie in a hat made by our friend, Kayla.  Isn't it darling?  It fits great!
I do need to try for a better picture.
We set aside a night that would mostly work.  Some family couldn't come, others skipped something else to be there and others were late.  It was the best we could do and we had fun.  Dad made a big fire--it was going to be a bon fire, but everyone had school and work the next day and a bon fire burns for many hours!

She wanted, and got, a bow and arrow set.  She also got several art supplies, a mini American Girl doll with a set of books and some clothes.  She was thrilled about every gift.  Such a good girl.

For the first time ever, I bought a cake for a child's birthday.  
I thought I had candles; I only had four.  We used spaghetti for the other six.  

It kind of worked.

Just as Mom and I were inside serving up cake and ice cream, the phone rang.  
Yes, there had been a fundraising function I'd completely forgotten about (a local ballet studio had Isaac come and dance for their advanced students).  Everyone rallied and several people did what needed to be done to get Isaac where he needed to be.  They were very understanding, including the birthday girl.

It was a fun, if crazy, last minute birthday.  We are so lucky to have the children we have!  
I love this girl.  Happy 10th birthday, sweetheart.

This wasn't from her birthday party, but it is really hard to get a normal picture of this girl these days.  This one isn't even a "normal" smile, but close enough!  :)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Cutest Baby Ever

Even amidst all the turmoil of the last several weeks, we did have a lot of joys.
We made a real point of making time for play, for hikes and for family time.  We knew we only had Isaac for a precious amount of time and we couldn't spend all of that time slaving away.
But there was still a lot of turmoil.

This darling little boy is the most patient and long-suffering baby in the history of Sanders' children.  He rarely got a nap in his bed at the regular nap time.  He was hauled this way and that, in and out of the car seat, fed in a parking lot and changed in public restrooms (or in the corner of wherever).

I think that our baby is a gift--a specifically planned gift from a loving Heavenly Father.  
He knows all about our trials
and He knew this little baby would help us get through them.
Baby boy and his OshKosh B'gosh overalls.

Monday, October 14, 2013

He's Off

The last month has been a marathon.  Fund-raising, buying supplies that can't be purchased in Russia, doctor's appointments, dance classes, church and family responsibilities and driving, driving, driving.  Eliza babysat her sisters more than she ever should have had to and Isaac and I were continually short of sleep.  

Isaac was scheduled to leave our house at about 3 a.m on Saturday morning.  As of Thursday, we did not have his visa, boots, the correctly sized passport photos, dry soups to compliment the famously bad food supplied by the Bolshoi and several other things of varying importance.  
Oh, and Friday was our home school co-op day.  

Some forum I'd read Thursday night talked about some of the problems a particular girl had getting her paperwork ready for the Bolshoi.  You wouldn't believe all of the requirements--with no help from their end getting them done!  Anyway, one problem was the specific requirements for the passport photos that isn't available in the U.S. (the school needed extras to apply for multi-use visas).  They wouldn't let the girl into the school until all of her paperwork cleared.  The mother concluded, "They told us where to go and we were able to get the right size passport photo taken in Moscow."  I fell into a panic.  Sure, it would be no big deal if your mother were with you, but I was sending my 14 year old son to Russia on his own!  What if they didn't let him in because of a simple error and I wasn't there to help him sort it out?  

I went into my room and sobbed.  It was all too much.  Too many things could go wrong.  I couldn't do it.

My good husband came into the room and, very nicely, basically told me to snap out of it.  "The Lord has provided a way every step of this journey.  If Heavenly Father wants Isaac to go to Russia, he will be protected!"  Justin was right.  I needed to have faith.  I had used up all of my faith so I prayed for more.

The next morning, I got an email from a contact in Russia.  After giving me several phone numbers (Seminary Teacher, Home Teacher, Bishop, etc.) and confirming that he and his wife would be at the airport to pick Isaac up, he closed by saying,
"Don't worry, Emily.  We've got this!"

We had to work hard and I had to stay up for 24 hours straight, but when he left, he was ready.
By the way, FedEx closed at 5 and his visa arrived at 4:55.  

Today, he is in Russia.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

He's Leaving Soon

Day after tomorrow.

That is when my 14 year old son moves to Russia to train at the best ballet school in the world.

My emotions are all over the place.

Side A:  I HATE asking people for money.  Hate it, hate it.
Side B:  It has been so wonderful to be a first hand witness to people's extraordinary generosity.  Humbling, to say the least, especially when those $5 donations come it--because I know it is the widow's mite.

Side A:  My child gets to go to an amazing city with a deep and varied history.  Amazing!
Side B:  My baby is going to be very, very far away in a foreign land.  He will be on his own and he is so young.

Side A:  NO, NO, NO!  I can't do this.  It is too hard.  There are too many papers I don't understand, too many requirements we can't figure out.
Side B:  Alright, let's get down to business and check off our boxes today.

Side A:  Bawling, bawling, carrying on and bawling.
Side B:  Utterly thrilled that this boy has such a once in a lifetime opportunity.

On it goes.  I am desperately trying not to neglect my spouse and other children.  My house is holding itself together, which, it turns out, is not effective.  The fundraising seems to be at a stand-still because I feel like we've tapped out all of our friends and family and don't yet have a new approach for the remaining $14,000.  The building of our house is also on hold because we are fighting with the engineer and I don't have the energy for the fight (nor the money to pay for the golden footings he proposes).

And I'm trying not to panic.

Many miracles have happened and sometime I will fill you all in.  Our Heavenly Father has a plan for all of his children.  Sometimes trials are given to us and other times we can choose the trials.  Choosing a trial takes a lot of courage.  Right now, I am praying for courage.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Plugging Away

We've hit the half-way mark.

Isaac has an airplane ticket to Moscow and a ticket home for Christmas.  He has international medical insurance, extra dance clothes, contacts within the school and a ride from the airport to the school.  The medical tests are all done and the visa application is in process.  The biggest milestone this week was our reaching the half-way mark for tuition, room and board.  He is officially headed here:

He does not have a ticket back to Russia in January, boots, a better laptop for communication with home, lots of incidentals like an outlet converter, filtered water bottles, and medicine for every unknown cough or cold he might encounter in Russia.  He doesn't have his paperwork all translated into Russian and certified.  He does not have money for the second half of tuition, room and board.

This is wearing me out physically and mentally.  I'm on completely unfamiliar ground and am so uncomfortable.  I am in contact with some parents and students from previous years who have helped me a great deal and given good advice.  (I think one mother was trying to scare us out of going, but another, while sharing the concerns of the first, expressed gratitude and joy that her child was able to experience something so life-changing.)  Part of the time I am so busy running to and fro getting things ready and want to sit and breath for a few minutes.  Another part of the time, I am trying to maintain family life and not neglect my other five children and my good spouse.  The rest of the time, I am crying.

I don't want him to go!  I have enjoyed having him home the last two months SO MUCH.  I like him and miss him when he is gone.  His siblings adore him and miss him when he is gone as well--especially when he has to miss birthdays.  This time, he will not only be gone, he will be on the other side of the world.  He will be in a foreign land speaking a language he doesn't know.  He won't be living with friends, he will be living in a boarding school.  I know he is going where Heavenly Father wants him to be and I know that he will be protected in his journey, but that doesn't mean it won't be hard.  It doesn't mean that there won't be sleepless nights or worried mother moments.

Isaac has been given this gift, this talent, this love, for a reason.  Many reasons, I'm sure.  I am 36 years old and am just now beginning to see why we were directed to head down some of the paths we chose 15 years ago as newly-weds.  Heavenly Father has a great plan for this young man and, though I feel a bit like Hannah, I know that Isaac is His son, first and foremost.

The boy leaves on October 12th and we need to raise over $12,000.  Pray for us, my friends.  We need all the help we can get!