Monday, June 30, 2014

Look What We Have

Them all.
Who cares about the dream house.
I have my dream family.
Right here.

Happy Days

Early summer is such a wonderful time of year.  The weather is warm enough to go barefoot, but it isn't so hot that you are laying in front of the fan.

These are perfect days for wandering around in the wildflowers, laying in the tickly grass and watching the clouds wander by.

The first few trips to the lake feel a bit like voluntary torture, but after months of inside, inside, inside, one can't help but force oneself into the frigid waters.

So long, June.  I'll miss your perfect, idyllic days.
Until next year!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Summer of Dirt Continues

The clouds begin to part after days of very heavy rains.

We got a surprise call from the cousins this afternoon.  They wondered if they could come play.


They immediately went outside and began playing the latest favorite game on the piles of dirt:  

Basically, each child (or team, in this case) has one peak on which to build their kingdom.  
I am The Queen of All Nations, in case you were wondering.  
I rule all--and make treats.

Anyway, they build up their fortresses, gather junk from the yard as treasures and challenge each other to duels.  When 18 year old Kevin showed up, the combats escalated from stick fights to rock throwing.  Eliza could only throw as far as the foundation, while Kevin, on the other side of the foundation, was nearly hitting her!  It was hilarious to watch her trying with all of her might to get that rock farther.  She is such a good sport.

His Giantness makes that hill look small!
These two are best buddies in all the universe.  They were working hard to be creative with their kingdom and were frustrated with the vigilantism of the big kids.  

Mostly, though, everyone played fair and rolled with the nature of imaginary games and their constantly changing rules.  I would have LOVED this as a child.  I cannot get mad at the kids trudging mud in my house all day because I understand how much fun they are having.  They will remember this summer forever.

After all of the rain, mud patties were bound to arrive.

In her bakery. Man I love that beautiful girl.
There was also a bit of war paint.  Even if you are baking mud pies, you never know when you'll be challenged to a dual.  One must be ready.

As usual, Baby Boy was filthy . . .
and completely adorable.

I swear, I can't get enough of this darling child.
After a while of being a pawn in their game, the baby was happy to be left to his own devises.
Patches is always happy to tag along.

No, there is no progress on the house.
Yes, I am disappointed, as are the children.
But at least everyone is having such a fun summer in the dirt.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Well, That was Embarrassing!

I was doing laundry and watching Cake Boss when my six year old daughter decided it was the perfect time for my make-over.

I always sit on the floor to fold, so she plopped down on the couch behind me.  She brushed my hair for a while, then she started adding . . . stuff.  It started with a thick dose of gel which was glopped and spread all over my head.  She combed that out carefully and then clipped in a few plastic barrettes.  The whole mass was sprayed thoroughly with hairspray (the nozzle held just centimeters from my head) and topped with a sparkly headband.  Gorgeous.  And shiny.  And heavy.

It's hard to tell, but this hair is sculpted.
After the hair, she decided my make-up needed a touch-up.  She worked so hard and gave me . . . well, let's just say that I felt, like, soooo pretty!  The pictures don't do justice to the amazing technique and the mostly-on-the-lips lipstick. 

She added two different earrings (they were both so fancy that she just couldn't decide) 
and declared me DONE!

These pictures don't show the awesomeness of my heavily applied make-up.  Dang it!
(Apparently, she needed some make-up, too.)
I thanked her, we shot a couple of glamour shots and I got back to my laundry.  I was in the bathroom putting away towels when one of my daughters ran up to me.  

"Mom!" she declared in a panicked voice, "Uncle Derek is standing on the front porch!"

True story.

Turning One Thousand

One Thousand.


My blog is six years and 1,000 posts old.

When I first started, I wanted to share.  I didn't know who would be interested in what I had to write, but I felt like I had stuff to say.  At one point, I thought I wanted to be an influential blogger and tried hard to get people to read.  Then I realized that I didn't want a part-time job and went back to my regular blogging habits.  I've gone through phases of feeling disappointed that I don't have many followers to glad that I've recorded my thoughts and feelings so regularly so my children and I can go back and remember.  My grammar, spelling, photography and general writing skills have improved.  This forum has helped me figure out solutions to my life frustrations and has given me an outlet that has allowed me to just write it out.  My blogging has given me the opportunity to recognize my blessings and seek answers.  In slowly planning our house, I've posted ideas that have helped me organize my wants vs needs into clear categories.  It has not made me a single dime, but it taught me the skills needed to create websites that made ballet dancing possible for our son.  And more.

Now, after writing out those 1000 posts, I have found my happy place.  I'm not out to impress anyone, but I know that my regular blogging will improve me.  If something I write gives someone hope or encouragement, that delights my soul!  If I help someone smile or feel less alone in this crazy life, I'm thrilled to have a part in that.  If I die in some freak accident, my children can read this blog and find their mother's voice.  If I can bring the joy and peace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ into one heart, my own heart will be filled with joy and peace.

Those of you who have stuck with me have laughed and cried with me.  You've talked me through rough patches and felt righteous indignation with me.  You've seen me at my best and worst, helped me clean and organize my house, educate my children and feed my family.  You've watched my children grow and have seen my own body grow and shrink and grow and shrink.  You have made a difference in my life!  Thank you for reading and commenting, for sending emails and packages, and for introducing yourself when we meet in person.  Thank you for encouraging me to be better and understanding when I'm not.  Thank you, in short, for reading.

Now, because this is the one thousandth post, a list of 1000 things:

Just kidding.

Be back soon!

aka The MotherShip

Saturday, June 21, 2014

More of Pigpen

Baby Boy's Pigpen Summer continues.

He is 14 months old, but doesn't know it.  Look at him go!

And up and up!  Thanks for keeping a watchful eye, big sister.

He even gets down by himself, but I didn't get a picture.  It goes too fast.
He gets on his tummy and slides the entire way down, at warp speed.

It may be his Pigpen Summer, but it is my Laundry Summer!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Bye, Bye, Goat

He got into my garden one too many times.

Within two hours of posting him on Craigslist, we had several interested calls and emails.  They will soon discover that Pygmy goats are cute, but they are a pain!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Inching Along

We tried to start building this house in the Fall.  We thought we could pour cement in October, before it got too cold, and then utilize the other sub-contractor's during the hungry Winter months.

We really tried.

We ran into problem after problem and couldn't start until this Spring.  
Spring is when everyone does their projects.  Also, Spring is when the rain comes.

So, while I thought we would be nearly done with the framing by now, we still don't even have a slab in the basement.

This is where we have been for the last two weeks.
The black stuff is a tar-type water sealant.  Good, goopy stuff.  
After having a wet basement once, we don't want to do that ever again!

The foundation is half-way back filled with one window well half-way installed.
I wanted to do stone window wells, but they were going to be code-complicated and we thought they might take too long.
If I had only known.

Yesterday, things started moving again.  
Yes, that sentence refers to the plumber.

Today the gravel came.  We need that base level of gravel under the slab, so gravel means we're almost to the slab . . . which means we're almost, almost ready for framing.

But then the guy's truck broke.
I feel for him because it is his busiest season of the year and he just lost about two weeks worth of work while he waits for parts and for the truck to be repaired.

That means we will experience yet another delay.
But, heck, we have a house growing in our back yard!
It is growing slowly, like my sad little garden, but it is growing!

It is a good thing something around here is growing slowly!

Monday, June 16, 2014


My youngest girl is six.  She has wanted her ears pierced for years, but because she is kind of an old soul already, we decided to hold off on the growing up as much as we could.

This was it.

Before the earrings.
She didn't know we were going to get her ears pierced.  She thought we were going to the store to get stuff for her party.  It was a great surprise!  It hurt more than she thought it would, but it has been so fun watching her today.  I keep catching her looking in the mirror with a coy grin.  Just now, she popped out of bed to tell me, "I just can't stand it!  My earrings are So Cute!"
After the earrings.  Such a brave smile!
 My favorite birthday tradition is the morning snuggle while I tell the sweet child all about their birth.  Each delivery is so different and there are special bits about each of the children.  It is a moment when I get to really treasure that loved, loved, loved child on "their" day.

Snuggle buddies.
I'm pretty sure I said this about her last birthday, but I'll say it again:  I've never known a six year old who asks for clothes for her birthday.  Most little kids just toss clothes aside, but not her.  This was about the most exciting part of her day.  Good job, Grandma!

And here she is trying out all of the hair stuff at once.
Looks . . . lovely, dear.

Gotta make the perfect wish.

Two of those "candles" are matches.
I know.
I have no idea why it is so hard for me to make sure there are enough candles for each birthday!

Her major present was new bedding.  She has needed it for a long time, but bedding is so expensive that I couldn't justify handing it over any day of the week.  It had to be a special holiday.

I have wanted to get this particular bedding for her for over six months.  Finally, finally, over Memorial Day Weekend, it went on sale.  With an extra coupon, it brought the price down to a reasonable level.
She LOVES it.  Hooray!

New bedding, new dolly, new earrings.
And because all of the girls share rooms, this one got new bedding, too!  
What a fantastic and unexpected surprise!

I was busy, but the rest of her party consisted of swapping pedicures with one another.  She really digs this kind of thing and I'd bought some new polish.  Great fun, this girly girl of mine.

Grandma navigating the new doll's packaging.
It was a great day and she was on top of the world.

Six is going to be INCREDIBLE!

Sunday, June 15, 2014


This is my eldest child.

Isaac lives in Russia, in case you haven't been reading long, and has been for eight months.
He is 15.

My dear boy comes home to my arms in two weeks.  People know that we are coming to the end of this experience and are anxious to celebrate with me.  His father and I are asked about him all of the time.

Today was no exception; a friend asked about Isaac.  "Two weeks!" I gushed, excitedly.  Another woman, whom I had never met, asked for details. I briefly explained his ballet story and the honor of being invited to dance at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow.

"15, huh?  That's right at the same age my son went to Germany as an exchange student."

Then she got a kind of far off look in her eyes and said, "I can pin it all back to that year.  That is the year he changed, and (looking back at me) not for the better."

My already feeble heart fumbled.
It's like telling a pregnant woman all about your pregnancy/labor horror stories!
There are so many worries pushing at the edges of my mind and I am constantly pushing them back--the civil unrest in the Ukraine, the frustrating relations between Americans and Russians, the low moral standards of some of his friends and associates, his academic pursuits, the demoralizing teaching style he has endured, the possibility of injury (we don't even entertain the possibility of death abroad), the fact that he is always hungry, and on and on ad nauseam.
But, most of all, I worry about his soul.
And this kind of interaction makes me mad because I trust my son,
and this stranger who knows neither me or Isaac, made me doubt him.
Not fair to either of us!

Feeling fragile and emotional, I called him up.

"Mom. First, let me reassure you.  I went to church yesterday.  I read my scriptures every day.  I am watching General Conference addresses.  I pray with my Heavenly Father constantly*.  I'm making good choices."  

He went on to add, "Whenever you are feeling worried about me, just pray, Mom!  Talk with your Heavenly Father; He knows what is going on with me and He will let you know that all is alright."

Then I know that this little boy who stole my heart 15 years ago is growing into a man
worthy of the Priesthood he holds.
He is a man of God.
And nothing could make me happier.

*Parenthetically, I love the verbiage he used here.  He didn't say he prays TO God, but that he prays WITH God.  Yes, this difficult year without his earthly parents near has certainly drawn him closer to his Heavenly Father.