...and they all lived happily ever after...

...and they all lived happily ever after...

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Leader of the Band

This weekend the kids and I were working on dinner together.  We are all music lovers and I threw in this CD which has ALWAYS  (I'm not even exaggerating, I have loved it for as long as I can remember) been one of my favorites.

I love Dan Fogelberg. 
I love his lyric voice and sweet haunting melodies.

Anyway, so we were listening and singing along and there may have been some spontaneous dancing involved but we were loving it.

And then came track #8.  And the same thing happened that almost always happen when I hear that song.  Quiet tears tried to tumble from my eyes (which I fought like the dickens because crying for no reason in the kitchen is silly and will cause kidlets to think you are sad when you really aren't) and I smiled halfway and tilted my head...and I thought of my dad.

The song is "The Leader of the Band" and Dan Fogelberg wrote it for his father who taught him to love music.  As I was listening to different versions of the song on YouTube today I stumbled on a live 2003 video where Mr. Fogelberg said that if he had only been allowed to write one song in his life it would have been this one.

As much as I love his other songs, I couldn't agree more.

My dad was never a band leader.  He didn't teach me to play any instruments, although he always encouraged us to pursue that learning.  But my dad was a lover of music.  From the time I was small I would climb into his lap while we played records (yes records, like the ones made of vinyl) of The Carpenters, Jim Croce (one of Mom's favorites), James Taylor and Alan Parson Project.  I remember one magical ELO album that made you feel like the music was swimming around your head. We couldn't really dance to the songs then because it would make the record skip.  Music was something that lived inside my father and I always felt blessed that he chose to share that with me.

My dad also happens to have a beautiful singing voice and I remember countless times when we were on a family trip that I felt so proud to know the same songs that he did so we could sing along -- in sometimes garbled harmony -- with whatever music was on the radio or the cassette tape at the moment. 

My dad was also not one of those parents to be trapped in music of a lost era.  While he has continued to nurture a love of Abba, The Captain and Tennille and Hall and Oats, he has also grown into a love of Dave Matthews Band and Jason Mraz and Jack Johnson.  He taught me to love good music wherever you can find it (he even likes those Inca pipe flute CD's...ugh).   I remember finding him sitting on the living room couch, head back, eyes closed just feeling every moment of music as it surrounded him. 

Yet, to me, this tender Dan Fogelberg song goes so much deeper than music.  This is a song about the love of a child for his father...and that is where my heart truly gets wrapped around the ballad.

Maybe it is just the way girls are -- I know I see it in my girls -- but my dad is something special to me.  I adore him.  I have from the time I was tiny.  His approval, his attention, his love meant the world to me (no slight on my mother who valiantly attended every clogging performance and volleyball game not to mention patiently teaching me piano and algebra and cooking...my love for her is not lesser, it is just different).  I wanted to be the very best so that he would be proud of me, and few things stung more than his rebuke.

My dad is a good man.  He just is.  He isn't a perfect man, but I am grateful that he is my father.  I am grateful that he was the kind of father who would wrestle with the five of us kids, who insisted that we continue our piano lessons even if he didn't know how to play, who took us fishing and grumpily helped us unsnag countless lines and who let us tag along on trips to BYU football games (even if constant questions from a talkative eleven year old made him nearly crazy).

 He knew about science and history and English (but if you needed math help, you better head for mom).  It seemed like he always had the answer.  I just assumed fathers were supposed to be that way.

He took me on my first date when I turned 16 (that may have been my mom's idea, I'm not sure, but it was still great).  One time he brought balloons to my high school on my birthday and I carried them around all day proudly telling everyone they were from my dad.

In reality, for me, just being around him felt like delight. 

My dad wasn't the kind of guy to say "I love you."  Actually none of us were.  Those words seldom rang out in our house growing up (something my husband and I have adjusted in our home).  We kept our feelings tucked in, in general.  But I knew my dad loved me.  I knew it without a doubt.  I knew it because he let me sink into his lap while we watched TV, because he taught me how to compose a proper sentence, because he said "nice job" when I'd show him my latest composition and because he shared with me his testimony of the gospel. 

But it doesn't stop there.  Now I get to watch this man that I call Father step into the roll of Grandpa and I am loving him all over again.  He teaches these little ones how to laugh and have fun and nobody loves holding newborns more than Dad does.  When you watch him with a tiny baby in his arms, fresh from Heaven, you can see how he gets lost in them.  He seems to forget the rest of the world as he chats it up with a person who can't even talk back yet. 

But it isn't really so much about the things that he did, it is more about the hero he has been for me.  I always knew I could come to him with a problem and he would help me solve it.  He is still one of my favorite people to talk to.  I grew up wanting to marry someone just like him (and in many ways I did).  I always wanted my dad to smile when he saw the person that I had grown into.  He made me want to be a better person.

I wish I could put down on paper the blessing that this man has been in my life.  These words seem too hollow; they simply fall short.  He has been with me since I came into this world and I can't imagine having to make this journey without him.  He helps me stay focused.  He helps me stay grounded.  He's my dad, and I'll forever be grateful for that. 

I guess it's just like Dan Fogelberg said, "Papa, I don't think I said I love you near enough."

I love you Daddy.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Battling a cold

Last week we had a cold wandering through our family.

Each of the children took a turn with it (and the adults did too). 

There was a lot of coughing and nose wiping and crying and whining and up all night long-ing.  We ran out of tissues twice (always at inconvenient moments...of course).  We ran out of children's cough medacine and children's ibuprofin and had to make an early morning run to the store.  We snuggled on couches a lot and no one ate much.  It was a rough week.

But it wasn't all bad. 

Sometimes sick kidlets mean moments like this. 

And somehow that makes it all worth it.
Two of my tough little boys cuddled up together for a nap.  Warms a mother's heart.

Friday, January 27, 2012

...and the kitchen sink...


is what my kitchen counter looks like right now (ok, this post won't go up until tomorrow morning, but as I sit here typing with all my kidos freshly to bed for naps with full little tummies, this is exactly what my counter looks like). 

I only have the one counter in my tiny little kitchen (lets call it cozy, that sounds better) so it often plays the roll of drop zone for odds and ends and project in various stages of completion and just about anything else.

Lets explore.

The set up for me learning how to make Popsicle stick bracelets so that I can teach Aubrey (I've decided I need to get the bigger sticks out of my craft stuff, these little ones are just a pain to try to work with).

Meds for Ellie who is still running around with the family cold.  Wish we could get rid of that thing.

Tissue boxes to make these for valentines day boxes for school and pop bottles for a scout project next week (not sure what that project will be...guess I'll be surprised) along with other little bits of stuff that needs to be put away but I haven't done it yet.

Chocolate covered pretzels that Logan and I made earlier this morning (you would not believe how much chocolate Logan got all over his hands...I'm pretty sure on purpose just so he could lick it off in the end).

Left overs from lunch...and a potato just for fun.

I spared you a close up of the sink full of dishes that I have no intention of washing (did I ever mention that washing dishes is my least favorite job in the entire world...YUCK!!).  Maybe if I ignore them until Josh gets home he will do them for me (is that too horrible?). 

Well, there you go.  Everything and also the kitchen sink. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Two days in a row I have been in my bedroom working on things when I suddenly hear a quiet tinkling little voice echo, "Mama....Mama....Mama please help," over and over.  I didn't rush either time because the urgency in the small sound, while it was there, did not seem all that...well...urgent.

Both days I made my way into the living room and this is what I found.  My tiny two year old stranded on the bookshelf.  She managed to climb up, but somehow she couldn't get down.  (Don't think I am a monster mother, I didn't leave her hanging there while I searched for the camera, the camera was on this shelf both days.)  She smiled hesitantly at me the first time and asked to see herself after I took her picture.
The second time she wouldn't look at me for a picture.  She was annoyed at me.  Her look said something like, "You think THIS is a moment I want to remember forever and to have my posterity view at some point in the future?"

Yes.  Yes I do.  (Wouldn't you just love to have a photo of your grandparents stranded atop a piece of furniture, clinging to the sides for dear life, especially one only inches off the ground.  I vote yes.)

Love you little one.

(P.S. She hasn't climbed the book shelf for a couple of days now...or she has learned to get down and I just haven't seen it.  I guess I'll never be sure.)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Even a bad day...

Some days as a mother (or as a human being for that matter) are difficult.  I don't just mean the ones that fall apart at the seams with traumatic cause or the ones where you really feel horrible and you just can't get a handle on things, I mean the days when nothing in particular happens, but it is still just a rough day.  The pieces just don't fall into place like they should and you feel disjointed and out of place.

Once in a while days like that happen to the very best of us.  Days where you just want to be left alone.  Days where you struggle to smile even though you should be happy.  Days where every tiny thing feels like failure and the irking just keeps adding up.  Days where you just aren't the person you intended to be. 

Sometimes on these days it is hard to quietly manage the group of beautiful sweethearts that swarm my home.  Sometimes I feel like as much as I love them I just want to lock myself in the closet for the day and try again tomorrow (oh the screaming and pounding that would ensue if I actually did lock myself in the closet).

I don't love days like that.  Who does.  Yet they still pop their heads up and enter life from time to time (darn them).  Handling them is not pretty (at least for me).  I do a lot of tongue biting and eye clenching and even take some extra trips to the bathroom (a door that locks where sans the two year old the kidlets know to let me be for a minute or two). 

But then, these little sprites have a way of quietly noticing that their mother is not at her best and they just can't help but try to drag me out of my personal pit of despair.

And then you end up with an evening like this.

"Mom, come in the living room, we have something to show you."  Parker proudly plays his new piano song as Aubrey tries desperately to sing along (not easy when an eight year old trips across the keys accompany his older sister who doesn't really know the tune).

Not to be outdone, Aubs decides to parade her song for me and Parker, who is disappointed that her song doesn't boast its own words, decides to dance for me instead.

Enter Gavin, running around the living room during the musical feast shouting, "I love you Mommy!  I love you Mommy!  I love you Mommy!"

Even the littles took a turn at the piano and made up their own etude for me to enjoy.  (It is difficult not to smile when small children make up the music and words to their own personal piano sensation).

My eleven year old is a little too hip to be performing for me in the living room anymore, but he did plop down on the couch next to me and hold my hand.  What mother's heart wouldn't be warmed by that little show (pictures of near teenagers holding their mother's hand are generally not allowed).

Even as Ellie climbed onto my lap screaming for no real reason, and Logan sidled in next to me flailing his little arms in fancy newly invented Karate moves, I had to admit that this difficult day had been salvaged. 

There is just so much of life that can be heavy and fogged up.  Sometimes it is hard to see the beauty of ordinary things, especially when you are frustrated and tired and worn down from the day after day after day.  I am not someone who believes in enjoying every moment.  Some moments, at least to me, are not intended to be enjoyed, they are simply there to be endured.  And on some days enduring feels triumphant. 

When the children are all in bed (finally) and the house is quiet and you can now breathe, and you love your sprites all the more because they aren't scampering all over the living room and jungle gyming across your lap and you can truly appreciate their adorable little faces because they look so sweet when they are sleeping...that is sometimes as much a win as planning the perfect day trip or arranging an incredible science project or solving the most traumatic sibling battle.

I am far from perfect when it comes to looking on the bright side and enjoying every small moment (it is hard to enjoy screaming and fighting and tormenting and mess making) but I am glad that no foul mood lasts forever and that these tiny glistening moments have a way of sprouting into life just when I need them most.

Because when it really comes down to it, even a bad day can be a beautiful thing.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Ellie helps out

Aubrey has been after me the last week or so because I made a skirt for myself and one for Ellie, but I hadn't made one for her yet.  The reason I was slow is that I wanted her to help create her skirt and we haven't had a lot of free time when she was at home lately (I do most of my projects while the kids are at school). 

So, last night we decided to give it a go.  She chose her fabric from our fabric box and she chose the pattern she wanted to create.  We measured and cut the pieces we needed and then we had to take a break so that I could make dinner (measuring and cutting with a nine year old takes a little bit longer than doing it on my own). 

After a couple of minutes Ellie toddled into the kitchen.  She walked up to me and petted my leg and said, "Sorry, Mom."  I knew this meant trouble.

I stalked into the living room only to find tiny little shards of red and white fabric littering the carpet and couch and a pair of scissors nestled amongst the carnage (I had actually put all the sewing/cutting implements up but this little girl is determined and she finds a way when she wants something).

This is some of what was left of our skirt pieces.

We tried to stitch some of the cuts back together, but that just wasn't going to work.

Thankfully, we had just enough fabric left (although it was in sections that we had to creatively piece together in order to hide the seams) to finish off the skirt.  Aubrey didn't get to help as much as I would have liked because the project became logistically more complicated after Ellie's "help" but she did still do a lot of cutting and sewing and she can definitely claim a hand in our creation.  I think it turned out pretty well.  She can hardly wait to wear it, which was the whole point to begin with.

I love those crazy girls. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hoopin' it up

This year our boys decided they wanted to try their hand at basketball.  Other than shooting hoops in the front yard this sport is pretty new to them.  As we started the season I was embarrased at how little I have taught them about this game.  I grew up playing basketball and played some in high school.  Josh played for years (even though he looks  more like a linebacker, he really rocks the hardwoods and also the soccer pitch). 

Anyway, so we signed our two oldest boys up for Jr. Jazz teams and started running simple drills in our front yard when we had spare time.  We dribbled and passed and practiced layups and learned to shuffle rather than run when trying to play defense and all that other good stuff.  I pretty much blew the boys minds when I showed off some of my mad skills (since they have mostly played soccer in the past and I have near zero experience there, they were pretty amazed that Mom -- who is a girl, mind you -- can hold her own, and even look AWESOME some of the time).

Parker has really taken to this sport and he has no trouble adapting his athletic abilities to this new undertaking.
The look...

The shot...

(insert wild -- verging on embarrasing -- cheering here)

Bryce has had a little bit tougher time.  He is in sixth grade this year so he is a bit more behind than the boys that have been playing basketball for years already.  Thankfully, my oldest child is not a quitter and has a bit of my "I'll show you" attitude so he has practiced in the yard, studdied college games (any excuse to watch sports is a good one at our house) and focused on learning and developing.  We enrolled him in a three day basketball camp over Christmas break and he learned a lot there as well.  I am amazed at the improvement I have seen in this boy in just a matter of weeks.  He has grown into basketball beautifully and I think he is really learning to love it.  He has really become an asset to his team. 

It will be fun to watch the boys finish off the season and see if they choose to continue their relationship with basketball or if they decide to try something else (Parker already says he wants to try baseball next year instead...we'll see when we get there).  Either way, it will be fun to watch, and I'll be on the sidelines cheering my brains out not matter what!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Crohn's Comes for Dinner

This weekend we had a family party.  I had talked to my mom earlier in the week to see what we could bring for dinner and she mentioned that she was planning to buy a couple of frozen lasagnas from the store to feed everyone.  The day after she said that I couldn't get it out of my head. 

One of the exciting tendrils that Crohn's disease so kindly (watch out for dripping sarcasm) wriggles into your life is a deep and abiding awareness of food.  The idea of pre-made lasagna made me incredibly nervous (how pathetic does that sound).  I don't handle most processed foods very well at all.  I can pretty much expect to throw up any fast food or greasy suppers (soooo, good-bye pizza...but no big deal, I was never a huge fan anyway).  Restaurant food in general is touch and go, so the thought of a processed pasta dinner didn't sit well.

No worries, I make a mean lasagna so that problem was easily solved.  Josh and I made lasagna at home and took it to the party (which solved the what should we bring for dinner dilemma and made things easier for my mom so it was a great solution for everyone involved). 

The point to the tiny-bit-longer-than-I-intended anecdote is that life with Crohn's disease has altered our eating habits (I say ours because everyone has to eat what I cook so my whole family is stuck with Crohn's friendly meals). 

I should mention, its not like we used to eat a ton of processed or fast food before or anything, but I find that making things as much from scratch as possible works best for me, which is a bit of an adjustment (you may remember that I don't love cooking).  I've learned to make things like bisquick type biscuit mix and monkey bread and terriyaki sauce on my own and that has been a big help to my tummy. I have become good friends with google search as I seek out new recipes -- things that will sympathize with my lamenting intestines.

So having become a mom-that-cooks-from-the-bare-bones-of-the-pantry-much-more-than-she-used-to, I have a couple of wonderful recipes that I thought I would share.  These are Crohn's disease approved meals that will hopefully tempt your family to the table too.

Chicken Noodle Soup
Few things are more calming on a churning stomach than chicken broth...but that doesn't usually go over well with the kidlets so this beefed up (or chickened up as the case may be) recipe is a favorite.  It is creamy and delicious and everyone loves it (even the four year old which is really saying something).

10 Cups chicken broth (or 10 cups water and 10 bullion cubed if you are me)
4-5 carrots chopped (I don't peel vegetables when I put them in soup partially because I LOVE knowing there are extra vitamins in there and partially just because I am lazy)
2-3 celery stalks chopped
1 small bag frozen peas
1 bag (16ish oz) Homemade style egg pasta noodles (our favorite kind are called "Country Pasta"..or make your own, but my hubby doesn't like home made...I know, weird!)
1 can cream of chicken soup
salt and pepper to taste (we like lots of pepper)

Put the broth on to boil in a large pot.  Add carrots, celery, peas and noodles and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Stir in cream of chicken soup and allow to heat for 5 or so more minutes.  Serve with sliced French bread or crackers.  Yum!

Sweet and Sour Meatballs
This looks better when it hasn't
been in the fridge packed for tomorrows
lunch before I remember to snap a photo.

I found this recipe just after Christmas and it has become one of our favorite meals.  We serve it over rice (rice is great for me almost all the time) and Josh swears it tastes even better as leftovers the next day for lunch.  He seriously told me this is his favorite meal ever the other day.

1 lb ground beef
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
1 beaten egg
1/4 cup bread crumbs
(honestly we just bought frozen meatballs and used them instead, they were still really good)

3/4 cup tightly packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cup water
1/4 cup vinegar
3 Tbsp soy sauce

Mix sauce ingredients together in a large sauce pan.  Cook until it thickens a bit then add your cooked meatballs and turn down the heat.  Let them simmer together for 15-20 minutes but stir them often so they don't burn.  Serve meatballs over rice or pasta.  This goes GREAT with green beans (if you were wondering).

Orange Chicken
Lame picture, I know, I
forgot to take a picture of the real
thing.  Sorry.
This one tastes just as good as orange chicken from any Chinese restaurant (if you ask me, with the added bonus that I don't puke my guts up twenty minutes after eating it).  Serve it with ham fried rice (we leave out the "fried" part) and I can almost promise your whole family will love it.

2-3 large chicken breasts cubed and cooked (Lots of people like breaded, fried chicken bits but that doesn't work for me.  If you want that create a breading by mixing eggs and cornstarch, dipping uncooked chicken chunks in that and then frying them in oil for a couple minutes until done.)

1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup orange juice (freshly squeezed or from concentrate)
1/3 cup vinegar
2 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp orange zest
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp garlic
2 Tbsp green onions (did you know you can chop these and freeze them in a ziploc bag FOREVER so they are always there when you need them...grow a couple rows in your garden and you will be set for the whole year)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

*3 Tbsp cornstarch
*2 Tbsp water

In a large saucepan stir together water, orange juice, vinegar, soy sauce.  When that is heated mix in brown sugar, orange zest, ginger, garlic, green onions and pepper flakes.  Bring to a gentle boil.  In a small bowl combine cornstarch and water and then stir that into the sauce to thicken it.  Stir in chicken chunks and serve over ham fried rice.

(Ham fried rice for us is rice with carrots, peas, green onions, scrambled egg, cubed ham or bacon  broken to bits mixed with some soy sauce...I often just throw it all in the rice cooker together and let it cook there.)

I hope your family (and your belly) enjoy these meals as much as we do.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Second Breakfast

Does this ever happen to you...after popping out of bed in the morning you get caught up in the rush of feeding, dressing and otherwise preparing your bundle of children for the day.  Once you have scooted the school attending crew out the door you find yourself cleaning up the kitchen mess and folding laundry and vacuuming and reading stories and whatever other thing need to be done and before you realize it it is 10:30 am (or 11:00 or 2:00 pm) and you haven't eaten breakfast yet.  Oops.

You know you should eat breakfast (most important meal of the day, right) so you decide to throw something together.  Your little ones are playing so you grab a pre-made hash brown and throw it in a buttered skillet...then you get smart and grab another and tuck it in beside the first one because you know for a fact that this will happen.

Even though they ate just a little bit ago as soon as my children see me with food they are suddenly StArViNg!!!

I think they must be related to hobbits (Aubrey was a baby when "Lord of the Rings" the movie was first released and she looked just like a little hobbit child).  Hobbits have the habit of eating many times throughout the day indulging in breakfast, second breakfast, brunch, luncheon, twosies, supper, dinner, etc. 

And I just can't resist those sad faces...
so I give in every time (and like I said I usually make extra because I know this will happen).

All Better!

Well, Friday morning Josh didn't have school so he was here for the morning routine and he got all domestic (I love that about my man).

He wasn't about to let me forget to eat until afternoon (you might be surprised how often that happens...he just laughs at me when I lean into him and ask "Did I eat breakfast (or lunch or whatever) today?  I can't remember.").

So he made me breakfast sandwiches.  He called me up from the basement where I was folding clothes and surprised me with tasty food.

But that's not all, he is an amazing father and he knows his children well enough that he knew to make second breakfast for our littles that were still at home.  Geezo, I love that guy.

Even though they ate less than an hour before our kidlets were thrilled to shovel in second breakfast.  I love mornings like this.  What a wonderful start to the day.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Simple Pleasures

is the rug that graces the floor of our family room.  Let's call it unique (instead of hideous or 70's-esque).  I can't exactly say that I love it, but I am glad to have it because it protects my carpet from my children (and believe me, the family room carpet NEEDS protection from my children).

For many moons, this rug has been the only splash of color in the room because...honestly...I just couldn't manage to match anything to that...uh...interesting array of shades.

But no more.

After Christmas I decided I wasn't going to be hobbled by weird floor ware anymore.  I trotted my little self to the store (Ross, oh how I love you!) and used part of my Christmas gift card to purchase couch pillows (because hand-me-down couches sometimes don't come with pillows).  None of them match anything.  They don't even match each other.  I actually didn't even try to find coordinating bundles of fluff, I just found the cheapest pillows I could find and threw them in my cart.

But now my whole room has a colorful, eclectic feel...and I am thrilled with the result (consequently, so are the children because we now host pillow fights galore in this room).

(But I still don't love that rug!)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

That's sew cool!

Thanks to Pinterest (I am really new to Pinterest, but have found some great ideas in my brief browsing so far...thanks to my sister-in-law Jenny for introducing me to the site) I came across a sewing blog that I LOVE!  I have always enjoyed sewing, but this lady is AMAZING!  She creates the cutest patters for women and girls (and a couple for boys so they don't feel left out).  Her blog is "Sewing in No Man's Land" and I think she is great.

Once I stumbled on this woman's brilliance, I couldn't wait to whip out the sewing machine, dig into my pile of fabric, and get started.

And this is the result for this past week.

I have been looking for a colorful skirt for a while (by looking I mean checking stores I happen to be in to see if they happen to have one because I honestly HATE shopping so I avoid it if I can).  I haven't seen much so when I saw this pattern I was THRILLED!  I am no super-seamstress so it took me just a bit to translate the pattern into something I understood, but once I got there I zipped through it and ended up with a skirt that I really like.

When I saw this skirt on the sewing blog I couldn't wait to get my little princess into it.  It was pretty easy to throw together and my baby girl really loves the result.  She has paraded around the house in it twirling and dancing every day since I finished it. 

I stitched a couple of coordinating bits onto a plain white shirt just to dress up the look a bit (and we did actually style her hair before we went to church although you can't see that yet in this picture) and I was really pleased with how it turned out. 

I love that feeling of creating something, watching things that are plain and shapeless slowly take form and transform into handiwork that I can admire (as long as I don't look too close because my creations always have flaws...it's to let the evil spirits escape, right?).  

Come to think of it, maybe that's why I like being a mom so much.  I get to watch as these beautiful little creature that I helped create learn and grow and turn into something even more incredible.  What fun!  

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Parker Gets Baptized

Yesterday, my son, Parker, was baptized.  I am so proud of him and the choice he has made to make covenants with his Father in Heaven.  He is a bright and thoughtful boy who is often the first to offer to help or to quietly sneak in a hug when someone is sad.  It was so incredible to spend the morning surrounded by family and friends watching as my little boy made a big step on his way home to his Heavenly Father.  These moments are the ones that make being a mom so worth it.  I love my PJ and I love the amazing young man that he is growing into.  I can't wait to see who he becomes, and today was a beautiful start to that journey.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Poor Baby

Care to venture a guess how this happened?  Well, I'll tell you.  Ellie has recently discovered the joy of coat pockets and she loves to scamper around with her hands in her pockets.  Unfortunately, as she was trucking down the sidewalk after her brother she tripped...and since her hands were snugly installed in her pockets, she decided to catch her fall with her nose. 

At least she didn't knock out any teeth.  That's something.  Silly girl.   

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Growing into the new year...and cheering about it

Every year, the first Monday night family home evening of the year we pull out a tattered old box that we have had for years and pry it open smiling all the while.  Inside we find things we stored away a year before to remind us of our goals and other fun bits and pieces of information from last year.  The kids always look forward to this activity and I have to admit it is a lot of fun for the grown ups too.

In the box we will find a tracing of each of our hands (and some years our feet too) so that we can see how much we have each grown in the past year.  We will also find some lists of everyones favorite things (like foods and books and movies) that we always get a kick out of.  It is always interesting to see where we have come from and how much we have changed in the year.

Also in our box we will find a list of our family goals for the year and a written version of our family cheer (we give our cheer every evening after family prayer).  Seriously, if you are looking for something new to try that will pull your family together, this family cheer idea may be just the thing.  We stole the idea from some people right after Bryce was born and it has become one of our families favorite things.  We usually involve clapping or fist pumping or some such thing as part of our cheer and it is just a fun, uniting way to end every day as a family.

(Examples of family cheers include everyone standing in a circle, hands in the center, the person in charge for the day counts to three and we all chant "together...forever," or last years cheer we all drum on our legs as fast as we can until the person in charge calls "what are we going to do?" and we all say together "SERVE...WITH...FAITH."  Anyway, you get the idea.)

As we plunged into our box this year we found that last January we put everything one one huge sheet of paper instead of individual sheets like we normally do (I had completely forgotten that).  We all measured our hands (Josh and I didn't grow at all...I guess we should be glad of that) and read through our favorites.  Some we could recall, some surprised us and some embarrased us. 

After plenty of laughing and remembering we decided on new goals for the year as a family (learn a new hymn from the hymn book each month and try 10 new family dinners without whining about them throughout the year).  We also picked a new family cheer (clap clap "COURAGE" clap clap "LOVE" clap clap "FAMILY").

Family traditions can be loads of fun, I'm glad I get to create these fun memories with my little family.
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