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

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

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Put this Birthday on Ice

My oldest girl turned 10 this past month.

She was absolutely thrilled to plunge into double digits. 

Don't you just love that juice stained sleeping shirt...now that's classy.

We decorated the house with streamers and signs and all kinds of brightly colored things.

We had German pancakes for breakfast (we LOOOVE them, but instead of syrup we top them with sliced bananas, sprinkle with powdered sugar and then squeeze fresh orange juice over the top -- or use bottled/frozen orange juice in a pinch -- SUPER DELICIOUS!) and her plate glowed as one of the boys marched it over to her while we sang "Happy Birthday."

She opened her presents and delighted over each of them.  My heart smiled because each of my three oldest boys, in and of themselves with zero prodding from me, decided to buy her a present with their own money.  We made a special trip to All-a-Dollar just so they could find her something with their limited funds.  Their gifts ranged from fake fingernails to candy bars, but they were heartfelt and it was a wonderful thing to see.

We decided that ten years old called for a little celebration so Aubrey invited a few of her closest friends to go ice skating.  Josh took them skating (we often include the family in things like this but the thought of trying to manage a two, four and awkward six year old on the ice was not very enticing so I stayed home with our non-birthday children) and Aubrey talked him into strapping on skates and tottering around the ice (Josh looks pretty hilarious on roller skates and those are much more stable than ice skates and they don't involve a cold, slippery surface...I imagine he was pretty entertaining to watch, but he helped his daughter feel important and made the other kids feel less self conscious so I say he is a hero).

Aubrey has been loving her birthday gifts and has been drawing, playing and creating with her presents ever since her special day.  I'm grateful for everyone who helped her feel so amazing on her day.  She is such a wonderful girl (I'm not biased at all) and I'm incredibly grateful she was born (to still be pregnant 10 years later would be really weird). 

Hooray for birthday!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Do you believe in miracles?

This weekend seemed normal enough at the beginning.

It was filled with laundry and cleaning and Sunday lesson preparations and all those elements that build up our ordinary Friday, Saturday, Sunday clusters.

But for me, this weekend also contained a miracle.

Let me start by telling you that Josh and I have almost never in our married lives purchased new furniture.  I am neither bragging nor whining, I am just stating a fact.  When we got married I frequented yard sales working to furnish our apartment (although I did buy a few things at a parking lot tent event of a place that was going out of business -- like our bed because I just didn't want to start married life in someone Else's bed, that seemed weird to me at the time).  I felt really grateful that we were able to put together an apartment's worth of tables, chairs, beds and couches with my limited savings.

Frequenting yard sales and second hand stores has been a furniture seeking must.

Over the years kind people have donated home furnishings to us more times than I can count.  I am immensely grateful for their generosity and insight because without them our family might very well have slept and sat on the floor a lot.  We've been blessed with bunk beds, coffee tables, an amazing rocking chair (thanks Brian), book shelves and bedside tables to name a few.  (Don't think that people are just constantly lavishing furniture on us, but over our 12 years together people have been more kind to us than we deserve.)  We have tried to return that kindness by passing items on to others when we no longer need them or when we get something better. 

Anyway, the family room couches that we have were another hand-me-down, and they have been very good to us overall.  That said, because they were hand-me-downs they needed a bit of TLC from the day we moved them in.  The previous owners managed to re upholster the couch and chair on their own (which was amazing to me) so some things were a bit loose.  I have (on several occasions) had to sew the cushions back together or re stitch the lining or one of many other minor repairs just to keep the couches from spilling their fluff or falling apart or whatever else. 

The other issue is that the couch is small and the matching chair only seats one so we have seating for 4-5 people at most leaving several souls to sit on the floor or mom and dad's laps or folding chairs when we are all there together.

This weekend Josh and I decided to saunter on over the the furniture store and see if we couldn't find something inexpensive that would work for our family.  We have a little bit of money after doing our taxes so we thought this might be a good place to use it.  Friday evening we found a wrap around couch that seemed like it would do the job and it was not too expensive.  It was near closing time so we went home to think about it over night. 

We returned the next morning (oh how salesmen love to see you back the next day) armed with a tape measure (our family room is not that big) and determined that if we bought this couch we would have approximately one foot and seven inches of clearance from the bottom of our stairs to the edge of the couch leaving a VERY narrow walkway.  It just wouldn't work.  We were disappointed and told our friendly neighborhood salesman that we might have to look at couches and love seats instead (which just don't offer as much seating...dang it!).

He thought for a moment and then lead us to a wrap around couch that we had seen before, but had passed up because the price shown per piece was much more than we could spend.  He then told us that that weekend, this was one of the couches on sale (something is always on sale at these places) and the total price of the two pieces together would be half the price of the couch we had looked at before. 

We were shocked.  This new couch actually came in better colors and while still a wrap around it was nearly two feet shorter on the stair side end than the other one.  Why hadn't we discovered this stuff the night before?  We had felt so lost and frustrated, but God knew what we needed and He got us a MUCH better bargain than we had found on our own.

Our crew of kidlets lounging on our new couch.  Also, I guess I need to re-center that boat picture so it isn't off in its own world now that the couch has moved.

On top of that, as our salesman was writing up our purchase we perused the nearby clearance section and found a dresser that would work for our bedroom (ok, it is actually a kitchen buffet, but if I never say that out loud the "dresser" will never know it has been misused).  I had purchased our previous dresser as a scratch and dent item at the tent sale I told you about 12 years ago.  It was not in the best shape when I bought it (it had taken some abuse) and over the years it has gotten worse (our kids are known to dish out additional abuse) and it was not really functioning anymore.  This new piece would easily replace our old dresser with room to spare, it is made of actual wood -- dove tailed and everything -- and is very well made (the company is called Schnadig and is apparently sort of snooty about being awesome).  Plus, to buy this one piece was almost exactly the same price (after Josh's negotiations helped out) of the two chests of drawers I had been looking to buy from Ikea to fix our dresser problems (which would not be made of wood and would not be dove tailed and would not be already assembled either...although we still love you Ikea).
And to ice the cake, there in the clearance section I also spotted a beautiful hardwood desk in black.  It had been a floor model and had a scratch on one side (it will have scratches on all of its sides before my kidlets are done with it -- not that I won't try to prevent that) so it was marked down a whole big chunk.  Our desk at home was made of particle board and was held together with more screws and jimmy rigging than I care to admit.  You had to push the drawers in in the right order or they wouldn't all close.  We ended up taking the piece home too and I am enjoying it right this very moment.

Nasty old desk up there (it was falling apart but not quite that much until we helped it
along as we moved it out) versus nice new desk right here.

All together we spent right about $1800 (after taxes and fabric protection spray etc etc) for the three pieces and that is only barely over what we thought we would be paying for the couch alone. 

Do not try to tell me that God does not watch out for His children.  There is no way that coincidence after coincidence landed my family with exactly the things we have long needed, but have just managed without.  Don't try to tell me that God didn't have a hand in leading us to just the right store on just the right day to help us unearth just the right deals so that our budget and our needs matched up perfectly.

I know that God does not just hand us everything we want the second we want it.  I don't do that for my children either so I can't complain much.  We have gratefully filled our house with hand-me-down furnishings for more than 12 years and I can honestly say we have been happy about that.

However, there are tears in my eyes as I think how thankful I am to a Heavenly Father who allowed me and my sweetheart to, just this once, find EXACTLY what we wanted and needed for our family instead of simply adjusting around what we had available.

The God I know is a God who adores His children and who blesses them with what they need, and even sometimes a little bit more.   
This cute mantle clock got to come home with
us as a prize because Josh is a school teacher.
Thanks RC Willey.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

President's Day Weekend

It was wonderful to have a long weekend and to have Josh home for most of it so that we could really spend time as a family.

Our wonderful bonus grandma who lives across the street gave me a heap of fabric that she didn't need and the girls and I decided to put that fabric to good use. 

Aubrey has been interested in learning to sew of late, so we decided a long weekend was the perfect time to tackle the project.  I taught her to thread the machine and how to guide the fabric.  Then I stepped aside and let her take over. 

She did an amazing job, I am so proud of her.  She didn't get frustrated, she was patient and calm and she cut and pinned and stitched piece after piece for her skirt. 

Our only trouble came when it was time to gather our strips of fabric to create ruffles.  Gathering is not the easiest thing to do and Aubrey had trouble not breaking the tiny thread.  Eventually, I took over that part and pulled together the last few steps.  Below is our finished skirt, all ruffly and cute.  I think it turned out beautifully and Aubrey really did do the bulk of the work, I am so proud of her persistence and patience.  She did great. 

 After all that ruffly goodness I decided Ellie needed a new dress as well (actually, I didn't decide that, she really did need a new dress -- she has outgrown the ones she has and I don't have any in my hand-me-down stash for this size).  So I pulled out some complementing colors and found a cute pattern (on my favorite sewing blog).  Ellie is pretty thrilled with her new outfit (especially the ruffle skirt), she has been parading around the house in the skirt since we finished it.

And I didn't want to be left out, so I pulled out some semi-stretchy fabric and put together my own frilly frock.  I patterned my skirt off of this blog post but I am warning you ahead of time that these instructions are not my favorite and I had to create my own pattern pieces and had to make up my own way of doing things because this lady's way didn't work for me (and she left out some important bits like managing the waistband).  Still, I am pretty pleased with how it turned out.

I asked Josh to take some pictures for me but he started making things difficult, so eventually I gave up and got all weird...that he was willing to photograph.  Thanks honey.
Josh had some fun with the kids over the long weekend as well.  Here he is buried under the mob.  Ahhh, good times.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Another Great Idea (thanks Josh)

Ok, so one of the best ideas Josh has ever had (and that guy has had a lot of fabulous ideas) was the day he decided to put Ranch dressing in the condiment bottle seen here.

We've always made our own Ranch dressing rather than buying it from the store (mostly because Josh puts Ranch on almost EVERYTHING so we run out pretty quickly and it is great to just be able to whip some up when you need it rather than trucking to Smiths...also the home made kind tastes better).  One of the problems we have always faced is that small children cannot apply dressing to a salad (or anything else) without gobbing it all only one piece of lettuce or "accidentally" getting it everywhere because they have no patience so when they tip the bottle completely upside down it gushes everywhere.

This bottle solves that problem for us.

Because it's spout is small, it only allows a thin stream of Ranch to exit the container no matter how hard the kidlets squeeze. If the Ranch hasn't had a chance to set much yet (which happens when Mom forgets to check the dressing level before setting the table) it also saves us from messy spills. 

As an added bonus, you can turn the thing upside down and it doesn't really do anything unless you squeeze it so when the kids knock the bottle over (which happens a lot) I don't have to sigh and clean up yet another mess.

Mostly, I love it. 

Thanks honey, you really do have the best ideas. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Creatures under the chairs

The other night I was driving home with my car full of kidlets from my parent's house.  It was very dark outside and I was enjoying that beautiful solitude that comes with dozing children and skies blanketed in black.  One of my older children (who shall remain nameless) was sitting up front with me since Josh wasn't with us.

This child was sitting with legs crossed on the bucket seat.  The youngster kept adjusting position and fidgeting and just looked really uncomfortable.  I eyed him/her for a little bit and then asked if he/she was ok.  I got a nod in response, but the crumpled face told me that that wasn't really the whole truth. 

The squirming and wriggling continued until I finally said, "You know, you can put your legs down.  You don't have to sit with them crossed like that."

An almost guilty look tackled the little face as my now embarrassed offspring responded in a barely audible murmur, "I can't.  I'm afraid something will grab my feet from under my chair."

I didn't know what to say.  I have been a mom long enough to know that just saying, "That's silly, there is nothing under your chair," isn't really very helpful.  I just reached across and held my sweetheart's hand, hoping that maybe that would help a little. 

My youngsters are prone to being scared, they always have been.  When Bryce was four he nearly missed his pre-school Halloween party because he was so nervous around costumes.  We've discovered Parker in his bedroom with the overhead light, desk lamp, and both boys reading lights on (not to mention the lights for the hall and nearby bathroom) because he woke up in the night and was afraid. I could share similar stories about every single child in our house.

We try not to push our timid tykes too far, but still try to help them expand their courage when we can.

However, when it comes to moments like this one in the car, I really don't know what to do.  I don't know how to fix a fear of something that is just so beyond reality.  

I remember being afraid of things as a kid.  The closet across from my grandparent's bathroom doesn't shut tight and I remember sitting in that room for long periods when I got up at night too scared to scuttle past that barely open door, just sure that something was going to reach out and grab me.  I knew it was ridiculous.  I knew in my brain that nothing was there, but I just couldn't convince the rest of me that that was a sure thing.

I am glad that my little one trusted me enough to tell me about this fear.  I am glad that I could be there by his/her side so that I could offer whatever small piece of comfort my presence might give. 

This whole fear of things is a work in progress.  We'll see how it goes. 

P.S. If you have any fabulous ideas that might be helpful, I would LOVE to hear them.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Bring on the laughs

This week we inherited this awesome joke book.

I told you my youngest brother came home after his two year mission in California for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  He was cleaning out his room (and wondering why in the world he held on to a bunch of this stuff) and decided to get rid of a bunch of his books from when he was younger.  Since my children are the only ones in the family that can read (for now) they were the obvious choice to pass the books to.  My kids were thrilled to get a bunch of Goosebumps tales and adventure books, but the big winner this week as been this book of jokes and riddles.

The favorite joke from the book (why is this the favorite, I have no idea) goes like this.


A man walks into a diner carrying a dog under his arm.  He puts the dog on the counter and announces that the dog can talk.  The man says he has $100 he's willing to bet anyone who says he can't.  The head cook quickly takes the bet and the dog's owner looks at the dog and asks, 'What's that thing on top of this building that keeps the rain out?'

The dog answers, 'Roof.'  the cook says, 'Are you kidding?  I'm not paying!'

The dog's owner says, 'Double or nothing, and I'll ask him something else.'  The cook agrees and the owner turns to the dog and asks, 'Who was the greatest baseball player ever?'

The dog answers with a muffled, 'Ruth.'

With that, the cook picks them both up and tosses them out on the street.  As they bounce on the sidewalk in front of the diner, the dog looks at his owner and asks, 'DiMaggio?'


I do have to admit that I did a bit of chuckling the first time one of the kids told this one to me.  However, I have now heard it over and over in varying forms from just about every child (Ellie pretty much just barks like a dog and expects me to clap for her) so it is a little bit less funny now (and by that I mean it's getting annoying and hard to pretend that I am still amused by this joke). 

Still, I do get a kick out of the fact that my kidlets are so entertained by this book and the jokes that are hiding inside.  It has been fun to watch (and listen) as they explore these pages and attempt to turn themselves into stand up comedians (they get that from their father).

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sharing the love

Care to venture a guess at what brought this on?

Well I'll tell you.  Ellie has become very independant of late (even more so than usual) so she has taken to getting herself undressed in the morning whenever she feels like it instead of waiting until I'm available.

So, on this morning, Ellie stripped herself down, diaper and all...only she was poopy so when she scooted down the stairs to come find me to help her wipe her little bum  she shared the love with each and every carpeted step. She normally slides down on her belly, but not this day (of course).

I guess the stairs did need a good cleaning anyway (that's one of those jobs that doesn't get done nearly as often as it ought to).

This little sprite definetely keeps me on my toes (you have to walk that way to dodge the poo).

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Why I love Melissa DeMoux

Yes, yes, I know that many of you will be surprised that I am putting up a post. I hope that my man card will be allowed to stay in my possession as today is Valentine’s Day. My wonderful wife has often asked me why I kept after her while we were dating. I have on occasion tried to explain to her why, but she continues to ask me anyway. I have decided the problem is she has not seen my responses in print yet, so I am doing so today, so Melissa and you will know why I love her and chased her down before and continue to chase her every day.

I should preface my explanations that at first Melissa didn’t like me so I was forced to convince her why she should. I chased her to convince her that when I shaved, I was actually handsome (I had some facial hair the day we were introduced). I chased Melissa because I always felt so comfortable with her and really wanted to be around her. I chased her because I wanted to be a better person when I was around her and I wanted to be better for her. I chased her because she was (and is still) sooooo beautiful. I chased her because she is so intelligent and I love talking to her. I chased her to show her that I was really funny and I did on occasion have a serious side to my personality. I chased her because she told me she didn’t always agree with me, even if I said I knew something about the topic being discussed. I chased her because for the first time in my life I was nervous to kiss a girl. I should note that our first kiss took me a while to work up the nerve for I will let Melissa post about that some other day.

I chased Melissa to convince her to marry me because I realized how I couldn’t imagine eternity without her. I chased Melissa because I knew that with her genetics our children would be adorable, and they are! I chased her for the fact that for the first time in her life she had conversations on the phone that lasted more than ten minutes and she didn’t even mind. If you can’t figure it out Melissa was talking to me. I chased her because I fell madly in love with my best friend, whom I always seemed to know, but had just met.

My dearest Melissa when will you realize that you mean everything to me and I want the world to know it! I will chase you to the ends of the earth and shout from the rooftops that I love you more than anything. Thank you for being my best friend and loving me with all of my faults included. Thank you for giving me six amazing wonderful children who remind me of you every day. Thank you for letting me steal some of your blog space, I hope I didn’t mess it up. On our and a half anniversary I want to wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day my love.



Love is in the air...and the kitchen

As part of our Valentine's Day fun we decided to make chocolate suckers.  This is one of my favorite kid friendly activities because whatever mess the kids make you can just make them lick it all off the table (just kidding, but wouldn't that be funny...except also gross for eating dinner later).

You can buy just about every color you can think of in melting chocolates, or you can melt white chocolate chips in the microwave (30 seconds at a time until they are smooth) and then dye them with a couple drops of food coloring.  
I love this activity because it lets my kidlets be creative and show their artistic side, but it is also unique because we don't mess around with colored chocolate every day. 

As an added bonus we can put plastic wrap around our creations and take them to friends and neighbors to show our love for this fabulous holiday.

Back in the day (oh so long ago when I was young) we used to do all of our Valentine deliveries under the cover of darkness.  There was this great little song that went,

"Knock, knock, knock then run, run, run
Today is Valentine's Day.
Knock, knock, knock it's fun, fun, fun
To try to get away."

The kids and I still like to aim for that sort of holiday fun when we can.  We're planning to weave our chocolate suckers into that magic if we can.

Here are some of our finished creations.

As an added bonus, Valentine's Day is also our And-A-Half anniversary (exactly six months after our wedding day so on Valentine's Day we have been married how ever many years and a half...you get the idea). 

With that in mind I just want to tell my sweetheart (not to mention anyone else who is paying attention) how much I ADORE him.  He is my best friend, my best influence, my biggest fan, my favorite play mate, my level headed thinker, my favorite pillow, my kissing partner and so much more.  This man makes my life warm and inviting and he still has the power to make me weak in the knees (in the very best way, of course).  I'm sure I would be happy in life even if I had never met him, I just wouldn't really have any idea what happiness really was.

I love you Joshua, here's to many more And-A-Half anniversaries to come.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Things I have loved this past week

Lets skip the verbose introduction (I know, weird for me) and just get right to it.

Here are a bunch of things that made my last week very much worth living.
1. Kissing Josh (that's pretty much always my favorite)

2. Welcoming my baby brother home from his two year LDS mission in California (I asked him to pray in Californian at dinner that night...he didn't think I was funny, but I was laughing anyway.  He might just have been a tiny bit overwhelmed).

3. Listening to Ellie wander around my parent's house singing "I looooove my mommy...I have a vagina," over and over again (wouldn't my newly returned missionary brother have turned red if he had picked up on what she was actually saying).  Yup, we're all about anatomical correctness at our house, even with two year olds.

4. Watching Logan (age 4) giggle like crazy when he discovered that if you flip a number 6 flash card upside down it magically transforms into a number 9.  That's fun for the whole family.

5. Snuggling into Josh's chest (how is he always so warm?) to watch NCIS and then NCIS L.A. (which is not nearly as good, but is still passable so we put up with it).

6. Eating fettuccine alfredo with shrimp that Josh made all on his own (well mostly, he only had to call me for recipe clarification twice...but lets blame that on my bad handwriting).  Geezo I love that guy.

7. Warming my cold toes on Josh's very very warm belly (am I the only wife that does this?  It is heaven).

8.  Going grocery shopping and staying under my budget (way to go me!).

9. Watching my children thrill in the exciting world of the airport.

10.  Making beds on the floor beside my bed for three different children on three different nights.  Don't misunderstand, I don't love that my kidlets woke up scared or sick in the night, but I do love that just by being their mom I can give them comfort and confidence and that just by being next to me they can get some sleep (although if this were a constant occurrence I think I would quickly grow out of any reverence I have for it).  FYI on the 4th night I was preemptive and made a bed next to mine just in case, but no one came up that night.  Josh laughed at me the next morning.

(I know, you would think I would stop at 10 and not bother going on to 11 unless I planned to head clear up to 15 or 20, but no...I'm going for 11 just to be different.)

11. Seeing my crew of six get all excited at the sight of their father coming down the escalator to meet us at the airport and thinking how grateful I am that we get to be a family and that the sight of my sweetheart not only thrills me but thrills my children as well.  Combine that with my smooch when he caught up to us and I may just have had a new favorite moment of the week.  Fabulous.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Home again, Home again Jiggedy Jig

On Wednesday I packed up our crew and we headed to the airport.  The kids haven't been there too often so they were pretty excited to see planes flying so low overheard as we drove toward short term parking.  Josh was still at work so it was just me and the kids and boy did we get looks from our friendly neighborhood other airport patrons.  A lady leading six sprites around gets plenty of attention on its own, but add in the excitement factor because said kids will be welcoming home their uncle who has been serving a mission for two years and also the thrills that come from things like moving sidewalks and interesting strangers and the spectacle grows exponentially.

My littlest little brother had been serving a mission for the LDS church in Ventura, California, but his two years of service was up and he was coming home.  His flight was supposed to arrive at 2:29 pm.  I called my parents about 1:00 to make sure the plane was on time and they said it was. 

We were a little slower getting out of the house than I planned so we didn't arrive at the terminal until 2:20 pm.  I was worried we might be a bit late...but I couldn't find my parents so then I worried that I had the wrong terminal.  I called my dad's cell phone to find out where they were.  They were still at their house.  Joel's flight had been delayed and wasn't going to land until 3:00 pm.

I was now facing down the fun of me and six excited kidlets hanging out in the airport for more than 30 minutes with nothing to do. 

Super fun!

Angels smiled down on us and I found a vacant corner with three empty chairs so I settled us in.  I pulled out my cell phone (Angry Birds, I have never loved you more than I did at the moment) and the older kids took turns playing while Ellie danced to the Angry Birds music (we were very entertaining).  Logan and Gavin were fascinated by watching the workings of a nearby elevator so I assume they will grow up to be mechanical engineers or something like that.  We played my emergency card games (Pictureka and Uno which I keep in my purse for just such occasions).

Ellie was the first to spot her dad coming down the escalator.  She started screaming, "My daddy's home!  My daddy's home!" as she sprinted toward the descending stairs.  Josh scooped her up and she was happy for a minute. 

Soon after everyone else arrived and we set up our missionary vigil in a prime location (the benefits of arriving very early). 

This was the scene that followed.

My mom cried the whole time.  Bryce could not stop telling Joel EVERYTHING that had happened during his two year absence (science projects and sports events, you name it).  For me, it was just good to see my baby brother again.   We spent the evening chatting and sharing stories and just enjoying each other.  It was a good thing. It is nice to have all five of us home and happy and together.

My mom and her baby.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I never imagined...

Earlier this week the fam and I trundled over to my parent's house for dinner.  Somehow it doesn't seem fair to my mom when we do that (sorry mom).  When we have them over for dinner that is only two extra people and it is oh so easy to cook for 10 instead of eight.  When we go there she has to cook for 10 instead of two.  Something is wrong with that picture.  My mom wouldn't even let us bring anything this time this time around.

Anyway, we got there a little early and Josh and I were in the kitchen with my madre helping to prep the meal.  She asked me to get out some ice for the drinks so I pulled a couple of ice trays out of the freezer.  I grabbed the ends of the first tray and twisted and POP all the ice tumbled out just like it is supposed to. 

However, as I grabbed the second tray it fought back.  I just couldn't get it to crack.  This didn't surprise me too much because Crohn's disease has done a number on my joints and they just aren't what they used to be.  My wrists in particular have become very weak, so much so that I can no longer remove a tray of brownies from the oven with only one hand (wow, that's sort of embarrassing to admit).  Thankfully God had the foresight to allow me to have two hands so really it is mostly no big deal.  Also, (as in this case with the ice) I have an amazing husband standing by who is quick to step in if I ask him to (and not if I am being stubborn and want to do things on my own).  He snapped the tray to the sides and all the ice fell obligingly into the bowl.  My mom's sympathetic/semi-sad face as she watched that exchange was sort of hard to take.  I didn't want to make her feel bad.  I don't even really think about it much anymore, it is just the way things are now.

Only moments after the ice incident Ellie scuttled into the kitchen and wanted me to hold her.  I suddenly realized how grateful I am that Crohn's disease left me alone until all six of my children were old enough that they didn't need to be carried around much anymore.  I am simply not as able as I used to be to heft my little ones.  If this disease had reared its ugly head when I was still bringing babies into the world I would have had a much harder time handling all the baby oriented chores that would strain my weakened muscles and joints.

I can't imagine having to carry around a car seat not to mention a heavily packed diaper bag or to constantly hold a sad infant or to lift a little one in and out of crib or to open those tight baby food jars or the thousands of other little things that every day would bring that would make that weakness a real trial. 

But the blessings don't stop there.  When our oldest children were small, Josh was working jobs that expected long hours every day and on top of that he was also in school for several years which kept him away from home almost all the time.  Imagine if I had to try to handle all those tasks not only with weakened joints but also without any help around.  I think I would have felt very helpless and lost.  I'm not sure I could have managed it all.

But I didn't have to do that. 

I am more thankful that I know how to say that my Father in Heaven allowed me to get through those years before I had the chance to face Crohn's disease.   I am grateful that even in our struggles there are just so many blessings that sprout up if we keep our eyes open that it doesn't seem fair to whine or complain (at least not all the time). 

I never imagined that this is where life's journey would take me.  I never imagined I would be the mother of six.  I never imagined I would be counting every penny as the stay-at-home wife of a school teacher.  I never imagined that I would be facing a chronic disorder that would wind its way into every inch of my daily life.

But I also never imagined I would get to spend mornings playing basketball at the church gym with half a dozen sprites (our current favorite off track activity).  I never imagined that I would get the chance to share my love of writing with the world by being published in our local paper.  I never imagined that I would cry as I watched my two year old daughter spin in the school gym while two of her older siblings sang and played recorder in the school concert.  I never imagined that I would count the moments until my the phone would ring as my sweetheart calls me every single day as he drives home from work.  I never imagined life would be this sweet.   I never imagined God would give me so much to be thankful for.

My crew (my uncooperative crew on this day).

I can't wait to see what else life has in store for me; I bet there are loads of other things that I never imagined either.   Some of them will be sweet and I'm sure some of them will be sour, but that is the way of life.  That's what makes this trip to Earth such a precious thing, that chance to look for beauty scattered among the ordinary and sometimes ugly pieces of everyday life.  But it's there, there IS happiness and even joy if we just keep our eyes open and let ourselves see it.

Monday, February 6, 2012


This is a little bit of what we've been up to lately...

I have been trying for a while to come up with a fabulous way to store more towels in our bathrooms (we go through a lot of towels at our house...I don't know how you get around that with kids).

I saw this wonderful idea on Pinterest that used a wall hung wine rack to store towels, but I couldn't find a wine rack with slots big enough for anything other than hand towels.

That's when I stumbled on these little beauties and thought, "I bet I could get those babies to store rolled up towels!"  And you know what...I could.  They work great, and they look sorta cute so it all worked out.  I love it when that happens. 

Upstairs bathroom

Downstairs bathroom.
 Last week I had pot pie on the menu, but I forgot to buy a pie crust.  So, I thought I would try to make one on my own.  I haven't ever done that before, but I know lots of people do so I googled some recipes and thumped all the ingredients into a bowl and went to work.

I did make something that looked a little bit like a pie crust (even though it sort of resembled Frankenstein).  I cooked it and...........it was HORRIBLE!  Yuck!  I either need LOTS more practice OR I should just stick with store bought (or, as a friend from high school used to say "boughten," weird word eh?) pie crusts.  Sigh.

Aubrey has been all entrepreneury lately and wanted to start her own business.  So, we went to Michaels and bought a whole mess of boondoggle.  I taught her how to lace the strands into braided key chains and she has been selling them to the masses at school.  Creative tyke that she is she also let kids sign up for classes and taught them how to make their own boondoggle (for the very fair price of 10 cents per person). 

I love that she wanted to earn money and so she thought up an idea and took matters into her own hands.  What an amazing young lady.

 Just for fun (and a few laughs) I threw together this funny little ruffled pillow...
 Then I put it in a zip seal bag and used my vacuum to suck as much air out of it as I could.  Finally I shoved it in a postal service pre-paid envelope and shipped it off to a friend in exotic regions far away.  Hopefully she got a chuckle out of it.
 And last but not least, after all of our tireless effort on science fair projects this year, we learned this week that Bryce and his partner took 3rd place in the school science fair.  They did an experiment on balance involving a Wii fit and some ear plugs (begging the question, does hearing affect balance?).  I really was proud of these boys and thrilled that they ended up with trophies for all of their efforts.

However, even without a trophy I was awfully proud of Aubrey because she put a lot of dedicated work into her project as well. 

Cleaning up moon sand, snapping pics of adorable kids (and husbands), watching basketball games and chorus concerts, repairing scuffed boots and building with Legos...lately they sometimes feel like crazy days, but thankfully they are usually good days too.

("Mom, you didn't put in a picture of me playing basketball."  Sorry buddy, here you go.)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Valentine's in the HOUSE

Soooo, Valentine's Day is coming and the kids asked me when we were going to decorate at which point I realized we don't really have Valentine's Day decorations, per se, so we should probably come up with some.

Pinterest to the rescue!

I browsed for a whopping like 4 1/2 seconds and found this awesome tutorial on how to make crepe paper roses and thought, "Hey, I can do that."  So we gave it a try.  We glued the roses on a three inch Styrofoam ball and this is what we ended up with.  I think they are fun!

They were so much fun in fact that we later cut out some big hearts and made a really cute door hanger for our front door.

 Then the other night for family home evening we had a lesson on gratitude and we decided to tie that into decorations as well.  We gave each of the kids a couple of hearts (these are paper doilies from the dollar store...I think I got about 50 of them for $1).  We asked them to write or draw things that they loved onto their hearts and then we clipped them onto a ribbon attached to our closet door.

It was loads of fun to see what was important to the kids.  Almost all of them chose to include family on their hearts (whew, I guess we did do something right somewhere along the way) but the other things they included ranged from books to food to friends and sports.  It was insightful.

What a great way to prep for a very kissable holiday.  We'll have to see if we can manage to add to our festive decor before the big day arrives.

Also, here are our finished Valentine's boxes for school (we are on year round school so the k-6 grade kids have their parties today since they go off track after today).

Ok, when I suggested this to the boys I didn't really imagine bloody, blackened teeth and bloodshot eyes, but I guess that's just boys.

Bryce decided to make an arcade game sort of box and Aubrey went for a mailbox theme.

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