Sunday, October 26, 2014

Focusing on the Fun Stuff

I'm still working on my political post - I'm having a hard time finding time in my life to write.  I am going to be honest and let you know that right now I am completely overwhelmed.  I feel like I'm drowning.  Between Halloween costume orders, jewelry orders, my disaster that we call a house, Hubby's business, and the kids and all their activities - I have literally felt like crying most of the time lately.  But I'm sick of feeling crappy, so I decided to sit down and blog about some fun stuff that has been going on, and think about things for just a little while that really put a smile on my face.

Two of my beautiful daughters celebrated birthdays in the past few weeks.  I cannot believe how quickly they are growing up.  I need it to S-L-O-W down already!  But I look at them and nearly burst with joy at what wonderful girls they are and how each passing day they get more and more fabulous.  I'll post about them in 2 separate posts so I don't have a post that drags on for eternity.

First, my sweet Ambria turned 14 at the end of last month.  We don't do friend birthday parties every year, just at specific, significant ages.  14 isn't one of the years.  BUT, I did tell her that although I wasn't going to throw her a party, buy food and cake and put on a big shin dig for everyone, she could still invite a few friends and we would take them downtown to City Creek Center and let them do this fun scavenger hunt that we found online.  It's the same hunt that Kaden did with his group for Homecoming last month.  We did make a few changes based on age appropriateness, and also took out a few things that didn't seem like a great idea.  I told you here how much I love her group of friends.  Not everyone in the group was able to make it, but the ones that did sure made it a fun night.  They said it was okay if I posted a few pics of the evening.  They had to pose with certain things or in certain ways, and then they had to find certain items.

Posing with a bird that flies but never moves.  If you are a long-time reader, that cute Bat Girl on the right is Tanielle's daughter (my adopted daughter) Lexlie!  Can you believe how much time has flown??  She chose to be the photographer in many of the pictures, and so her pretty face is missing from too many of them!! :(

Posing as Tim Tebow on the stairs.

By the bathrooms looking panicked....

Riding the escalator with hands in the air

Posing with a mannequin

Wearing cool shades

A girl's best friend

Wearing hats.

Arms linked in front of a waterfall.  There is an ACTUAL waterfall there but they felt this met the requirement.  I'm not sure I concur - but whatever.

And these 3 boys - my adopted sons. I'm not really sure what requirement on the list this picture meets, but I love it!  I always wanted another son, and thanks to Ambria - I inherited 3! :)

I'm pretty sure they all had a good time, and if not, Ambria was at least good enough to let me believe they did. ;)  I'm so grateful to have such an amazing daughter who makes good decisions, chooses good friends, and just chooses to be a happy, kind person.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I'm Grateful.

It's been over a month since my last post - but I'm not giving up on my little blog.  I have too much I want to write about!

I'm working on a pretty heavy political post right now.  At least it feels heavy to me.  I'm not really sure when it will be finished and ready to publish.  I only know it has been fighting to burst out of me for months and months and I finally had to sit down and start writing.  We'll see what it looks like when my brain is finally relieved of all the the thoughts and feelings that have been tumbling around in there for all this time.

For today I think I'll just share some things I'm grateful for.  Because I am truly, truly blessed.

Today I am grateful for the teenagers in my teens' lives.  And for their parents.

I'm so thankful that I was able to send my son out to his first school dance yesterday with a wonderful young woman who values modesty, and who knows she can be beautiful and have a magical evening while dressing in a way that shows respect to herself as well as to my son.  I'm so grateful to her parents for setting that expectation, and for raising her to become a young woman with high standards that will help my son live up to those standards that he believes in as well.  I hope her parents feel the same about sending their daughter off with my son.  I'm also grateful that he was able to go with a whole group of great young men and women who also value these same things.  As a mother, it is the best feeling in the world to know your teenager is spending his time with a bunch of other teenagers who share the same beliefs, standards and outlook on life as he does.  It is a comfort to hear about their friendships, their activities and experiences, and to hear how they help each other be their best selves, and lovingly lift each other up when one of them may be struggling to be the best them.  My son's friends are a true blessing in his life, and therefore mine.

Today I am grateful that my 13 year old daughter has a group of wonderful, kind friends who also influence her in good ways.  I remember so vividly being her age.  I remember how tempting it could be to join in with others who weren't always trying to do what I believed was right.  I remember seeing friends give in to some of those temptations.

What a blessing it is to watch my daughter with her friends.  Laughing, being dorks, messing around and being silly - but also seriously trying their hardest to do what's right, and expecting the same of each other.  I'm thankful for the decision my daughter and one of her close friends have made to start getting up early to serve in the temple every Tuesday at 5 a.m., in order to make it back home in time to get ready for school. They are setting a good example for not only their other friends, but for me as well!  Weekly temple service is something that I really would like to get back into the habit of.  I watch my daughter interacting with her friends, and my heart fills up with gratitude and pride.  I love these kids and am proud of them for knowing who they are, what they stand for and where they are going.  And again I feel so much gratitude to their parents for raising them to be the kind of kids that impact my daughter's life in such a positive way.  I'm proud of her for being a wonderful example to and influence on them as well.

Today I am grateful that I will soon be able to hold my new baby niece.  She spent the first month of her life living far far away in North Dakota, and is now here for a 2 week visit!  I get to see her later tonight and I can't wait!  I'm not nearly as excited as my kiddos though.  They have been wanting a new cousin for SO LONG!!  They are the only grandkids on my side of the family and have been waiting (im)patiently for some cousins.  It's going to be a great night.

I hope this beautiful Sabbath day finds you all healthy and happy and that you have a wonderful week ahead of you!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Life is Good

Well - it's happening.  Right now.  I'm blogging.  I have been feeling the pull of the blogosphere for a few weeks now.  I'm not sure why - but I've just really felt compelled to get back to blogging.  I have no idea how I'm gonna make it work.  I have so much stuff sucking all my time already!  But I've missed this place.  There's nowhere else quite like it.

I'm not even really sure where to start.  Do I update on my family?  Some people may remember us - some people may be new.  Maybe nobody out there will be reading this at all.  What's a rusty blogging girl to do?

I guess we'll start with this cute thing.

This Baby Girl is 18 months old - can you believe it?  It seems like such a short time ago she was coming home from the hospital.  Yet - and I think I've said this before - it's incredibly difficult trying to remember what life was like before she came.

She's kind of a stinker.  Like a lot.  She's spoiled by all her siblings and extended family, and has developed quite an attitude.  It doesn't help that everyone thinks it's hilarious and laughs hysterically whenever she's naughty/bossy/bratty.  I keep telling them they won't think it's so adorable when she's a big 5 year old brat.

At the same time she has a smile that can melt your heart, and when she laughs it is, of course, the best sound in the universe.

This Monkey is about to turn 8.  I can't believe how she's grown.  It breaks my heart just a little bit.

She's so smart that sometimes I forget that she was the baby for a lot of years before Baby Girl surprised us.  I'm afraid sometimes I expect too much of this beautiful girl and get too impatient when she doesn't act as old as she often seems.  I'm working hard on correcting that behavior in myself - because the worst thing ever is when I hurt this sweet girl's feelings.  She is the best at wanting to help with her baby sister and just really wants to be like her big sisters.  Of course that comes along with the sassy attitude they sometimes have as well!

Speaking of sassy - my Pixie is 11 1/2.  She'll be turning 12 this winter.

She is all girl.  She loves clothes and jewelry and does her hair about 5 times a day.  She doesn't normally wear make up, but this picture was taken after her performance in the American History Operetta that her 5th grade class performed.  She is counting down the days until her 12th birthday - when she'll be allowed to start wearing some conservative eye make up.  She says she wants to be a hair stylist - but after I discovered some drawings of "outfits" she made up - I'm thinking fashion designer. ;)

That brings us to Cowgirl.  She's almost 14 and has become quite the little athlete.

She LOVES soccer.  How long she'll be playing remains to be seen.  She suffered 4 head injuries in 1 year playing soccer.  3 of them were fairly mild, but the first one - not so much.  She knows she's on thin ice right now.  Because as much as we love watching her play - we are SO not willing to gamble with her health (maybe even her life) just so she can be a soccer super star.  She has way too much besides soccer to offer to the world.  It was a real struggle for us as parents to even decide to let her play this season.  She begged us.  She knows there are 2 non-negotiable conditions:  1 - she only plays soccer in her soccer league.  She no longer plays wild crazy soccer with her friends where it is basically a free for all!  And 2 - one more hit to the head - just one - and she's done.  The new season's about to start, so we'll see how everything unfolds.  Aside from soccer she is having fun just being a teenager and we are having fun watching her grow.

And finally our Bookworm.  This guy turned 16 this summer.  That's right folks - he's behind the wheel and on the road!

This photo was taken with James Dashner, a favorite author of his.  What he really wants to be is a writer and whenever one of his favorite authors comes into town for a book signing, he makes sure he's there to meet them!  He's still developing his talent in playing violin and just completed his first year of High School where he has made a wonderful group of friends.  Good kids with high standards who help each other do what's right.  He's been on his first 2 dates, and I have loved watching him grow into the leader and friend he is becoming to those around him.  I am so proud of him and his sisters.

I sure do love these five fantastic kids of mine.  I pray every night for help being the mom they deserve and the mom they need to help them become who they are meant to be.  I'm also so grateful to have a good man by my side to be their dad.  Life is good.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Our Weekend Unplugged

Last week I told you our family was going to have an "unplugged weekend".  I had been thinking about doing this for a while, and finally got around to discussing it with Hubby.  With him on board, we presented it to the kids, starting out with watching this short message as a family:

As parents, hubby and I are pretty conservative when it comes to a lot of the technologies of today.  We don't allow violent video games in our home, our children were probably some of the last of their friends to get Facebook accounts and I know that Bookworm (our only child with a cell phone for now) was the last of his friends to get a phone.  It has nothing to do with not trusting our kids and everything to do with what we felt was or wasn't necessary for our family's circumstances and what we did or didn't feel was the most uplifting or healthy way for our family to spend their time.

Of course there is a fine line between giving them everything, and allowing them nothing.  We have social media accounts, we have cell phones and ipods, and we have the natural tendency to let our personal electronics consume more of our attention and time than is needful or healthy for real relationships.

And I'm not just talking about the kids.  I know I have been guilty of being engrossed in reading something on FB, or answering a text while one of my children is trying to tell me something, only to look up to their frustrated faces as we both realize I wasn't paying attention to a word they said.  I have also felt frustration when looking around at my family and not seeing eyes, because Hubby is reading something on his phone, Cowgirl is playing a game on her ipod, and Bookworm is engrossed with the 3 conversations he has going on at once via text.  Nobody is doing anything BAD, it's just that nothing really GOOD is happening with the time spent with our faces stuck in our personal devices.  So we had a weekend that was unplugged.  And it was awesome.

We started out on Friday around 4 o'clock.  Everyone was home from school and we all powered down our devices and "turned them in".  We had a few exceptions.  Hubby's business and my business both depend on us being somewhat prompt in responding to our customers.  So we were allowed 1 or 2 brief times during the day where he would check his voicemail, and I would check my shop correspondence to see if there were any customers who we needed to respond to.  We also took Hubby's phone while the kids were home alone watching the baby, just so they could reach us in case of emergency.  But that was it.  The rest of the time our phones stayed powered down and in a little collection on the piano for the weekend.  We all let people know that we would be without our phones, but they could call our home phone if they needed to reach us.  Remember the days of not being "on demand"?  Of being out with your family and really BEING with them, and whoever needed to talk to you would leave a message on your answering machine, and when you got home you could call them back?  Remember how good that was?  That's what we did this weekend and it was really, and I mean really wonderful.

One of the things I learned that has "gone away" (at least for me) is the art of planning in advance.  Like a real plan, not "okay, I'll text you when I'm there".  Grandma, the girls and I were meeting Hubby and Bookworm (they had been at violin lesson) at Wheeler Historic Farm.  We went over a little early and when we got there, I realized that there would be no way for Hubby to contact us and find out where we were so that we could meet up with them.  Back in the day we would have actually planned a meeting spot.  Maybe some of you still do, but this illustrated to me that I put off the specifics until we can just text or call each other right at the very last moment.  We ended up playing at the playground near the parking entrance until we saw them pull in.  Then spent a wonderful, completely uninterrupted evening walking around the farm and seeing all the animals.

I did miss the convenience of immediately being able to look something up if I had a question, or text someone if I had a thought or observation to share, or just scroll through FB if I was feeling bored.  But it also taught me that we (at least I) have developed into a people (person) who need(s) to be continually entertained or amused.  Now that I have a smart phone, I am easily bored and need something to hold my attention at all times.  One cannot just wait in the doctor's office, or at the bus stop, or ride along in the car without having to be entertained by something online.  I even find myself reaching for my phone to check Facebook or Instagram when a commercial comes on during the TV show I am watching.  This is a little sad to me.

I was proud of my family, who all participated without complaint.  Tonight we had a short family discussion where we talked about what we missed about being "plugged in" this weekend, and what we enjoyed about being "unplugged" as well as anything we learned from the experience.  It was apparent that the things we missed were really not that earth-shattering, and I think the consensus was that the benefits definitely outweighed the negatives.  The things we enjoyed were really being "present" when we were with each other, and the conversations we had and the time we spent together without distractions interrupting us every 5 minutes.  

I personally enjoyed not feeling tied to my phone, and feeling like I was truly giving my family, particularly my children, the attention they deserved.  I was actually pretty sad to see our experiment come to an end, and although it is not too practical for us to be unplugged permanently in this day and age, I definitely think we will be having more unplugged days, and activities in our future.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Hellish Day with a Happy Ending

So here's how my day went yesterday:

Wake up, get kids ready for school.

Drive kids and Hubby to school (hubby is driving the 6th grade to the McCullough space center for a space simulation field work).

Get back home.

Answer email and shop correspondence while Baby Girl attempts to feed herself oatmeal (yeah, she's at the whole independent stage).

Clean up oatmeal from table, chair, floor and Baby Girl's face, belly, arms and hair.

Attempt to clean up in my bedroom while Baby Girl naps (yeah right - she napped for 14 minutes).

Get in the shower while BG plays on the bathmat, waiting her turn to get in and get cleaned.  Hey it worked the last time I needed to have a shower and I was by myself with Baby Girl so don't you judge me.

Get all lathered up when I hear a huge crash followed by instant wailing from Baby Girl.  I jump out of the shower, dripping wet and sudsy to see my poor baby flat on her back on the tile.  She had attempted to climb up something.  Not sure if it was the toilet or the drawers or what.  I remember that last time we did this she hadn't started walking or climbing yet.  Idiot.

I have now soaked the entire bathroom floor with my dripping hair.

Put her on the bathmat (still wailing) and plead with her to just let me hurry and rinse off so I can hold her.

Step back into the shower and don't even have the curtain pulled when I hear a THUD!  And even more earnest wailing.  She has tried to run to the bathroom door because she wants out of there.  Immediately upon touching the wet tile her feet went right out from under her and she is flat on her back again.

Scoop her up and bring her back to the bathmat where she realizes is the only "safe" place for her to walk in the now water-logged bathroom.  She stands on that mat, still as a statue, afraid to move - just sobbing while I try to finish up in the shower so I can pick her up.

Do the fastest washing job of my life and then pick her up and bring her in to have a shower.  At this point she is NOT interested.  So she cries and fights me the whole time I am trying to get her washed.  Which of course causes me to nearly drop her.  I grip her so tight as she's going down that I'm surprised boogers didn't pop out her nose!

Save her from falling, but in the process she is positioned face up RIGHT under the shower spray.  So now she is sputtering and coughing and panicked and crying even harder.  I'm pretty sure that was the end of our showering together days.

Manage to get dried off and dressed without further incident.  She nurses and falls sound asleep.  I was exhausted too after all that!  I lay her on my bed while I get ready to go.  You see our day hasn't even really begun.

Get my hair and make up done and everything ready, and she is still sound asleep.  Look at her sweet little face and it takes everything I have not to climb into bed next to her, curl up to her warm little body and go to sleep myself.  But there's not time.  Reluctantly pick her up and get her loaded into her car seat, and head off to the post office.

Get to the post office, unbuckle BG and haul her in to check the p.o. box.  Hoping for a large check we are expecting from one of our customers.  Try not to say a bad word as I open the door to an empty box.

Lug BG back out to the car, buckle her in and head to the dry cleaner to pick up Bookworm's tux.  He has a Regional Solo and Ensemble performance on the violin at 3:30.

Get to the dry cleaner, once again unbuckle BG, haul her in with me and find that they charge TAX (WTHECK?), which of course leaves me feeling stupid since I only brought in cash in my pocket to pay (because of carrying Baby Girl and all) and I was $.61 short.

Lug BG back out to the car with me while I dig through the ash tray for $.61.  Go back in and dump a pile of dimes, nickles and pennies onto the counter.  I am so ghetto.

Get back into the car and get ready to head to the high school to give Bookworm his tux when I realize I left his cummerbund and bow tie at home on the dresser.  This time I don't resist saying the bad word.

Head back home, but forget I am 1 block further north than I think, so I turn north in stead of staying on the road that I was supposed to be on.  Have to take a bassackward way to get back home.  Grab the stuff and run back out to the car.  At this point Baby Girl has had it again and is making her displeasure known.

Race over to the high school to give Bookworm his crap, then head back toward home where my brother is waiting with a present for BG.  As soon as I pull out of the parking lot, phone rings and it's Bookworm, "you didn't bring my shoes and socks".  Another bad word.

Get back home, dump BG off with my brother, search the house for church socks, and church shoes, throw them in my car.  Now it's a race against time because before Bookworm performs I still have to go pick up my girls and husband from their school.  We only have 1 family car.  Our other vehicle is Hubby's work van and it only fits one passenger.

Debate whether to pick up girls and hubby first, or drop off shoes and socks.  Confer with hubby over the phone who says go take the shoes first.  Get to the high school right as school is getting out and ALL THE TEENAGERS are trying to get out of the parking lot.  Get caught in a huge teenage driver traffic jam and take forever to get out of the parking lot after delivering the shoes.

Race to the other school and get Hubby and girls, race back home to drop girls off.  Hubby and I race to the HS to watch Bookworm perform for the judge.  Listen, clap proudly and tiredly shlep back out to the car.  Get home and collapse on the couch ready to fall asleep.  Only to get a phone call that reminds me I have a church engagement in 20 minutes.  Sigh exhaustedly and muster up my energy to head over to the church.

In the end it was worth it because Bookworm scored a 1 and moved onto State Solo and Ensemble!  But what a day!!

Here's his performance:

) In other news, tomorrow we are starting an "Unplugged Weekend" family experiment.  I'll let you know how that goes next week!  I won't be back tomorrow, so have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Slow but Steady Wins the Race??

We shall see about that .

I recently decided to take the 4 Weeks to a More Organized Home Challenge from Money Saving Mom.  I didn't start up when she did, so I'm not really part of the "group" who is participating and linking up and all that jazz.  I intended to, but I just couldn't get started last week for various reasons.

But I did start this week and I'm a little excited.  I feel like I have a WAY bigger monster to tame than what her challenge will fix.  Like a lifetime of being disorganized + a husband who is equally as disorganized + 5 kids.  It's an equation that equals basically a whole lot of chaos to reign in.   And every time I determine that I am going to tackle that chaos, I just don't know where to start.  Bringing order to one area of my life or home or family is dependent on something else being brought to order first, which itself is dependent on another aspect being in order and I just feel overwhelmed with the hugeness of the undertaking.

I read through MSM's challenge (it's a downloadable little booklet) and although I have a lot more to accomplish than what the 4 week challenge covers, I felt like it was a way for me to get started - to focus on bringing a few things slowly into order, and then hopefully build on that after the challenge is over.  I thought I'd give you updates along the way!  Feel free to join in if you'd like.  We don't have to be on the same week to share our progress with each other, or to encourage each other!

So this week I set the following goals, which I am trying to accomplish along with the daily assignments from MSM:

1 - Blog 3 times.
2 - Exercise 4 times.
3 - Finish reviewing and providing feedback for a large policy document that needs finalization as part of my Charter School board member responsibilities.
4 - Get 1/2 of all the backed up laundry done.  Yes, this is shameful, but that is how much laundry I have to catch up on, that 1/2 finished is a lofty goal.
5 - Get my Mind Organization for Moms system back up and running.  It was going fabulously when I was implementing it before, but then I made a mad dash trying to prepare for awesome out of town visitors and totally neglected keeping up with the system.  I miss the order it brought to my daily tasks and projects.
6 - Get Activity Days up and running for my new church calling.
7 - Finish getting my craft room completely cleaned and organized (this is already about 1/2 done as I started working on it over the weekend).
8 - Create 3 new jewelry designs for our family business.

Now that I'm typing it all out, it sorta seems like a lot.  I'll let you know if I'm able to get it all done by the end of the week!

Here's what I'm feeling good about today:

I consumed a healthy amount of calories and fat today.
I did 6 loads of laundry.
I completely cleaned out and scrubbed my refrigerator:

Hopefully I can keep the momentum going - we've got a busy next few days in our family!

Monday, March 10, 2014

How many restarts do I get?

(Cough, cough), it's a little dusty in here...

I guess when you neglect the blog for like 7 months, it can grow a few cobwebs.  I'm going to try again to get my blog groove on.  So much has happened since I last blogged.  Perhaps I can get you caught up a little bit at a time over then next little while.  Hopefully.  Maybe.  Probably not.  And by "you" I mean the imaginary people I'm pretending to write to since I'm not sure anyone remembers about this ole blog of mine.  That's what happens when you disappear forever a while.

A few highlights from the past 7 months:

We went on a family trip to California in November - actually over Thanksgiving!  The kids thought that Disneyland was totally overrated.  Which is what I thought the last time I went in 1990.  They LOVED Sea World, and Universal Studios.  We also stopped and visited all the temples along the way.   I'll share pics in an upcoming post!

This girl turned 13!  I can't even stand it.  She is growing into such a lovely, thoughtful young woman.  I'm not really sure what she's doing in this picture.  Goofing off with friends, I guess.  I never said she wasn't a dork!

This girl turned 7!  She's not my baby anymore and sometimes that makes me a little sad.  But it sure is fun to watch her imagination go, and a little amusing to see her try to act like her big sisters (you know, snotty when they don't get their way?)

This girl turned 11!  She's dying to wear mascara - but she has to wait one more year!  I can't believe how she's grown this past year.  Quite a transformation.

And this munchkin turned ONE!  No longer my little Baby Girl, she is walking around everywhere and soaking up anything and everything she observes.  She has already mastered the art of twisting open nail polish!  What??  She still fills our home with joy and laughter and not a little bit of frustration!  She is as strong willed as any of her siblings and twice as spoiled!

Of course there have been school musicals and concerts and recitals keeping us hopping. And the ever constant battle to get my house/life/brain in order!  Stay tuned and I'll share with you the challenge I'm taking to try and get more organized over the next 4 weeks, and hopefully beyond!  

To anyone who still ever visits this dusty old blog, thanks for reading and I'll be back soon!