Monday, November 28, 2011

Giving Thanks

We kicked off the long holiday weekend with a party for Kaden. We had the best magician come and he really did such an amazing job. He is 77 years old but he had all those 12 year old boys wrapped around his finger.

Plus we made an attempt to accomplish Kaden's birthday tradition which is sleeping on the tramp. (Idea for birthday traditions found here).

We didnt last very long because, A: it was so cold...

and B: someone who shall remain nameless was stinky:

After the party it was onto Thanksgiving. I had one wish for Thanksgiving. A hike. One little hike, with the kids and Scott. I had it all planned out in my head.

Wake up early, head to the mountain, put babies in back packs, hike, eat, have a Thanksgiving devotional on the mountain, head down, shower, go to Thanksgiving dinner.

I really didn't think it was too much to ask but the "Turkey Bowl" football game took precedence. Dinner at the Heywoods was delish and my favorite part was when I saw Ella eating all alone outback.

She didn't seem to mind at all but it only took a few minutes until this happened....

I love those sisters.

 In his defence, Scott finished all of our Christmas shopping, during black Friday with his family and after sleeping we finally got hiking Friday afternoon. As soon as my feet hit the gravel and I took my first breath of desert air, I felt renewed. I would hike every morning if I could, it clears my head and makes me happy.

Poor Scott was sore as could be from the football game and the all nighter out shopping but he was a trooper and packed Ella the whole way. The sun is setting far too early these days but we did get to watch her go down for the night and it was awesome.

We took black lights hoping to find scorpions but maybe they don't come out in the winter because we didn't see a single one. My favorite part of the hike was when I over heard Scott talking to Kaden about the Priesthood, prepping him for what was to come.

So this morning we woke up before the sun to be at the church by 8 am. (Scott leaves by 6:30 for Bishopric meetings) I put lunch in the crock pot, made the frosting and showered. Then I started waking everyone up. I rubbed Kaden's bare shoulders until he started to stir. I whispered in his ear,

"Today is a big day."

He rolled over and smiled. After that everything is a blur. I frantically fed, dressed, bathed, combed, straightened, tucked and brushed. I looked at the clock at 7:45 and knew...I wasn't going to make it.

KAden had already left for the church and I desperately wanted to get there in time to raise my hand and sustain him. At the last minute with a half dressed Cali slung under my arm, I shouted to Brylee to get Ella dressed and comb her dripping-wet bath hair and get to the church. Then I flew out the door with out my bag or anything else. I ran up the sidewalk in my Sunday heals and stepped through the back doors just in time to see KAden stand up next to our bishop near the pulpit. He was presented as a new deacon and I shifted Cali to my left arm so that I could raise my hand high and sustain my boy.


After that I made my way up to the very front row where everyone else had found a place to sit. That was when I breathed for the first time in over an hour and when I noticed that Brylee had last nights mud between her toes and Ella's dress was all hiked up in her panties.

Good enough.

During Sunday School I walked home to finish dressing Cali and to turn off the crock pot, just as I was about to head back to the church Scott came in the door. When I was finished in the kitchen I went to the back bedroom to see what Scott had come home for. I found him kneeling at the foot of the bed. I quietly stepped out and thanked Heaven for such a righteous, good man as my partner.

We met Cowboy, Lanny and Grandpa, Grandma and Grandpa Heywood, Uncle Sam, Aunt Penny and Grandma Magnusson in the foyer and gathered around the bishops office for the ordination. Scott did such a great job and I loved seeing Kaden surrounded by all those great Priesthood holders that love him so much.

I looked down during the blessing to see Kaden's feet through the circle. One shoe was untied and he had one foot slightly on top of the other. In that moment I felt so amazed at the love that the Lord has for his children, Kaden is still just a boy- whose shoes aren't always tied and whose hair is usually combed a bit crooked but Heavenly Father is already trusting him with the power to act in His name. It is amazing.

It was a beautiful day, outside and in. After a few pictures...(please excuse me, I have been a little sick and I felt as bad as I look in these)

We had lunch and Scott and I were able to give Kaden a little gift that he has been asking for. A REAL CTR ring.

He was thrilled. Kaden blew out candles, whistled himself the happy birthday song, received a heartfelt letter from his Grandpa and showed off a few of his favorite magic tricks. (of course).

I really cant think of a better way to have spent Thanksgiving weekend. It was lovely. And even though I know that Kaden doesn't fully understand yet the significance of what happened today, it is still significant. And line upon line-he will understand. Next week he will pass the sacrament, collect fast offerings and start participating in all of the activities and service that the deacons do. What a privilege this will be for him.

Thanksgiving may be the official "thankful day" but I am truly thankful everyday for so many blessings. Especially for the simple truths of the gospel that turn the ordinary, mundane tasks of motherhood into the most sacred endeavor on earth.

I am so very Thankful for that gift.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


On Monday night we made our traditional "blessings chain". (And when I say traditional, what I mean is, this was the first year-but from now on....traditional.)

I had Scott get me a whole load of paper strips and then the kids went hog wild writing down all of our blessings on the strips. I was the official stapler.

We had a great time and seeing that colorful chain draping the living room is just plain heart warming. Now our home is literally dripping with blessings.

If there is one thing I love doing, it's counting blessings. "Naming them one by one". It's therapeutic and uplifting.

(I loved Ella's strips...she would scribble a wavy line  and then hand it to me saying things like, "this one is Daddy")

The next morning, we gathered for prayers before school. It was Bransons turn to pray and after making the basic statements that we usually hear in the minutes before school he added,

"Please help us make our chain longer".

I could have died a happy woman right then and there.

I urge you to find ways to recognize and remember God’s kindness. It will build our testimonies. You will be blessed as you remember what the Lord has done.  Henry B. Eyring

I don't ever, ever want to be found ungrateful to my Heavenly Father. I know that all the good things in my life, have come from His hand. And I know that the only way back to Him is through His son Jesus Christ. How thankful I am for Him..

For this....

For these....

And, for them...

Happy Thanksgiving.

family picture taken by Robin Lee

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Birthday Letter: Kaden 12

Dear Kaden,

For the last few weeks I have had all kinds of words and sentences swirling around in my head and in my heart,  waiting to be written in this letter. This's big. Just the other night while you and I were having our nightly bed time talk, I asked you if you knew what else I celebrate on your birthday. You were confused. I confessed that it was a big day for me too. You were still confused, so I leaned down and whispered in your ear that it was my twelfth anniversary of the day I became a Mom.

Thank-you Kaden, for giving that to me, it is all I have ever wanted.

Twelve means that you are officially a big kid. You are not a little kid anymore but you are not a teenager yet, you are a big kid. You have a heavy backpack, you baby sit, you go on camp outs, you go to mutual and you pretty much pick your own bed time. I can hardly believe it. It feels like just a few yesterday's ago you that were pronouncing water like, "watoo" and scary, like. "scare-me". It feels like you were just sleeping every night squished between me and Dad and it feels like only days ago that you were obsessed with Spiderman.

Where all those days and years have gone in such a hurry, I just don't know. I have loved watching you grow this last year. You must be a good 3 inches taller than you were and your muscles are developing so fast. Pretty soon you will be able to beat me at arm wrestling. (as for now, I still have you pinned) But, I can already tell, it wont be long. I am astonished at your smart mind, I always have been. You have a gift for learning. You and I have spent many hours doing homework together this school year and I enjoy seeing you light up when you have learned new things and cant wait to tell me all about them.

You continue to be a great big brother. Most of the time you get a long so great with Brylee and Branson. They both look up to you and think that you are one cool guy. You guys have several inside jokes that get you all cracking up. But, I can tell that your heart holds a special place for our two baby girls. Sometimes, it is all you can do to fling your back pack onto the bench before you go in search of Cali. It is your job to protect those girls, Heavenly Father has trusted you with that job and I know you will always take it seriously.

You have learned some lessons this year. You have had to repent for the rare wrong choices that you make, but don't worry, we all do. I am so thankful that you have been willing to work hard, do better and try again. You will be repeating that process over and over in your life, as you grow and learn. You have had to learn to accept failure as your football team has lost every game- except one! Always remember that it is easy to be a good sport when we win but it is only the very great people who can be a good sport when they loose. Those hard moments will be your chance to show Heavenly Father what your true character is.

Your twelve years means that the Priesthood in our home is doubling. Kaden, this is a true honor. Not only for you but for the rest of us that will get to feel that increase and be blessed by it. Sometimes you and I talk about certain items that you would like to save for and buy, but this gift of the Priesthood is priceless beyond cost. So many times in your life you will meet people that have many things that cost money but are valueless, share your gift with them and use it to bless the lives of others. From now on, you will have to be even more vigilant, even more aware, even more good. So many people will be watching you and following your example, make sure that example is Christlike and kind. Kindness will take you so far. You must also be grateful, so very grateful for the privilege of using this incredible power.

I love this scripture from Peter:

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.

You are chosen, you are called out and you will be a holder of his royal priesthood. You are enlisted on the Lord's side. As you magnify this Priesthood and "shew forth the praises of Him", you will truly feel His "marvellous light" warm soul and light your way. I know that the Priesthood is real. I have seen it work so many times and in so many ways. Heavenly Father certainly loves you Kaden and is anxious for you to move forward with this new chapter in your life. He has work for you to do. Do it well.

I am so very proud of you Kaden boy. You have such strong righteous desires and you have a strong testimony that started all those years back when water was "watoo" and scary was "scare me".

Thank-you Kaden for letting me walk on this sacred ground of Motherhood, your hand in mine. Thank-you for being so good, for being so handsome, for being a big brother and for coming to me and Dad.

How I love you.

Happy Birthday,

Love Mom.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Crotches Anyone?

Our car ride conversation on Saturday night, if you please....

Branson: Mom, my toe really hurts, do you think I will need crotches?

Me: Um, I sure hope not.

Branson: If I need crotches should we borrow them or buy them?

Me: I dont know about you bud, but I am not borrowing any crotches from anyone.

Branson: Should we buy some crotches then?

(Scott couldnt stand it anymore after that and said...Branson, the word is crutches)

Love that boy.

Monday, November 21, 2011


There is all kinds of magic happening around here.

Kaden, could hardly stand the wait for his birthday gift. Everyday he ran in from the bus asking,

"did it come?"

It was like watching a pacing father in the hallway of the hospital. The anticipation was making him a bit nutty. Thursday the UPS truck delivered a big brown box and I hurried it to the back of the closet. After football practice that night, we gathered near the foot of our bed to watch Kaden open his hand picked gift.

It was priceless. (I'm sorry this child never wears a shirt)

The boy could not wipe the smile off of his face. He stayed up till midnight that first night practicing and now we get to enjoy disappearing hankies, floating cards and some pretty cool, cup and ball tricks.

Kaden also went on his first 12 year old camp out, where he rock climbed.

And then today was Kaden's very last day of primary.

sniff, sniff.

When I got home from church I dug out his, "first day of primary" photo.

Yeah- maybe I shouldn't have.

It was like pouring salt in an open wound. I am so excited for Kaden. He is embarking on such a fantastic new adventure but, I will always be a little bit melancholy for my chubby cheeked, toe-headed first baby boy.

Talk about magic...his best trick is called...."vanishing childhood-he'll shock, amaze (and devastate) you by growing up in a blink of an eye!"

After the shots, Ella spent the nest day under the weather. She and I (and Rapunzel-and Tiana, and Goldilocks) spent the morning in bed. A good excuse to snuggle the morning away is always magic.

Branson needed some magic healing this weekend too. The boy runs the neighborhood barefoot. But over the weekend he stubbed his big toe so many times that by Saturday night, he was sobbing in pain. I knew it must have hurt, because Branson is as tough as they come. I took him to see Uncle Ron today and after only a few seconds of inspection he said,

"I think it's broken".

Tomorrow, I am off to find a boot to keep his foot stable while it heals. The biggest disappointment for him is that his recess tether ball games might have to be avoided for a while.

Cali is just all full of magic and wonder. Her best tricks lately have me all melted in puddles on the floor. My favorite baby girl trait is the "babydoll love". Just this week Cali started the ever heart melting...pick up the baby and give her a love act. It is just to die for.

I also love the pick-a boo. She gets herself all crammed into small spaces and then I come up and say, "boo" and that little angel face lights up with all kinds of shine. This baby girl is straight up magical.

The best magic of all this weekend was Brylee's. No "abra-cadabbra" necessary. During church I watched her color out this note. I could hardly contain my love for her while I watched from two seats over what she was writing.

I will show it to Ella and then I will be tucking this little treasure away for safe keeping. That Brylee girl is as good as they come and her two little sisters think she is the stars and the moon. I do too. There is just nothing quite as magical for a Mama than when her children love each other. We have our fare share of sibling contention, don't worry, but when that love comes gushing out like it did today, it fills me up and fuels me onward.

I love being a Mom.

The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.”
Eden Phillpotts

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ella Courage

Yesterday morning there was a bit of contention floating around us. The kids were slow to get ready for school and everyone needed something, at the same time, from the same me. By the time they all unloaded from the car, I felt a sort of icky feeling and I will admit, I felt those familiar stinging tears start to form as well. I wiped them away and thought,  "I need to be tougher. "  Not tougher on the kids, but tougher about life. I need to be brave in the face of the overwhelming feeling that tends to seep in when you really, REALLY stop and think about the job of raising 5 amazing, little humans, that think you know everything.

Later I had the sad task of taking my two little girls to the doctor for shots. From the very first time that my new mother arms held Kaden for those painful pokes, I have hated shot day.

I enlisted my Mother because the thought of having two crying babies, both needing to be loved and not having enough arms to go around, was a little too much for me. (plus it took me right back to my twin baby days when doctor appointments were just this side of torture). After all the weighing and blood pressuring and say aww-ing was done, I positioned myself smack in front of Ella, ready to hold her tight for the FIVE (that's right-FIVE!) Pokes she was about to receive.

Poke 1: no reaction
Poke 2: no reaction
Poke 3: Ella you are so brave! no reaction
Poke 4: no reaction
Poke5: Ella one more you are so tough! no reaction.

My Girl.

My brave, brave girl, took all those pokes with out so much as the tiniest whimper.  In fact, the only change in expression came when she saw the sparkly silver band aide the nurse used.  Poor Cali wasn't quite as brave and who could blame her, no warning at all then WHAM-O.

After the doctor, I grocery shopped, while my Mom browsed the store with Ella. She let her pick out several pieces of merchandise as a reward for her stellar bravery. (I would have gotten her a 98 cent pack of gum and called it good but Ella was lucky to have Lanny there and really made out like a bandit.)

So now I have made a goal to be more like Ella. I am so good at soaking in the warm, happy, fun times like it's the last drink I'll ever take. I love watching the kids ride their bikes and play at the park and dig in the sand and swim in the lake, and I love reading to them, cooking with them, laughing with them and crawling in bed next to them, for good talks and long sessions of back rubs. It fills me up like a feast fit for a queen. But...dealing with contention, fighting and selfishness makes me want to run and hide in the corner, I turn into a coward.

But if Ella can do it, I can do it. Brave little trooper had some amazing courage and I can too.

What the world really needs is courageous parenting from mothers and fathers who are not afraid to speak up and take a stand.
Larry R. Lawrence

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I get sad sometimes. Sad that my laundry pile never seems to stop growing. Sad that Cali bumps her little head all day long. Sad that Ella throws fits. Sad that my little sister lives far away. Sad that my big sisters has fought a life long battle in her very own mind and soul. Sad that Scott isn't home more. Sad that Kaden has piles of homework. Sad that I sent writing samples into a few publication and heard nothing back. I guess I could go on but what I really want to say is, that while everyone has sad things, everyone has happy things too.

One of my happy things--tether.

That's right, tether. If you don't have a tether pole. Get one.

Last night my little brother Jaren came to visit us. The same little brother that spent a good portion of his babyhood on my hip. The same brother that I used to bathe every morning before junior high. The same brother that nearly died in a 2006 dirt bike accident and left me absolutely devastated for weeks while he laid lifeless in ICU. Now, that little brother is thriving and even though I don't see him nearly as much as I used to, last night was a fun exception to that.

Jaren is as full of life as anyone I have ever met. My kids adore him. When he showed up yesterday to show the kids his new puppy, I fed the man tacos and challenged him to a tether game. I won the first two and he won the second two.

These pictures DO NOT do the game justice. And we laughed so hard reviewing them, that by the time he left, I had a splitting hysteria headache.

this is my favorite, the ball had just bounced all weird off Jarens head

You should know that we couldn't really see. It was DARK and both of us got clocked few times by flying balls that we couldn't see coming. If you are looking for a family Christmas present, look no further. I don't know why, but this stupid back yard game, can really chase away the blues.

As long as you have someone like Jaren to play it with.