Thursday, August 29, 2013

What Six Looks Like

This morning Ella's socks would not cooperate with her. Those darn socks caused her to get flustered on the drive to school and when the twins hopped out Ella did not follow. Tears welled up in those dreamy green eyes and she whimpered,

"I am not going to school today, I want to stay with you."

It took about 10 minutes of coaxing and begging and bribing, right there in the car line, to convince her to walk to class and to tell you the truth, my heart was breaking. It's hard for me to "force" a crying child to do something they don't want to. But I know Ella and I know she loves school and I know she would do the same thing the next day if I gave in, so I didn't, despite the lump in my throat.

Ella is 6! And a few months ago as her birthday was approaching I clipped this article and saved it. Because I definitely know what six looks like, and I love my six and her stubborn socks.

(Of course I deleted the sentences I didn't like, like I always do)
We know what Six Looks Like by Jennifer Rowe Walters

We know what six looks like. We know what it smells like. How it can go from the fresh scent of shampoo and soap to the musky aroma of "dirty child" in what seems like minutes. How it resists getting in the bathtub... and then resists getting out half an hour later. How sweet its hair and skin and clean jammies smell when it sits on your lap and asks you to read it a bedtime story.
We know what six looks like. We know what it sounds like. How it cries and whines. How it sings and laughs. How clever it is and how much more clever it grows every day. How it sounds out words on signs as we drive past in the car and how happy it is when it gets them right. How kind it sounds when it soothes its sister when she falls down and hurts herself. We know how lovely the words "Mommy" and "Daddy" and "I Love You" sound in its six-year-old voice.
We know what six looks like. We know how it tastes. How picky it is. How it thinks chicken nuggets or macaroni and cheese are gourmet foods. How much it loves candy and cookies. How it tolerates broccoli and carrots. How it thinks French fries are a vegetable. How it thinks chocolate milk was created by God himself. How it thinks pizza is its own food group. We know that six is happy when it finds "I love you!" written on a napkin in its lunch box at school.
We know what six looks like. We know how it feels. How big it's getting. How fast it outgrows its clothes and how it's no longer a baby, but not quite yet a big kid. We know the weight of six in our arms. How we can barely carry it anymore, but try anyway because we can't quite bring ourselves to accept the truth. We know how easily six gets its feelings hurt if someone says just the wrong thing or if this friend or that one doesn't want to play with it or it gets in trouble at school. We know the velvety softness of six's skin. We know the still-silkiness of its hair.
Yes, we know what six looks like. We know six's gap-toothed smile and its gangly arms and legs. We see how it jumps and dances. How it twirls and runs. We know how funny six is. How absolutely charming it can be. We know six's terrible jokes. We know its crooked "S" and its backwards "3." We see how it teeters on the cusp of the world of books and all the joys of reading, but how it's not quite ready to fall in yet. We watch it take two steps towards independence and one step back towards us every day. We know how sturdy and strong six is... and yet how frail and fragile.
We know what six looks like. How beautiful it is. How precious. How brightly it shines with promise. How much it looks towards the future... toward 7,8,9... How much it looks like forever.
We know what six looks like and we know we couldn't bear life without it.
Yes, we know what six looks like. And we know that, to us-- six is the whole world.

Here is Ella on her birthday. Like I almost always do we kept it simple. Scott had gotten free tickets to Big Surf so we left Cali with a sitter and took the others for a birthday celebration. Ella does not like big slides so for a long stretch of about two hours her and I swam together in the shallow pool. I got so lost in playing with her that I noticed another mother laughing when she heard me show Ella the way my "mermaid hair" swished in the water. Ella has the best imagination and we were everything that night from mermaids to sharks to pirates, just her and I.

Without a doubt my Six is certainly--the whole world.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Some Preachin and a Pool

These last months have renewed my resolve to teach my children what is right and what is wrong. Oh this world! This world is so full of garbage--it's a garbage tsunami of filth that wants to spill right in through the windows and doors  (T.V.'s and computers) of my home and crush my children.

Go ahead and try, I say.

Not while I still have air in my lungs. And even after I am dead and gone I will STILL do anything in my power to protect my children from the endless onslaught of evil that the world is peddling and passing off as "entertainment" and "trendy" and "in style" and "normal" and "adventurous" and "freedom".

Give me a break. The world is so full of deceit making what is good and virtuous seem close minded and old fashion. It's infuriating to a Mother that wants her children to know "to what source they may look for a remission of their sins." (2 Nephi 25:26).

With so many "sources" scheming for their minds and hearts I will make my voice the loudest. And I wont stop ever.

I will keep logging off the computers, I will keep changing the channel when some of my kids say, "Mom that was fine." As if making fun of adults and constantly insulting your friends and having a boyfriend when you are 12 and mocking your parents behind their back is "fine." And I swear that is the sum total of what TV has to offer these days. So aggravating.

No way, not as long as I'm in charge. Call me paranoid I don't care. Remember when L. Tom Perry said this:

We need to make our homes a place of refuge from the storm, which is increasing in intensity all about us. Even if the smallest openings are left unattended, negative influences can penetrate the very walls of our homes.

Well it's true. Turn everything off and go outside and play.

End of sermon.

Whew! Sometimes I just have to do a little preachin.

When we first moved to this house Scott and I budgeted for the possibility of building a pool. I agonized over this decision. I prayed for a solid month to know if it was a good decision for our family. Pools are expensive, they are dangerous and they are in NO WAY necessary. I went back and forth with pros and cons and Scott patiently waited for me to feel comfortable with the idea even though he had gotten his answer.

In July we broke ground. And after 5 weeks of workers and messes in the yard we are finished. It is beautiful. More than I could have ever dreamed up and a wonderful place to gather my kiddos for the afternoon. I have missed having a backyard! When we were fixing up our old house to get it on the market, the one place that I could not go was the backyard. I could not step foot out there without crying. I have so many precious memories with my children in that little yard that it was just too much. I could not be more thankful for the chance to start those memory making days all over again now in our new yard.

I want to be the influence my children are feeling. Not the TV or the computer. I want to be their "best friend" and I want to be the listening ear and the comforting hand. I don't need a pool to do that but I am sure thankful to have it as a tool.

It has been so much fun already. I don't have very many pictures because every time we go out there I just want to play and swim with them. But I have a few.

Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. -The Family: A Proclamation to the World

I love it when wholesome recreational activities include me with wet mascara smeared under my eyes, doing cannonballs and playing Marco Polo with my kids. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Potty Talk and a Good School Story

Kaden went back to school last week making it 4 of my five gone ALL DAY. Sniff and double sniff, sniff. Well at least until 3:30.

I do love the routine of scriptures first thing in the morning, breakfast all together and then a mad rush until all are delivered. I also love the time I get to spend with Cali. She has mastered the potty! Scott made the mistake of saying,

"Well that was easy"

to me one day in reference to potty training. I just raised my eye brows, smiled and shook my head, and then we both busted up laughing in some kind of unspoken understanding that he had not participated in said potty training and therefor it was "easy". Luckily Scott is openly and generously appreciative of all the work I do around here including potty training.

Here is the thing about potty training. And it is no nonsense,  no pull ups, no going back. You just buy a bag of skittles,  the coolest undies you can find, pick a day and throw away the diapers. Oh and give up your life. It's three days of pure torture and then as long as you stay sweet and patient and don't let accidents freak you out, it gets better and better and better. But never, never is potty training anyone "easy".

But it is done and I dare say she is a potty pro. (now we need to loose the paci)

Another thing I love about the school year is the stories. Oh how I love a good school story. Yesterday Brylee and Branson busted through the door practically clawing their way through to tell me this: (mind you it was in unison...finishing each others sentences and saying things at the same time.)

"Mom, oh my gosh, guess what?? These boys came up to me and said that this other boy likes me and he sent them to ask me out. The boys said they were supposed to kneel down to do it but they weren't going to because that was weird. So I said, I am not going to date until I am 16. Then they said, well say yes or no, so I said no and Emma was with me and she said NO Brylee NO! And then the boy hid behind the classroom because I think I hurt his feelings so I smiled and waved at him."

Branson could not wipe the smile off his face, he thoroughly thought this was the most ridiculous thing any boy could ever do and he was enjoying it to the max.

I love it! How can you not love those stories? It makes my life full and complete to hear these playground tales of love and adventure-- these are riveting story lines I tell you.
(The "we are supposed to kneel down" part just about killed me!)

And it doesn't hurt that Brylee handled it perfectly.

That's my girl.

And keep the stories comin!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Birthday Letter: Ella at 6 edition.

Oh Ella can it really be six? You are so pretty my big six year old girl! And you are smart and kind and so full of spice that sometimes I just want to nibble on your face! (Remember how I always say that to you and then you crack up while I pretend to gobble up your cute little cheeks!)

I like to remember about all those years of wishing for you to come to our family and how happy I was when you were finally on your way. You were a very easy baby to love. And I did! Oh my goodness how I loved my little Ella baby. Since Kaden and Brylee and Branson all left for school each day we became fast friends you and I. We did everything together, we shopped and cleaned and cooked and bathed and napped and it was such a gift for me to have you all to myself for a while. I needed you,  and that little Baby You-- brought so much joy to our family and you still do.

You have the most amazing memory Ella. You can remember things and places and details that I thought you had long forgotten. You are so good at make believe and can even do the most dramatic voices of peril and distress. You are full of all kinds of drama going from happy to devastated and back again in a matter if only seconds. All that drama keeps us laughing and we all are so glad that you are ours. Cause "we like you, we like you...just the way you are." (remember that song that me and you sing with Cali!)

Everyday for your kindergarten lunch I pack you a mayonnaise and tomatoes sandwich. I have never met another kindergartener that loves vegetables like you do.  But to you it's no big deal to eat a big plate of salad greens, or plain tomatoe slices for an afternoon snack or avocadoes at any particular time of the day. It is fantastic and I promise to keep all those yummy vegies stocked up in the fridge for forever.

I will be sad when the day comes that all my shoes stay placed neatly on my shelf instead of all over the house and on your feet and placed in little pairs all down the hall. I love to hear you click clacking in a pair of my high heals and I love your constant love of beauty. You love and I mean LOVE lipstick! You like to carry around about 100 tubes of lip gloss in one of your purses and then you switch all those lip glosses to another purse and you walk around with high heals and gloss and such is the very happy life of your big six year old self. The other day you had your purse and your gloss and your mermaid tail on and you exclaimed at the top of your voice (in a very urgent way) that you had to get into the game room because that was the only place that a mermaid could survive because it is blue. I really loved that and I will always be happy when I remembered it.

My Ella Girl, when you are all grown up and big the memory of you being six years old, all perfect and pretty and innocent, will brig me joy. Because that's what you are to me, you are joy in all it's forms. Eachday with you in it is a good one and you my sweet Dear will be awesome at six. It is a perfect age for a princess and I cant wait to be with you for every step of it.

Sugar and sunshine and warm beachy sand and sweet smelling peaches and warm happy JOY is what you are. 

I love you more than life Miss Mae.

Happy Birthday



Thursday, August 15, 2013


It was a hot day that turned into a monsoon storm that evening, but we didn't care, did we. We were just happy to be married and together. And now all these years later storms still don't bother us all that much. We have faced many stormy days, where wind and rain pounds at us, pushes us around, drenches us in sorrow, or frustration or just plain exhaustion. But the sunny days have far FAR out numbered the rainy ones and I am so thankful that it's you here beside me through both. Maybe that's why we claim that song that says, "through the rain and warm sunshine", to be ours.

Life with you is as good as it gets.

Happy 15.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Everybody Needs a Twin


I think the world would be a better place if everybody had a twin. My poor set have had a difficult school experience.


We just got started.

Yes already! But I loved watching them help each other through it. They were both put into a 5th grade class that we were so excited about. They got a wonderful teacher and each  had a few good friends in their class as well. Brylee and Branson were so happy to find out about their teachers money system. It was a fun one where the kids earn money and then are able to participate in classroom auctions. Branson especially could not have been more thrilled with the idea of earning and spending money.

After the first week, I got word that their teacher's husband was offered a job in another state that they felt they could not pass up and so Brylee and Branson would be losing the teacher that they love.

I finally told them the day before they were to find out at school and after I knew who their new teacher would be. She is equally as awesome! Well it has not been an easy pill to swallow and Brylee spent the entire first afternoon crying into her pillow. She would get up and feel a little better about things for a bit and then go back to sobbing. Branson seemed to be taking it pretty easy. Then on the first day without their teacher, I got a phone call from Brylee.

"Mom, Branson really needs you, he just cant stop crying, I told him I would call you for him."

I headed for the school to find Branson barely able to make it to the safety of the car before giant little boy tears started draining from his eyes. His good friend was put in the other class, he cant stand the thought of not getting to do the money system and he missed his teacher so much that the tears were uncontrollable. Branson is tough, he does NOT cry easy, but man when he does hurt, it is bad.

We went to lunch and since tears were still coming we headed home for a movie.

On their teachers last day she held the first and last class auction. The twins already knew that this would be the last day with their class but were so excited to have the auction. When they came in the door from school, Branson and Brylee gathered all of their brothers and sisters on the couch. They had pooled their money and schemed to get a small prize for each member of our family. They even managed to win the bid on two candy bars for Scott and I.

They bid on exactly nothing for themselves.

On our way home from the school I squeezed Branson's hand, next to me in the drivers seat. I told him how sad I was too that he was going through a hard thing but also how confident I am that he will come out better for it. We talked about the perfect remedy for feeling sad for ourselves and he knew it before I even said it,

"Thinking of others Mom, I know."

I told him how he and Brylee had already done that and how amazing they both are. It is painful and heart wrenching to watch these two twins, that I love more than life itself,  go through hard things but it is equally as heart warming to see them be so good.

My goodness how I love them.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sid Philips in the Making

There are a bunch of things that are great and fun to do with kids. But never is running boring errands in 115 degree weather one of them. The scalding hot car seats, the sweating, the loading and unloading, etc. etc.

So when my 3 middle kids went back to school last week, I took advantage of Kaden still being here and I have spent several of Cali's nap times out getting the errands done. Oh the magic and wonder of running errands BY YOURSELF! If I live to be 100 years old I vow here and now to always appreciate a chance to run an errand BY MYSELF!

But that is not the only reason that it has been so nice having Kaden here. He fills the house with piano music which I love, he rubs my shoulders, he and Noah play riveting games of cards at my kitchen table and I just love having him here in general. Kaden got to take a super fun trip last weekend up to his friends cabin. Kaden has been blessed with the MOST amazing group of friends, these are good, good boys. So Sunday night I drove him to his friends house to deliver a thank-you card and a plate of treats to the cabin parents and on our way back through the dark streets Kaden spotted the most horrid of all garbage, the monstrosity of sidewalk trash...the giant, broken, big screen.

And he wanted it.

He had to have it.

He begged.

I kept driving.

Having someone else's trash at my house is my nightmare. Having my own trash at my house is my nightmare. He explained how he and Noah were going to use it for some magnifying glass experiments. Apparently the big screen has some parts that are ideal for magnifying experiments. I pictures this...

Well I forgot all about that TV until this morning when I opened my front door and about had a heart attack at the sight of this on my front porch....


I guess when I went to bed last night at 10 Scott and Kaden stayed up to do some work in the garage. As a reward for working hard Scott took Kaden to pick up his beloved sidewalk trash find from the other night. (thanks a lot Hun).

I gave Kaden until noon to get the parts he needs and find a way to get that piece of junk off my porch.

But I do love a good childhood experiment and I am still glad that he's home.


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Friday, August 2, 2013

Your Daughter Needs You

Oh my Ella! She is ever so dramatic. We all just love her so much because she keeps us laughing and rolling our eyes. A few weeks ago chaos had ensued in my house. Brylee had a birthday party to get to and Kaden had a campout to get to. I was running around, shouting commands and throwing things in Kaden's pack and trying to find some dang tape to wrap the present. (Where is the blasted tape!) Scott was at work and so he was of no help. Our wonderful neighbor who is Kaden's best friend was standing in the kitchen with his camping pack giving us a play by play..."now we are 6 minutes late, now we are 9 minutes late, 10, 11, we're 15 minutes late."

 In the midst of all this pandemonium my sister in law came in the front door with her two oldest kids. One was going on the campout and getting a ride with me and her other one was going to the party with Brylee. Stacey was casually looking at the few things that have improved in my house since the last time she had been there and I was trying to be polite and say thank-you. Ella took one look at Stacey and decided that she should probably start a gigantic tantrum in the hopes that it would buy her a ticket to Stacey's house where her little stunt double cousin Lauren lives.

First it was a little crying and then it turned into a full on screaming fit of, "I want to go to someone's house!!" Basically screaming this right in Stacey's direction.

I kept telling her, "Ella, you are not going to Stacey's house."

Which just means to Ella, "OK ramp it up a notch because this casual fit aint doing the job."

And boy did she! By the time the campout boys and the baby were loaded in my car and the party girls were off, Noah the neighbor friend was plugging his ears and Kaden was coaching us all threw the tactics of ignoring it. Who could ignore this?? Ella was screaming so loud from the back seat that I had to roll down the windows before we all about died of ear pain.

As soon as I pulled up to let the boys out they bolted like animals that had just been let out of the cage.

the screaming continued until I got home and then I "placed" Ella on the couch and ignored her. Sensing the fact that I was not going to respond to anything she was screaming for she changed her tactics to yelling,

"Daddy, Daddy, your daughter needs you!! Your daughter needs you! Daddy where are you?? Your daughter needs you!"

I burst into hysterical laughter!

So now when ever Scott IS home and Ella is screaming about something I just say, "Daddy, Daddy your daughter needs you!"

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Back to School (and blogging) Maybe

The middle three kids went back to school this week taking a bit of my heart with them. I will never get used to it.

Even though having them gone meant that I could spend the whole school day cleaning and cleaning and cleaning like I had died and gone to clean house heaven. Later in the day I whisked past Kaden and said,

"whew! I am tired."

He looked at me and asked if I needed any help, I ask him if he knew that it was this much fun for me when they were at school all day? He said he never knew that I cleaned THAT much.

It's just such a miracle how the clothes get washed and the meals get made and the bed sheets get changed and the floors get mopped when you are a kid. All that work just magically happens.

Another super fun project now that school has begun is potty training Cali. Oh what joys of Motherhood can be found in the trenches of potty training. (I'd rather fold a mountain of clothes as high as my house.)

But what  a cutie that little doll and with her new hair cut and new little panties she just looks more grown up. Growing up is just what happens around here. I feel so busy keeping up with our household-- all the feeding and cleaning and teaching that blogging has sort of been left behind for a season. Sometimes I read other blogs and see all the traveling or the cooking or the creating amazing things and teaching the world "how to", not to mention the house decorating. And then I think...I am just raising my kids...just doing laundry...just managing the neighbor kids coming in and out...just going to the grocery store. I feel like I have said most of what I feel and think a million times and then I talk myself out of writing at all.

But my house is a little more still for a few hours now and so maybe my mind will be too because there are always stories to write even if they are just about the laundry or the grocery store.

When The Day Comes

Tomorrow, I will dress Ella in a clean new uniform and her new turquoise shoes that we picked out together. For the first time ever I will pack her a school lunch and tuck it in her hot pink zebra stripped back pack with the lime green trim.

And like hundreds of school days before this one I will load her in the car and we will drive up the road to school.  Only this time will be unlike the hundreds of other times because this time Ella will be getting out of my car with the others.

Some days this summer,  I have thought I was ready. Some day's I have thought that all-day school is really no big deal and I will feel fine when the day comes. But the day has come, the day that felt like an eternity away when I first saw those big green eyes and first held her close. And now that the day is here, I feel just as hurt by it as I ever did.

And totally thrilled at the same time that she is progressing, growing, learning, exploring.

I will certainly miss this chapter with my Ella girl and I feel that warm peace inside that this is the end of a chapter but not the end of the book. It has been a great story so far and I am going to (try to) love each page while I have it.

Tender Mercy Going it Alone Edition

My friend and I sat and talked under an umbrella a few nights ago. Rain was dripping over our heads and the swim meet we were waiting on had been delayed. This good old friend is in the thick of raising 7 children and we share so many of the same feelings about families.

Our discussion came to the humongous difficulty of planning and taking breaks from motherhood. Dates, little trips with your husband, a full night of sleep, a bathroom stop by yourself. Lets face it, sometimes when you are in the trenches, once in a while you need to climb out and catch your breath. But it feels like an impossible task, even when you have a huge extended family. Most people think "big family" equals "big help" but it actually just means more needs and more concerns. It can also mean more love and more fun but you learn quickly in a big family that your needs are not the only needs.  We talked about the unique demands on Mothers in this day and in this time. Unique is the nice way of saying--crushing, momentous, unspeakable weight of it all.

Her and I have similar situations, lots of kids, busy husbands and 2 sets of grandparents that are already stretched thin with loads of other grand kids, church callings, health problems, jobs and a variety of other things. We shared our similar feelings of "going it alone."

"How will I take two nursing infants and a potty training toddler to run 4 errands in 115 degree weather?"
"How will I prepare my Relief Society Lesson with interruptions every 5 minutes?"
"How will I pick up him, drop off her, get the homework done, cook dinner and put the baby down for a nap all at the same time?"
"How will I take care of my kids while I am hunched over with the flu?"
"How will I function for another day after another night of no sleep?"
"How will I get the housework and the laundry done again?"
"How will I get the scout ready for his campout, take care of a feverish baby, referee the 200th fight and call the doctor back all before 3?"

How? I don't know.

But somehow we do. Somehow, the strength to manage it all comes from somewhere and then in the thick of it, tender mercies arrive, like that sprinkling of soft rain just when you need it most. Even if that tender mercy is just the quiet reassurance that I am not really going it alone. That Heaven is right here beside me, lifting when I cant, keeping me going when I am spent, reminding me that I am known even when I feel invisible and making up for my weaknesses.

My most recent tender mercy was getting to watch Kaden and Brylee's swim meet. They cheered eachother on and Kaden took a few disappointments like a true champ. (He swam some amazing times the week before at prelims though!) Brylee came home with 3 golds and Kaden took a tough 2nd, 3rd and 6th. All the while congratulating the winners and making goals for next time.

It felt so good to be there.

Tender mercy number two, by this time of summer I have simply run out of fun things to do and we have spent a lot of our days staying in pajamas and bed heads until way past a civilized time of day. But today, I woke up early to finish up a relief society assignment. I was able to shower and dress and do the chores, I even got all my children clean and decent by 9. A summer miracle. Then my Mom, who I have seen only a few times in this whole past year came by for a few hours. My Mom had only seen my house one other time and so it felt good to claim her as my own for a brief visit. (Albeit, I had to share her with a few sibling phone calls...back off boys, back off).

Number three comes in the form of that handsome, gentle, completely fun-loving man around here. Who I might add went through a hilarious lamination phase as a teenager. We laughed so hard about this the other night I nearly passed out. I mean, hide your belongings type phase or you might find them in a warm sheet of lamination. But, I am certain that there exists no where in the world another man so dedicated and bent on making his family comfortable and happy. He has been hard at work these last months renovating and selling our old house and finishing things up in the new house. After months of getting quotes and estimates he hired a pool company and work on our barren back yard has begun. I can not think of the comforts in my life with out feeling an infinite amount of gratitude for Scott.

And since school starts on Monday (sniff, sniff) I may get back to regular blogging. Even Ella... I have exactly 3 days left of her all to myself.

So sad, but she is thrilled and excited as can be.

So I will be too...I guess.