Monday, November 25, 2013


I have lots to say and write about from over the weekend. We celebrated Kaden's birthday and Teacher ordination all weekend long and we had a blast. But it is Monday and Monday belongs to my house so it will have to wait. I took a ton of pictures but this one of my girls gazing up with such love at their big brother, while we sang to him, is my favorite.

I am pretty sure they are "gaga" over that boy.

Cant say I blame them.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Birthday Letter-Kaden at 14

My Dear Kadenboy,
It has just been an amazing year for you, hasn’t it? We moved here a few days after your 13 birthday and you, more than anyone else, were not happy about it. You like routine and familiarity and moving away from the only home you had ever known did not seem like a great plan to you. But its funny how things work out and how Heavenly Father always knows best because here we are 12 months later and you are like a new boy. You have thrived here in our new home in every aspect of life. You have a pack of wonderful, righteous, happy, good and talented friends. Your piano skills have shot off like a rocket and you have excelled in every area of importance. I have seen how very aware of you your Heavenly Father is and it is amazing. Sometimes we think that because we have been blessed with a pretty good life that Heavenly Father has better things to do and more important children to bless. It’s kind of like why would Heavenly Father care what friends I have or my small problems when there are people starving and dying in the world? But He does! Satan is a liar and He would have you believe that the Lord does not have time for you, that He does not care, that He has already blessed you and now would like you to leave Him alone. Wrong! I know with all of my heart that He does know you. He knows you perfectly. You are His son and He loves you. He wants to hear from you no matter how big or how small your trials are. He wants to hear from you when you are happy or sad. He wants you to come to Him always and I have seen you do just that through your diligent, consistent scripture study, through your committed Priesthood service and through daily prayer. Oh how happy it makes me to see you developing such a strong and immovable testimony! The evils and the temptations of this crazy world will not be able to win you over as long as you put on the full armor of God through these protective, powerful habits that you have embraced. Don’t stop! Don’t ever stop not even for one day.

One of the very best things about you is that you love to fulfil assignments and responsibilities in the church. When you are asked to give a talk, you eagerly say yes. When you are asked to attend choir practice every Sunday, you do it happily. When you are asked to be Deacons Quorum President you feel honored. When you are asked to pass out fliers, fold up 1000 chairs or collect fast offerings you do it. When you are asked to fast you do not question it or cheat it in anyway. When you are asked to learn dances and songs for the Temple Dedication you see if for what it is and are excited to participate in this once in a life time event.  I literally cannot think of one time that you have complained about having to fulfill these duties, not one time—that is an amazing claim but it is true. Kaden, these next years will be the most crucial decision making time of probably your entire life. Time will move quickly as it always does and before you know it another birthday and another school year will pass. Don’t let these busy days be fruitless. Use them to build your knowledge, serve others and prepare for a mission.
You are a great big brother. I have seen in this last year such an effort from you to reach out to Branson. My how he needs you! I wish you could see his face light up the way I do when you invite him to come along, when you include him, when you encourage and compliment him. I don’t think you will ever quite know how HUGE your approval is to him. He may never say it and you may not believe it but he idolizes you and loves and needs you so much. A big brother is such an honored roll and in a very small way it mimics the roll of Jesus Christ. He is a Big Brother to all of us and following His brotherly example will be a light for you to follow as you work to be the best you can be in that wonderful position of Big Brother.

Dad and I love your enthusiasm for learning and reading and music and religion. We love laughing with you at ridiculous youtube videos and the hilarious stuff that Cali says. You are fun to be around and you have such a brilliant mind—you can memorize anything from rubix cube algorithms to piano pieces to facts for school tests. It is pretty amazing and we continue to look forward to seeing you use your many gifts, abilities and talents for good.

When I try to come up with words or expressions to say just how much I love you my heart just can’t decide how to do it. Of all the blessings I have been given, you are among my most prized. I feel honored and privileged every day to get to walk beside you as Mom. When I think of that warm November day that you were born I just can’t imagine that there has been any one in the whole world as lucky as me. Thank-you for being exactly who are.  I love you more than life and more and more with each passing year.

Happy Birthday my Handsome Kadenboy.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Around the House

I wish I would have started taking "around the house" pictures as soon as I was married. It is pretty cool to have these little snaps shots from one day in time that can tell a whole story about what life was like right then. Before "right then" slips away into an entirely different time and place--in one blink of an eye....cause seriously 2013 just started and now Thanksgiving is all showing up in my face.

Brylee's bedroom door. I am a believer in a good dose of guilt from time to time.

Kaden always leaves the piano room looking like a good strong wind blew through.

Green smoothies are my new obsession. I have been having a huge green smoothie every morning and Scott and I have been trying new recipes. For a guy that never cooks he sure likes to mix up these crazy healthy drinks for us.

 Kaden turns 14 tomorrow. I am so excited to celebrate that boy and as long as I don't look at any baby pictures I should make it through the day without a breakdown. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Busy Man

I am so thankful for Branson. He is a hard kid that never-EVER wants down time or sitting still time but because of that personality trait he is ambitious to infinity and beyond! He is first to get ready in the morning, literally popping out of bed and dressing while we read scriptures, because sitting still and listening would make him nuts. If I am still busy with the girls hair then he goes down and figures out what he will make for breakfast-waiting is not an option for Branson. Today he decided on breakfast burritos and had the potatoes and the eggs going by the time I got down.

This is just the way it is with him and while some aspects of this drive me crazy, I can see where this will go. He is going to do big things that kid. I feel bad for Moms who struggle with kids who want to be on video games all day. That would be so hard to be constantly regulating and timing each kids game time. If Branson sat down to play a video game, I would pass out with shock.

Instead he is constantly on the go. He never stops and he gets pretty grouchy when there isn't much going on. Sunday is torture for him. He was thrilled to the bone last week when we went out back to grill our steaks for dinner because he could grab the tongs and the seasoning and take control.

He makes sure all the doors are locked at night and he worries about elections and the direction of the economy. At times I have to remind him that he is a KID.

A really awesome kid. So glad that never sit still, busy little man is mine.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Such is my Children

On Friday the weather was beautiful and so I strapped Cali in her stroller, slug my camera over my neck and headed out into the neighborhood to get pictures of a ton of ladies in the ward that I needed for a Relief Society assignment.

At first Cali was OK, she did want to bring 800 toys and she did wiggle out of her seat belt but she wasn't running away from me or having a fit so things were good. At every house Cali got a little more feisty. Opening the fridge, climbing on counters, helping herself to snacks and toys. I was trying so hard to set up the photos and say in my super nice voice,

"Cali, get down, put that away, that's not yours...ect..."

About the 3rd house I was fully sweating and each time we needed to move on I had to chase her down, rip toys from her hand that weren't hers and haul her screaming, kicking body back out to the stroller- all while yelling, "Thanks!" to whoevers house I was leaving.

She would never get back in the stroller but since she feels inclined to RUN into the street I was doing a bit of forcing and we ended up compromising for the basket.

Incase you didn't know, all 5 of my toddlers have been like this. There just has never been in my experience a calm, shy toddler. They are like toddlers on steroids and a simple outing can be like running a marathon. Every time I venture out, I come home exhausted and then I decide to never leave home again.

And such is the way of my children. Good thing they are so cute.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Little Piece of Heaven

A Little Piece of Heaven by Bessie Gutmann-all of her work is to die for, I LOVE it

I have been going through a sort of grieving process. Over a few things. But one is over my Baby Cali. It feels like I have had a baby FOREVER. Kaden will be 14 in two weeks and so forever includes those years but I also include all the years of my life before that. For I have never lived in a house that didn't have a baby. The closest I came was after Scott and I were married and we lived in Scott's parents apartment. Scott's baby brother, Sammy was just down the stairs and he was 6.

That lasted all of about 15 months and then we produced our own little Kaden. Oh how he wrapped himself around my heart! I can remember sitting in the corner of the couch, my knees pulled up to my chest with my little blond new born sandwiched between-my cheek resting on top of that fresh from Heaven little head that smelled like sugar. I was smitten.

These babies have just been everything to me for so long that now that Cali is nearing three, this weird grieving has started to grow in my chest. In so many ways I am ready to set this chapter aside but a big part of my soul is just screaming for one more page. How could it be over so soon? And yet there have been very long days and nights that took everything I had to offer. Ear infections, colic, diarrhea, babies that only like to be held, lugging, loading, tantrums, diapers, spills and a million messes and a million sleepless nights. But I am so honored and mothering these babies has been a beauty that I can not describe. I will never regret the hours and the sacrifices I have given up for my babies. Babies that wanted a Mom more than a baby swing or a paci or babysitter. I will never regret that it was ME up at night, me in the rocking chair and me cleaning up the messes. What a privilege it has been to have my babies.

When I was a little girl my Mom had a painting hanging above the crib by Bessie Pease Gutmann. It was called "A Little Piece of Heaven" and it was of a black haired little baby sleeping. I was memorized by that baby face and a powerful love of baby was planted in my heart. It has been in these last 14 years that the reality of that painting has been fulfilled in my life and letting go is hurting me. Those babies really are a piece of Heaven and I can think of nothing else that has brought me closer to God than the love and the work of a baby.

There is no better advice I can give to a new mother than to say, you have the rest of your life to work, to go out, to sleep all night long, to travel, to be educated, just hold that baby while you can. Be happy that it's you getting up at night and you buckling that car seat and you keeping all those soft folds under his neck clean and you washing clean clothes for a delicate little body. The pay off may not always be obvious now and the sacrifice will at times be daunting but you will never grow old and say, "I shouldn't have held my babies so much." In fact when that last baby runs off to play with the big kids and you pack up your crib for the last time, you will fall to your knees in thanks to God for the chance to have been the steward of a priceless, one of a kind, Little Piece of Heaven itself.

Friday, November 15, 2013

What We Value Most

Awesome picture that has nothing to do with this post

Months ago, in an attempt to give my racing mind some peace just before bed, Scott and I started listening to Conference Talks on the Ipad together. It has become such a good part of the day and I look forward to it so much. It is so comforting to squish our heads together on one pillow, prop the Ipad up between us and listen to inspired advice, stories, scriptures and lessons. Sometimes we pause the talk to discuss something and sometimes we grab the yellow note pad on Scott's night stand to write down something we want to implement or remember.

Last night I was so close to asleep that I didn't want to move when I heard one of the best pieces of information ever! Instead of disrupting a chance to be almost asleep I just closed the Ipad knowing that as soon as I opened it this morning it would still be in the right spot.

The speaker was talking about all the different demands on Mothers. We have so many choices to make everyday and so many good things that needs out attention. Everything from exercise to volunteering at school, to groceries and cleaning to teaching and banking. Church callings, service to friends, missionary work, genealogy , sports, hobbies, lessons and about a million other things.

This is such a good thought...

"As I think about our time constraints, I conclude that God has not intended that we should be able to do everything we would like to do. If there were not more to do than we are individually capable of doing, we wouldn’t have to make choices and God would never realize what we value most."
Jeanne Inouye

So Good! I just thought... I do not have to do everything! I just have to show God what I value most and maybe from time to time and throughout my life that can change.

All those years and years of General Conference archives are like a vault of treasure for me and I truly LOVE them and the chance to learn from them!

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Miracles are alive and well my friends. Monday night Ella told me that she was going to sleep in her very own bed-in her and Cali's bedroom-without me.

I did not believe her even one tiny bit. Why would I? I have heard it before and NEVER ever in my recent memory has Ella slept in her own bed. We have bribed everything from treats to sparkly high heels to an all inclusive trip to the moon. Nothing works. It has been years since she has slept in her bed. She went through a phase of sleeping literally wrapped around me, terrified of being alone. Then she moved on to just sleeping in the middle space but would not even let us move her to the foot of the bed. Eventually she graduated to falling asleep next to me but being moved to the floor where she sometimes stayed and most of the time crawled back into our bed. 

I will admit that there have been some really sweet and wonderful moments of being with Ella as she drifts off to sleep at night. And many times I have reminded myself that she will not want to sleep by me forever, she will not be 6 forever, she will not be ALL mine forever.


Having Ella up until I go to bed, having her squished into me all night, having her hogging up any possible quiet time that I could give to Scott, having her always, ALWAYS waking me up has taken an enormous toll on me. I really am only now realizing the side affects and they are brutal.

But Monday night Ella DID sleep in her bed. It was unbelievable. And then Tuesday night she did it again and last night was three nights in a row.

I don't get it. I am not going to question it. I am just going to believe in miracles again!

And I am going to slap myself in the face for feeling a slight twinge of pain that she just might be moving on.

Cause that's just plain ridiculous.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Smile at the Tempest

Just a quick thought before I run out the door for a busy afternoon. Today I feel pretty grateful for my life. Life is generally so very good. It can also be so very hard and trying but there is always sunshine after rain. Sometimes there is even sunbeams through the rain. I have been struggling with so many things and so many days I think to myself,  "today is the day that I will feel better."

And then most days I sit and hope that it will be. I have learned this...keep moving. Sometimes when you pray and search and think, "Oh come on! Something happen that will make a difference!" Yeah, sometimes after that- nothing does happen and life just keeps going on and demanding more.

The "thing that needs to happen" is that everyday I need to decide that life is good, I am happy, thankful and ready to face another day with the best that I have in me. Even when I am not ready and I don't feel like it. Just get up and do it anyway. In general Conference the ever amazing Elder Holland said this..

"If those miracles do not come soon or fully or seemingly at all, remember the Savior’s own anguished example: if the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and be strong, trusting in happier days ahead.

He is always so right. Everyday offers some reason somewhere to smile and be grateful we just have decide to do that.

Our home teacher told us a story the other day about a man who crossed the plains with his wife and children. After the anguished loss of his wife and many many other hard ships his journal entry for the day consisted of two words.

Still Moving.

I am not comparing my life in anyway to such a struggle but I sure love that resolve that even when you are not receiving the blessings you are asking for you keep moving. I read this quote this morning and almost couldn't breath at the way it taught and reminded me.

Just read it out loud.

I love the chance to learn from the wisdom of other people and I love that the hard days make the good days so very wonderful.

And I love these guys. They're pretty great.

And him-oh so very much.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Boo Grahams and Blue Ribbons

There is a girl that has been going to school with Brylee and Branson since first grade. This poor girl,  who I will call Lilly, has it rough. She does not have a good home life and she often looks disheveled and neglected and the lunches she brings are just this side of tolerable. She has learning disabilities and is in general the kid you would say is different and while I don't think the kids at our school are blatantly mean to her, most of them go out of their way to avoid her.

Brylee on the other hand, with her heart as soft as a fresh baked doughnut, tries to be a friend to this friendless little girl.

On the day before Halloween Brylee nearly made us late for school because she ran upstairs at the last minute grab a handful of change from her wallet. On the way in I asked her why she needed the money so bad. She told me that she was going to send Lilly and a few other friends a "Boo Graham", . Boo grahams are little Halloween notes with candy attached that the students can buy for each other to be delivered on Halloween.  Brylee bought and addressed her Boo Grahams but didn't sign her name.

I had really forgotten all about the Boo Grahams but after stopping by all my kids Halloween classroom parties I corralled my kids and we (at last) were on our way out of the school. As we were walking Brylee was telling me how Lilly had been so super excited to get a Boo Graham. She danced around the room, showing it off and announcing to everyone that someone had sent her a Boo Graham. As Brylee was telling me the story someone tapped me on the shoulder and said to Brylee,

"Was that you?"

We turned around and there was a teacher that I had never met. She introduced herself as Lilly's Special Ed teacher and then told Brylee that she had never seen Lilly so happy and that getting that Boo Graham from a "mystery friend" had lifted her self esteem so much. She thanked Brylee and me and said good-bye.

Now this is the stuff of a good life! Oh how proud I am to be Brylee's mom and to get to learn from her sweetness everyday. I told her as we walked away that when we do something good we should never expect something in return but that today she had gotten a big reward for a small but meaningful act of love. It just doesn't take all that much to make someone's day and Brylee hit it out of the park on this one.

Later in the week I got a babysitter so that I could go to her last swim meet and enjoy seeing her smoke past the other swimmers and get the high point metal for the entire fall season. But that metal and her stack of blue ribbons mean nothing to me next to her good heart.

What a gal that girl, I'm so glad she's mine.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween 2013 Done!

For the first time since Halloween of 2001 I had a really easy, stress-free Halloween. I honestly just didn't care. Didn't care if hair, costumes, pictures, traditions went perfectly or went at all for that matter. I didn't care if from the hour of 3 pm to the hour of 5 pm my house went from clean to disastrous. I didn't care if we were late to dinner, or that Branson trick-or-treated barefoot, I didn't care that Ella's white tights were black from the ward party the night before, I didn't care that Cali hadn't had her hair redone after her nap. I only cared that the kids were happy, safe and having a good time. And I cared about making it down to the school to see my kids faces light up when I walk in. That's good stuff.

The rest just didn't matter.

And we had a great time. No body got lost and no body threw a fit. Cali was TO-DIE-FOR cute with her determine little, "twickortweet" all in one word and then the "say fankoo" with a cute little wave good bye. She just can not understand that one should just say "thank-you" and not "say thank-you." But who am I to fix something so adorable?

The neighborhood we went to with cousins did a real live haunted house that my big kids loved and went through several times. We had a delicious dinner with all the Heywood cousins and --not kidding--Scott and I made it to bed by 10. This Halloween may be hard to beat.

Over the years I have collected a lot of costumes, so now a days we just open the bins and see what fits who. "The Blue Fairy" left over from one of Brylee's dance classes fit Cali perfect.

Ella has been drooling over Brylee's black and red dance costume for years. Her day of glory finally arrived and she was thrilled.



Branson was the only costume we spent money on. He just couldn't find anything in the bin that would fit him. He picked Bilbo.

Kaden really had no plans to dress up but for the ward party he did throw on Scott's Superman T-shirt.
A few years ago I was at Walmart a few days after Halloween and grabbed a bunch of cotumes for $1. At the time I didn't even know what Monster High was but I ended up getting a Monster High costume. This year it ended up being the only thing that fit Brylee. She DID NOT want to be a Monster High Doll. So NOT Brylee. But she was a good sport and wore it anyway telling people that she was a "school Goul".  So this was her costume for the ward party.

The night before Halloween I felt a little worried because I knew she didn't want to wear her costume to school. And then in a stroke of utter Motherly genius I thought of a costume that we could easily put together that she would love. And I was right.
Now we are loaded down with tons of candy that I will be systematically throwing away every chance I get.
Happy Halloween!