Christmas Update

Monday, July 24, 2017

6 kids, plus 1

July has been a tad bit crazy.  But oh-so-fun.

First, I never introduced you all to Jaime from Spain.  He left yesterday.  He was awesome.  I don't know if we just got lucky or what, but his personality fit our family's personality so well.  With Jaime we had lots of teasing, lots of card games, and lots of rounds of golf.  It was pretty fun.  We will miss that kid.  Some of my favorite memories of him:  when I was dropping him off for a camping trip that he wasn't sure he wanted to go on I said, "well, at least it's a beautiful river to look at" and he looked at me with this incredulous face and said, "I'm fifteen!  I don't care how pretty a river is!"

Or the time I found out he wasn't buckled up and slammed my brakes so I could scold him (we were just pulling into our neighborhood).  Couldn't have made a better object lesson if I had tried.  He flew into the seat in front of him and his face squished up hard against the headrest and then sort of slid down, cartoon-style.  All I had to say was, "and that's why we buckle up."

Or how every time I would ask him how something was he would say, "it's all right" just because he knew it kind of drove me crazy.  yep.  We had a fun time with SeƱor Jaime.

But really what you all probably want to hear about is our trip to the Redwoods...

No?  Not that?  Well then maybe our trip to the beach...

we built a sandcastle.

Oh, and Keaton proposed to Hannah.

I guess she said yes.

They are two cute lovebirds.  

And he found a gorgeous ring...

Honestly I had a hard time wrapping my brain around this at first.  my BABY is not old enough to get married and I am definitely not old enough to become the mother of the bride.  

But once I accepted the facts....
...and got to know Keaton
And saw how happy they are together...
...and remembered that if they get married he gets to pay her expenses,

I realized this might be a really good deal for me.

All joking aside, we are very happy for Hannah and Keaton.  It's pretty cute and fun to have Keaton here and get to know him.  He's a great guy.

Now to plan a wedding....

keep your April open - that's our tentative month right now.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Faith is like a seed

I think when I read or hear those familiar verses in Alma 32 I somehow always correlated them with Moroni 3:4-5 where we are invited to find out for ourselves if the Gospel is true.

This morning I read Alma 32:27 ..."awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise even a particle of faith, yea even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words."

I was thinking about the word experiment and what that means.  It doesn't mean solely praying to know if the Gospel is true, although that could certainly be a part of it.  I think it means our actions. Our choices of behavior.  Because Faith is a choice.  And so when we choose to go to church every Sunday, when we choose to dress modestly, when we choose to read our scriptures and listen to General Conference and try to be better - we are choosing to experiment, we are choosing to have faith.
Vs 28 continues with the results of these choices - that we will see that this seed we planted - meaning these actions we have performed - have grown a tree that has produced fruit.

I think though, that this process can take a long time.  For instance, I may choose to take my family to church when my children are little, but it will not be until much later that I may see the positive growth that has come from planting that seed.  This tiny seed can and will grow into a tree if it is nourished properly, but doesn't happen overnight.

I think the scriptures make it clear here that there are many steps of faith that lead to a perfect knowledge. We start with a particle  - a desire - and a hope and trust and a willingness to try something that we don't know for sure will work. And then we work and wait. And it might be hard.  We might forget to water that plant once in awhile.  We might get really tired of waiting and watching and feeling like that stupid little tree seed isn't growing.  Possibly we will decide to prune it and maybe hack away at it too much and have to start over a little bit.   We might decide to spend a little more time getting the soil just right or we might sit under someone else's tree while we wait for ours to grow. But it's all okay because it is part of the lifetime process of developing our tree of faith.

The lesson here for me is that I should take action. I choose whether or not to plant that seed. I am not a sitting duck waiting for a ray of light and a voice from heaven to come and give me faith and knowledge. It doesn't even matter if, in this life, I receive some magnificent heavenly revelation.  I can choose to believe that my choices, cumulative over time, will develop into a perfect faith at some point.  And that willingness to choose faith, to take those first trusting steps in the darkness of mortality, is what makes all the difference.  Actually, you could argue that the difficulty in developing our faith is in itself proof of God's love for us. Or at least proof in His supreme dedication to the concept of agency. If faith were too easy - if the answers were so obvious - what would happen to our agency?  If we all joined the church and lived fairly tale lives forevermore, why wouldn't everyone join the church?  I think developing faith is supposed to be hard - it is a test of our willingness to CHOOSE and then to STEP FORWARD and experiment.

For an interesting article about the psychology of faith and belief, see HERE

Wendy Ulrich: “If God can ask the brother of Jared, who has heard His voice and seen His finger, “Believest thou the words which I shall speak?”, then certainly we also have a choice to believe or not, regardless of our previous spiritual experiences or our intellectual skills. We believe because we are trying to learn abject constancy with God, to trust that He is still there even when we cannot feel Him, and that He will tell us the truth, even when it seems improbable.” 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Beautiful June

I was so excited for summer to come (if you remember my last post).  Those last three weeks of school seemed to last FOREVER.  I may have overbooked my life.  It was like a marathon and a sprint in one.  Tennis, kid craft camp, school activities, piano recital.  It was so busy.  Joyful, but busy.  And now it's over.  And I'm so glad.

I've been busy thinking about things too.  I need to call a new counselor.  In fact, last week I submitted a name.  And then promptly spent this past week feeling very unsettled and anxious about it.  On Sunday I happened to spend 5 minutes with the Bishop and asked if he had made progress on that.  He kind of made a face and said he totally forgot - in fact couldn't even remember who's name I had submitted.  I reminded him and he asked me how I felt about it still - something he doesn't usually ask (also he doesn't usually forget when I submit a name).  I told him about my unsettled, anxious feelings and that usually I felt so good and happy....and he said maybe I wanted to keep thinking about...and I agreed that would probably be best.  And now I feel much better.  Still don't know who my new counselor will be, but I'm not worried and anxious anymore.  Good lesson there for me to pay attention to those feelings.  And a blessing from Heavenly Father that he helped my Bishop forget and gave me time to learn a little more.  I learn a lot these days.

So that was interesting.

I taught a Relief Society lesson on the Priesthood.  It was an amazing topic to study.  I learned so much.  I'm tempted to include a bunch of links but maybe I'll just link my notes.  What I do is put this stuff on the screen behind me so that the sisters can read along.  I do better understanding when I can read.

If you saw the Relief Society message in the April Ensign - that was what triggered my lesson - it was suggested that women need to pay more attention to the Oath and Covenant of the priesthood - even memorize it - and understand it.  So I've been pondering that and decided to discuss that with the sisters.

Today I had a drive to Eureka and back to pick up Brynne's friend Shayla for a visit, so I finished listening to Sheri Dew's book "Women and the Priesthood".  It was really, really good.  I also started Brad Wilcox's book "The 7 Day Christian".  So Deseret Book has this thing where you can pay I think about $50 (or so)  a year and get a whole bunch of ebooks and audiobooks available on their app.  Highly recommend - if you listen to just 2 audiobooks you've basically recouped your costs, as they are so expensive.  Lots of church and non-church books available.

So now the photos.  We went to the Hillcrest Cemetery to see the Memorial Day ceremony that is put on each year.  Love the beauty of all those flags.

And loved seeing Faith putting her hand on her chest.

Just two boys in uniform.  

Kenna got on a kick making furniture for a fairy garden.  She  made a swing, bed, chair, house, and this adorable picnic table.

Early morning walk with the geese.  I love the way the sun was reflecting off the water.

And we joined a ton of other friends at the David Archuleta concert.  He is a super good singer - but totally awkward when he's not singing.  There were a lot of screaming girls that didn't seem to mind!
David Archuleta concert

Feeding ducks at Riverside park.  They were our best friends as long as the bread lasted.

We had an awesome Relief Society activity that was a combination of an idea that we stole from another ward, and what I used to do with the Young Women in Fort Bragg.  Basically it was a night to get to know and honor the oldest 80+ year old members of our ward.  The young women divided into small groups and interviewed them, then created displays for each sister and presented on them at the activity.  We're trying to cross some generational divides a little more.  Especially since our boundary change a lot of younger and older ward members don't get opportunities to interact.  It was so darling and got positive responses from everyone!

Relief Society activity celebrating the Golden Girls of our ward

Our summer of visitors has begun.  First the Robisons - twice, and we enjoyed playing with them!
Shannon came to visit

At Science Works in Ashland

End of school year fun - Logan somehow didn't go to any church dances this spring so this school dance was his first.
8th grade dance

The final project of the four day camp at Joanns.  This was a popular daily activity!
craft class

The second-to-last day of school featured a color run.  I took Logan straight from this to tennis class - so he looked amazing at his class.  ;-)

tennis class

Also the same night as the color run and tennis was the piano recital.  Logan's been taking for 10 months and he rocked it - playing a complicated Sonatina that he had memorized.  I recorded it for Josh, who couldn't be there, but now I can't find it.  I have a 30 second clip on my Instagram.

piano recital

Then on Friday we all joined him for the 8th grade "moving on" ceremony that they blessedly did in less than an hour.  It was hot and miserable in that gym.  I excused both my kids from school and we took the rest of the afternoon off.
he "moved on"

In December Kenna wanted to go to the Family Fun Center for her birthday.  But that's really not a fun place in the winter.  So I suggested she wait till June and we would plan a half birthday for her.  Friends invited her to join them at the Family Fun Center, so I got out of that one, but she still wanted a friend we planned a park day for the day after school got out.  We had snacks and activities and the girls played happily for several hours.  

play date with friends

Sunday was Father's Day.  Josh rolled into town in time for the third hour of church.  Then we came home and bbq-ed burgers and gave him love.  We hadn't seen him for a few days so it was a nice reunion.  We are sure lucky to have him!
father's day gifts!

And on Monday I drove to Eureka to pick up Brynne's friend for a visit.  Along the way I was stopped at some roadwork and glanced over to see the sun peeking through the redwoods with hints of fog.  The picture doesn't do it justice, but I have to say, there is a beauty in these redwood forests that pierces you to the heart with the majesty and grandeur.
my drive to Eureka was full of beauteous places that I miss!  Those trees!!
And now summer is here and I am so glad.  Friends invited us to swim for FHE and it was a perfect way to kick off the summer.  Today I am putting my kids in boredom mode - that's my secret parenting tip for getting them to read or be creative.  Let them mope around with nothing to do for a few days and ideas start popping into their heads.  The ideas pop faster if it means getting out of chores - but I save that for when they start complaining of boredom and driving me crazy.

Our exchange student comes at the end of the month.  I'll introduce you all when I have a face to share!

Thursday, May 25, 2017


Guys!  Does anyone else feel like life kicked up the pace a notch and a half?  Or a million?  I'm realizing more and more than my decade in Fort Bragg may have been an answer to some prayers to have PEACE and quiet and rest to raise my children.  Funny to think that the one thing I complained about the most might have been just what the doctor ordered.  Sigh.  Another reason to stop complaining to Heavenly Father.  He really does know what is best for us.

The girls had their last day of co-op today.  It has been a busy but fun experience for us.  The last two months I worked with my class preparing a Shakespeare reader's theater to present (which we did today).  Those girls are seriously so cute - I love the 10-13 year old age bracket of sweet LDS girls.  Anyway, we finished co-op.  Homeschool is just about done.  I'm done, the girls are just finishing up some work that they fell behind on.  But otherwise, summer goes into full swing next week for ME.  I'm so happy.  This summer weather is GORGEOUS and I am loving every minute.

I put my three middle children in a beginner tennis class.  They love it!  It's a short four week introduction.   Logan, having somewhat more experience and being generally more coordinated than your average 7 year old, got moved up to the intermediate class and was grateful to play with the older kids.  Even in 100 degree weather they loved it!  So maybe I will have some kids who want to play tennis with me this summer!  I've always wanted to play more but I've had a hard time finding someone interested in my family.

Also - you all aren't golfers - but Jenny you can pass this on to your hubby.  Now that it FINALLY stopped raining every single day, Josh and I play about once a week - doing 2-3 holes right outside our house.  I bogeyed 2 holes last night, which is the best score I've ever gotten.  Since I started playing this spring and haven't had lessons, I'm pretty pleased with myself.  For you silly non-golfers, a bogey is 1 hole over par.  Every course has a suggested number of swings that you should take to get the ball in the hole - called par.  So a par 4 hole means from start to finish it should only take you 4 swings with the club.  A bogey means on a par 4 I did it in 5.  So that was cool.  I had one major screw-up hole where I lost a ball in the creek and got caught in a sand trap, but we won't talk about that.  ;-)

Did I tell you Faith is toilet-trained?  Night time too?  She's doing amazing.  She whined about it for three weeks and begged for diapers every day and then forgot to whine one day and hasn't looked back.  She has matured so much in the past few months.  It's been amazing...and sort of baby isn't really a baby anymore.  But I love the conversations we have.  Tonight she told me, "my feelings are feeling bad" when she was sad about something.

We had the best mother's day ever at church.  Our amazing YM president was in charge and he offered me a third hour full of socializing, musical numbers, refreshments - basically whatever I wanted.  In discussion with my presidency and the Bishop we asked for: all the women together (so the YM president found subs for every primary class/sharing/singing time that hour), a short lesson, followed by treats.  We also were offered two musical numbers that were both AMAZING.  One was four of our young men singing acapella in four part harmony - swoon - it was so lovely.  And one our of our sweet laurels put together a video for a personal progress project where she interviewed 150 of our primary/youth and had them say what they love about their mom.  Hilarious and sweet.  75% of the boys said basically, "I love my mom because she makes good food".  Since we had sign-ups going around that week for lasagnas for youth conference I told the ladies they had NO excuses - since they are all apparently incredible cooks.  ;-)  Anyway, everyone loved it.  It turned into a ward party afterwards and the families filtered in looking for mom and found cookies!  And strawberries!  And homemade caramels!  Everyone said they hope we do the same thing next year.  I don't know if we can improve on such an awesome day. The lesson that we had was short but it was so powerful and spiritual - we have an incredibly gifted teacher and it just happened to be her week to teach.  I was really happy with how it all turned out.

I think I have allergies.  Yuck.  Never had them before in my life.  I'm wondering if it's the cottonwood trees here.  But I don't know.  There were cottonwoods in Utah and I don't remember having allergies.  I'm working on it - diffuser for symptom relief, stinging nettle and local honey.  Need to find me some pollen - that's supposed to help too.  I'm hoping I can train my body to stop reacting.  hasn't been terrible, but if I can help it...I will try.

Our summer is looking busy but fun.  Rather than plan a million vacations like I did last year, we managed to convince most people to come to US!

Quick run down:
JUNE - Robisons visit, youth conference (hosting kids), Mom and Dad come?, get our summer exchange student
JULY - Smiths come twice, exchange student here this entire month, Hannah comes home, Keaton comes to visit, Vilde in Grants Pass (Hannah's Norwegian buddy), Utah friends come, Nathan and Jelaire arrive the last day - Brynne heads to EFY.
AUGUST - Nate and Jelaire here a week, family reunion @ Robisons, Josh to D.C. for wedding/Logan to AP camp

August is my slow month.  I want to have one family vacation but we have to figure out where we want to go and what we want to do...  We have a tiny bit of time between the reunion and Josh's trip for his friend's wedding.

We went to California to help my in-laws pack up their house.  Guys - it looks like they are actually going to move this summer!  House is going on the market next month if all goes as planned.  We think it will sell pretty quickly, so they are heading to ID to house-hunt.  That is nuts.  So one thing I gotta squeeze in at some point is a farewell trip for my kids to Grandma and Grandpa's house in California.  My kids have a lot of memories there - especially after our years in Fort Bragg where we almost always spent at least one weekend a month there for church or shopping or whatever.   So weird to have an end of an era.  I can only imagine how strange that is for Josh's siblings - they have never had their parents live in any other house.

Sorry, no pix.  putting some on instagram these days but i don't ever take time to upload to the computer.
K.  I'm done for now.  Off to enjoy the summer evening.  have I mentioned... I LOVE SUMMER??!!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Natalie's Baptism

Can you believe the cousins' clothes all coordinated?  How fun is that!

I left a spot to photoshop Hannah into the picture.  ;-)

So the baptism went great.  We were happy to have some family drive down to be with us.  And there were some wonderful ward friends who showed up as well, which made it very special for Natalie.  She was so excited, but we were worried she was coming down with a cold.  
Luckily she pulled it together for the big day.

Obviously we are not used to grouping together for a family picture without Hannah.  There are gaps in all of them!

Congrats, Natalie!  We are so pleased with your decision to be baptized and your excitement about it. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

8 is GREAT!

Yep.  At 12:21am Miss Natalie turned 8.  Since she was 8 for so long before breakfast, we figured she was practically 8 1/2 now.  She's pretty excited about this birthday of hers!

This little girl was born 8 years ago.  She was the second and only child other than Hannah where I started labor at home (that is weird when you think about it).  Great story from her birth - I had to have antibiotics and an IV because of the strep B that sometimes is present.  We decided to do an epidural to help the wait along (antibiotics have to be spread out in two doses).  So I was feeling pretty good during labor.  My doctor came over after work and I remember him sitting on the side of the bed telling me that he was going to rupture the amniotic sac so that labor would start progressing. He did the tiniest of tears because I WARNED HIM.... and a huge fire hydrant's worth of fluid came gushing out all over him, the bed, the floor.  It was a mess.  He had a stunned, shocked look on his face and I felt bad - I knew he'd had a rough day already.  But then he just laughed and said he guessed it was time to put on his scrubs!

I was really grateful that she waited until it was March to be born.  I don't know why.  I think because February is a hard month for me to say, but I've always had a thing about February being my least favorite month.

Natalie was also not even due until March 9.  She came early!!  I was so grateful, though.  My only early baby.  But she was healthy and chubby and ready to go!

Favorite sleeping thumb

Natalie was a very happy baby.  She was low-maintenance, easy to feed, easy to put to bed.  Just a joyful baby.

She has always had lots of happy energy.  She has strong emotions when she's upset.  Her moods change in an instant - she isn't the type to sulk.  She loves people, making friends, and is very physically expressive with her love.

Natalie has started learning how to feel the Spirit and has shared some lovely experiences with me when she knew she felt the Holy Ghost.  It is really special to have my children share those things.  And it makes me happy that she knows that Heavenly Father loves her and that the Holy Ghost is real.

She is full of energy and fun, and we love having Miss Natalie in our family.

February 2015
December 2016

Happy 8th Birthday, Natty-bug!!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Ed Week 3

This is the last post from Education Week.  I think.  I went to a bunch of classes by Stephanie Sorensen.  One was on the Beauty Paradox - it was a great talk about Righteousness, Self-Image, and Power.  If you want those notes, email me.  Great stuff to teach teenage girls (and their moms!)

But I really loved the class she gave entitled "Women as Gospel Scholars".  If you've paid attention lately at conference, there have been several talks about the need for the women of the church to have a "bedrock understanding of Gospel principles".  So this class is pretty timely as far as I'm concerned.  She shared talk after talk after talk.  I wrote down the reference so that I could go back and study them.  So what you have here are my brief notes jotted down during the flood of information, and lists of talks.  But I think they would make a great basis for improving Gospel study for anyone who's feeling a little at loose ends as to the WHAT of their study.

“We need more women who are Gospel scholars and more men who are Christians”. - Neal A. Maxwell

  1.  Why study?
Kimball GC 10/1979 “Role of Righteous Women” - use our scripture knowledge to love and serve others (nurturers)
Monson GC 4/1995  “A Time to Choose” - the scriptures were written for ME

  1.  What to study?
Start with a question or desire to learn.  Then ask God, not Google.  prayer, revealed, sinned, authorized sources: scriptures, standard works, guides, study helps, manuals.
________ GC 10/2011 “Power of Scripture”

inspired solutions to life’s perplexing problems
key to opening the channel to commune with Heavenly Father

Pinnock GC 10/1984 - learning our father’s will - words of living prophets.

Research tools: (search: discussions - has BYU professors discussing scripture) - all the seminary and institute stuff including 4 new foundation courses

Kimball GC 10/1979 or 1978 “Privileges and Responsibility”
Nelson GC 10/2015 “A Plea to My Sisters”
Kimball GC 10/1979 “Role of Righteous Women”

Maybe read last 5 years of 1 apostle’s conference talks to see the pattern of the apostolic witness they feel prompted to teach.

Use the index to connect scripture and conference talks.  Awesome resource.

Maybe we should use the websites for FHE - have the kids learn about them, what resources are there

  1.  How to study?
What do you want to learn?  Be a seeker.


You can know.  The Gospel can be written in my heart.

Julie Beck “Comfort in Questions”

Start with what you know.  Search for more patterns.  Questions that will strengthen our faith are the ones we are more likely to receive answers to.

Alma 31:5, 32:27, John 7:16-17
Acting upon knowledge brings MORE knowledge

Shannon Foster (Red Headed Hostess) - How a busy mom can study her scriptures
principle of grace tells us that we can take something that’s not that great and it will be good enough.

Julie Beck GC 4/2010 “Handmaids’ talk  see quote starting with “insights…”