Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Washington DC with Ellie

I think I've explained before why Mike and I have sort of decided against full-family-all-seven-of-us-together-at-one-time type trips. We can barely drive to the local ice cream place 10 minutes away without somebody crying, fighting, or almost dying. (No idea why I still have some sort of crrazzzzzyyyy idea that we will all go TOGETHER to England a year from now.)

This year was going to be low-key for trips as we save our air miles for England next year, plus Megan is going to Peru in July. But I couldn't wait any longer to get back to Washington DC to visit my darling niece and nephew, Lucy and Peter. I had planned to take Ellie at some point during her 5th grade year (typically 5th graders study a fair amount of US history, but not so much for Ellie??), but for one reason or another, it happened right as school let out instead.

Oh how I love Washington DC. I owe my love for that city to my in-laws for first introducing me to it in 2011. I owe the ability to make this trip so fun to my brother and his wife who live just outside of DC. And of course, I owe it to Mike for allowing me the opportunity to go.

Oh boy. I love that place! Next time--I'm heading there alone with Mike. There are soooo many things I wanted to spend more time doing/seeing/experiencing. But Ellie's attention span wasn't the greatest. Joshua and Drew will have to wait a few more years to be old enough to appreciate the rich history of the place, but I know I won't be able to wait until then to visit again.

Because of these two.

Aren't they the CUTEST?????

I'm so glad I had Ellie write in a journal each night about her days in DC. I'll let those entries go along with the photos...

"Today is Sunday. A few things that I saw were the White House. The Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial and many more. My favorite place was the Lincoln Memorial and the White House. At the White House there were a lot of police. My third favorite place is the Jefferson Memorial. I could see the Washington Monument from a distance."

"My mom's favorite is Fort McHenry which is actually in Baltimore, Maryland. I liked it too. The only thing I didn't like was the drive. Fort McHenry is the birthplace of the Star Spangled Banner. It was super cool!"

"Another place that I went to was Georgetown Cupcakes. It was delicious."

"I saw lots of cool things today. I saw the Washington Monument up close."

"The National Archives, the Natural History Museum, the American History Museum. THe American History was really cool. (Later in the evening) we went to the Air and Space museum. It was cool to see all of the things there. It had the fastest airplane and the space shuttle that actually went to space and back. I was picturing it to be pretty ginormous. It was actually bigger than I thought it would be."

"Today I went to Arlington Semetery (sic). It is cool. There is a grave of an unknown soldier, so another soldier was guarding it. All day, all night, rain, snow, sleet or hail. Crazy!"
 "We also took the metro to the Library of Congress. I really like Washington DC. We went to the World War II Memorial."

" I even touched the Washington Monument. It has two types of stone."
Interruption from Mom: Gymnastics made the sight-seeing a little more bearable when attention spans started to wane.

"Today is my last day in Washington DC. Today I went to Manassas. It is where the Civil War started. It is a really cool place. "
Another interruption from Mom: Not sure how or why a large basket of 3D glasses have a place in an old historic home at an old battlefield.
 "Washington DC is a really cool place to be.
I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!"

And there you have it.
From the 11 year old herself.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Warning: May Cause Disease

In this day and age, my parenting peers are discussing the effects of screen time on their children, how to manage it, how to work around it when parents aren't home, what time restrictions to place on it, etc. etc. etc. I always assume that people think I am exaggerating when I tell them that we really don't have any rules or regulations about screen time. (Duh-of course we do about appropriate sites, etc.) But time limits? Not at all necessary. We have the absolute opposite at our house. We have to set limits and regulations on their imaginations. 

While I ran a billion after-school errands with Megan for her upcoming Carnival Fundraiser this Saturday, I returned home to this:

"We're making home-made rafts." ~ said one child

"Did Dad give permission for the wood to be used?" ~said the parent

"It's old wood." ~said another child

"What exactly do you need rafts for?~ said the parent

"To play in water." ~ said a child

"What water?" ~ said the parent

"Water in the pasture. And when that dries up, we'll take them somewhere else to use." ~said the same child

"What is going on?" ~ said the other parent who arrived home minutes after the first parent

"Did you ask permission for the wood?" ~ said the other parent

A short time later, we could hear laughter and happy squealing all the way across the field to our pasture. Megan, being the first to ascertain where the laughter was originating from suddenly declared, "They look like neglected children."

To which my eyes wander to where she is looking and I behold this sight.
Neglected children?
Not really, they actually get a lot of attention.

Imaginative children?
(See the broken wheel on the red wagon? That would be from it being used to descend the hill and ride into the water.)

I walked over to get a closer look, and though all my responsible, clean, uptight personality traits wanted to yell and tell them to get their clothes on and get OUT OF THE MUDDY WATER immediately, the part of my personality that understands they are only young once, and the soft, motherly part of my personality that heard, "Mom! Are you mad at us? This is the best day EVER." simply took some photos, and told them to come home in 10 minutes.
I didn't get any "after photos" of the mud strewn across their faces and bodies, or of them standing in their underwear in the back yard while I hosed them down with a hose. To which they complained about the temperature of the cold water. To which I responded, if you can play in mud puddles, you pay the price of a cold hose squirted at you before you're allowed into the house to shower.

Megan is concerned they are going to catch cholera. My BFF is concerned they are going to get ticks. My only concern is what will they think of next!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Thoughtful Gift for Mother's Day

Megan just gave me a Mother's Day gift a day early. It's one of my favorite gifts ever. So thoughtful, so poignant and so real. Really, it's a gift for mother's everywhere.

It's further proof that really, it's about the little things...

Happy Mother's Day

Monday, May 4, 2015

Good Women in a Matter of Days

Wow! What a wonderful few days I have had. I am quite in awe at the quality conversations, moments and time I have spent with some of the best women life has to offer.

Back in November, my dear friend Koni asked me if I would be her assistant for a hospitality committee for the annual BYU Women's Conference. I've never attended the conference before, but after a couple of weeks of really thinking about it, I accepted her offer. Last week, all the trainings and meetings regarding our hospitality roles were put to the test. I've opted to leave my conference experiences to my personal journal instead of here, but suffice it to say, it was an amazing two days.

(We were soooo busy on Thursday. We were responsible for the guests at the Marriott Center, which is a LARGE venue. We spent the whole day on our feet running from here to there, and this was the only shot we got of us looking official in our "uniform." Too bad Koni's eyes are closed.)

I loved spending time with two dear friends, Koni and Allyson. Our paths met through Power of Moms, but it was fun to work with them in an entirely different women's venue.

(I think this is a picture of a picture--thus the blurriness.)

I LOVED running into this friend of mine from high school. Sharie was my best friend during much of my 10th grade year. I have fond memories of countless hours spent at her house. Sadly, as high school girls sometimes do, our friendship sort of fizzled at the beginning of 11th grade. I'm not sure I've seen her in person since high school, but when I looked over and saw her and her sister at a nearby photo booth, I couldn't contain my excitement. Loved seeing her!!
(Sharie and Tiffany)

This is a dear friend of Koni's. She is originally from Spain, and now lives in Washington. She came to Utah to help with the conference, and slept at Koni's house the same night as I did. Koni fell asleep early, and Mayte and I were left to visit with each other. I'm so grateful for the few hours of conversation with this lady. Wow! Truly, a woman of faith. We woke up on Friday morning, and each went into a different bathroom to shower and get ready for the day. When we met for breakfast, we were dressed as twins!

Friday night was the Power of Moms board meeting in Park City. I love the opportunity I have to work with so many top notch ladies. I will be forever grateful for my association with Power of Moms and the friendships it has given me.
(This is by no means all of the board--just the ones in attendance on Friday night.)

Not sure I could even begin to describe my feelings for these four ladies. I'll just say I love them. Truly, and deeply I love them. There are some lives whose paths are just meant to cross. These are some of them for me.

I have no idea why my face is tilted the way it is, and with a fake-looking smile. Rest assured, everyone laughed at me (with me?) when Rachelle showed it to us on her camera. We got NOWHERE near enough sleep on Friday night, but our time together laughing until our bellies hurt was well worth the hangover the next day.
(Koni, Rachelle, Allyson, Alisha, Tiffany)

(Shout out to my friend, Cheryl who took the above photo. She's one of my favorite women too, I just didn't get a photo with her THIS time.)

Proof we didn't get enough sleep on Friday night. Why yes, these naps just may happened to have occurred while speakers were speaking on Saturday.

Completely separate from my time at Women's Conference or at the Power of Moms retreat, was the lunch I had with this friend on Monday. In full honesty here, for a few specific reasons, I have never been a big fan of the visiting teaching program in the LDS church. But I think my opinion of it is slowly changing. If it wasn't for that program, my life would never have intersected with this dear friend.

My friendship with Breeanne began just shy of a year ago. Our lives are so very different, yet so strikingly similar. When I think of the time I have spent with Breeanne, our conversations and our text exchanges, I think of two women navigating through life, and the importance of women supporting and loving each other. Breeanne no longer lives in my neighborhood, but when we met up for lunch on Monday, I was reminded what a blessing she is in my life.

(Breeanne and Tiffany)

As much as I would love to do a great blog post about the influential women and friends in my life, I likely never will. But believe me, my personal journal and my gratitude journal are filled often with  mention of women that I feel blessed to know and love. I'm really not much of a chit-chatter. I'm not as friendly as I should be with those I don't know well, but I'm trying to do better at that. The older I get, and the more women I meet, I realize how true it is that everyone of us has our own story. Our own paths, our own lives, our own challenges and joys. And what a true blessing it is when those things are shared with another.

“We must cherish one another, watch over one another, comfort one another, and gain instruction that we may all sit down in heaven together.

~Lucy Mack Smith

Monday, April 27, 2015


I can't forget the simple things in life that for whatever reason made me (or somebody else) want to record it with a photo.

My mornings alone with Drew are slowly winding down. His days at home for a few hours with just me are soon to end. At the beginning of the school year, I was in a business meeting and I told someone that I couldn't commit to a certain task. I explained to them that I've spent good quality time with all my children at home, and although it seems easy to drag the last child around, or find places for him to go, I wanted to be committed to him. I have been. Although Drew has been dragged around with me, or babysat by others plenty of times, I have spent so much quality time with him. I have no regrets.

I don't save all the papers the children bring home from school, but there are some that I absolutely have to immediately file away. This was one of them, except it stayed in the kitchen for longer than usual papers, because it was so fun to look at! I love the name Joshua gave himself, the wrinkles, and the long beard. Oh to have the imagination of a child!

Luke is still Luke. He still has the most vivid imaginations and inventions. He's progressed a little over the years as far as safety and specifics, but he still continues to think outside of the box. I LOVE this boy of mine.
(The old bike trailer he transformed into a trailer last summer, now became a children's ride when he tied a lawn chair to it. Helmets were a definite requirement to ride!)

A fifth grade field trip chaperone. A loud and bumpy bus ride, other people's children, and 4 hours at an aquarium. Need I say more? Those aren't exactly any of my favorite things. Except for Ellie is, so that's why I did it.

I love little boys and cars. Drew has more Hot Wheels, cars and trucks than any little boy needs, but he plays with them all the time. They make Mike crazy, but not me. It's one of those little things, I can't help but love.

I'm not exactly sure what was going on with a slew of photos like this on my phone. I think Kinzey and Ellie were attempting to illustrate some books they were writing, with pictures. Makes me wonder what the books are about??

(Joshua, Drew, Kinzey)

Joshua turned 8 recently. And he was given the CHOICE of whether or not he wanted to join the Cub Scouts at our church. (We view the involvement in BSA as an "extra-curricular", even though really it is a default activity by virtue of being a member of the LDS church.) Please, I beg you. Don't get me started on this subject.

But I will quickly say, I wore all of my PATHETIC Mother's Pins that I've never seen another mother EVER WEAR besides me. I wore/wear them to all of Luke's Pack Meetings and Courts of Honor, and here I go again with Joshua. What a complete and utter waste of money. Like I said, don't get me started.
(The only reason I took this photo was to send to my BFF. She's the only one that truly appreciates it.)

The girls spent far longer than they should have coloring plastic cups and then melting them in the oven to fun shapes and designs. No practicing of instruments or homework was getting done, but their giggles and camaraderie were not anything to put an end to.

Last Friday (my 18th wedding anniversary), Luke was diagnosed with strep throat AGAIN. This time I had to take a doctor note to school to excuse his millionth absence this school year. Lucky Luke ended up being a lunch date for me to a place of his choosing, DQ for a milkshake for his sore throat.

And that's about that for now. I could go on for hours sharing all the silly photos the children take on my phone, but we'll stick to these highlights for now.

I think I will always be a believer in the importance of the little things. I KNOW they are what really matter.


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