Showing posts from 2016

Honor Your Parents

Yes, children!  Did you see what today's challenge is?  HONOR YOUR PARENTS!  Be nice to me! Do what I say!  I'm so funny that I make them all roll their eyes.  Pick those eyeballs up off the floor, children.  You might need them someday.

So maybe the little video here says it more nicely than I did.  Watch it and think about it for a minute.  It says Jesus honored his parents, which makes me think of Joseph the carpenter.  I have a special spot in my heart for him, since he willingly stepped in and raised another man's son as his own.  Just like my sweet Trent has done for my older boys.  I am so grateful for the parenting and strength and love that he shares with all of us.

I wasn't particularly close to my mom growing up.  I loved her lots, and I knew she loved me.  I knew it.  But we clashed in some ways.  My dad said it was like living with two queen bees!  I wish I could talk to her and tell her how sorry I am for that.  I wish I was a better daughter... but I did…

A Little Overwhelmed and Pizza

Deferred maintenance can be a killer.  On a house, not keeping things up over time will lead to left messes, decay and  eventually structural issues.  Not keeping a car running well will kill it even faster.  As I'm looking at my blog, I'm glad it doesn't break down, but there is a lot of work that needs to be done - and I haven't been doing it!  Notice how young my children look in the header?  They are quite a bit older now.  I'd like to update the background too, now that we don't have current world travelers.  And I just found a whole pile of old posts that I had started, but never got finished.  Sigh.  There is always something, isn't there?

So I don't know if I'll post every day, or even every other day.  But I am going to start chipping away at my old stuff.  Like this post from last April about what we had for dinner.  New and complete!  And then I will feel like I've been productive.

Honestly, it's been hard to feel productive latel…

When My Memory Fades

I forget things.  Not just because I'm getting older, but also because moments change.  When the house is a disaster and all the pennies need pinching and I'm hungry but there is nothing for me to eat and the kids are fighting with each other and we are LATE AGAIN! it is hard to remember that there are times that go well.  But there are good moments.  Lots of them, in fact.  So I need to write them down, because that's how I remember better.  I think that is one of the great blessings of the scriptures - they make our collective memories bigger.  And it's nice to remember the good things, especially when hard times hit.


Alec came over to change his oil.  I have appreciated how Trent has taught the boys how to fix and maintain a car.  When Alec's new car spilled oil all over the driveway, Alec was good to come back and clean it up.  He stayed for a bit and we ended up all eating hamburgers in the kitchen together - 12 of us with Grandma Jeanne that day.  It so w…

Family Funnies

Even though I haven't been blogging, I have been collecting little snippets of our family life.  Some are funny, some are sweet, and some are just happy family moments that I'd like to snuggle up in and enjoy for a long time.  As much as I'd like to remember them forever, I know myself better than that.  If I don't write it down, it is lost and gone.  End of story.

We went to a family reunion recently, and they talked about having a family talent show.  At dinner, we discussed what talents are, and what we could do for the show.  Angel was more than excited with all sorts of ideas.  "Ooh!" she squealed, "I'm going to draw some pictures!"  Freddie pondered for a few minutes before somberly announcing, "My talent is reading."   Georgie didn't have to think long before he let us know what he planned, "I'm going to hoop a hula.  I like hooping."

Angel loves watching all kinds of animals and birds.  She told us she wanted …

Must Right the Not Writing

A few years ago, one of my sons implored me to never stop blogging.  "How will we ever know when we did things?  Or remember our family stories if you don't write them down, Mom?"  His plaintive request caught me totally off-guard.  I didn't think he read the blog at all, or even really knew that I wrote.  Especially since he was in an I-don't-care-about-this-family kind of stage.  So I kept writing.  Every now and then, life gets crazy and other things are more important than writing, so I pause.  But I miss it.  It's hard to jump back in and not feel guilty that there are things that I didn't record that I wanted to - that's why the pauses last longer than I want them to.  I feel like I have to play catch-up before I can jump back into today.

In the past half year, we have gone from Mom and Dad, six kids and Opa, with two missionaries out, to both missionaries home and eleven people in this house!  At the end of the summer we had a wedding and two o…

Save the Day!

Or maybe save all the food today.  It's harvest season, which means that we are in the kitchen most of the time.  This year I'm actually canning, whereas last year I only did a little because I had been so sick.  And the year before I did nearly none, since we were moving in.  That's an interesting transition, and it tells me that this year is better than the past two have been.  Sometimes it's hard to see gradual improvement.  

I did a few dozen quarts of applesauce, and wrecked my right pointer finger doing all the cutting.  The apples were on the green side, so they were a bit tougher to cut through.  The applesauce is still good though, even if it is more tart.

I can't tell you how excited I was when I sent the twins outside with their big white bowls to get more apples - and they came back empty.  No more apples!  These boxes were full to overflowing - and we haven't even started on the apples from our own trees!  They won't be ripe for a few more wee…

Labor Day Chill

I guess it is the end of summer.  Sigh.  I love having my kids at home.  I love not having to get up at any particular time.  I especially love not having to get up early.  Like before 9 or 10.  I know, I grumble too much.  But I am excited for this new year.  I am so glad that my children have the opportunity to go to school and learn.  I am looking forward to having a quiet house.  I like having these changing seasons in life - it's never boring!
basking in the sun, and pretending I'm warm
To celebrate Labor Day (and to make up for not using our season passes, not once!), we went to the waterpark.  It was to be a day filled with water slides and lazy rivers and wave pools and laying in the sun and trying to avoid sunburn.  Unfortunately, the day was cloudy and unseasonably cool, which meant that only the most daring of the boys even wanted to get in the water.  The wave pool was somewhat warm, but the breeze was uncomfortably cold.  It didn't take long for the littlest o…

Fancy Duds

We're getting ready for a wedding.  Alec wants all of his brothers in tuxedos, and I know they will be so handsome!  We generally don't mind dressing up at our house.  We gathered up all the boys and high-tailed it over to the tux rental shop.  Oh wait.  I'm missing a part.  That's the part where we pulled out all the tuxes that we own, spread them all over the living room for a few days, made everyone try them all on, and after wondering why we have all these pieces that no one fits!, then we headed to the tux shop.
I just had to snap this picture of my oh-so-tall Ben, getting fitted for tuxedo pants.  The store people are more worried about getting the waist right, since the legs are more easily measured and hemmed.  How fancy are we, with our ankles hanging out, and our tennis shoes?  They had a nice soft chair I could loll in while the boys passed out threats if I laughed at their trying-tuxes-on-ing.  I didn't laugh, honest.  But I didn't make any promise…

The End of School

I didn't record the end of school here, but it was a happy time.  I love getting my kids home for the summer!  Check out these cute little faces.  Maybe they aren't being so cute right now!  This will be the first summer vacation for the twins, and they aren't really happy about it.  Freddie will not miss walking home after school every day.  But they think they will miss their friends, and they love going to school.  They don't understand why they have to stop going to school for a few months.  I'm glad they have had a good experience in kindergarten.

David just finished his last year at the junior high, and Eddie his first year there.  I loved just sitting back and watching the two of them flip through the junior high yearbook together.  I don't think either of them budged for hours.

I didn't get a picture of our girl, but her world is falling apart!  She is in mourning for her little friends that she won't be able to see all summer long!  You should…

Announcing an Addition!

Alec has been busy since he got home.  He had to renew his driver's license, get a job, find an apartment, figure out what he was going to do for college, find some transportation...  Whew.  Adulting is a lot of hard work!  High on his list of priorities was getting back to this pretty gal he hadn't seen for two years.  It's a long time to be apart.

Unwilling to be apart any longer, they didn't waste any time to become engaged and start planning a wedding.  

Yeah, ring-buying is another one of those adulty things than takes some good decision-making skills and grown-up amounts of money.  I'll just be a wee bit flattered that he wanted a small amount of assistance from Mom.
I read something somewhere that said the purpose of a parent, when dealing with children, was to introduce the children to new things and help them figure out how to deal with those new things.  Short of having his own children, I don't think there is really anything new of significance to i…

Mission Monday

I've saved Monday for missionaries for over two years now.  Here we are, at the end of these missions, and I'm not sure what to think about it.  I'll not miss staying up late on Sunday nights and writing letters to them.  But I will.  That was a constant time I could spend on loving my boys.  I look forward to a hug and getting to see a smiling face.  I am enjoying watching the constant growth toward responsible adulthood.

Here is Ben's next-to-last letter.  He has been working in the mission office for the past few weeks, helping with the administrative responsibilities of running a mission.  He has also been able to still work with some people in his area, as well as traveling to the different parts of the mission with the mission president.  He has loved it all, and I'm sure he will miss it dearly.

Wednesday was back in my area with my companions. I went with Elder Covey and we went looking for families. We found one. Then we taught our fantastic recent convert …

Colorful Blessings

It's nice to have good food.  Sometimes, I open my refrigerator and I suddenly morph into Mother Hubbard.  Even if there is lots of stuff in there, it often is food I cannot eat.  I feel like I'm dying of thirst in the middle of a waterfall, where there is plenty for everyone else, but not for me.  And it's easy to feel just a little shade of grumpy about it.  It's also easy to get an awful lot grumpy about it and melt into a poor-me pity party worthy of a toddler who didn't get an extra piece of candy.
In reality, we have plenty.  Of everything.  And getting the food I need to keep me from getting stomachaches, or feeling bloated, or having to spend the rest of the day in bed is as easy as going to the store and picking it up.  I don't have to special order anything.  I don't have to wait for it to grow.  I don't have to go great distances.  We are so blessed, really.  It's easy to forget that.

I went to the store and went bananas in the produce s…

Track and Field

Our lives are running along faster than I want them to.  Maybe I should tie on some good shoes and try to keep up?

My three big boys were in track this year. Sidenote: I amuse myself with how the family grows and how I refer to my kids. For years, the oldest the boys were "the big boys" and David and Eddie were "the little boys."  Then the newest little ones were "small fry."  Then we had "the missionaries" and David joined Chris in the "big kids" group while Eddie and Angel were the "elementary kids" in 6th grade and kindergarten, respectively. This past year, Eddie went up to the junior high and we again had "big boys" in high school and junior high,  while the "small fry" were all in elementary school. Next year, I guess Eddie and David will be our "big boys," and the older the will be our "college boys. "  Life keeps moving along, doesn't it?   'Scuse me for a moment whilst…

On the Computer

We're not always on the computer, but when we want to be, we can sure load them up. We have three desktop computers in the office, plus a few tablets and phones. 

I have a laptop that doesn't live in the office because I like to sit on my squishy soft couch. And the office floor is to cold. But I digress.

It was fun to walk by the office and see all my at-home boys piled in there, playing games with each other. The room is sometimes quiet, then erupts in cheers or exclamations or groans. I'm glad they play together!

Happy Mother's Day!

This was the best part of my Mother's Day,  by far - being together with my kids.  I really don't need roses or special dinners (although I like them very much - don't get me wrong!  Keep those coming!).  But what I long for most is to have my family together and just basking in the air they breathe.  Makes me happy.
The missionary call didn't happen until late in the evening (which was early in the morning in Madagascar!), so the little ones were only able to visit for a few minutes before they needed to head off to bed. Trent was coming down with a fever, so he turned in earlier as well. 
It was fun to just sit around and visit with all these boys. I love sitting back and listening to them tell stories and joke with each other. One at a time they all got tired and left, so I got a few minutes of one-on-one with my boy.
He'll be home soon, and we're looking forward to it. He has been missed around here!

Happy Birthday Times Two

These two characters are six years old. Wow. They have been talking about their birthday for a long time now. The measure of having a good friend in their kindergarten class is whether you invite them to your birthday party. And when you don't like a former friend, they are no longer invited. Such kindergarten drama! And due to their spring birthdays, we have heard all about the intended guest list for a long, long time.
When my oldest boys were little, I told them they could have a birthday party every other year, on the even numbers.  So a sixth birthday is a friend party.  Darn. I wasn't feeling healthy enough to really throw a party, but I felt like I had to... that sounds more negative than I mean it to. I didn't mind throwing them a party, but this year I would have preferred to skip it.  Fortunately, we know how to throw an even lower-than-low-key party.
We invited a small herd of children and we blew bubbles and drew with sidewalk chalk and played with balloons …

Senior Prom

What girl wouldn't be pleased to go to prom with this good-looking boy?  Maybe I'm biased, but sheesh!  Don't you see how awesome he is?  (It's part of my job to be an embarrassing mother.  It comes naturally.)  I'm just every now and then amazed at how he has grown.  Just yesterday he was a chubby little toddler, but in the next breath he will be an adult.  Don't breathe.
He waited until the last minute to get his tie and make his corsage, but I wasn't worried about it because he has done this before.  There are the pictures he sent me:

He calls the ribbons and filler on the corsage "garbage," but I think he has a better handle on fluff and frills than most boys his age.  Heck, than most men!  I'm pretty pleased that my boys have learned this little craft - it has been fun to do with them, and has saved them quite a bit of money!
Continue not breathing...

Healthy Soups


Girl's Night Out

I spent the weekend with four of my lovely sisters-in-law.  These ones are the good women my brothers picked to marry.  So glad I get to be family with them!

Hairy Subjects

Yup.  We do hair in this family.  We eat and it grows.  Eddie has since had a haircut, but David is still growing his out.  We'll see what kind of red-headed awesomeness he can come up with by the end of the summer!

Weeding Strawberries

Right now we have more strawberries in the patch than weeds.  That will change soon, I'm sure, so for right now we will take a picture of it to enjoy later.

General Conference

When we were listening to General Conference, Georgie wanted some paper so he could take notes, too.  Across the top of the page he very carefully wrote, "Things Jesus said."  He was so cute!  You can watch Conference here.

Chris and the Science Fair

Here is a quick snapshot of Chris being awarded a large trophy at the state science fair.  I'm still not sure what he did to earn it, but that is why he is the smarty-pants and not me.

I liked the back of the shirts they gave out as part of the fair.  Isn't that the truth?  "Impossible only means you haven't found the solution yet."  What a good reminder.

Yummy Chili

I was wondering what to make for dinner yesterday when my neighbor called.  She had made a big pot of chili for dinner the other night, and her children charitably declined to eat the leftovers because they knew we wanted it for dinner.  I made a pan full of cornbread and popped it into the oven.  Once our house was starting to smell delicious, I ran across the street and got the chili.  All this "popping" and "running" makes it sound like I was moving quickly.  Fear not - I still move in slow-motion.  I just want to sound more animated than I really am.  How I really live is hanging out on the couch and taking lots of naps.  Three-toed sloths have nothing on me in the slow department!
This is not chili but a delicious black bean soup she made for me last week.  Recipe below.
But last night, we had delicious home-made chili.  Thanks, nice neighbor lady and your very accommodating children!  You can cook for me anytime!
Black Bottom Soup (pictured above) 3 cans blac…

Supper on a Bread Slice

My mom wan't a great cook.  Mind you, she wasn't a bad cook by any means, and we were always fed.  Mom just wasn't fond of the traditional homemaking tasks.  Her dinner mainstays were simple and came out of boxes or cans.  One easy dinner I remember was called Supper on a Bread Slice.   It's not a very imaginative name, but I've never been able to come up with something better.
It's easy, and the kids love it.  Well, my brothers did as kids.  I didn't care much for it  - maybe because the sauce made the bread soggy?  But when Jay and I were newlyweds, visiting back home and Mom made this, he loved it too.  So I had to make Supper on a Bread Slice in my home, too.  And my kids love it.  It's basically hamburger pizza on French bread, but we have done it a number of ways.

Slice a loaf of bread in half lengthwise.  Place halves, cut side up, on a baking sheet.  Spread tomato sauce on both halves.  Cover with cooked, crumbled hamburger and grated cheddar c…

Blessings in Disguise

We had a women's meeting at church recently, where they were addressing some of the difficult things we go through.  They asked everyone to contribute a one- or two-word description of some of their hardest trials.  They gave me the list and wanted me to write the words on labels to be displayed on a wall at the meeting.  
The list was heartbreaking.  Rape.  Death of a child.  Bankruptcy.  Chronic illness.  Drug addiction.  Cheating spouse.  Depression.  Wayward children.  Widowhood.  My soul ached for these beautiful women.  Some of the challenges I know about - most I have no idea.  There were other less obvious trials that can be just as difficult and heart-wrenching: moving, difficult job, motherhood, messes, marriage, can't find joy...  I cried as I wrote the words.

Then something interesting happened.  It was surprisingly difficult to write these hard words in the beautiful script they wanted.  But as I saw the finished labels pile up, looking lovely and peaceful, I rea…

Mission Monday

As the weather here moves into spring and warmer, it is growing cooler in Madagascar.  Ben told me that it's not as rainy as it has been.  Although it isn't as hot as it has been, it's still plenty warm!  I am glad he will be coming home to our summer instead of in the middle of winter.  I think he would freeze to death!

That's one of many things I can be thankful for.  I think I'll challenge the kids to write down as many blessings as they can think of in just a few minutes.  I think we would all be surprised at how many good things are all around us.  That's one thing Ben did in his last letter.  It's always interesting to see what other people are thankful for - and usually we are happy about things that we haven't always have.  Life lived too easily makes us complacent and we don't notice how good we have it.  I'm humbled by some of the things Ben mentions in his thankful list:

My stomach is not having problems.
I don't have a headache.

Happy at Home

Every day, I see so many little scenes that make my mother-heart happy.  I walk past a room and see a happy moment or hear joy shooting about and I think THIS is it.  This is the good life that I've been working for all these mothering hours.  I just want to soak in all the happiness and memorize the faces and never, ever forget.  And then something else happens and I do forget.
Some things that happen often enough that I remember:  Freddy loves to listen to Josh Groban's "Don't Give Up."  I think it is one of Eddie's favorite songs too.  Freddy puts the CD in the digital piano and sings his little heart out.  Georgie joins in, but Freddy really belts it out.  Often.  And during the worst possible moments: we have company, Trent and I are trying to have a difficult parent discussion, I'm on the phone...  Many times, Eddie will sing along, too.  His voice is just starting to change, but he wants to be a deep bass so he tries to sing lower than he actually…

New Chore Chart

I was at my brother's house and saw a nifty chore chart he had.  There was a row for each child, magnets for each chore, and five columns: jobs to do, assigned to you, finished, approved, and needs help.  Most of the jobs start out in the first column, which is owned by everyone, and then either the child picks a certain number of chores or they get assigned out.  As soon as the job belongs to a child, they move the magnet to that second column.
As the child finished a job, she moves that chore magnet to the "finished" column, and the parent checks it off and moves it to the "approved" column, When I asked him about the "help" column, he explained that it was for jobs that the child could ordinarily do independently, but something unusual is preventing its completion, like the lawn mower ran out of gas.  I think he got this from his job - or maybe he made it up.  I dunno which, but my brother is crazy organized like that.
I loved it, and determined t…