Thursday, May 14, 2015

Why Christmas 2014 was just a little bit better:

I'm a tradition girl.  I kind of feel like I need to do all of the same things every year and so, mostly, the Christmases look the same:

Decorating happened (referring to pictures, so I'd know where to put everything the same as last year):

Advent calendars and letters to Santa and Christmas cookies and work parties and ward parties and school parties and gingerbread houses and fancy Sunday clothes:

We did the usual lunch (at a burger place) and a movie, Bethlehem dinner and pajamas with the Daines.

It was a great Christmas morning/day, where we just opened and watched and slept and ate and jogged.  And Levi carried around this 2 pack of starburst for about 4 hours.  

But it was also just a little bit better and this is why:

Reason #1:
The day after Thanksgiving, we were driving home from the Christmas light parade in Coeur d'Alene and I started to feel dread about the upcoming month.  I hadn't started shopping for presents and I know how much work the season is for the mother of a family of 8.  I hated that I was dreading it and I started to think it through.  

I realized that I was dreading it simply because I thought I was supposed to.  Like all of the other things I listed, it was a tradition for me to get stressed and worried about all the stuff. But as I actually thought about it, I couldn't figure out why I was so sick about it.  Here is a list of some of my favorite things to do in my life in general:

1. Cook and bake and put together meals
2. Shop with a good excuse
3. Go on outings with my kids
4. Faith filled, Christ-centered thinking
5.  Hand out with friends and family

Um...that's pretty much my entire Christmas To-Do list.  I truly enjoy those things and December is filled with them.  I decided to re-frame my way of looking at the month...I was doing the things I loved!  I wanted to be busy with the things I loved!  I love doing Christmas!  

It worked.  I had such a better attitude (or re-adjusted it when the old attitude crept in) and it was so much more fun.  It really is kind of amazing what your mind and your outlook can do!

Reason #2:
In order to complete my Young Women's Personal Progress Faith Project, I made a goal to memorize the Living Christ by Christmas Eve.  I spent the entire month muttering to myself over and over about the life and mission of the Savior.  It reminded me who He was, what He did, why He did it and made me want to celebrate Him and emulate Him just a little bit more.  It brought a whole spiritual dimension that enriched the season immeasurably.  I asked the Daines if I could recite it at our dinner (so I'd have a clear check-off point) and I did it and was very weepy throughout.  I know those words are true.  I know the Son of God was born in Bethlehem, performed miracles, atoned for our sins, was resurrected and has since restored his Gospel and Priesthood to this earth.  I am never happier than when I am remembering and acting like Him.

And that's why doing things a little bit differently, made Christmas a whole lot better.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Levi Milestones 7-15 months

There has to be some record for this stuff.  A random Notes page on my phone is probably not sufficient.

7 months:

  • Crawled everywhere.
  • Sat himself up from a crawl.
  • Pulled to stand.
  • Got his 3rd tooth
  • Started stuffing his Aden and Anais blankets in his mouth (like it's a wad of Big League Chew gum) in order to fall asleep.
  • Drank through a straw.
  • Transitioned to 2 naps a day.

  • Shy around strangers

8 months:

  • Got 4-6th tooth
  • Began showing a nut sensitivity (Welts on his face after eating a veggie lasagna with cashew cream).
  • Gave kisses when asked.
  • Began to show he knew familiar phrases. (Time for a nap, etc.)
  • Began to really show his preference for daddy
  • 19.5 lbs, 30 inches.

9 months:

  • Took his first airplane ride
  • Started standing by himself.
  • 7-8th teeth.
  • Played pat a cake.
  • Responds to phrases like "want to get out?' or "What's in your mouth?"
  • 21 lbs., 31 inches long.

10 months:

  • Learned to back down the stairs!
  • Double ear infection.
  • Folds his arms for prayers.
  • Clapped and danced to music.
  • Still not standing much by himself.  
  • 12 hours at night, short naps through the day.
  • Made the silliest scrunched nose face.
  • Began the ridiculous fighting any  time clothes or diaper changes are in order.
  • Said "Sock"

11 months:

  • Stands on his own. 
  • First haircut.
  • Throws food he's down with on the floor.
  • Said Dada and Seth
  • Refuses to do tricks more than 3-4 times.  Once we know he can do them, he doesn't do them anymore.
  • He loves green smoothies.


12 months:

  • 31.25 inches, 22.5 lbs.
  • Took his first step.
  • Waved bye-bye.
  • Pointed to hair, mouth, eyes, nose.
  • When asked what a fish says: open and closes mouth rapidly
  • Said "Uh-oh! and Mama"
  • Gave high fives
  • Really really good small motor skills.  Built towers of blocks over and over.\
  • Clicked his tongue to let us know he wanted food.

13 months:

  • Confirmed a peanut, cashew, brazil nut, hazel nut allergy.  Went on a strict no nuts policy (even the ones he's not technically allergic to) in hopes that he will be the 20% that grow out of it.
  • Got all 4 molars.
  • Did Itsy Bitsy Spider
  • Could unzip zippers!

14 months:

  • First week without mom and dad...did great!  He liked Grandma...but only if Jane, Emma or Faith weren't around.
  • Started walking at 14.5 months and was really good right away...because he was so old.
  • Began to not take a morning nap every once in a while.
  • Said Hi and All Done.
  • 34 inches (90%), 24 lbs (60%).

15 months:

  • Started kicking a soccer ball around like a champ.  Obsessed with balls and started by throwing them backward, but now can throw forward.
  • Discovered play doh and often finds the jars and brings them to me pleadingly
  • Said Ni-Ni (Night night) and Ree (Read)

Thursday, May 7, 2015


I'm writing this post because I want to remember this stage of my life and what it required of me as a mother.  Plenty of woman are and have been busier than this.  I, personally, have not, and just wanted to write it down.

It kind of blows my mind what it takes to run this household. Feeding, clothing, cleaning up after, making appointments, driving, supporting 8 people is such huge job that I'm just floored by it sometimes.

In a typical week, to feed these people, I:

Plan a menu and a grocery list
Do a Costco, Winco and usually filler grocery store run
Make breakfast, lunch and dinner for 4-8 people every single day
Clean up after (or supervise the cleaning...sometimes harder) every meal

And the clothing of them is never done!  I used to enjoy shopping for clothes for them, but that ended about 3 kids ago.  Trying to remember sizes, and who's out of what, and who hates what item, and whether they're buying it or I'm buying it, whether it's modest, how long it will last is so expensive and exhausting.  I'm Old Navy's favorite customer, I'm sure.  And the washing!  I'm going to guess 20 loads a week (but they do all of the sorting and folding so it's not too painful).

The appointments!  I have pretty healthy children and we still have so many medical things:  dentist, orthodontist, physical therapist, neurotherapist, well child visits, eye doctor.  Many of these things take place during school, which most of them hate because it's hard for them to miss, and require driving to school, picking up the kid, driving to the appointment, driving back to school to drop off the kid and driving back home.

Which brings me to the driving:  we have lots of carpools which minimize the driving but, honestly, just this week, I:

do a 6:00am carpool for zero hour high schoolers
do 1-2 soccer carpools because Jane had 3 different practices/games
do 1 high school track carpool pick up
do 2-3 kindergarten carpool pick ups
do 1 girls camp leader carpool early Sunday morning
do 1-2 middle school track/math is cool or art pick up
easily 5 extra drives to the high school (15 minutes away) to pick up or drop off E or G

I'm also attending band concerts, play performances, track meets, soccer games, parades, elementary school programs, mother daughter book clubs, art shows, school volunteer responsibilities and church meetings most weeks.

And my kids only have one sport or activity that they do at a time (besides piano, church and school!)

This can't include the talks, the fights, the scripture reading, the lessons, or the homework help.  I'm afraid sometimes that's where I fall down on the job.  It's hard to get the extra but oh so important mothering in.  Sigh.

Then there's Levi...the 16 month old whirlwind that requires diaper changing, lots of holding, carseat-ing, stroller-ing, repairing of messed drawers/bags/cabinets/walls, napping, and playing.

I wake up almost every day by 5:15, take a nap from 1:30-2:30 (it's the only way I survive that after school craziness) and then go until about 9:30 when I start getting really grouchy with anybody that's still requiring parenting.  From 9:30-11, I do a little prep for the next day and important couple/me time that includes TV, books, and conversation.

This is the thing:  I mostly love it.  I don't like the cleaning (not my thing) and sometimes the driving is so inefficient (though I'm starting to love the conversations that result from trapped chauffering) but, mostly, this is what I've always wanted.  I've always wanted a big family, I've always wanted to be a stay at home mom. I'm blessed with a happy marriage and lifestyle that supports how I want to raise my family.  This is not a complaint.  It's a statement of fact and the fact is, that though I really didn't know what I was getting myself into and how much is would require of me mentally, physically, emotionally or financially, I feel so lucky that this is my job.  Plus, I'm getting better at's like anything: you practice doing it long enough, and you learn how to do it better.  It's fun to be progressing and facing new challenges every day.  There's nowhere I'd rather be.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Charleston (March 2015)

Way back in July, Ryan asked me what I wanted for my 40th birthday.  I thought about it and decided I wanted a couples trip in early 2015 after Levi was old enough to leave. We decided to go the week after Ryan turned 40 and just make it a big birthday celebration. I've never been to the Southeast (only as far as Texas and Virginia) and I'd always wanted to see what it was like.  My friend who lived in North Carolina for a few years INSISTED we visit Charleston for our first Southern exposure.  

It was probably the best trip I've ever taken in my life. And this is why:

1. vacationing with your husband of 17 happy years is just so dreamy.  You know each other so well that there's no guessing on what the other's thinking or what they'd like to do.  Basically, I dream of spending all day every day with him and to do it for 6 days was beyond fun.  He loves to be active, he loves to do whatever I want to do, he's learned over the years that spending money is worthwhile on vacations.  And he's so so so cute.

2. No kids.  I love them and my job as their mom so much, but not having to do anything according to a carpool or nap or crabby baby timetable was THE BEST. Plus you can do any activity you want, because you're not times-ing the cost or the effort by 8, just 2! (Thanks to my fabulous mom who loves to watch them, never seems stressed, barely even contacts us when we're gone and entertains and loves them better than I do.  I'm so lucky.)

3. I did tons of research and picked the best places to stay.  Our first 3 nights were in downtown Charleston at this fabulous place I found on AirBnB.  Cute little walkout basement room that was cozy, clean and central.  Plus: TWO CUTE BIKES that we used every day all day. The last two nights we spent in a relaxing resort on Isle of Palms and used the tennis courts and jogged on the beach two mornings in a row.

4. CHARLESTON.  People: It's the best city in the country.  I'm not kidding.  It had everything I could ever want in a vacation: history, walkable/bikeable streets, beauty, great weather, gorgeous buildings everywhere, tons of beaches, the BEST food, friendly people, easy transportation.  I honestly cried the morning we left because I was so sad to leave and go all the way across the country back home.

5. I need to talk about the food a little bit more:  My friend Jessica has a brother and sister in law who live in Charleston. This fabulous girl sent me paragraphs about what to do and what to eat and I read every word over and over.  I basically take picking the right food very seriously when I'm on vacation and she helped so much.  She sent her phone number and was the sweetest about responding to texts when I was trying to decide on restaurants and areas and what to order.  I am seriously indebted to her for her help.  It really made our vacation easier and awesome-er.

(Jeni's ice cream)

(Swig and Swine)

(Magnolia's fried chicken)

(Magnolia's Fried Green Tomatoes...officially the favorite thing I put in my mouth the whole trip)

Shrimp and Grits

We got to spend 36 hours in Atlanta with my brother and his cute family.  I'm having picture issues but I found this one of us with them in the church at which MLKJr preached. They are so far away and I felt so glad we took the time to drive to see them.

I seriously know this is obnoxious to gush and gush, but I just have to record it for my personal history.  It will bring my joy every time I remember it and I wanted to blog it before I forgot.

A rundown of what we did, in case you want to copy my you should:

Carriage ride through Charleston.  

Walking tour (using some random online app) South of Broad

Edisto beach (also known as Boneyard Beach):

Biking the Ravenal Bridge

Exploring Sullivan's Island

Drayton Hall Plantation:

The gorgeous drive through rural SC on the way to Edisto

Canoeing at Cypress Gardens
 (we saw 6 was walking across the path 5 feet in front of us!!)

Happy 40th to US!!