Sunday, September 4, 2011


From September 4, 2011

Reasons to be excited for Chase this year:
-He is growing and finally catching up to some of those early sprouters
-Chase should be well on his way to his Eagle scout by the end of the year
-He gets to play soccer with his really great friend Hunter
-He has a really good chance of making the varsity track team this year
-Chase continues to be reliable and super responsible and will hopefully find his way into to some leadership positions at school
-He will have another excellent learning year at school though the PAGE program

Things I worry about just because I'm his mom:
-I am worried about weathering the "teenage" years and hope he never thinks that his parents don't know anything
-I worry that Chase is still struggling with finding friends in our new ward
-Chase needs to find a love for showers and washing his face now that he is a young man
-that chase feels unhappy at home because he is board and feels like he doesn't have anyone to do stuff with
-Chase needs to learn to always be kind and learn to think outside of himself


From September 4, 2011

I'm excited for Emily because:
-she is top dog at her school this year and will enjoy all the perks of being a 6th grader
-she should continue to gain confidence academically
-she is growing into a really beautiful young woman
-Emily not only got the teacher that "she" wanted, but Mrs. Olsen just had a baby and I will be doing portraits for her. I promised Emily she could be my assistant during the session
-I know she is going to love the ancient civilization project this year

Things I worry about because I'm her mom:
-Emily is in between phases in life this year. She feels like she is in the middle of being a young lady and a child. I hope she will find some peace as she goes through this rough transition
-Emily has tried so hard to find a good friend. I am hoping with all my heart that this is her year
-I wish that Emily would find a sport that she loves, we are going to try volleyball this year
-I want to see her continue to become more responsible
-Emily especially needs people in her life to support her this year to boost her self confidence and self worth


From September 4, 2011

I am so excited for Kate because:
-She grew academically so much last year that I expect her to continue to learn by leaps and bounds
-She is very bright and doesn't struggle with any particular subject
-She got the teacher that "she" requested
-Kate will get to participate in an after school art program this year that is awesome!
-Hopefully before too long she will finally be ready to start reading "Magic Tree House" books

Things I worry about for her because I'm her Mom:
-Kate always has a tough time at the beginning of the year getting back into the routine
-I hope she will learn to let go of her perfectionism just a bit to let herself enjoy her art a bit more
-I yearn for Kate to find a really good friend this year
-I hope that as Kate grows she will learn to become more assertive at school and gain some leadership qualities

Our Royal Family

Years ago I saw this tradition feature in Family Fun Magazine and we have faithfully made it our own now several years strong. Each school aged kid gets a whole day to reign supreme before school begins. We draw to see who gets what day and then the kids have to site and create their lists. This year each child had a budget of $100 so they had to be super thoughtful with their selections. The kids get to choose meals, activities,
games and so on. They are also the decision maker for the day. If another sibling wants to go play at a friends house they have to get permission from the monarch! We have lots of fun. I especially enjoy watching their anticipation as school draws near because they know their special days are just around the corner.

Queen Emily:
-Eggo waffles
-Get nails painted
-Go to the Zoo
-Play the game "Life"
-Taco salad
-Rent a movie and have family movie night

Queen Kate:

-Dad's hot cereal
-Get Nails Painted
-Shopping with Mom
-Give Zeke a bath
-Get squishy animals from Dad's office
-Eggs, Bacon, Toast and Orange Julius
-Buy some of Chase's fancy Scout popcorn and have a family movie night

King Chase:

-See "Smurfs" at the theater
-Get squishy animals from Dad's office
-Out to dinner at Red Robin
-Laser tag game with friends at the park

Friday, August 19, 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Oh Darling Don't You Ever Grow Up

Emily just came to me and wanted me to listen to a song. I am glad I didn't give her a hard time and willing shared myself with her for a moment. She played a Taylor Swift song for me and we both sat on my bed a little teary eyed. It is funny how she and I have had the same thing on our mind lately.

I just booked a session with a children's photographer in my area. She is wonderful. For the last few months I have felt like my kids are getting away from me.

Especially Chase and Emily. One a teenager and the other on the cusp. They are becoming little adults, faced with difficult challenges and having to make some hard choices. Constantly I wonder if Dave and I have done enough. Have we loved them enough, taught them enough, propelled them in the right directions. As they both enter into this most challenging phase of life I constantly find myself wishing that they hadn't grown up so fast. I remember when Chase learned to walk and how wonderful it felt to have a plush tender hand holding so tightly to mine. Now he hardly needs me at all. I cried when he started kindergarten and this is so much harder. Then I was giving him up for a few hours each day. Now I have turned him over to himself and the world around him. It is scary.

With his cousin Andrew this summer
Emily and I just had a long conversation a few weeks ago. She is struggling with the feeling of being caught in the middle of childhood and young womanhood. On the one hand she still loves to play pretend and on the other feels that keeps her from fitting in with her peers. As I listened to her I wonder if those other mothers intentionally challenged their daughters to grow up faster. I remember doing that with Emily as a baby. I wanted her to learn to sit and walk as fast as possible. I corrected every beautiful babytized word. I learned my lesson after the first two. What was the hurry? I was squandering one beautiful phase to push on faster towards the next. With Kate and Sara I knew better. Now instead of correcting those little baby words I write every single one down. And when Sara started walking around 13 months I was so glad to have held that much longer. I feel for Emily. I want her to stay a carefree child as long as possible. I have put in huge efforts to shelter her as long as possible from the grown up girl world. The world of fashion, boys and drama. But it is coming right around the corner. I hope she will remember her childhood roots and remember how to laugh and dance around my living room floor!

So the photo session was born. I was returning a scarf to local photographer, Tami Gookstetter when she invited me in to see her studio. All around me where beautiful canvases of colorful innocent childhood. I looked through an album and nearly started crying, instead getting goose pimples up and down my arms. This was exactly what I wanted. One last run through wild grass, one more time hanging from a tree, a final twirl and game of ring around the rosies. I wanted her to capture my children's childhood in a book, full of color and life, a happy memory to always look back on. In that book and my heart my children will never grow up.

Emily and I just shared a beautiful moment about childhood and growing up and it made my heart so full I had to immediately come down to write it all down. I hope she always feels like my little girl. Here is the song.

Lyrics to Never Grow Up :

Your little hands wrapped around my finger
and it's so quiet in the world tonight.
Your little eyelids flutter 'cause your dreaming
so I tuck you in, turn on your favorite night light.
To you every thing's funny, you've got nothing to regret.
I'd give all I have honey if you could stay like that.

You're in the car on the way to the movies
and you're mortified your mom in dropping you off.
At 14 there's just so much you can't do
and you can't wait to move out someday and call your own shots.
But don't make her drop you off around the block
remember that she's getting older too.
And don't lose the way that you dance around in your PJ's
getting ready for school.

Take pictures in your mind of your childhood room.
Memorize what sounded like when your Dad got home.
Remember the footsteps, remember the words said
and all your little brother's favorite songs.
I just realized everything I have is gonna someday be gone.

So here I am in my new apartment,
in a big city, they just dropped me off.
It's so much colder than I thought it would be
So I tuck myself in and turn my night light on.

Oh I don't want to grow up, wish I'd never grown up
I could still be little.
Oh I don't wanna grow up, wish I'll never grown up
it could still be simple.
Oh darling don't you ever grow up, don't you ever grow up
just stay this little.
Oh darling don't you ever grow up, don't you ever grow up
it could stay this simple.
Won't let nobody hurt you,
won't let no one break your heart.
And even though you want to, please try never to grow up.
Oh don't you ever grow up,
Oh never grow up,
just never grow up.

-Taylor Swift

Friday, July 15, 2011


Just wanted to share my favorite pictures from our visit to Yosemite. We saw this mommy deer and her THREE babies on our way out of the park!

John Bytheway and Paint

These last two weeks have been SO busy. We had our first renters move out the Friday before we left for family vacation to California. Now that we are back it has been lots of work!! I have driven to Dupont almost every day these past two weeks with the kids to work on our rental house.

to others:


I have to say it has been a major lesson learned. When our renters asked to paint I thought. "why not?" They were excellent renters and I trusted them. I also when from years of renting myself that yearning to paint and make a house your own was a pretty serious need. So I s
aid yes, and only asked her to pick neutral colo
rs that would compliment the house.

BOY oh boy did we have a difference of opinion. She painted charcoal gray, navy blue and sunflower orange. All of her paint choices required that I [rime before I paint. So I have been painting now for forever it seems and NEVER want to lift another brush or roller in my life!!!

New rules:


On the brighter side the kids have all really enjoyed being back in Dupont to hang out with their friends. I love these kids, some like they were my own children. My kids have been so blessed by the friendships they have with these amazing youth. So it was good to be back and let them run trough the forest trails, park hop and just be kids again.

Another great blessing from all of this was that since we were traveling so much in the car and usually hit traffic at least one of the directions back and forth we got tired of the radio. Emily and Chase suggested listening to John Bytheway, a motivational / spiritual speaker for our church. We listened to several CDs and even listened to one of them twice! We really enjoyed being taught everyday. And then on occasion we were able to enjoy some excellent conversations.

So I suppose I have to swallow hard and thank the renters for leaving me such a massive paint job so that we could ha
ve such a wonderful time strengthening our testimonies and and friendships these last two weeks.

When life hands you lemons...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Shazam Just Saved My Soul

Here I am sitting at the computer editing a newborn shoot from this week and I can't stop thinking about the evens and circumstances of this past week concerning my Grandpa. It is that feeling where your heart is so full you know you have to let it out or it will explode. And I can't focus on the work I need to do. So now I have taken a break from photoshop in an effort to ease the pounding in my chest.

Several years ago something happened that broke my spirit. I want to be careful to say that I still had my testimony of the Church, but I lost any will that I had to strive to be the person I wanted to be. I was discouraged with my chances of attaining any type of "spiritual" success in this life. And in an incredibly apathetic move decided that it would be better to quit trying all together.

The cause of all this disdain with life was a feeling that the Lord had abandoned me when I felt I really, TRULY needed him. I was going through a really rough patch. I went to my Bishop and prayed for help and all there was were crickets. A few good friends noticed my struggle and tried to help me through. But I felt like a fillie who had just had her spirit broken. I felt like the Lord and my Bishop had totally left me all alone. I sat through a Sunday school lesson recently where the teacher was discussing why people fall off the path. She emphasized that sadly these people leave the church because of actions of other people. Not the actions of the Lord. I sat there in that class thinking I was the opposite of that. I felt like the Lord had let me down. It has been a wound in my heart for so many years now it hurts just to write about it.

A few months ago I sat in Sacrament meeting and had this overwhelming feeling that my Grandpa who I really loved with all my heart didn't have much time left on this earth. It was strange at the time. Though he was frequenting the hospital more than usual and had surely lost a great deal of health and spunk he was still hanging around being a wonderful influence in my life and the lives of my children. But just that thought that he would leave soon made me all teary. Dave noticed and asked what was wrong, I shook it off. The strange thing was that it had nothing to do with the talks being given. I came home from our meetings that day and decided we would step up our love and care of Grandpa. We stated sending more regular correspondence and I started calling him on the phone more frequently. Several Sundays later I had that same feeling. Now I look back and KNOW that Heavenly Father was preparing me for what would happen in the next few months. He was preparing my heart for the loss I was about to experience.

Last week I got a message from my cousin Missy telling me that Grandpa was yet again in the hospital. He had a stroke. That morning I told the kids that Grandpa had a serious health accident and that he was sick in the hospital. We all cried together. By that afternoon my sister Nicole had been to see Grandpa in the hospital and had sent a reassuring message that the stroke was small and Grandpa was doing really well and that aside from possibly loosing some of his mobility he would be fine. In spite of this good news I was overcome with a weighty feeling. I struggled with the discussion to travel to Utah to help my Aunt and Cousins care for him while he mended or to sit tight at home. Money was the biggest concern. Things are tight and especially this month. Our renters are preparing to leave and we don't have new ones. So with the thought of having a double mortgage to pay and a family reunion at the end of the month where Dave would be taking a week off of work and so therefor our paycheck would suffer considerably, it just didn't make finical since to make that trip. There was a battle raging between my mind and my heart. My heart was telling me this was more than it seemed and that I needed to be in Utah. My mind was saying it was a small stroke and that the expense of the trip made it unwise. All day I stayed in bed thinking how I could get to Utah.

Then I remembered I had money sitting in my account. I hadn't thought of it at first because it was my "business" money and I keep those funds separate. That money was slated to help me purchase some more product samples and then perhaps pay for portraits to display in doctor's offices. I had $400 from a session I had done literally three days earlier. I added up the cost of gas. It would cost me about $360 to travel to Utah if I drove, instead of the $570 it would have cost to fly. Knowing I had the money to cover the trip without asking Dave to add that financial burden to our family's funds settled the debate for me.

Plans were made and the next day I was on my way.

Once I arrived in Utah I had two beautiful days with my Grandpa. We talked about smuggling in his cat, sneaking in chocolate and of course some more serious issues. It was so good to see him perfectly aware and totally himself. My emails to family were full of hope and reassurances. Then Sunday Grandpa suffered a debilitating stroke that in the end took his life.

It was a horribly hard week with lots of pain and suffering for everyone at his side. I was overcome with grief not only for the person I was about loose but how the loss of this Great man would weigh on my children who were so totally in love with their Papo.

I felt alone too. Not that my Aunt and Uncle and cousins were totally there for me emotionally. But I really just wanted my husband to hold me in the evenings when I came home tired and bedraggled and totally drained emotionally.

Grandpa struggled for two days and then left this life and since then I can't help but add up all the tender mercies that the Lord blessed me with. I have thought for days now that I needed to write them all down before I forget them. So here goes.

-being silently prepared for the loss of Grandpa by impressions that he would be leaving us soon
-being inspired to send him a package and make a phone call the week before he became ill
-having the money in my account to cover the costs of my trip
-on the way to Utah scheduling another session to replenish the funds I had used on the trip
-feeling that Grandpa really needed a priesthood blessing and there was no one around to offer it at the time. As I lifted my head from that prayer a young man in a white shirt and tie was standing in the doorway to Grandpa's room. Turns out he was the hospital Chaplain. He offered a blessing for Grandpa and stayed with me for an hour. The minute I said that prayer the Lord had someone there waiting to answer it.
-the opportunity my kids had to all say good bye to Papo on the phone and for Grandpa's temporary gift of clear speech when listening to Kate to say the words, "My Sweet Kate"
-that Grandpa was able to leave this earth relatively quickly and without prolonged suffering
-that a good friend had recently moved to the Provo area and took me in and loved me
-that other friends responded to my families needs and cared for the ones I left behind in Washington
-having a wonderful sister in law to leave my two youngsters with. Never once did I worry about their care or needs. I knew they were in the best of hands.
-that Dave was inspired with a beautiful analogy to help the children cope with grandpa's loss. He compared Grandpa to a caterpillar that had made a cocoon and soon would emerge as a beautiful butterfly
-when Emily called me from the church during mutual night crying and feeling horribly alone I tried to comfort her. I then tried calling a friend's cell phone who I knew would be a mutual and the Bishop's office to ask someone to locate her and love her. I couldn't get a hold of anyone. I Tearfully said a prayer asking the Lord to help her. Later she recounted to me that she had gone outside to cry in the rain and then a beautiful rainbow came and she was comforted (that is our sign to remember Great Grandma).
-that Sara the night Papo died had a dream that he came to her and gave her a big hug, she relayed the dream to my sister in law before anyone had ever shared the news with them
-That my aunt Kathy was blessed with a soft heart and took the needs of my family to heart. She changed the funeral plans that Grandpa had prepared to allow for Dave and Chase to be Pal Bearers and I know it meant a great deal to especially Chase. And that she was generous in inviting us to take something home of Grandpa's
-that I had two days to visit with grandpa before the Lord started the process of bringing him home, that smaller stroke provided so many of Grandpa's loved ones an opportunity to have one last visit and hug. That first stroke was a tender mercy for sure.

I am sure that as things become more clear I will remember more and add to the list. I had all these little moments swimming around in my head and I really did feel like there were so many blessings to see me through this last week.

Then on my way home from Utah I had the girls in the car with me and we were traveling in silence feeling awfully bruised and broken. Dave called me on the phone from his car and told me to tune the radio to a certain station. I did. We laughed that only in Utah could there be a "Sunday Sounds" station. Then I started listening. The song that was playing was"Blessings" by Laura Story. I am a lyrics girls. While Dave listens more to the music and the interplay between instruments I listen to the words and poetry of the song. I was only into the song a few lines and tears were streaming down my face. Her song was for me. Listening to the words I realized the Lord had been there for me all along this last week. I don't know why it was necessary for me to feel so abandoned this last few years but this week he was there by my side and blessing me all along the way. And the final blessing was that I felt healed through my tears of the past week. It took a horrible loss for me to feel close to my savior again. A deep wound was somehow bandaged with another wound. I wish with all my heart that it hadn't taken the loss of my Grandpa to feel His love and to feel like trying again to become the person I want to be. But it is what it is and I am grateful.

This week I was made whole again minus a hole in my heart that Grandpa left.

Here are the words to the song:
We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your
healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near

What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It's not our home

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Kitchen Is Getting A Face Lift!

I really feel like every young man should have a two year tour in the construction business before he is qualified to marry! Dave is just so dang handy and I love it.

The kitchen remodel has been on our list since we moved in. And with Dave's share of the tax return he decided it was time to get it done!! The wall is down. And honestly that would have been enough to make things better. But now the kitchen has new lighting, and is peacefully, though impatiently, waiting for it's new concrete (scary) counter tops and then a new back splash.

And with the exception of the concrete...Dave has done it all!!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter 2011

My Beautiful Children
Sara was so excited about the $10 egg she found from Grandma DeWitt she went to store the next week to buy some new Strawberry Shortcake toys!
Katie once again found the golden egg!
Emily was super excited to find this Easter shower scrub from Grandma Wilcox!
Chase, naturally had the biggest hual. He is so focused on finding it all!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sunny California

We just had the most wonderful weekend! I have been anxious to attend a workshop for newborn photography in Oceanside and this year the workshop just happened to coincide perfectly with the kids spring break. So with my share of the tax return I signed up for the workshop and bought the kids and I tickets to sunny California.

It is the perfect time of year to go. Come Spring time in Washington, despite all the pretty blooms you just aren't sure you can take another day of cold rain. And so we try to plan our escapes to salvage some sanity.

We were so excited to spend time with Grandma and Grandpa, Aunts and Uncles and COUSINS!!!
When I asked the kids what was the one thing they wanted to do the most, I expected them to say Disney Land (which we weren't going to do). I was so relieved when they all shouted, "THE BEACH!" Well the beach is free and all over the place so they made it easy on me.

We decided to go to the beach in Oceanside because it would make it easier for me to get to my workshop and for Liz's kids to join us. I am so grateful that Grandma and Grandpa allowed me to talk them into coming to!!!

It was beautiful weather. In the low 80 and beautiful sun. The water was a little numbing, but after about 20 minutes when you couldn't feel a thing thanks to the natural spinal tap the cold water provided it was great. I got in up to my belly button which is saying something. I usually avoid the water. Too cold and too many creepy crawlies lurking under there!

We played Frisbee, built sand castles, made "hot tubs" (Kate's word since she was a baby for cozy this case a pit in the sand filled with water, body boarded and less fun...searched frantically for a missing Kate. She turned up after I lost a few years off my life panicking as we searched for her.

It was wonderful. The best part of the day in my opinion though was going to Liz's house afterwards and soaking in her hot tub. I NEED A HOT TUB!!! (maybe next years tax return!!)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Knotts Berry Farm

Can you believe I haven't taken our kids to an amusement park in years!!! I think the last time was when we were living in California in 2005. We went once to Disney Land when Kate was a baby. We have been to Great Wolf Lodge and Wild Waves up here in Washington but nothing major. Grandma mentioned that it might be fun to do that with the kids while we were visiting. I was VERY surprised. It is not Grandma Wilcox's thing to walk all over amusement parks. It hurts her feet which in the past few years have been through some major trauma.

We looked into Sea World and Knotts and decided because Knotts was so close it would be perfect. And we thought that with Uncle Mike's military discount we would be in almost free. Well the discount was a total bust. When I looked up the info on line there were not any dates on the page. Apparently they only offer the discount we were expecting once a year, some time in the fall. It was a total bummer and I felt like a complete looser.

Any how...after that rather unhappy beginning we headed into the park. We had Liz and Mike's kids with us and the cousins made it perfect. We let the big kids go off on their own which is why I don't have pictures of them. Except this one.
Poor Kate, I thought she would be surely tall enough to go on this ride. She wasn't and it was so sad. She is about an inch shorter than Claire and Warren. And so she had to be a really good sport as they went off to play with the big kids and she was stuck with the younger kids. I think though that since Kate is so cautious she was just fine with the rides, but missed the company of Claire and Warren!

After an hour the big kid crew came back so we could all have lunch. This is how Emily and Chase looked. I swear you would have thought they weren't having an of fun. They sat sulking totally exhausted. My poor rain children didn't know how to handle the scalding 80 degree day;-)
We drenched them and then they perked right up. Emily and Chase spent the rest of the day soaking wet. Occasionally wanking right through a fountain, shoes and all, to add to there wet protective layer.

My favorite part of the whole day was watching Sara. She is so expressive. Everyone should be expressive I think. It is so much more fun to watch some one out of their mind happy when they know how to show it. With Sara you always know. Sometimes it is no fun, like today as I'm writing this post and Sara isn't feeling well. I was counting down until nap time when I would be saved from the moaning crying beast that she becomes when she is sick. But on days like this one when she is happy, it makes you happy. She smiled all day long. It made my day!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

It's All In The Name

Sara is writing her own name. It melts my heart that it was Dave that started to teach her. I came home from volunteering in Kate's class one day and he and Sara had been playing school. She is pointing out the letters in her name everywhere she sees them. And just the other night she wrote her name all by herself:

-no copying
-no help with the crayon
-no guiding at all


We were dully excited for her of course. She is barely over 3 and is writing her name!!!

My Toothless Beauty

Kate has been losing teeth left and right. Her smile is so holey right now it makes me laugh to see her smile. She has been making major bucks from the tooth fairy. I am guessing our neighbors are tired of hearing my kids "page" the do gooder fairy. Kate was averaging a couple times a week recently and Sara, bless her heart, wants to loose a tooth so bad she calls the tooth fairy in for false alarms daily. Katie noticed one of her teeth starting to grown in yesterday and wanted me to take this picture to document her toothless smile.

Sara is a Sunbeam!

This post is major delayed!!! I have had it sitting saved here in blogger for forever, waiting for a picture!
Sara is a Sunbeam! I was a little anxious about the first of January. Sara LOVES nursery! She has the most wonderful teachers. They are serious super stars in her little eyes. She will leave my lap the minute she sees them to go and sit with them. She counts down until Sundays when she gets to go to nursery and play with her friends. And Sacrament is just a means to an end. The minute the bread and water have been passed she is asking if it is time yet. So as the time for her to start Primary got closer and closer I stared to worry she was going to really resist leaving the nursery!

The first Sunday of the year came and went and there were no problems. Sara was beside herself with excitement. I had totally dropped the ball and in spite of that she was still excited to be a sunbeam. Usually we have a special FHE for our future sunbeams where we learn the song, make sun shaped jello jigglers, talk about being a big kid and sitting reverently and so on. I spaced it and we never had that special celebration lesson. But somehow on that first Sunday she was just as excited as I wanted her to be. She grabbed my hand and dragged me to the row where her best friend Olaiah was sitting and then together we all walked off to go to primary. Those two cute girls were smiling ear to ear. I couldn't help but to be super happy for them. She has had a whole month now of primary and she loves it.

It warms my heart to hear her humming all the new primary songs she is learning. She knows all the tunes and is working to know all the right words. As we load up in the car to go home after church she is always excitedly rattling off all the things she has learned in her class. Her teacher, Sister Ward, is gentle and kind. Yesterday I watched Sara bashfully tiptoe up to her, hands bawled up in a first by her face. I knew that she nervously hoped that without asking her teacher, who's lap was empty at the time, would scoop her up without being asked. She did. In a quiet and loving way she scooped her up in her arms and Sara sat smiling for the rest of sharing time. Like I said..heart warming!

So Sara is a SUNBEAM! And she is so happy!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Sometimes, well a lot of the time, a Mom needs a kick in the pants. Motherhood is definitely not as easy as I thought it was going to be. And I have come to discover I am not naturally talented in the area either. There are so many times when I think that my kids are too old to start changing things around for the better. That I screwed up and it is too late. A lot of days that turn into months I lose perspective and forget that My kids are young compared to the eternity that I have to be their mother. I have many friends that inspire me beyond measure. But two ladies in particular feed my soul. Lisa J. and Jamie C. are the mothers that I want to be. They both used to be neighbors. And as they have moved away and I have started spending every spare moment on my photography business I have stopped checking in on their blogs. Another super amazing friend Rachel P. reminded me last night what I was missing out on. So last night I payed both of these friends a cyber visit. And now with tears in my eyes I can tell you that they filled my soul! I wanted to share something with all of you from Lisa's blog. (hope she doesn't mind) If you want an extra jolt of motherhood caffeine, visit her here!

MARCH 1, 2011

Developing, Nurturing and Maintaining Good Relationships with Our Children

A month ago I was asked to present a class at our weekly Relief Society meeting about “Developing, Nurturing and Maintaining Good Relationships with our Children.” I was so excited… I’m pretty passionate about this topic so I really enjoyed studying, reading and preparing my thoughts… and now that it’s over I figured I’d post it here too.


I was listening to a Mormon Channel conversation with Sister Julie B. Beck, general Relief Society President, and her daughters… when this quote really struck me. She said,

“I wanted to raise people who would be my friends when I was old. That means we had to do things when they were young that would build them into the kind of people I would enjoy when they were older. We had to teach them manners, and cleanliness, to be thinkers, to laugh, to enjoy life. That meant I had to be their parent when they were young so that I could be their friend when they were older.”

I love that. She goes on to say that PARENTING is hard and takes a lot of revelation and help from above… so of course the number 1 thing we can do in order to develop, nurture and maintain a good relationship with our children, is to seek the guidance of our Heavenly Father.

Gene R. Cook, in one of our very favorite books called, “Raising A Family Unto the Lord” says, “If you want to be successful, get the Lord involved.”

That said, I have divided my thoughts into four sections…


Developing, Nurturing and Maintaining a good Relationship with your Children – Part 1


Before we can ever put our daily choices and patterns into place, we need to know the big picture. Where are we headed? What is our long term vision for our family? Where do we see our family in 5, 10, 50 years?family motto2

For Chris and I, our first long term vision for our family is summed up in our family motto… Every morning and night after our family prayer, we put one hand in together and repeat our motto. (Sometimes Luke says “B-Y-U” instead and Chris grins while I roll my eyes. We’ve allowed a compromise though, now he gets to lead a BYU chant after our family motto is over.) Even little Matthew knows the drill and is excited to stick his hand in and mumble the words with a smile.

The kids know that this means we’re headed for the Celestial Kingdom together and we want everyone there. Hopefully, by saying it every day, we’re reminding ourselves of the big picture and that all of our other goals and plans need to, in some way, help us get there.

Secondly, our family timeline helps both Chris and I, and our children have a vision of our family life.

family timeline3

This fabulous idea came from my Dad. He had our family timeline on a big piece of poster board drawn in pencil and hidden behind the tall file cabinet in his office downstairs. Once a year we’d pull it out, wipe off the cobwebs, lay it out on the kitchen table and check it out. {Ours used to be hand-written on graph paper… but recently Chris and I sat down and made it digital… using iNumbers.}

Each child in the family has their own ‘line’ underneath the ‘year line’. Each child’s line starts on the year that they were born. On their line we’ve filled in all important milestones and when they will take place… a mark on their line for when they’ll start kindergarten, be baptized, receive the priesthood, go into beehives, Mia Maids, Laurels, Deacons, Teachers, Priests, start to date, go to University, go on a mission… All in pencil.

It’s our family PLAN. We want our children to know what the plan is… and that we EXPECT it to happen. We don’t say IF you decide to go on a mission, they see it actually on their line like it’s part of the plan. Once it has happened then it goes in pen. For ours, which is on the computer, it will change from yellow ink, to black.

Another neat thing about this timeline is seeing how the kids lines match up. How old will Matthew be when Ryan goes on his mission? How long will Katie, Emily and Megan all be in young women’s together? What grade will the kids be in when we get out of the army?

When we were deciding if we should move to Germany we pulled out our family timeline and looked at the next three years. Viewing our family life in the ‘big picture’ made us realize that three years wasn’t really that long. We also noticed what things would be taking place in the next three years… Ryan receiving the priesthood, Katie going in to Young Women’s, Emily and Megan being baptized.

Part of developing a good relationship with our children is creating that vision together.

My Dad still pulls out the family timeline to record events and uses it often for presentations. Thanks Mom and Dad for your great example… in everything.

Lastly, Chris and I fully plan on and expect that we will have great relationships with our children as they grow older… and we’re working towards that every day. I spend a lot of time helping my children envision our future relationship as well. When I’m doing the girls hair or driving in the car with one of them I’ll say, “Emily, I’m so excited for when you go to your first dance and then you’ll come home and sit on my bed and tell us all the details and who you think is cute…” I want her to envision telling us every detail. I want her to envision sitting with the both of us to talk about her fears or her problems or her joys. I want her to envision or EXPECT that having a great relationship and talking to your mom and dad is just what you do. …We talk about how exciting it is going to be to go to kindergarten and how good they will be in their class, about how proud we are that they will be choosing to get baptized, about our feelings and actions around dropping our kids off at college, about how they will look over at us in the temple when they get married – to see us crying, about the joy of visiting them and their children when they’re married… you name it, we talk about it, and I think it help our kids envision our relationship throughout their lives as well as build the necessary communication skills for a successful close relationship.

Developing, Nurturing and Maintaining a Good Relationship with our Children – Part 2

communication word

I am a communicator. I like to talk. I follow Chris around the house telling him about my day, and where I went, and who I talked to, and funny things the kids said. He sometimes teases me by wandering around the furniture just to see if I’ll still follow him, which I do without even thinking about it… so it will come as no surprise that I love love LOVE talking to my kids. I tell my kids when I’m feeling frustrated because of something, or when I’m sad because of something I heard on the news, or something funny that my brother said on the phone, or when I’m disappointed at myself. I spontaneously bear my testimony or squeeze in a mini lesson about some gospel principle any time I can. I take every opportunity to share my feelings and turn anything into a conversation. It’s amazing what powerful discussions can occur after watching episodes of Little House on the Prairie… Often time we have to pause to have lengthy discussions about friendship, or dating, racism or the word of wisdom. I just love it.

When my older kids were each ready to learn about sex… Chris and I took them out for a special date night and explained everything together. We want it to be completely natural for Ryan to ask me questions and for Katie to ask Chris questions. They also know that anything told to one of us will be shared with the other.

I plan on having lots of open and deep conversations with my teenagers but I’m sure those deep conversations will not ‘just happen’ if they have not happened all along the way… and if I have not opened up to them about my feelings, then how will I expect them to open up to me?

I have deep (of course not inappropriate) talks with my children when they are very young. I’m amazed at what my 3 and 5 year old understand. I talk to Megan about how to choose a man to marry, or that some children don’t have enough food, or about some of the gory details about giving birth. I explain to Luke that I’m feeling sad or frustrated and in turn he is starting to really communicate his own feelings… “Mom, I feel like I’m going to cry when you don’t say “YEAH!” after I go to the potty.” {Oh boy, that whole topic deserves it’s own post.}

Often the best time for some one on one communication is at bedtime. I’ve enjoyed asking 5 questions to my little ones from time to time as I tuck them in. Usually I have to either run and tell Chris or jot down their answers because they are just so cute.

Luke’s from yesterday…

  1. What is taller… a giraffe or an elephant? a giraffe
  2. What is faster… a car or a bike? a car
  3. Who does Mommy love the most? a giraffe
  4. No, in the family, who does Mommy love the most in our family? Dad!
  5. Then who does Mommy love? an elephant --- it took a while and quite a few fabulous ‘Lukey faces’ to come up with all the kids names too, in order of course.

(Asking questions is totally from my Dad too. He’s still a ‘question asker’ and my kids just love it.)

These days, when I haven’t completely lost all patience by bedtime the kids get a ‘tuckle and a talk’… which is a tuck and a tickle combined, and then some questions if I’m in a good mood… which, believe me, is not every night.

I try to tell my children often that I LOVE being their mother, that I’m so lucky to have them as children, and that I’m SOOOOO in love with their Dad.

As my children have continued to grow, our talks are just getting better. Ryan sits in the front seat of the van on the way home from church and almost always makes comments about other people’s poor choices, or asks a question about when I was a teenager. Then it’s my job to KEEP TALKING and KEEP THEM TALKING. I use every opportunity I can to share my feelings, ask what they think, use personal experiences, talk about silly things I did as a teenager, listen, and most of all, bear my testimony. That doesn’t mean that every conversation is about spiritual things… it’s not. But our conversations usually celebrate good choices, teach, and most importantly, tell them that their thoughts and feelings are valued and that they are loved.

Many times when we get home, and walk into the kitchen for our traditional ‘before-dinner nachos’ the kids just stand there and say… “KEEP TALKING MOM!”. It’s like they hardly even care what I say next, they just want the feeling of the moment to continue.

In January for FHE we studied the Proclamation of the Family. I printed out the entire Proclamation for each member of the family but with enough spaces between the paragraphs that we could take notes, and draw pictures throughout. I was amazed at what kinds of questions were asked and talked about when we read and explained each sentence of that amazing proclamation. We used 3 FHE’s in a row sitting around the table, just talking. On one of the nights we paused and put the younger three to bed so that we could continue to talk with the older ones, and ended up going to bed way too late because no one wanted to stop talking.

A couple days after one of our Proclamation nights my sister in law called to tell us of someone she knew who had five kids, pregnant with her sixth, who accidentally drove over her toddler, killing her. After talking with her for a while, I went downstairs and immediately called my kids to the kitchen where I poured out my heart. I told them of the experience, and of that poor family and what they must be feeling. We talked about what the brothers and sisters must be feeling. I was emotional and so were Ryan and Katie. When I stopped talking and turned to make dinner Ryan rushed upstairs. I sensed that he went to his room to pray for that family... which he did. Around the dinner table a few minutes later he was still quite emotional as he explained that he couldn’t stop thinking about that happening to his brother, Luke. Over dinner, we talked about the Plan of Salvation, and the blessing it is to know Heavenly Father, and the idea that we need to be strong in our testimonies so that when hard times come we will be able to rely on the Lord instead of turn away from Him… all things that we had talked about just days before in our discussions on the proclamation. I share this because it’s an example of the kind of positive communication that I want in my home all the time. I could have chose to not bring it up, it’s too sad, they are too young, we don’t even know the family. But instead, we felt a true emotional and spiritual connection to each other. We developed a trust. We shared OUR feelings and provided an environment where they would want to share theirs. We grew closer… and that’s what it’s all about.

“Children never outgrow a need for quality conversation with parents and other adults. Learning how to communicate on this level will serve them well in their own future relationships, including marriage. It will teach them how to build friendships and relate to work associates. It will show them how to process their own thoughts and to communicate in a positive, caring manner that respects the ides of others.

Because your children will learn more from talking with you than you will probably ever realize, it is crucial that you spend time in healthy conversation with them, no matter what their age. If you limit your talking with them to correction, your children may never learn the value of positive, focused attention. Negative attention alone can not meet their need for love.

Sadly few young people today understand how to handle their feelings, especially anger. This lack is a primary reason for drug use, inappropriate sexual activity, and antiauthority attitudes and behavior. Many years of warm and close bedtime talks, which include relaxed sharing of feelings, can help prevent most of life’s deepest problems.

Don’t be a victim of the urgent. In the long run, much of what seems so pressing right now won’t even matter. What you do with your children will matter forever.”

Gary Chapman, Author of ‘5 Love Languages’.

Developing, Nurturing and Maintaining a good Relationship with Your Children – Part 3

love word

Earlier in my marriage I read the book called ‘The Five Love Languages’ written by Gary Chapman. I really enjoyed the concept that people give and receive love in different way and that finding out what your spouses’ love languages are would enable you to ‘speak love’ to each other more clearly. I immediately applied the concepts to my kids trying to determine what their individual love languages were.

Now I own and have read his book “The five Love Languages of Children”. Also fabulous... and so I’m just going to summarize each of his ideas and pass them along…

First of all, CHILDREN NEED ALL FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES TO FEEL LOVED. I found this rather interesting. Even if you see your child having one or two main love languages, they still need ALL FIVE.

words- physical touch

This is one I can see clearly in my Emily. She wants to be hugged, and tickled. She wants to sit close to Dad and drape her arm around him and snuggle into him. She wants to lie on my lap and have me tickle her back. She is somewhat like a cat… and I don’t particularly like cats… so I have to remember that this is how she feels loved.

“Our children need plenty of touches during their first few years. As a baby grows and becomes more active, the need for touch does not lessen. Hugs and kisses, wrestling on the floor, riding piggy-back, and other playful loving touches are vital to the child’s emotional development. Children need many meaningful touches every day and parents should make every effort to provide these expressions of love.”

Practical Ideas:

    • Hug and kiss your child every day when they leave and return from school.
    • Put your hand on their shoulder or back as you approach them or tell them something.
    • Stroke your child’s hair or rub their back when they’ve had a difficult day or are upset.
    • Shortly after disciplining them, take a moment to give them a hug and tell them that you still love and cherish them.
    • Snuggle closely together on the couch when watching a movie.
    • With younger children, read stories together with your child on your lap.
    • Occasionally yell out for a group hug for your entire family.
    • Tuck them in at night – (I vividly remember feeling loved by my mother when she sat by my bed to talk as I went to bed… and I know my kids feel that too, but I need to do better.)

words - words of affir

This one is my Katie. She loves to hear that I’m proud of her or that I think she looks beautiful or that I think she made a smart decision. Who doesn’t?

“In communicating love, words are powerful. Words of affection an endearment, words of praise and encouragement, words that give positive guidance all say, “I care about you”. Such words nurture the child’s inner sense of worth and security. Even though such words are quickly said, they are not soon forgotten. A child reaps the benefits of affirming words for a lifetime. Conversely, cutting words, spoken out of short-lived frustration, can hurt a child’s self-esteem and cast doubts about his abilities. Children think we deeply believe what we say.”

Practical Ideas:

    • Write love notes to each child several times a year.
    • Put a post-it note in their lunchbox with some encouraging words.
    • Take a picture your child has created and frame it with a note of why it means so much.
    • Make a poster of praise to put on their bedroom door.
    • When a child makes a mistake trying to do something helpful, first use words that recognize that you knew of their good intentions.
    • Leave a note on a cereal box, bathroom mirror or other place you know your child will look.
    • Make a habit of mentioning something specific you’ve observed that highlights your child’s accomplishments.
    • Make mention of each child and their accomplishments during Family prayer.

words - quality time

This is one of Ryan’s main ones. He’s always wanting to play games with us, watch movies, and stay up and talk to us. He craves attention from the both of us.

“The most important factor in quality time is not the event itself but that you are doing something together, being together. Quality time does not require that you go somewhere special. You can provide focused attention almost anywhere, and your most nurturing quality times will often be at home, when you are alone with a child. Finding time to be alone with each child is not easy, and yet it is essential. In a society where people are increasingly spectators rather than participants, focused attention from parents is all the more critical. It takes real effort to carve out this kind of time in your schedule, and yet making the effort is rather like an investment in the future.”

“Quality time should include pleasant, loving eye contact. Looking in your child’s eyes with care is a powerful way to convey love from your heart to the heart of your child. Studies have shown that most parents use eye contact in primarily negative ways, either while reprimanding a child or giving very explicit instructions. Most of your eye contact must be pleasant and loving.”

Practical Ideas:

    • Include your child in your daily activities such as laundry, grocery shopping, or washing dishes.
    • Stop what you are doing to make eye contact with your child as they tell you something important.
    • Cook something together for a snack.
    • When a younger child is showing you something, crouch down to their eye level or gather them into your arms.
    • Seek opportunities to spend time together as a family.
    • Share more meals together as a family.
    • Open up a photo album that has pictures of your child’s earlier life. Sit together and talk about the fun and emotion of the events in the pictures.
    • Ask very specific questions about your child’s day that do not have a yes or no answer.

words - gifts

“The grace of giving has little to do with the size and cost of the gift. It has everything to do with love. Today we parents don’t always think of necessities as gifts but as items we must supply for our children. And yet, we often give these items with loving hearts for the sincere benefit of our children. Let’s celebrate such gifts. Unwrapping a present provides an emotional thrill for a child, and you can demonstrate that every gift, whether a necessity or a luxury, is an expression of your love.”

As I order or buy things my children ‘need’, such as new clothing, I usually save them in a basket above my closet. For Valentine’s day my children all received a new item of clothing wrapped in red paper… all from the purchases I had done in the last couple of months and saved waiting for a special event. I could of just given it to them earlier but the excitement of seeing the presents wrapped made everything more exciting. It’s not the PRESENT that’s important; it’s how things are PRESENTED. To go along with our Valentine’s gifts we had a Valentine’s Day Dinner with all red food. Then I hung “love note” hearts down from the ceiling to hover over the table. When Luke came in to the dining room and saw what I was doing he exclaimed, “Oh, Mom, I love you!” He could just tell I was doing something special… and could really feel it as an expression of my love, even as a 3 year old.

Practical Ideas:

    • Give personally made coupons for your child, good for some of their favorites, such as an extra half hour of time with you before bedtime, or a small treat next time you are shopping together.
    • make after school snacks memorable by serving them on a special plate in a funny place.
    • Create a scavenger hunt for a gift that includes a map and clues along the way to the main surprise.
    • Hide a small gift in your child’s lunchbox.
    • Give hints leading toward a special upcoming gift. A countdown of notes help create huge anticipation and a tremendous amount of love for those who especially enjoy receiving gifts.
    • Keep a chart and some fun stickers to keep a record of accomplishments. Reward your child with a gift after a set number of stickers are earned.

words - service

This is one of my main love languages. If anyone volunteers to help with laundry or dinner then I really feel loved… as this is what occupies most of my time.

As a love language for children, it’s a little different…

“Loving service is an internally motivated desire to give one’s energy to others. Loving service is a gift, not a necessity, and is done freely, not under coercion. When parents serve their children with a spirit of resentment and bitterness, a child’s physical needs may be met, but his emotional development will be greatly hampered. Because service is so daily, even the best parents need to stop for an attitude check now and then, to be sure that their acts of service are communicating love.” I thought that was note-worthy. I need an attitude check every now and again… and I also need to verbalize that I do what I do because I love them.

Acts of service can become a model for your child’s service and responsibility. You may wonder how your children will develop their own independence and competence if you serve them. But as you express your love by acts of service to your children, doing things they may not yet be able to do for themselves, you are setting a model. This will help them escape their self-centered focus and help others. That’s our ultimate goal as parents. Thus, acts of service has an intermediate step. We serve our children, but as they are ready, we teach them how to serve themselves and then others.”

Practical Ideas:

    • Help your child practice for their sports team
    • Sit down and help your child as they work on homework.
    • Make a favorite snack when your child is having a difficult day.
    • Instead of just telling your younger children to go to bed, pick them up and gently carry them and tuck them in their blankets.
    • Begin teaching your child the importance of serving others by helping them serve someone else in the family.

It has been interesting to explain the five love languages to our children and ask them what they think they are. My older children really understand it quite well. Additionally, our children need to know what OUR love languages are. By communicating to our children what makes US feel loved they will be more aware of what they need to do to show us love. Chris jokes that since we have 6 kids and each need 5 different love languages… plus each other… that’s 35 love languages to keep track of each day…that’s a lot of love! Sometimes I am aware of my children’s ‘languages’ and other times I’m too impatient to give them what they really need or too frantic to notice until the day is over and I’m reflecting about missed opportunities. But I love the concept and I’m trying to incorporate the ideas more and more.

Developing, Nurturing and Maintaining a good relationship with our Children – Part 4

attitude word

It’s easier to have a positive relationship with positive people.

Luke DOES NOT like to be sad. If he’s frustrated about something, or has just been scolded, then he asks us to find his happy face. He’s done this for a year now and he came up with the whole thing on his own. For a year we have responded by looking around to see if we can find it, while he quickly wipes his eyes and surprises us with a huge smile and then giggles. It works like a charm. As he approached turning three I wondered if he would ever grow out of this. I’m sure his wife is going to just love having to find his happy face all the time. So lately I’ve started to say, “Luke, you need to find your own happy face… YOU find it.” to which he sobs back… “I don’t know how!” So, for now, we’re still finding it for him… but we do appreciate the fact that he LOVES to be happy and HATES to be sad.

I know that your attitude towards EVERYTHING in life determines so much of the outcome. We really try to teach our kids to have a good attitude. I’m constantly telling them that THEY are in charge of the way they react to anything. They’re in charge of being happy. I admire people who look at the glass half full… and try to teach my kids to do the same.

On our summer points charts the kids are given points for each job or responsibility and can spend points on rewards. 10 points for just accomplishing the job… OR 20 points for accomplishing the job with a happy attitude. The kids have learned fast that having a good attitude pays off.

When we decided to move to Germany we explained to the kids how life would be different. Different, not bad. We made two posters… one with “Things we’ll miss” and one with “Things we are excited for”. For the next month anytime anyone thought of anything for either chart we’d write it on there. It allowed the kids to celebrate their emotions. Once we were finished we had two positive charts… One of all the things that we had loved about Georgia and one of all the things that we were going to love about Germany. It helped us say goodbye with gratitude and hello with excitement.

Ideas for teaching a positive attitude:

  • Be a good example of a positive attitude.
  • Be constantly finding the good in the situation and verbalizing it to your children.
  • Have discussions about things you are grateful for and write them down.. and not just in November!
  • Every day at dinner talk about why you are so happy or so grateful. Ask the kids to do it too.
  • Pray for a good attitude.
  • Sometimes when my children say something negative, I have them then say five things positive. It could be about anything or anybody.


Vision. Communication. Love. Attitude. and let me add two more words… PRACTICE and PRAYER.

I’ve enjoyed reading some great books and articles lately. It seemed everything I picked up had to do with this topic in one way or another and I couldn’t possibly fit all of the the wonderful material in. But my testimony is strengthened, I’ve learned a LOT, and I’m excited to be more FOCUSED on creating and maintaining great relationships with my family. I can think of nothing I want more. True happiness. How blessed we are to understand the importance of good family relationships… especially in a world that values the family less and less.

Wasn't that beyond wonderful! No go worth and be better mother's! THANKS LISA! (and Rachel for the heads up!)