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30 Days real life day 3

4 Oct

When the captain is gone for a weekend drill, his side of the bed does not stay empty.  The kiddie pies take full advantage of the situation.

Hunka Munka

10 Mar


Baby Bean is 2 months old!

She weighs 14+ pounds.

She smiles and coos at us.

She drools and makes spit bubbles.

A  lot.

She does not sleep from 9pm-1 am.

Sigh. I’m doing pretty well on just 5 hours of sleep a night.

It sure is fun to snuggle this little fatty. I had forgotten how much I love babies.



Family Night Fun

23 Jan


This is our new Family Home Evening job rotation chart.

I made it. *self-satisfied smirk*

I am so proud of it and it WORKS!

We have a special night each Monday where we get together and sing a couple songs, have a short spiritual lesson/devotional, eat a treat, and play games together.

At least that has always been the goal, but it didn’t happen regularly enough.

Then I made the job chart. I looked on Pinterest for inspiration. There were many beautiful, trendy charts pictured. Some were even a free printable download. But they had two problems:

1- usually they only had 4 jobs, some had as many as 6, but I needed 8.

2- my children who are not old enough to read wouldn’t be able to tell what their job was.

Then I stumbled across a picture where the family had hand drawn bodies for each job and then everyone made a self portrait head. The heads rotated from body to body each week.

I drew this one– tracing some to make the bodies more uniform. Then I gave each person an oval to draw their face in. I mounted the ovals on card stock and Popsicle sticks to make them easy to handle. The chart is mounted on a Manila file folder. I used a mat knife to cut slits through the folder at each neck.

I love this chart because:

1: the kiddie pies are so excited about it that we haven’t missed a family home evening in 4 months, except the Monday is was in hospital with the new baby. In fact, Key Lime Pie gets upset because she wants to have family night more often.

2: The ones who can’t read can look at the bodies and know what their job is.

3. it looks like something my mom or aunt would have made back before there were computers and free printables online for everything. Back when you had to make stuff yourself.

4. it is hilarious when Blueberry Pie or The Man of the House is in charge of the song, and their head is on the body with the necklace.

5. The self-portraits are awesome. Key Lime Pie’s face is purple because she insisted on coloring the blood that is under her skin.

6. did i mention that I made it?

I had scanned my body drawings and made a PDF for anyone else who wanted to use it, but that file is trapped in my dead computer, so if you love this idea you’ll just have to make it yourself like I did. It’s worth it!


Tiny Pigtails

25 Jul


Things that make me happy.

Pioneer Day Primary

6 Aug
The Lt. took this picure in Guatemala

I do love Sunday, and Fast Sunday is the best of all the Sundays, except maybe Christmas Sunday.  In our ward, there are a lot of people who are related.  This is fine until they all go somewhere else for a family reunion.
Then I lose a whole bunch of my Primary teachers.  They all got substitutes, but I had 2 other teachers missing who didn’t.  We also had about 15 visiting kids.  I discovered the missing teachers about halfway through the first hour of primary.  Luckily they were from classes where there are 2 teachers, so the kids weren’t alone, and I was able to find some last minute helpers to fill in.

You’d think that being ultimately responsible for the instruction of more than 80 children on Sunday would be very tiring.  I do have one or two teachers that like to stir up drama and occasionally they’ll stress me out, but I really love teaching the children and somehow it is energizing, not draining.

Last week was the Sunday after Pioneer Day  .  This is my favorite sharing time of the whole year.  I wore my pioneer dress and apron and gathered all the children on a blanket and told them stories of real children who crossed the plains 165 years ago.  Our theme for the year in primary is “Choose the Right”  so for this lesson, I talked about how the pioneer children chose the right, and so could we.  One of the stories I told them was about a family who went through the hole in the rock.  It is a great story.  You can read it here.  I think pioneer day might be the kids’ favorite sharing time of the whole year also.  I didn’t have to ask anyone to be quiet, at least.  They were all listening and still.


And there you have my theory of teaching.  You don’t need lots of bells and whistles–just a good story that is true that you care about and the kids will care about it too.

We each can learn much from our early pioneer ancestors, whose struggles and heartaches were met with resolute courage and an abiding faith in a living God. Thomas S. Monson

Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation. Joel 1:3

Oh, what do you do in the summertime when all the world is green?

18 Jul

The Man of the House and I have been talking about having the kids be in a sport for some time, years really.   The conversation goes something like this:

Him:  “I really want the kids to be in sports.  What is coming up?  Could they be in soccer?”

Me: “I think soccer already started.  But next fall/spring/summer we’ll do it, I promise.  I just don’t have time to drive them all over the place to practice and games right now.”

But this summer I bit the bullet and agreed to give up my time and the Man of the House paid the bill for the kids to be on Swim Team.

The team warming up.

We’ve loved swim team.  Practice is every morning, but they all practice at the same time and since it is summer now, we don’t have to do anything else.  So having practice has kept us on a halfway decent schedule.  Plus, 3 of my 6 kids could save themselves if they fell out of a boat.  most likely.  better chance than before anyway.

I haven’t even minded being at the park for 2 hours every day.  Sometimes I even walk laps around the playground!

And the swim meets are super fun–like an 8 hour picnic with an exciting race every hour or so.  The weather has been really hot, so my only wish is that I could get in the pool every so often.

We’ve found some fun things:

Turns out, Gwenny is very competitive.  She was nervous her first meet, after all, she could barely swim when we had signed her up for the team and had only been practicing 2 weeks.

Her second meet, she knew what to do and swam like a whole different person.  She cut a whopping 20 seconds off her best time on the 25 yard freestyle.

Gwenny- freestyle is her favorite stroke.

She came out of the water full of excitement and told me, “next time, I’m winning my heat.”

Here is Gwenny waiting for her turn.

Guess what!?

At the next meet, she won her heat!

Gwenny winning her heat in the 25 yard backstroke!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Then she had times for both her freestyle and her backstroke that were just 2-3 seconds off from being “A times.”  Having an A time makes you one of the top 10 fastest swimmers in your age group and qualifies you for a completely separate championship at the end of the season.

There are 2 “divisions” for every race.  The swimmers with seed times (or entry times) that are A times are the “A Division” and the swimmers with B seed times are the “C Division”–don’t ask me why they don’t call it the B Division. 

They give medals for the top 3 in each division.

At our most recent meet last weekend, Gwendolyn’s seed times were B times, so she was in the C Division.  However, she bettered both her times by about 3 seconds scoring not only A times but coming in 3rd place for C division in freestyle and 2nd place for C division in backstroke.  So she got 2 medals and will be swimming in the A Championships. 

A 10-year-old boy from Joplin broke 2 tri-state records.  They announced his name and the record he broke over the loud speaker each time.  
Gwendolyn was like, “There are records and we can break them?”

I looked up the tri-state record for her age group for the 25 yard freestyle. (They print them on the heat sheets that we get to know when our kids race.)  She would have to cut 10 more seconds  off her time to beat the record which has stood since 1989.

She has record breaking in her sights now, so WATCH OUT!!

The yellow cap is Benji

Benji & Ana are not competitive.  They do usually get a personal best time each race they swim, but it is only 1 or 2 seconds better.   

Benji doing the butterfly as part of the dreaded “IM”  100 yard Medley where they have to swim 25 yards of each butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, & freestyle.

I think Benji might be more excited if he was winning or getting A times or even close to either.  But most of the swimmers in his age group have been swimming a lot longer than half a summer.  So he is last or almost last every time.  I think this disappoints him, but he also doesn’t have that fire of focus in his face like Gwenny does.

Benji doing the 50 yard backstroke.  He has been lapped here, which is why that other guy is going the opposite direction.  rats.

Ana hates race day and whines every time we go to a meet.  But I found what motivates her!

Ana doing the breast stroke in the IM Medley

At our meet last weekend, there was an ice cream stand next to the pool.  She was pestering me about getting ice cream and I was saying “No” of course.  Finally she said, “Mom, if I win my heat, which ice cream can I have?”

I said nothing, as I had already informed her that I was not buying ice cream.

“MOM, if I win my heat, which ice cream can I have?”

I thought, “She’ll never win her heat.”  so I said, “If you win your heat, you can choose any ice cream you want.”

I saw that look of focus and determination take over her face and I thought, “She might do it!”

Ana doing the 50 yard backstroke

She walked up to the starting blocks and for the first time ever, I could see that she was going to really try her best.  I decided to myself that if she bettered her time by something significant, like 10 seconds, that I would buy her ice cream anyway, regardless if she won her heat or not.

She got a best time ticket but we didn’t know how fast she had been.  I could tell she had swum her hardest.  I was so excited that when Benji came up for his race, which was right after Ana’s, I told him through the fence that if he bettered his time by 10 seconds that he could have ice cream too.

Benji looked pretty determined to get ice cream.  At the end of his race, he told me his timer told him he bettered his time by 9 seconds and was that good enough for ice cream? 

I bought ice cream for all three kids, and we rejoiced in sweet success.

When the times were posted, we found that Benji had cut 8.8 seconds off his freestyle and 2.77 seconds off his backstroke.

Ana  cut 6.5 seconds off her freestyle and 11.95 seconds off her backstroke!!!

She may not care about winning, but she cares about ice cream!

All in all, Saturday was a very satisfying day for all of us.

Cupcake Wars

15 Jun

One of the girls’ favorite things to do is watch Cupcake Wars with their Grannie on Sunday evening.  The problem with watching a show about cupcakes on a Sunday evening is we all get really hungry for cupcakes.  They’ve been begging me for awhile to have our own cupcake wars.

So on Memorial Day we did.

I went easy on myself and bought 2 cake mixes rather than making the batter from scratch.  I listed the “pantry” choices on the fridge and the girls each planned their cupcake.  For the filling, I made a cream cheese & sugar base and let them stir in their flavor of choice.  For the frosting, I made vanilla buttercream and again, let them add the extra flavor of their choice.  They were thrilled.

Cupcake: butter or chocolate
Filling: cream cheese, chocolate (cocoa), peanut butter, strawberry jam
Frosting: vanilla, chocolate, caramel, lemon
Decorations: twizzlers, silver dragees, colored sugar sprinkles, gummy bears, star shaped marshmallows

Our theme (chosen by Grannie) was Girl Scout Camping.
Cherry Pie made a butter cupcake with chocolate filling and vanilla buttercream, topped with a twizzler camp fire.

Pumpkin Pie made a butter cupcake, no filling, with vanilla buttercream, topped with a smiling girl scout face made with twizzlers and silver dragees

Tamale Pie made a butter cupcake with peanut butter filling and vanilla buttercream, topped with twizzlers and marshmallow stars.

No one chose gummy bears, much to my amazement.

We made Uncle Eddie & his friend Kaitlyn be the judges.  Everybody won and everybody was happy.

I made 2 dozen chocolate cupcakes with chocolate filling and salted caramel buttercream frosting.  (Salted caramel seems to be the fad in desserts right now; it shows up a lot in cupcake wars.  I’ve been dying to try it.)

I got the delicious recipe I used here at  (That’s right, sisters, I didn’t just pin it on Pintrest it, I actually made it.)

Many people who commented on Chow complained about the ratio of butter to powdered sugar.  I personally prefer buttercream that has more butter than sugar, so I knew I would like this one!  I did end up adding a little more sugar, but it was because I heated up the house with all that baking, and the butter was too soft.

Go make some cupcakes.  You know you want to.

Trophy Days

8 Jun

Twelve years ago, I was a brand new mother, sitting at church, with my new baby boy in my arms. Somebody said gloomily from the pulpit, “They don’t give out trophies for being a mother.”

I think the gist of what they meant was that being a mom and raising children right is important, even though the world doesn’t recognize it as a prestigious job/occupation/career.

But as I sat there, I thought to myself, Maybe they don’t hand out trophies, but there will be some “trophy days.” The day my child turns 8 and is baptized a member of the church, that will be a trophy day. The day my son turns 12 and helps to pass the sacrament for the first time, that will be a trophy day.

I don’t mean trophy in the sense that everyone would recognize my “achievements” and heap praise on me as the winner of something. But trophy in the sense that the happiness I would feel on those days would be like the happiness you feel when you finish a race and you feel that all that hard work and sweat and days of running in the rain and running in the heat were all worth it. Or when you receive highest marks on your piano solo at Music Festival and all those hours of practicing until your back ached and your fingers were too stiff to move are *nearly* forgotten/forgiven in the glow of those highest marks.

As I decided what days my trophy days would be, I admitted to myself that they would be few and far between–an allowance for that person who thought there weren’t any trophies at all.

Now 12 years have passed. I am mother of not 1 but 6 children. I have a new baby. My little baby that was is now a 12 year old boy and will be ordained a deacon on Sunday. In another month a daughter will turn 8 and be baptized.

Those trophy days aren’t few and far between at all.

And there have been many more trophy days that I never dreamed of twelve years ago.

Days of finding little scraps of wrinkled paper love notes on my pillow.

Days when a child comes home from school with a poem they had to write about the color brown, and they wrote about brown hair waving in the wind.

Days when I ask the kids to clean up and they actually do it without complaining or fighting.

Days when I’m sick and my 3 year old curls up in the bed next to me and pats my neck with her little hand because that is the best kind of comfort she knows how to give.

Days like last Sunday, when the DH was gone to guard drill and I had an early morning church meeting. I set breakfast on the table, woke up the children, and asked them to eat and dress themselves for church, promising to be back in one hour. When I returned home, they were dressed with shoes on and even hair brushed, ready to get in the van. (p.s. I did take the baby with me)

On Sunday, when I shared these thoughts, I said at the end, “Every day is a trophy day when you are a mom.” That was just nerves, realizing I’d said what I’d thought and didn’t know quite how to end and get away from the microphone… and maybe a bit of the emotion of the moment making me feel like that if I were a perfect human, I would find those trophy moments every day. I know that every day isn’t a trophy day.
But they are there, generously sprinkled in, and they are what remind me to be happy when the struggle of life has made me forget.

Cookie Cutters

16 Apr

Baby Dumpling is four months old. She weighs 13 lbs. 2 oz (35th percentile) and is 26 inches long (98th percentile) Tall and skinny.

I don’t know how you feel about your kids, but mine all seem to look quite a bit alike–they are born and I think, “well, it’s mine alright. Cookie Cutter kids.” But as they grow, they remind me of first one and then another sibling. So I went to the scrapbook and pulled out a 4 month old picture of each of my babies to compare.

First thing I thought was “I don’t remember them looking like that!”
Second, though there are similarities, I can easily tell all six apart. I think a lot of their similarities are in their expressions and the way they move. These are things you can’t see in pictures

Psalms 127:3-5 Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. 4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. 5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them….

Matthew 18:5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

Oh what a tangled web…

23 Mar

Somebody likes to help tie Mommy’s shoes