Family December 2013

Family December 2013

Sunday, August 3, 2014

My Final Semester

I got a B in one of my classes this last semester.  This may sound like no big deal, but it was a deliberate choice I made.  It may be difficult for some people to comprehend my achieving, perfectionistic personality, but I was really excited about graduating with a perfect 4.0.  I may have slightly overplanned my summer, but I was feeling really burnt out from my internship, crazy class load and COMPS/NCE.  I needed a vacation in a major way!

I had already committed to take Andrew to BYU Math camp for the summer, and after Brandon begging to go to Alamosa and visit all his friends, I decided that we might as well drive the extra 18 hours there and back as long as we were already so close.  So, just a few weeks into my summer semester and final two classes we packed up and headed out for a two day, twenty hour drive. 

It was totally worth it....we had such a fun time visiting our friends, floating the Rio Grande, going to Splashland, eating at SLV Pizza, and most importantly for me, gaining closure to our life in Colorado.

After a very relaxing time, we got back in the car and headed to Utah......not quite as relaxing.  This was my driving pattern for the week:  (If you are familiar with Utah, you will appreciate the miles I put on my car.)  Day 1:  Drive from Alamosa to Centerville to drop Brandon off at his friend's house for the week, drive back to Draper to stay with Cami's kids.  Day 2:  Drive from Draper to Orem to drop off Zachary and then on to BYU to drop off the boys (we had Evan with us for the whole trip) to math camp, quick stop in American Fork to get Connor a new pair of glasses, drive to Thanksgiving point to check out the new Museum of Natural Curiosity which is very cool but also VERY crowded, head back to pick up glasses, drive to BYU to check out the bookstore and have dinner in the creamery and then drive back to Orem to stay at Cousin's house.

Day 3:  First stop BYU, back to Thanksgiving Point to check out the gardens and the Dinosaur Museum, go to Orem to hang out for a while, and then BYU and back to Orem for the slowest day.  Day 4:  BYU, drop off Nicole at Aunika's house in Saratoga Springs, take Isaac and Connor up to Draper to meet their ride to scout camp, back down to Orem, BYU to pick up boys, and back to Orem.  Day 5:  BYU, Orem, BYU, Orem, shopping for a few things that I needed. Day 6:  BYU, Saratoga Springs to pick up Nicole, Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake to meet Melanie and pick up Brandon & Austin.  I must say that the Bird show at the Zoo was the highlight of the week for me.  It was absolutely amazing!  Back down to BYU to pick up the other boys, up to Orem so Brandon and Austin can get ready for their quadruple date with LaRae and BriAnna, out to dinner and back to Orem.

Day 7:  Down to BYU to drop off boys at math camp, go to pick up Zachary from EFY but can't find him, back to Orem, back to BYU where I find him sleeping in a booth at the BYU creamery, back to Orem, pack up our stuff and get the kids, drive up to Centerville to drop off Austin and hang out for an hour, head to the store to get snacks for the trip home, down to Draper to pick up Connor and Isaac from scout camp, out to dinner, go to Cami's house.....fall asleep at 8 pm and wake up at 8 am the next morning.

From there on out it was easy.  I drove the 8 hours to Sparks where we spent the night and then drove home with my mom and Lenaya following us.

We spent the week of the fourth together which was an emotional week for us.  The anniversary of my dad's death on the 5th will always hold new meaning for me.  Still, the week went so much better with family there and we were able to create some new, happy memories. 

Isaac was our 6th child for the month.  He came out to go to scout camp with Connor only to discover that we had the wrong was a bummer, but I'm still glad we got to have him!  (Oh yea, I was still doing homework, taking tests and staying on top of my readings through all this).

Then, a couple of days after they left we went on a fun trip to Bend, Oregon.  That was a pretty relaxing trip, and I got a few more assignments done from the hotel between checking out different parks, museums, restaurants, and exploring the town.

The same day we got back from Bend, our friends the Smiths came out for what turned out to be a FABULOUS weekend.  We got to go see a beautiful waterfall near Crater Lake together, which reminded me of waterfalling with my dad.  We all got along great and stayed up way too late talking.  I foresee many wonderful visits now that we live so much closer!

The day after they left, Cami and her family came for a few days.  I had a great time catching up and hearing about her trip to Europe.  The day after they left, I got my grade back for one of my papers.  I got a 68%, because I interpreted the assignment differently than my teacher did, but she gave me the option to redo the paper for a higher grade.  I only had one day before the semester ended, and I really thought about doing it.  That is all it would take to have a perfect 4.0.  Maybe I would regret it forever if I stuck with the original grade.  Then I thought about it some more and realized I already have the job I want, no one will care about any of my grades, but the peace of mind to just walk away and be done was more important to me in that moment.

So, I don't have a perfect GPA.  And I am okay with that.  It reminds me of the Alaskan dream catchers.  A native Athabascan woman I met told me that they purposely leave a flaw somewhere in the dreamcatcher, to let the demons out.  I guess getting a B is my way to show that I am still human, and honestly after a semester as crazy as this one, having an A and a B is truly miraculous.

Oh, and I am not traveling further east than Reno for the next year!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

End of the School Year

This was a busier than usual end of the school year full of lots of endings.  We enjoyed attending Nicole's spring homeschool choir concert!  They did an outstanding job.

I included one of Connor's contruction projects in my post.  He loves to take pictures with my camera and usually there are dozens of his creations included.  He still loves architecture!  He also enjoys exploring. 

On the first nice night of the year, I hurried home from my internship and took the kids to the Link River trail to see the Klamath Falls.

The original falls were replace with dam and some of the water is diverted in an old wooden pipe that is full of leaks.  It is quite beautiful to watch the water shooting out and the moss growing on the outside.

The falls were never huge, but they are even smaller now....only about 6 feet tall.

At some point Danielle confiscated my shades.  She looked pretty cute in them.

You can see one of the falls in the left corner of the picture below:

This is the dam covering up the old falls.

And here are the rest of the mighty Klamath Falls:

Nicole and I had a fun time coming up with an animal costume for a birthday party.  We made a snail costume out of old packing paper.

What a relief to have the kid's school year at an end.  I only have 5 weeks to go to graduate!  It is so close I can hardly stand it!  Hopefully next year will have a little more normalcy to it!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Before and After


I always love to see before and after pictures from house projects, and I amazingly remembered to take a few shots to show the stark difference in my boy's room.  If they were 3 and 4, they would love this room, but being 11 and 14, they wanted a more mature look.  They chose a soft blue and green for their respective sides of the room.  This bedroom is ridiculously huge, and it looks even bigger now with the new paint color.  Eventually, I will get a few more math and architecture decorations up, but for now it is pretty spartan.

The closets looked almost yellow next to that vibrant blue, but with a new color they take on the beautiful wood tones once again.

We have an extra bed in the room, so that whenever we have company, Brandon can sleep in a bed downstairs.  We even kept the extra mattress for other company.  It is nice to have the room for them without feeling crowded.

This is the view of Andrew's side on the left and Connor's on the right.


Andrew's new corner is in the blue he chose with green behind the bookcase.

Connor's side before:

And after:

I used one coat of Sherwin William's primer and then one coat of their highest grade paint and it worked wonders!  I will never buy Wal-Mart paint again.

This is Connor's green side.  It is actually a richer color than the pictures let on.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Emerging From the Dust

My goal when I started this blog was to have at least two updates a month.  During the last couple years with my increased busyness I lowered my expectations to once.  Last month was the height of my craziness and though I longed for a spare moment to write something down, I never had that moment. 

I am relieved to have my internship behind me...not because I disliked it, but only because of how out-of-control my life was.  I absolutely loved my internship and everything I learned, but there were sacrifices from all of our family to make it happen.

I must admit that I wasn't the best homeschooling mom much of the year.  My kids were given a lot more responsibility in their education and less instruction.  They felt a lot of pressure.  Few reprieves from the pressure were available, because I spent those spare moments catching up on home and doing my homework.  We had far fewer field trips, playdates and activities.  I felt enormous loads of guilt as I left my children once again to head out to my internship, while repeating my mantra of the year, "This is only temporary!"

I had little time to do all the activities that I love, missing two years of book club, neglecting my scrapbooks, and settling for a less-than spotless house.  I juggled a mighty load and dropped more than one ball.  My quest for perfection was thwarted until I finally settled for competency. 

Looking back, I remember a favorite quote, "Sacrifice is giving up something good for something better."  I have always had the dream of being a counselor, and while I still have much to learn on that journey I am starting the realize that wish.  When someone is willing to share the shadows of their lives with me I deem it a sacred trust.  I feel it a privilege to walk a path of healing with the clients who come into my life. 

I also feel that we all have grown so much with this burden.  My children have found themselves capable of more than they realized.  When they had to wait an extra 15 minutes or 5 hours to have help with math they often figured it out on their own.  They found new ways to entertain themselves without playgroups or field trips that were quite creative and ingenious.  We were definitely closer as a family with fewer distractions to pull us in a dozen directions.  I also know I will savor the moments that I once took for granted....reading a book for fun is a joy.  Playing a game without a care is bliss.  Going on an unhurried walk in the sunshine while chatting with my kids is a delight.

I am down to my last semester and have already been offered a job upon graduation.  The nice thing is that I set my limit and will only work 1 1/2 days a week, so that I can place my focus back on where it belongs.  It will take a summer and longer to dig myself out of the past few years, but we will all emerge better people for the work.  I am especially so grateful....  To my husband for making dinner several nights a week when I got home after him, for my kids with their tolerance for frozen soup or lasagne yet again, and most of all for Heavenly help that inspired and then strengthened me to do that task required.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Danielle turns 4!

Danielle's birthday fell on a Wednesday this year, which is a crazy day for us, so it was a rushed birthday.  She is in love with anything "My Little Pony" right now and made it easy to please her.  We just bought her a few ponies and she was happy.  I also braided her hair across her head like I do for Nicole, and she looked so beautiful and so old!

Danielle has grown so much.  I knew she would transform this year, but with my internship, I think she has matured that much faster.  She asked for a sun cake, after having a rainbow cake last year, and I was happy to accommodate her.  We had exactly 40 minutes where we were all home to eat dinner, open the rest of her presents, have cake and ice cream and then head to the church for scouts, activity days, and young men's!  It was a wild night, but I think she still enjoyed it.

We recently had a rock show in town that was a lot of fun.  I was fascinated to see how they polish those smooth stones into perfect spheres.

A dinner table was also set up made completely of different rocks.  I still can't get over how realistic it was!

It makes me hungry just looking at that bowl of jello or the yummy drinks.  The loaf of bread looks amazing.

I also found a picture from when Nick and Karla were in town when we climbed the hill behind our house.  Glad that I have at least one photo to commemorate that wonderful visit!

In other news, I was just called as our Young Women's President today, so we won't be slowing down any time soon.  It will be great!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

What's red and white and takes a lot of heart?

 I had to share the totally cute Valentine's hairdos that I gave my girls.  I wish I could take credit, but I found the directions on

Danielle had her first Valentine's party at her preschool, and we thought it would be fun to make heart cookies for all her friends as well as a large heart to decorate for each family member.  I always like projects that everyone gets into.

The first Valentine's Day that I knew Nathan, I made him heart shaped cookies with pink frosting, and this year I was feeling nostalgic to carry on that tradition. 

Last year we were apart on Valentine's Day.  He was alone in Klamath Falls, and I was with the kids at a BYU traveling dance concert called All About Love that was good to distract me, but still made me miss him.

This year it was so nice to be settled and able to make cookies and have him come home for the evening and join us.

It was also nice to make the house as messy as I wanted to and not worry about cleaning it to show potential buyers.

I prefer soft sugar cookies, though my mom is partial to the crunchy version, because that is what her mother made her.  Somehow it skipped my generation.  My kids are all unified with me that the soft ones are the best.

Of course the most important part of the sugar cookie is not the cookie itself, but the frosting, preferably homemade.

I think Danielle ingested more frosting than cookies, and that's saying a lot, because she ate plenty of cookies.

Who can resist an almost 4-year old though.

We ended up with enough cookies for her class and some to spare.

For our date, we traveled to Ashland, where Brandon was having a basketball game.  We had dinner at the most delicious restaurant.  I will eat there from now on whenever I make the hour-long drive.  It was hand made pasta with roasted organic vegetables and so delicious.  I had the butternut squash and walnut ravioli topped with basil cream sauce.  It was hands down the best meal I've had since Atlantic Fish in Boston.

After dinner we watched the second half of Brandon's game.  He has gotten increasingly better this season, and I am proud of how hard he has worked.  Considering we just moved here this year, he has a bunch of great friends and fits right into the team.

His coach was full of positives, saying that he has one of the best shots on Varsity and JV and that he is a great player.

Danielle has been to a fair share of his games this year, but she really doesn't enjoy basketball as much as her ponies.

Brandon had 100% shooting for free-throws this season.  We were especially impressed when he was fouled attempting a 3-pointer and made 3 free throws in a row!

So, what's red and white and takes a lot of heart.....Valentine's Day and Pelican basketball!