Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Break, Vernal

School got out last Friday (or the day before for Joseph). I was really glad, because I got a terrible sore throat, and now, a runny nose and cough. Katie woke up on Sunday with impetigo on her face, so I consulted Dr. Grandpa and got the appropriate cream to take care of it. Everyone is on the mend. The boys didn't get sick at all as far as I can tell. I haven't been taking care of myself as well recently, so I'm not all that surprised that I got the worst cold I've had in several years. Despite not maintaining my health perfectly, I have maintained my weight, so I think that counts for something.

I finally got Christmas cards sent off and finished shopping for presents. I also got my baking done for neighbor gifts, and we delivered the rest of those last night while looking at Christmas lights. I caught up on sewing and repairs on Monday while my piano was getting tuned. It was so badly out of tune that he had to do it twice!

We found a Christmas tree! We were at D.I. (where else?) and saw that Christmas decorations were 50% off. There was a 7-foot, fully decorated tree that had been sold for charity (like 500 bucks) - and we got it for 25. James had to go back to get it, it was so big. I spent a couple hours un-decorating and then redecorating it. It had too many ornaments for my taste, and I wanted to change the color scheme as well.

We opened our presents this morning since we decided there were too many to take with us to Rexburg. I'm glad we did, since the kids got puzzles and books that I do NOT want to hunt down at Grandma's house. I think everyone was pleased with their presents. Katie's main gift was a dress up box, the boys got transformers and James got a Star Wars computer game that he's been playing nonstop. My main gift was the piano, but I also got a few books and things for the kitchen, like a real scale! I plan on trying a lot of Alton Brown recipes, and they are all measured in weight, hence the scale.

Today is packing and cleaning day. I'm also going to make a cake for Christian's birthday tomorrow. We will travel to Rexburg tomorrow and hopefully have good roads. Since I won't write again until next week for sure...

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Organizing

This past week hasn't been too bad except for this horrible sore throat I have. I think it's the most painful one I've had since childhood. Thankfully, it's just the beginning of a cold and not anything else, so I should feel better soon.

Katie doesn't take a lot of naps these days (maybe 1 hour every 3 days), so I've been using that afternoon time to organize my already-OCD house. James rolls his eyes a little, but hey, I think it's fun. Stuff I moved around:

1. Linens. I put them under the beds they go to instead of up on a high shelf in the laundry room where I can't reach them. I also cleared the ones from under my bed and put them in a bathroom cabinet. I have hopes of building myself a food storage bed one day in the future.

2. Moved all the towels to the small bathroom (what guests use) and rolled them up nicely.

3. Sorted through the 72-hour kit and put it on the high shelf in the laundry room, which leaves 2 shelves clear to fit in a future extra freezer - hopefully next year! I also used a bungee cord and some curtains to cover up those ugly shelves and the litter box.

4. Sorted through all the tools (since I could never find what I needed) and put the small ones in a clear, over-the-door shoe organizer. I even sorted through all the drill bits, stored the extras in the shed, and put the rest in order in a little plastic organizer, which I washed out  in the dishwasher first.

5. Turned Katie's crib into a daybed and swapped it with Kenny's toddler bed. Fixed the rail on it so Katie won't roll out of bed. I can tell she feels like a really big girl now.

6. Inventoried all the food I canned during the summer and made a plan to use it up over the next 1-2 years. I will know exactly how much I need to make next year when the time comes.

7. Swapped children's clothes from cardboard boxes to suitcases that we never use. I know exactly what I have for upcoming sizes, so it looks like I won't need to buy any clothes at yard sales next year. Hand-me-downs are the best! And I even recycled the boxes.

8. Sorted through the board games closet and got rid of a few things.

9. Turned the entertainment center on its side so it lies horizontal instead of vertical like a bookcase. Plugging everything back in is always my least favorite part.

All I can think of now is sorting through our old bills and bookcases. I don't see getting rid of a lot from there, but we'll see. At least it takes my mind off of this sore throat.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Growing a Profitable Garden

It's been a long time since I posted anything about saving money, so I think it's about time! (Mainly, nothing has changed in the past few years in how I do things.)

I've grown a garden for 2 years now and spied on how my neighbors do things. It is possible to grow a garden and not make a penny from it, or it's possible to make quite a bit of profit. I did, and here's how.

1. Find a good spot. In the ground works better than containers. I chose to use square-foot gardening to save space (and my yard is small.)

2. Build boxes (if using) for cheap. We used the boards from an old set of steps to our house before concrete ones were put in. They don't have to be great-looking because they will be filled with dirt.

3. Don't pay for dirt. If there are plants in your area, you can grow a garden with the natural dirt.

4. Don't pay (much) for fertilizer. I use a few small bags of manure every other year, and that's it. My plants grow well. Composting takes some effort, but it also grows healthy plants and is good for the environment!

5. Stay with the growing season. If you try to extend it, you will pay more for cold frames, wall-o-water contraptions, etc. that will make your garden not as profitable.

6. Start from seed or small. I grow everything from seed except for tomatoes and peppers, and I go to the nursery to get the small plants. I have bought 1 or 2 larger plants before when the smaller ones were gone, but the smaller plants did better than the larger ones. The extra 2.50 for the larger plants wasn't worth it at all!

7. Grow things suited to your area. Since I'm in the coldest part of Utah, I've never attempted any tropical plants. The seeds available at the store are a pretty good indication of what will grow here. (I have never seen any pineapple or banana seeds!)

8. Water, wait, and be happy with the results. I tried about 20 different things this year, and all but two grew and produced fruit. I ended up with about 300 pounds of food from a space about 350 square feet. Not bad!

Startup cost: seeds (last several years) ($20) tomato cages ($15) nails to build boxes ($5)

Yearly cost: manure ($10) plants ($15-$20)

Approximate value of the food I grew (in-season, conventional Walmart prices) ($350-$400)

Considering I spent so little on startup/yearly costs, my garden was definitely worth it. That doesn't take into account all the time I got to spend outside, the wonderful Vitamin D, and the best tan I've ever had. I was also able to can about 60 quarts of food. :)

I highly recommend growing a garden, even if it's a small one. The benefits far outweigh the small amount of sweat and money you have to put into it.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Gratitude, Pt. 3

20. James's school gives him an iPad to use. It makes a perfect source of entertainment for my kids in the car and makes the drive seem much shorter.

21. We arrived (and drove home) safely, even though there was a wreck on the way there and a little snow on the way back.

22. I get to visit all 4 of James's grandparents almost every time we go to Rexburg. I'm sad that 2 of my grandparents have passed away and the other 2 live so far away, but I'm grateful for the 4 I have gained.

23. We were able to stick to our Christmas budget, even though it still hasn't increased since we got married. Black Friday can be a blessing, though I am no hardcore shopper. James did the shopping for me, for the most part.

24. We always have enough food to eat. USD gives a certificate for 50 bucks every year, so we were able to stock our freezer and get a few fun extras.

25. We have a warm house to live in. It's been getting the negatives at night, which makes me that much more grateful for a good heater!

26. The snow makes everything look so glittery. It covers up all the dead plants and makes the yard look nice.

27. Our awesome neighbors shoveled our driveway while we were gone. Such a wonderful thing to see when we came home!

28. Our other awesome neighbors took care of feeding the cat.

29. We have a really wonderful ward. Someone left a Christ-centered book for me to use with my family on my front doorstep. I don't know who, but it made my day.

30. Joseph got his first report card, and he is doing great in school. I'm so happy that he loves to learn.

I can't believe November is already gone. Welcome, December! My mood has brightened considerably since October. Maybe it's like PMS - the month before winter is so much worse than the actual winter! :)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

More Gratitude

This has been possibly the roughest week out of the whole year. But still, I am grateful, even after all the stress and tears. There have been many!

13. James's surgery went well, and he didn't feel any more pain after a few days.

14. We were able to stay with James's parents for the trip and actually enjoy it on Saturday.

15. My kids did not get violently ill, and 99% of the puke landed in beds or buckets, not the floor.

16. My washing machine did a great job until the very last load of puke stuff.

17. It overflowed while I was eating breakfast - a huge blessing, because there was still a lot of water.

18. I was able to call Dad and figure out the problem. It isn't fixed because I didn't want to go to the hardware store, but it will be cheap to do so.

19. We have health insurance to help cover the cost of everything. Not everyone gets such good benefits.

I have been beating myself up about the insurance a bit. We went down to the cheapest plan because we thought our expenses would be less than 6 grand, but we were dead wrong on that. Oops. My mistake cost us a few thousand extra which will completely eat up our tax return. Next year, we will move up one plan, because it's the cheapest for expenses up to 25 grand. We have never exceeded that before. Knock on wood.

I wish I could always plan better, but that isn't the case. I have to remind myself that Joseph Smith's family was never rich, not because of negligence, but because of pure bad luck. We are really not so bad off. It will always take lots of effort and sacrifice to stay home instead of supplementing our income, but I'm happy to do it. Now, if no more appliances would break, I'd be really glad!


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Grateful

Another tough week has gone by, but I'm glad for it all the same. Yesterday's trip to the E.R. with James was a little traumatizing. I tend to assume the worst right off, but given 24 hours, I get over that initial trauma and come to terms with what's happened.

6. I'm grateful for modern medicine. Without it, my husband would have died shortly after his birth. This week, he was able to receive medicine to control the pain for a huge kidney stone, which will get taken care of (blasted apart) in the next few days. It will require a trip to Salt Lake.

7. I'm thankful for music. Tender mercies of the Lord led me to D.I. this week, where I was able to purchase a piano in decent condition for 75 bucks. Music uplifts me and fills my heart with joy when I need it most. That piano came just in time for me to fill my house with Christmas music. (It's not so much that I like to start this early, but I really need the practice!)

8. I'm glad for my wonderful friends and neighbors. When I took James to the E.R., the lady next door was able to come over and take care of my kids for me at a moment's notice. This is not the first time I've received acts of kindness from my neighbors. Another neighbor loaned his truck so we could get the piano home and was able to call a few more guys to help unload it.

9. I'm so glad for the world of books. I have loved to read ever since I was able to. Recently, I have felt that I've needed the boost from getting lost in the world of books, so I have been reading a lot instead of working on any specific project. The books I've been reading are historical fiction Christian romances, which aren't necessarily deep reading, but they remind me how important my job as homemaker is.

10. I'm so glad I get to be a homemaker. It's my dream job. I learn from it every day and get to stretch myself (and my patience) in taking care of my home. It's worth every sacrifice.

11. I'm amazed at how wonderful the Internet is. I can't imagine life without it.

12. I'm grateful for modern communication as well. I get to see my family face to face once a week. My children know their grandparents even though they rarely see them in person. What a blessing!


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Happiness

The week overall was a little tough for me. I suspect the weather was partly to blame, because it was windy, cloudy, and overall gloomy for several days in a row. Today, I woke up to s dusting of snow. I usually dread the first snow because it feels symbolically like the end of life for me. Today it made me happy.

There are many things to be grateful for even if I have to be cooped up inside. I'm not one for doing much outside when it's cold. Instead of using Facebook, I think I'll record my thanks here so I can find it in the years to come. So #'s 1-5...

1. I'm grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It blesses my life every day and brings me great happiness.

2. For my husband. He puts up with a lot from this time of year but he's always there for me.

3. My kids. They are a joy to me when they're not an annoyance. ;)

4. Home-cooked meals. I love being able to cook for my family every day. It's so much fun to eat together each night too and enjoy delicious food.

5. Modern conveniences. We had no power for 6 hours yesterday. What a huge blessing it is to have it, along with internet, heat, and running water. I take these things for granted every day.

More next week!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Happy Birthday, Katie!

I can't believe it's been 2 years now since my little girl was born. Since then, she has been changing my life.

It seems that every child I have comes out more stubborn and difficult than the previous. Katie is no exception. She is the first of my children to really have tantrums - shrieking, screaming, flailing fits that last for way too long. It is often from miscommunication or her not getting her way. Sometimes she shrieks for fun, even when she isn't mad. I don't know what to do with myself when these happen except to put her in her crib until she calms down. But enough on the negatives.

Katie is learning to put more and more sentences together. She is a very girly girl and loves clothes, shoes, unicorns, owls, fluffy things, sparkles, princesses, dresses, and bright colors. She is like little mother to her plastic baby dolls and is constantly singing to them, wrapping them in blankets, and putting them to bed. Don't think I'm a sexist. 80% of the toys in the house are "boy" toys, but she chooses her baby dolls every time. I only occasionally see her building things with Legoes or playing with cars. They don't seem to interest her much. Even when she plays outside, she buckles her little plastic baby in the stroller and takes it for walks. So cute. Her main birthday presents are things to take care of her babies: a stroller, high chair, crib, and car seat. I know she will love them.

I'm learning to tame her wispy, golden curls. I'm not good with hair care or 'dos, but I'm slowly learning. I love seeing her grow up, but it makes me sad too, just like with the boys. It really goes by too fast!

Katie is a Daddy's girl. As soon as she sees his car pull up, she is the first to toddle up and demand a hug. That is one of my favorite things to see each day. She loves being the center of attention and milks it for all its worth when she figures out something funny. She repeats it over and over until we stop laughing.

As with each of my children, I can't imagine life without her. Happy 2nd birthday, ladybug!

(Well, I wrote that the day before her birthday last week but forgot to publish it. Oops.) On to this week...

Katie did have a great birthday. Her favorite new toy is the shopping cart, which she uses as a stroller for her babies. She starts playing with it first thing when she wakes up.

I've had a tough October in terms of my mood. I am a big believer in good nutrition and exercise as a form of medicine, and they really do help! As I was counseling with James on Sunday, he helped me realized that babysitting 10 hours a week was starting to take its toll on me. I didn't want to admit it at first, but after babysitting yesterday, I see that he was completely right. After this round of babysitting, I am done! That means only another 5 times by November 11th. I feel like I'm giving up on helping out a friend, but I have started seeing the negative effects of the extra stress in my life. 4:00 and on is usually the time I relax a little and wind down. My productive hours are more from 7 a.m. until then. Usually I am mentally spent by the time the extras come over and run out of patience a lot more quickly. I enjoyed it but dreaded it at the same time. I hope she is able to work things out okay. I'm just not cut out for 6 kids under the age of 6.

I've been prepping the yard (pulling out the last of the dead plants) for a big bonfire! Hopefully we can do that soon. We meant to do it last weekend but didn't get around to it. Anna came for Katie's birthday! We watched a movie, had treats, and went the Jensen Pumpkin Festival on Saturday. It was a lot of fun. It really feels like fall now, for better or for worse. I wish my kids could play outside more, but they're still taking advantage of it when they can.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Harvest

As I have said before, this time of year is bittersweet to me. I'm relieved that the end of harvesting and canning is almost over, but I'm also sad that all the plants are dead or dying. I only have tomatoes and pumpkins left. I harvested the corn and made it into cornmeal after drying it. The corn was supposed to be sweet, but I waited too long to try to eat it, so it was starchy instead. Still, it isn't going to waste since it can now make cornbread! My freezer is so crammed full of produce that I took an inventory to make sure nothing goes to waste.

I babysat a lot last week and have it today too. Tomorrow we leave for Salt Lake for fall break. I'm not ready to travel again so soon, but I will pull through. I feel like I just recovered from the last trip we took. It will certainly be nice to be able to take a real cooler. I'm also excited that we will be cooking our own meals in the hotel. :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Conference Weekend

I didn't write last week but can't remember what happened either. I do know that the internet was down AGAIN. I have called them 12 times in the last 5 weeks. It's one of those cases where living in a small town is not a good thing, because there is only one choice for internet service. Oh well.

We went to Idaho for Conference. The trip was kind of last minute since we're already going out of town for fall break next week too, but that's only to Salt Lake. We took the other Wyoming way to Idaho. It was scenic, but boring, and the kids thought so too. There just aren't a lot of landmarks to make the trip seem faster. Conference was great! We spent Saturday relaxing with my brothers and Sunday in Driggs/Victor with the grandparents and cousins. I enjoyed the messages given.

I had my first parent-teacher conference where I was the parent. Joseph loves school and is doing well. I'm happy he likes it so much.

This week has been crazy. Since we got back Monday, I've had to do a lot of catching up. The garden needs to be harvested too. I've done the potatoes, turnips, 1/2 of the carrots, squash, peppers, beans, and peas. That leaves the onions, corn, tomatoes, 1/2 of the carrots, and pumpkins. I can't believe how much food can be grown in such a small space and with such little time and effort. I've been keeping track of the pounds of food so I can calculate how profitable the garden is. ('Cause I'm a nerd like that.)

I've had babysitting twice so far, again today, and then again on Saturday. I registered our new car! a Toyota Highlander. It fits 7 people and is a definite upgrade. I'm trying to figure out all the workings, but I'm getting there. It's weird that the DMV in Utah is so pleasant. I've never had a bad experience there or had to wait in line.

Thankfully, things are starting to slow down a little. I've been starting to feel the effects of S.A.D., so I've been working to remedy that by being outside in the sunshine and taking large amounts of vitamin D. Hopefully I can stay afloat for the next few months. :)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Highlights

This week went by quickly.

1. I have an extra child on Tue. and Thu. mornings now. He is good-natured and 6 years old, so it's easy to keep track of him. His mom was my visiting teacher and got a new job that doesn't allow her to take him with her.

2. Rain. It was wet all last week. That means not a lot of harvest, so I'm getting a little break from canning for now.

3. School. It's going well for Joseph and James. They seem to like their schools a lot. Aside from taking the finals, James finished up his classes. Yahoo!

4. Temple. We did sealings last Friday night. Those are my favorite to go do together. We took family names.

5. Walking. James has to do 5 miles a week to earn credit for discounted insurance. We have been on a few together exploring the little valley we live in.

Everything else has been pretty routine: a little yard work, visiting teaching, getting ready for the Primary Program on Sunday, and keeping this house from falling apart. It's a good life.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Another Busy Week

I don't feel like typing a long post, so enjoy the pictures. We had a great time with Christian, Myles, and Dad/Grandpa. Not shown: fixing our car for us so it can pass inspection, dinner at Golden Corral (tradition!), and the general hanging out that doesn't make good pictures. Also, I had babysitting, but it went smoothly. Dad helped me sort the old pictures he sent me, and I just finished scanning them today. There are some real gems!

reading with Uncle Christian

Grandpa and his babies at Rainbow Park


Island Park

McKee Springs petroglyphs






Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Several Good Things

We will have visitors later this week! Dad is coming to see his grandbabies, and Christian and Myles are stopping by on their way back to school.

I'm still canning a lot. I love my big garden.

James shot his 3rd jackrabbit. We will eat it for dinner tonight.

Joseph loves school and tells me every day how fun it is.

Kenny loves not taking naps. I love that he sleeps past 6:00 now.

Katie still runs around with only a diaper. She's getting her Vitamin D for sure.

We figured out how to fix our gutters! No more gap between the roof and gutters will hopefully mean no water in the crawlspace - ever.

I still haven't had time to be bored, and I'm grateful for that.

Dad is going to help me sort through a box of old photos. Next project: scan them into the computer.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Perfect Life

No one knows my whole story. That became even more clear to me when my mother-in-law remarked that, to her daughter (my sister-in-law), I have a perfect life.

I scoffed inwardly at that comment. Too often, I find myself wishing for another life. I wish we had more money, a bigger house, and nicer cars. I wish I had a taller, skinnier frame, more children, and more musical talent. My life isn't perfect. I often feel that I don't measure up. I yell too much and don't play with my children enough. I get distracted from important things with mundane things.

It's not okay to sit here coveting someone else's life. Anyone could sit down and write this same post, just with different wants. I have to remember that when I start getting jealous. Material possessions are not a sign of how much God loves us.

Any life that includes God is a perfect one. He makes up for all those holes we think we have and the ones we actually do. I'm trying to see perfect as "whole or complete" instead of "easy".

Friday, August 28, 2015

School, Potty, Canning

I feel like I've passed a big "mommy milestone" this week by sending my first kid onto the school bus and to Kindergarten. Did I cry yesterday? Well, no, but I did for a few weeks beforehand. I'd been dreading it for a long time, but the actual sendoff wasn't so bad. Joseph confidently stepped on the bus and didn't look back. I think he had a good day but was hungry and tired when he got home.

I've been warning Kenny for a few months that he'd have to go on the potty when Joseph went to school. He's 3 1/2, so the same age Joseph was when I potty-trained him. Joseph took a couple days to get the hang of it. Kenny already gets it after one day! He only had one accident yesterday, and he didn't freak out. He changed his clothes and went on with life. It's so nice to only have one kid in diapers now.

Our garden has been producing very well. We've had tons of squash, peas, beans, peppers, cilantro, green onions, tomatoes, and kohlrabi (so far) with many other crops to come. Today, I will can my first (double) batch of salsa. I can't wait! I'm also going to make a kimchi from the kohlrabi, which I peeled and shredded yesterday.

I was worried about staying busy during the afternoon, but I think my fears were unfounded. This harvest is going to keep me busy until Halloween if it's like last year. I'm so excited!

We did go to a wedding reception in Provo last Friday night. It was intense because it's a 3 hour drive, and we went there and back in the afternoon/evening/early morning. It was fun to see family and stop for a picnic on the way. We spent the rest of the weekend sleeping, or so it felt.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Goals

I always dread the end of summer. School is the first sign that the best time of year is coming to a close. I live for the long days of sunshine and warmth. I don't look forward to short days, cold, and gloom. I know it's a while off, but knowing it's coming makes me feel anxious.

I have set a few goals to help me get to the end of the year. Keeping goals constantly helps me improve myself and get things done. I do love projects.

1. Exercise every weekday morning with James for 30 minutes. So far, I am really enjoying this. I got a fair amount of exercise over the summer with all the yard work, but there isn't enough outside to keep me busy anymore. We are doing Your Shape, an Xbox workout game, while listening to my Spotify playlists. I'm a little sore, but in a good way. I've already adjusted to getting up at 6. Exercise always starts the day off right, but if I don't do it first, it isn't likely to happen. Since I'm up, I can also make James a decent breakfast instead of him eating cold cereal. (I could write a whole blog about how lame I think cold cereal is!)

2. Finish using the denim squares I've cut out to make jean quilts. I actually already did this one! I just finished my last blanket yesterday, a twin size and my 5th one for our house. I'm going to take a very long break to hopefully make queen or king-sized blankets for my kids when they're a lot older. Since I need 288 per quilt, I will need to save for a long time! Maybe by then I'll have a decent sewing machine.

3. Go on adventures to finish exploring Uintah County. As mentioned before, we've done a ton of exploring this summer. We have about 5 day trips left to see the rest, and after that, we can do some hikes during cooler weather (September, October) before there's snow. I have everything mapped out. We just have to get in the car and go!

4. Finish the hard piano book I'm working on. It's a pre-virtuoso level, so I have to work really hard on the songs to make them sound good. I have only 3 left! After that, I really want to learn the additional music found on lds. org (stuff they print in Church magazines). We will have to buy a printer first. :) I also have a really hard LDS song book, meant for special musical numbers. I slacked off a lot over the summer, so I really hope to get back into practicing every day.

5. Finish trying recipes for the Happy Herbivore cookbooks. I have tried a ton so far and found lots that I've liked. I know my blog hasn't been updated in a long time with recipes, so I'll get on that too. HH's recipes are plant-based. I've learned some fun, new food combinations that are also easy, cheap, and healthy. Win-win!

With all this and being involved in Joseph's school, I'm hoping I won't have time to be depressed.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Back to School

We had a wonderful family visit this past week. It was a stressful week overall, but that's because it was so busy!

1. Apricots. I processed all of them into salsa, jalapeno-apricot jam, and regular jam. It took a lot of time and made a big mess.

2. Helped friends move. Scott and Chelsie are moving back to SLC area, so we helped them pack up, and they fed us lunch. We got some stuff from them that they didn't want. It was like a free yard sale.

3. Yard work. We spent 6 plus hours on Monday pulling weeds from the new grass area. It filled our big garbage can! I wanted it to look nice before the family came.

4. Babysitting. Same as last week, I did Wed. and Thu. nights. It was a little stressful because of the family being here too, but we managed.

5. Temple. James and I attended last Friday before it closed for the 2 week cleaning. We were also able to go to dinner. We felt really needed there, because there was no one else doing sealings at the time.

6. Family visit. We crammed as much as we could into less than 72 hours. We did the dinosaur bones, DUP museum, Western Heritage museum, petroglyphs, shooting, found James's great-great-great-grandfather's grave, did a cookout at Remember the Maine park, and ate grits and eggs on the last morning. In our down time, we watched some episodes of the Middle.

7. Catching up. I missed a dental appointment last week, so I rescheduled and went. No cavities still! I also had grocery shopping, laundry, cooking, and generally putting the house back together.

The internet hasn't been working for a few days, which has been a real bummer. James starts school tomorrow, and Joseph starts on Monday! I can't believe that time has come already.

8. Katie the stripper. I can't keep clothes or a diaper on this child. I have resorted to taping the diapers on. I tried a onesie, but she just took the diaper off through it and slept completely naked, peed in her bed, and pooped on the floor. Ugh! The boys never did this!

Thankfully, even with school starting, this week is a lot less stressful so far. I hope it stays that way, but I know it won't. It will be an adjustment to start waking up at 6, but I know it won't last long.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

When the Family Gets Together

Thinking about the past two weeks is making my head spin a little. It went by so fast! Hopefully I remember it all.

7/24 Pioneer Day, we went to the parade in the morning. Vernal's parade is the perfect length that just as you feel hot or bored, it's over. The kids enjoyed running out to get candy. We ate dinner together as a family at home.

7/25 We took a day trip around a big loop of the southern part of the county. This included Fantasy Canyon, Ouray Wildlife Refuge, and Pelican Lake (though we only looked and didn't stop.) We are dinner together and everyone went shooting while I read a book. They got a small rabbit.

7/26 Church. Myles and James drove to Salt Lake to pick up Mom from the airport.

7/27 Brinson built a cover for the HVAC out of scrap wood and Myles installed new struts on the car (better known as shocks, though they are not the same thing). Christian was feeling lazy, so I had him help me clean out the cars. We were going to cook out, but it was too windy.

7/28 Did a temple session and family names. We had our cookout at Remember the Maine Park and then drove to Moonshine Arch. It was really nice outside.

7/29 We went to the Dinosaur Quarry and saw the wall of bones. After dinner, Mom stayed with the kids while we saw Ant Man in the theater. It was a pretty good movie!

7/30 The kids left for St. George (and the Grand Canyon, Kentucky, and home in NC) while Mom helped me take my kids to the last summer activity at the library. They had a blast getting pops, cotton candy, popcorn, and free books for finishing the program. During naptime, Mom helped me tie one of the jean quilts.

7/31 Mom and I went grocery shopping and got the rest of the supplies we needed for the quilts. We tied the second quilt and I sewed both together. She also helped me make a dress for Katie out of one of James's old shirts.

8/1 Joseph had a birthday party for the neighbor down the street. We hung out, and I finished sewing Katie's dress. Mom and I finished watching When Calls the Heart on Netlflix. It's a very clean romantic series that reminds me a little of Anne of Green Gables.

8/2 Church. We relaxed in the afternoon and talked to family as usual.

8/3 We picked 47 lbs. of apricots at a neighbor's house. We went to a park in Jensen for a cookout and FHE after failing to see a lake we were looking for. (It had no public access.)

8/4 The boys and I drove Mom to the airport. We had a fun lunch at Chick-fil-a and then came home. I caught up on some baking.

8/5 I started processing the apricots by making salsa with them. It's got an interesting flavor. I started my first day of babysitting for a neighbor whose husband works 2 weeks on, 2 off. She needs me 2 days a week from 4:45-9:15. It went okay until 8:30 when the baby started crying and wouldn't stop. I survived. The two girls were great and played with my kids for a while. I know it will get easier.

8/6 Make peppricot jam and ran out of pectin, so I set the rest of the puree aside to make sweet jam once I shop again. Dried the rest, so I'm done with apricots! Registered Joseph for Kindergarten. I have less than an hour before babysitting. I finished sewing the rows on another quilt, so tomorrow I will sew them all together.

Whew. And we have more family visiting next week!

Now for pictures.

Fantasy Canyon




Ouray


Moonshine Arch

the view from up high

the Quarry


Brinson made it!

Mom helped me make the dress. Katie loves it!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Adventures

This past summer, James and I have made an effort to go see places in Uintah County (where we live). Since the county is 3.5 times the size of Rhode Island but only has 30,000 people, that leaves a lot of empty space to explore. The southern 1/3 doesn't even have roads unless you can dirt roads that only 4-wheel drive can go on. :)

Last Friday, we went to a beautiful reservoir called Paradise, and it really was! It was quite hot when we left our house, but it was cool and breezy at the reservoir. I looked it up when we got home, and it's at 10,000 feet! That would explain my needing a jacket. We cooked foil dinners, and the kids played in the water. James also set up a hammock so we could relax while dinner was cooking. We spent several hours there, but it flew by.

This week has been routine. We did the library reading program today. I have finished the kids' papers, and I've actually read enough books myself to count for the adult program. The kids have so much fun every week.

I finished sewing together the front of another quilt and cut out the rest of the jeans. I also designed and put together the rows for the small (crib) quilt, bought a belt for the sewing machine, and bought ribbon for finishing the quilts. It's been fun to watch Netflix while working on them.

James got me hooked on another kind of adventure - an online RPG. As if I weren't geeky enough...

Everything is ready for the family to visit. They get here in an hour and a half or so from Salt Lake. The kids are so excited to see their aunt and uncles.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Done!

As everyone probably saw on Facebook, I finished my work on the house. Everything went according to plan, which was amazing. My first "rest" was Monday night when I finished ripping out the carpet, sweeping, scraping all the staples and dirt off the floor, and priming the living room. I ran out of work by 9:30, so I watched a movie.

Tuesday, I painted 2 desks, Katie's doll house, James's dresser, and did touch up work on some stools while the guys were installing the carpet. After they left, I started putting everything back together.

My friend Cherissa (former VT) came to check in a couple of times. She helped me move the heavy furniture. It was too hard to move across the new carpet, but it was easy to drag across the old stuff since it was so thin! I got everything put back together by 1 a.m.

Wednesday, I hung up pictures and fixed the stupid trim that got messed up from my pulling tape off. Basically, I got a furniture marker and went to town. I also caught up on paperwork and cleaning from the past week, like scrubbing paint off the floor of the bathrooms and kitchen. Cherissa came to help with touchup paint and a few fine lines that needed finishing touches. I watched Tayson (her son) while she went to work out.

Thursday started off nice, but it wasn't as relaxing or stress-free as I'd hoped. I woke up with barely enough time to get to the temple, where I almost fell asleep. (I didn't sleep well the night before!) I came home and had lunch, then started working on a quilt for Katie (twin size, denim) until my sewing machine needle broke. I thought my family would be home soon enough (by dinner), so I just sat around and looked at Pinterest. Well, their arrival time kept getting later and later due to traffic and other unforeseen circumstances. I didn't see them until 9:00, which meant the kids had to go to bed and James had to leave for the temple cleaning as soon as we'd eaten our cold dinner. I was too tired to wait up for him (12:15 is when he gets home), so I just crashed.

The next few days were actually really hard. The kids were extremely grumpy and not at all pleasant. I think they must have missed a few hours of sleep during the week or something. By Sunday afternoon, they were doing much better.

James and I celebrated our anniversary with a fancy dinner at home, knowing the money would go a lot further than way. We had shrimp, salmon, sausage, croissants, and fancy cheese with gelato for dessert. It tasted good, but I almost threw up at dinner. I haven't eaten that much meat in a really long time, so it didn't settle well.

We've had a good, normal week with a library visit for the reading program, a little exploring at the county's other fish hatchery, and starting to watch Star Wars with the kids. James has been working hard on his other two classes and has them half done.

My next big project is working on a couple of jean quilts. I received a bunch of jeans from James's mom, a few from Cherissa, and already had a few, so I cut them up and realized I have enough to make 3 twin quilts and 1 crib size. I've designed the twin quilts and put Katie's completely together except for the back. I have to cut out the squares for the crib quilt, but I already have sheets to use for the backs. All I will need is the grosgrain ribbon and probably a new motor belt for the sewing machine. I think this will be my 3rd one, but the dang things keep wearing out, and I haven't ordered the same one twice. Oh well. The quilts should be about 40 hours of work altogether (10 hours per each). I'm excited to have enough for all of my kids and a few extras. The crib one will go in the Head reunion auction next year.

One more week until the family starts coming in. Though not everyone is coming, I will get to see half of the family, which is better than nothing. I'm especially excited for Pioneer Day since I missed out on the 4th.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Up Close

It is said that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. For us, that is literally true. We live next to the guy who has the nicest yard in the neighborhood. Our own yard doesn't look so bad from the house, but when we walk on top of it, we see all the brown spots and weeds it has.

Similarly, with painting, I see all the little mistakes I've made and areas I've missed. I have been up close and personal with my house, climbing to nooks and crannies that I don't normally care to see. (Back behind the toilet or on top of the fridge, anyone?)

The overall effect of painting my house is a good one. No one will notice the tiny things I see. And the backyard, viewed from the street, looks green and nice, not flawed at all unless it hasn't been mowed in a while.

To see the imperfections in others, we have to get up close. The only person I feel I know that well is my husband. Everyone else, I see from "over the fence". It's hard to remember that sometimes, but I've had a lot of time to think over the past 3 days (not counting today). In numbers:

3 days
49 hours of hard work
16 hours of sleep  - not enough!
4 audiobooks
36 hours of Spotify playlists covering music from the
10's
80's
70's

Today was wonderful. I prepped meals for the next few days so I can grab them quickly. Church was relaxing and peaceful, and I took a nap afterward and talked to my families. 4 more days till I see my babies! I missed them a lot today. I've been too busy to be lonely before today.

I don't know how I had the energy to keep going after not getting lots of sleep and doing such long days (15/16/18 hours), but I'm sure I had help from God. Each morning of work, I have made sure to pray that I will be able to get things done, and I have. Everything is going perfectly. Fears I had beforehand were unfounded, such as worrying about running out of paint (we have extra), getting too high from the fumes (the AC helped circulate air), not being able to finish (I did and will!), and being too bored (the music and books took care of that).

My to-do list gets shorter each day this week, so by Thursday I should be able to have a nice, relaxing, normal, non-home-improvement day. Pictures coming soon!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Lists

James like to make fun of me a little bit for making lists. It's true, though. I make lists for everything!

One such list was for our yard, and I am happy to say that it's FINISHED! Yes, we planted our grass on Wednesday! The sprinkler system is all set up, the garden is growing well, most of the weeds are under control, and I even added a new flower bed for some irises my neighbors gave me. I can't wait to see what they look like next year. A little research revealed that we've been watering our lawn too much. Oops. We've cut back but have to water the seeds a lot until they grow, which will take a few weeks. I think the suspense might kill me before then, but at least we don't have to water by hand! In this 90-degree weather, we'd be out there all day trying to keep the soil moist enough.

Another list is for the Extreme Makeover: Head Edition. We decided that it would be best for James and the kids to go to Idaho for a week while I paint everything (except closets and the laundry room) and get new carpet. I can't wait! I can't say painting is my favorite, but I have done it before and can do a thorough job. I'm so excited to cover up the ugly, forest green/ivy print wallpaper and get the awful carpet out of here. For how little time it will take, it cost 10 times what it did to do the yard. (Yet, the yard took 10X as long. Go figure.)

I've been trying to be less boring by going on "adventures" with my family. We went to East Park for our last FHE. There are many awesome places to explore just within our county. We're hoping to see most of them by the end of the summer. 

Saturdays, we've been hitting some yard sales. I love it. I've had some success getting clothes for Katie (3T's). We've also found some other treasures, such as an ice auger, several house plants, a bookcase, and a dresser.

I have been a little stressed thinking about the upcoming project. I'm not worry about being alone, just that I won't finish in time or have some other mishap. I'm sure it will be just fine. I play out way too many worst-case scenarios, and most of them are never an issue. :)


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Progress, Not Perfection

Lindsay Nixon (known as the Happy Herbivore), is one of the most inspiring people I've learned about recently. She has 5 cookbooks, which I love. I'm hoping to try over 200 of her recipes in the next year or so. Yes, that many.

I mention her because of her philosophy of "progress, not perfection." Too often I set high goals, fall short, and then feel bad. Setbacks make me feel terrible. I forget that I'm still working toward my goals even if I take a step back. Setbacks are not permanent. I'm still heading the right direction.

The yard that we'll be planting grass in is full of weeds, a minor setback. We will have to get down on our hands and knees and pull them all out before we will have a beautiful lawn - finally! We are planting it next week.

We bought all the paint we need for our entire house (minus closets and the laundry room). We decided that the best thing to do was to have James and the kids go visit his family over 4th of July while I stay and paint. Don't worry, I actually kind of enjoy it and don't mind being alone. I know I will get a little lonely after a week, but the work will be less stressful without kids. I plan to be very thorough and get a lot of things cleaned as well. (You know, those high up places that get dusty but I can't reach!) We're hoping for carpet the week that James gets back. I'm going to take before and after pictures!

James is almost done with his first online class for his geography endorsement. 4 more to go!

And that's about it. I don't know why I think summer will be easier, because it's not. It seems a lot busier than when school is in session. Oh well. It's been a good one, even though it's too hot now.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Idaho Trip

Well, we're back! We had a great time in Idaho this year.

In Rexburg:

1. Joseph's birthday. I can't believe he's 5! I made him a chocolate orange cake, as requested by him. We gave him two transformer toys, and he got clothes and a book from his grandmas.

2. Dinner with my brothers. They came on Sunday and Tuesday. They bought me lunch (Chick-fil-a) on Wednesday.

3. Lunch with James. We love free babysitting. And D.I. Rexburg's is so much bigger than Vernal's!

4. Dinner with the Lee grandparents. This also happened on Wednesday. The kids had a great time in the yard and getting rides on the tractor.

In Albion:

5. Family reunion! It was in the same place for the 3rd year in a row. Albion is my favorite reunion place because it has good accommodations and lots of space outside. We had different holidays every day and covered most of them: St. Patrick's Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Memorial Day, birthdays...

6. Swimming at the hot springs. I think this was my favorite activity in the reunion.

7. Food. I are a lot of it, and it was yummy. I'm still not very good at navigating social situations. It's not hard to avoid meat and dairy, but it's almost impossible for me to say no to desserts. Ah well. 1 pound is a minor setback.

8. Working out. I loved the aerobics class done by Angela (James's cousin). I have never taken a fitness class at a gym. I really enjoyed it and felt a bit sore the next day! I was able to work out with Melodie the week before as well.

9. Compliments. I have never in my life received so many kind words about my appearance. I don't think I look a lot different than last year, but apparently I do. I heard words like "thin", "vibrant", "cute", and "glowing". If that's not motivation to continue on the eating path I've chosen, I don't know what is.

Coming home:

10. The garden is growing and looks amazing! I mulched using the thatch from our grass. I think everything is up except for a few herbs. (basil, oregano)

11. The fair. We went today and had a great time. The kids got to go through the Little Red Barn, bascially a farm expereince where they plant seeds, milk cows, etc. and trade in their basket of produce/dairy for money to buy a treat. They loved it, and there was a candy drop afterward.

The past week went by so quickly, but it was really good. I was ready to come home from our trip by the end, but it was a lot of fun to be there with all the Head family. Some who haven't been able to come in a while were there, which was awesome. I wish my family lived closer together. Until next year then. I think I can prepare for that. Miraculously, we all came home in good health. I'm not sure that's ever happened. :)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

9 Days

The past two weeks have been crazy, and it's not about to get better. Hopefully I can remember everything.

1. Yard work. We've now planted the garden, put up netting around it, built sand paths in between the boxes, pulled out the willow trees, and set up hose timers for the garden and front grass. I did general maintenance as well (mowing/trimming). We still need to finish the sprinkler system, fix the one station that won't come on, and put a few things away. When we get back, we will plant grass. The people at the nursery said to wait. I'm okay with that! It's been stressful to be hurrying so much with everything.

2. Sam & Jesse came to visit last Thursday with Charlotte. We had a great time hanging out, going to the park, and even planting the garden together. James and Sam went shooting. The kids got along pretty well. The only two who fought were Charlotte and Katie. They were either hugging or yanking each other's hair.

3. End of school. James finished up on Friday and checked out of his classroom. He had to pack up 30 years' worth of stuff from other teachers. His new classroom at the high school is 50% bigger and brand new, as well as empty! That's the best part. We've heard nothing but good about the high school.

4. End of preschool. We did a little celebration at the park today. It was a little muddy from all the rain, but the kids had a great time. They got certificates and had "fruit sundaes".

5. Rain. It has rained almost every day for the past 2-3 weeks. It's driving me crazy how wet it is. There are even frogs in the neighborhood now. They're really loud at night.

6. Classes. James is still working on his 3 classes from BYU for his geography endorsement. He will finish them by the end of the summer, and since he won't be working, he will have time to hang out with us too.

7. Trip. We leave Saturday for Rexburg and the Head reunion in Albion. We will be gone for 9 days. I haven't had time to be stressed until now due to other demands, but now I am! I've been making lists, cooking so we don't have to eat meals out, and trying to get loose ends tied up before we go. It can't be as bad as last year. I had a horrible time with Katie at the reunion because she cried for 4 days straight (ear infection). It drives me a little crazy anyway to be around so many people and have no time alone, but I'll make it work.

8. Church stuff. James has had some kind of church commitment every day this week. Sunday- church, Monday-FHE, Tuesday-meeting, Wednesday-moving someone, Thursday-baptisms with youth and cleaning the temple AND buying stuff for the Father/Son campout, Friday, Saturday-campout. Basically, the boys will come home and we will leave for Rexburg right after that.

Whew. I thought this week would be easier, but it's been full. I haven't had spare time due to all the cooking, cleaning, yardwork, and even cleaning someone else's house so she can try to sell it. I have a goal to actually finish a book while I'm on my trip. It's by Brandon Sanderson, so who knows if that will actually happen. I'm ready for a real vacation!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Progress

This week has gone all right, but yesterday did not end well for me. I'll get the complaints out of the way first. I worked in the yard for 3 hours Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. For some reason, yesterday left me feeling really drained. It's probably the warmer weather, which made me a bit dehydrated. Anyway, I dragged myself to make James's favorite meal, almost to completion, but I ran out of time before I had to go to Chelsie's house. I left instructions on how to finish the meal.

James called me around 5:30 and said he wanted to eat out, then go to his classroom and clean up (and pack up) since he needs to have it ready for a math teacher. I didn't want to do this. By this time, Katie had started crying for no apparent reason even though she had food and drink. She just wouldn't stop! All I wanted to do was go home to a hot, prepared meal, which I already did most of the prep for. That didn't happen. We ate out, and to make matters worse, I didn't like the meal I ordered, and it cost more than I would normally pay. That didn't improve my mood at all. Katie cried the entire time we were in the classroom, so I don't feel like I was able to help a lot, and then I fell asleep during one of my favorite TV shows. Also, I forgot to put the dumplings away, so they sat out all night. Basically, yesterday was a huge waste of time.

But on the positive note, I cleaned up the garden area, tuned up the lawnmower, and mowed/trimmed the front yard. The back doesn't need it yet. I took apart the last of our pallets, made 2 more garden planters, and cleaned up the LAST of the river rocks from the driveway and empty lot. We went to Lowe's and bought all the stuff for sprinklers, which cost almost exactly what we thought it would. I also gave the extra pit liner to my neighbor. Next steps are install the sprinklers, add dirt to the garden boxes, and then plant everything! I'm so excited that we're getting so close. Since we have 14 working days left, it doesn't have to be stressful at all. Hopefully. :)

Another positive note is that I've started losing the last 10 lbs. of baby weight. Really, this is baby weight from Kenny and Joseph! I have to be more strict now. The first 20 lbs. of Katie was effortless, and the next 20 wasn't too bad either, but the last 10 is always the hardest. Once I reach my goal, I will share how I did it. I don't want to make any assumptions yet. :)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

On mothers: a guest post from James

Hi there, this is James and these are some of my thoughts on moms.

These are some of the sounds that greet mothers every day.
crying
whining
hitting
spitting
the "pitter patter" of little feet
which is realing the ungainly "thump thump" of toddlers falling
laughing
falling
banging
clanging
sniffing
chattering
the little voice saying "I wuv you mammee"

These are some of the smells that greet mothers every day
diapers
sweat
food
half digested food
baby hair
that clean baby smell
that dirty toddler smell

Some of things a mothers hand feels every day:
snot on a baby's face
a banana peeled for a little one
that gross feeling when you step on that banana after with was thrown to the ground
the soft cubby cheek of a toddler
a lego creation of a 4 year old
that feeling of stepping on one of those legos
the hug of tiny arms

Some of the things a mother sees every day
running children
the inside of that diaper
weepy kids
chaos itself
smiley faces
remnants of dinner
a room that looks like it was hit by a tornado, hurricane, earthquake, and the Hulk
kids playing together
half finished plates
way too much Sesame Street, Wild Kratts, Thomas, Frozen or whatever is on Netflix..
sleepy little eyes as they go to sleep.


These are some of the sights, sounds, smells that greet mothers every day. I am so grateful for my mother and my wonderful wife, the mother to my kids.

-James

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Rainy Days

One thing I miss about the South is the rainstorms. When it rained there, it really rained. If you were outside for more than 30 seconds, you would be wet enough to need new clothes. Also, the rain was very warm and refreshing, though not so nice once it stopped and went straight into the air. As a child, I loved playing in it. It was like a free shower.

Desert rain is an unusual occurrence most of the year. We have spells of a few days with showers, but it's usually cold and misty, just barely enough to use the windshield wipers in the car. This was to my advantage yesterday since I worked in the yard for 5 hours total. With my hoodie on, I stayed pleasantly cool, albeit disgustingly muddy by the time I finished what I was doing. It's still weird for me to even see rain here, and it seems that I have to explain to my children each time that it's rain, not snow. They don't know the same rain that I did.

I finished the dry creek bed!!! Even though it goes through dirt on most of the yard, it looks totally awesome! It really makes our yard look like it's on purpose, like one of those nice yards I always envy because a rich person can hire out people to do the dirty work or have a gardener or something. There is still a lot of work left, but I should have my patio and sidewalk back by Saturday night. That's the lofty goal, anyway.

I promise pictures once it's all put together. I never thought that landscaping a quarter of an acre could be so much work, but it is. :) Worth it? Yes.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Happenings

The past week has been normal, if there is such a thing. We went to the library for story time on Monday. The kids really love it because it includes songs and activities. Wednesday I babysat 2 neighbor kids. It was crazy to take care of a baby again. I'm totally not ready for that again. It takes a lot of work for even a happy baby.

Yard work wise, we finished building the garden boxes, started filling them with dirt, and started digging the creek bed. It looks really cool! I don't really want to take pictures yet since it's a work in progress. After we tightened the drive belt and fixed the tire, the tiller did a great job digging the creek bed. Who would want to do all that by hand? Landscaping feels a lot like taming a beast - a great big beast called the desert. I used to take for granted living in a place where grass grows naturally. It sure doesn't here!

I had an emotional weekend, no thanks to PMS. As further proof that I don't always choose my moods, refer to last Thursday. I went to the temple feeling incredibly grateful to be there after about a month. I found out after waiting for 20 minutes that I had missed the session by 10 minutes. (I thought it was at 6:30, not 6:00). Upon learning this information, I started crying uncontrollably. It's embarrassing to even admit that here. The nice ladies let me go to the celestial room as I was. I tried to cry quietly, but it echoed a lot in there, so I didn't stay long. I felt so incredibly stupid! I couldn't get over the fact that I was late and missed the chance to go to a session. I had a quiet thought that it isn't about the numbers, which I know but often forget. That moment was just for me to reflect on my hard day. I won't forget it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Breaking Point

Yes, I've reached my breaking point, and it's just barely naptime. Usually it's my own fault. I try to do too much at one time, and then my kids start misbehaving because they want my attention. Messes are made, yelling ensues, and then the guilt sets in for another failed moment where I could've done/reacted/been better. I don't even feel happy about what I've accomplished because I know I easily could've been more patient with the kids. Yet life goes on. I know I'll make this mistake again, but I will try to learn from it and not repeat it this week, at least. ;)

James will be home a lot more this week than last, so that takes away from my stress a bit. The yard work is coming along nicely even though the tiller has been an absolute beast to fix. We will definitely have everything ready in time for a much bigger garden and a lot of grass. I can't wait. I can't wait to be done with it either. Having so much to do has been part of my stress. I feel okay about it for a while, but then I look ahead and get anxious about how much work remains.

A recent women's conference helped me put things into perspective. The last speaker talked about living in the present. When we live in the past, we often dwell on guilt, and when we live in the future, we give ourselves anxiety. I am guilty of both of these things. Living in the present helps me see what I need to do now without getting all worked up about things that I can't change.

The theme of the conference was actually stories. Everyone has a story. If you assume that someone has a perfect life, you just don't know his/her story! Writing my story on this blog helps me realize who I am. Things almost don't seem real to me until they're written down. I'm glad I have a place to share it with others so they can see that I don't have a perfect life even if Facebook makes it seem that way. So yeah, thanks to everyone who reads. I care about all of you too even though I am not great at answering comments. Thank you!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Spring?

I never feel that I'm quite happy with the weather unless it's warmer than 50 degrees and not windy. Days that fit that description are far too few in Utah. I hate to complain about the weather all the time, but how am I supposed to get my Vitamin D when the winds are strong enough to blow pieces of siding off the house? It's not exactly kid-friendly weather either.

The past two weeks have been really stressful. Mainly, James has had a lot going on and lots to catch up on at school, so I haven't seen much of him. I've been trying to stay positive, but being alone all day with the kids and putting them to bed by myself and doing all the cleaning has made me a little grumpy. The nasty weather isn't helping, but still I press on.

I've been surprised at how much yard work I've been able to do on my own. I've spread out the dirt from about 2/3 of the pile. Once I finish that, we can start building the creek bed, hopefully this weekend. One good thing about the yucky weather is that I remember it isn't time to plant grass yet, so we have plenty of time to finish getting ready for it. One more month, and then I hope to relax little and enjoy an awesome yard! Then, we can work on the inside of the house.

In kid happenings, Katie has started to walk! She turns 18 months in a week, so I thought it was never going to happen. Joseph has learned how to tell time (to the hour) on a regular clock. What? I think he's going to be a math whiz. I can't believe how much he knows without my teaching him any of it. We'll see.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Spring Break

The funny thing about spring break is that the weather isn't very spring-like in Utah/Idaho. This year was no exception. We got snowed on on Thursday but sunburned by Saturday. There has been snow today and yesterday too. We worked in the yard while listening to Conference and had a sort of relaxing day Sunday (since we got to sit down!) Kenny turned 3. AND it was Easter. Holy cow, it was a crazy spring break. I'll let the pictures do the talking.

got a load of topsoil on Friday after moving all the pit liner and remaining rocks

excited boy opening his presents

Kenny's main present: a sandbox!


I made "Good Eats" cake, as requested (devil's food).

Katie liked it too!


A whole lot of whining happened while we were working in the yard.

We did a little egg hunt in our yard on Saturday.

What's left in the yard: spread out topsoil, build dry creek bed (with the gravel and rocks on the patio/walkway), plant grass, plant the garden (3X the space as last year.) I'm really excited to see how it all looks when it's done. Between last summer and this year, we have spent hundreds of hours outside. It's going to be well worth it.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Wedding & Birthday

I had a really stressful time getting ready for our trip on Saturday, but it all worked out well. We left around 9:30 and met up with James's family in Heber for lunch. We then got a few groceries and headed up to the cabin.

It was a fun few days despite us all having colds. The kids coughed a lot the first night and kept me awake, but I slept a lot better by the third night. We only went to sacrament meeting on Sunday because of our goopy-nosed kids. That, and I was exhausted from the night before, so I took a nap.

We had fun cooking on Saturday night for the family. James made fries, and I brought along some chili. I made a few breakfasts too. Being in the kitchen is something I absolutely love, and cooking for other people is so much fun!

We played games together a few times. Cranium is the family favorite, and for good reason. It's always hilarious to play it all together.

Monday, I went shopping with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law for our birthdays. I didn't find a ton of stuff because I hate wearing long sleeves/sweaters, but I did get one shirt, a new purse, and a bread box, plus some nice socks for James. James took me to dinner on Monday night. We got a giant order of sushi to share and then went to another place for a little cup of gelato. Both were delicious. Dinner without the kids happens once every few months, so it was a treat.

Tuesday was Kitch's wedding at the Mt. Timp temple. I didn't actually see the wedding. James and I watched 11 kids. It was a little stressful, but overall it was a gorgeous day. We took pictures and went to the dinner at Olive Garden. I had my first try to eggplant parm (minus the cheese), and it was very yummy. We went to Cabela's afterward, then the reception, and then finally drove home and arrived around 11:30. The kids were completely worn out and slept well.

Yesterday was my birthday! James made me breakfast and I opened presents. Then, I took a long bath while watching some TV before taking Joseph to sign up for kindergarten. We had lunch, relaxed some more, and I made my cake. My visiting teachers surprised me with dinner at Ichiban (Asian place), which was delicious. We had a great time.

I did a little shopping with birthday money at Ross and got another shirt and some exercise pants. I still have a little more money which I'll save for D.I. We finished the evening with some chocolate-orange cake and catching up on some TV shows. All in all, it was a great birthday, possibly my best yet! One of my favorite things is hearing my little boys sing to me. I'm excited to read all the books I got and use my new kitchen things which will be coming soon (a new griddle and nice chef knife.) Now, time to plan Kenny's birthday and Easter, which fall on the same day this year. :)

Friday, March 20, 2015

On the Road Again

We're leaving for Heber tomorrow to spend a weekend at a cabin with James's family. I think I'm excited about it. Packing always puts me in a bad mood. I wish it didn't take all day to clean, do laundry, and get everything ready, but it does!

I did another toy purge in the boys' room after a particularly horrible evening of trying to get them to pick up their stuff. It felt great! I definitely get rid of more stuff when I'm angry. Cleanup was much easier today, so that made me pretty happy.

My kids all have colds, but I think they'll be okay in a few days. I'm grateful that it doesn't disrupt their sleep too much.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

March

I know it's been 3 weeks or so since I posted last. Hopefully I can remember all the main events of what's been going on.

I've been consumed with family history work since mid-December and spent about 3 hours a day cleaning up my file up to mid-March. Finally, I am done! I have synced my personal file back to the 12th generation with what's online, merged duplicates, attached sources, and requested ordinances. It turns out that we were able to request about 350 ordinances (about 150 different people) that had been overlooked. It's a good feeling, though it will take a long time for my family and me to complete them. Having my own family names is a good motivation to attend the temple more often. I need it, because it's hard to get myself out the door for a few hours sometimes. For now, I'm not working on any more family history. When I do, it will be more sporadic and on cousin lines. I'm feeling a little burned out, but grateful for the work I've been able to do during naptime.

It wasn't all just hard work. I got hooked on watching Doctor Who. Yeah, it took about 5 tries to get hooked, but I did! I started with season 5 of the newer stuff (the 11th doctor). He is definitely my favorite. Once I got sucked into the story, I found it much easier to go back to the lower-budget episodes. :)

I've been trying lots of new recipes, mostly soups and desserts. I used to think healthy desserts were dumb, but since I'm definitely in danger of becoming diabetic (mom and grandma both are/were), I'm trying to be more careful about my sugar intake (with varied success depending on my mood). So far, I've found a really healthy brownie and PB cookie dough recipe, and I'm going to try a healthy version of chocolate chip cookies. The healthy versions taste a lot better than I thought they would. I haven't blogged any new recipes, but I will once I make my way through my stack of "to try" recipes and figure out my absolute favorites.

James's foot has been hurting. What was thought to be cellulitis is actually gout. He's on steroids and enjoying making jokes about it. (Like, "Hey, I should work out tonight, because I'll be on steroids and get big muscles!")

I got contacts again. Hurray!

It snowed 6 inches last week, but it's all melted already. I've been optimistically wearing shorts/capris.

Katie's molars all came in, making her a much happier baby. She's not walking yet, which makes her the latest walker of my kids.

I've been thinking/praying about Joseph's schooling, and I finally received a solid answer. He is going to attend public school. That could change in the future, but for now, he's going! That takes a lot of worry off my mind. I just wasn't sure for the longest time. I've never felt "ready" to send him to school until now. I know I'll live through it even though I'll be home with the two who fight all the time.

Kenny is pretty much the same. We will start potty training when he turns 3, which is just around the corner.

Everything is going well for us. Aside from these events, life has been pretty routine. Coming up soon, we'll have two weddings, three trips altogether, and two birthdays. Also, there's Pi Day and St. Patty's. Who doesn't love a good holiday? Hopefully I'll get some pictures too.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Peace

It's been a good two weeks. I think that's how long it's been since I wrote last. The kids are all well except for Katie's lower molars coming in. She has her days where she's grumpy and miserable, but then she's fine. They should be in within a week, I hope. She has a constantly runny nose because of it.

James's sister Anna came to visit from SLC. (She attends LDSBC). We had a good time just hanging out and going to the Valentine's party with the ward. I made a huge mistake by eating the food, though. Everything had lots of cheese in it, so I felt absolutely awful and spent a lot of time in the bathroom during the weekend. Anna brought my favorite ice cream, which I also ate, so that didn't help. Yes, world, I am lactose intolerant, and it's never going away! Haha. I'm actually not sad about it. It was a little sad at first, but giving up dairy products helped me expand my cooking horizons to a lot of healthier dishes. It's been over a year now since I quit eating it, minus the occasional slip-up or social occasion.

As much as I love healthy food, I don't love exercising. I've never gotten the "high" that people describe despite all my efforts to use a variety of routines/methods/whatever. I do feel "good" afterward, but not good enough to crave exercise. Oh well. I'll never be a star athlete.

I have finally realized this year that my efforts to take care of myself are enough. Though I wish I could lose 10 lbs., I have maintained this same weight for a long time now (9 months) without any real effort. It's the exact size I was after having Kenny, and that's okay. Things aren't the same as they used to be, and I'm absolutely positive that my hormones have shifted somewhat since I had kids. I have no real reason to complain, because my clothes still fit well, and losing weight wouldn't change my clothing size. I've decided to stop fretting about it and be at peace. I don't have to be crazy perfect because I am feeling good about myself and following all the counsel of the Word of Wisdom. God will take care of the rest.

It can be hard to find peace in the world, but I know I can always find it in the Gospel. I'm grateful for that every day.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Weakness

I've been thinking a lot about Ether 12:27 this week. I used to think that my character flaws, if I had enough faith and tried hard to change, would magically disappear or become easy to handle. It's been almost 27 years now, and I'm not so sure about that any more.

Ether declares that God gives us "weakness" rather than "weaknesses" as it is often interpreted. Weakness is simply an overall state of being weak, not meaning any particular character flaw or undesirable trait. Am I weak? Certainly. I don't feel that there is any character trait that is a strength to me at all times. Some of my other traits seem like flaws most of the time when in reality they could be used as strengths if I didn't fight against them so much to try to be like someone else.

How I view my character traits is my own choice. The very words I use to describe my character traits is also a choice that reflects how I feel about them. For too long, I have waited for other people to validate me. Not even God can do that if I'm not willing to have faith in myself.

I choose to cast aside all those negative thoughts that for years have brought me down. I have my days where I feel tempted to degrade myself for just being me. Trying to work against my nature only makes me unhappy. I don't mean that I should do whatever I want out of selfishness. I can work with my perceived weaknesses in a way that makes them my strengths. Only God would know how to do such a thing, because I lack understanding of how to change myself for the better unless I seek guidance from Him.

My view of myself is already changing. I no longer look in the mirror every day and see a woman who should lose weight, wear a smaller size, wear makeup since everyone else does, do my hair differently, paint my nails, stop being so impatient, be more outspoken, stop caring about having a clean house since it never stays that way...

I see a happy person with growing confidence. I'm working with those things I haven't liked in the past to become a better person. My impatience tells me I'll never get there, but then I remember that happiness is right now, not some future point when I've magically become perfect. Thank goodness for that.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

January

Life as we know it is good. I don't have much to update about, because it's all pretty routine.

I have several hobbies that I really enjoy, but I never do them all at once. Right now, my main focus has been on my family history. I'm at a good point for working on it because I have 2 kids who nap for 3 hours in the afternoon and 1 who entertains himself. Since I'm a self-taught genealogist, I never paid much attention to sources before now. (Don't sue me! I was 12.) Now, I'm repenting and adding all the sources I can find (or at least the easy, suggested ones from FamilySearch). So far, I've added sources for the first 9 generations of my family tree, as well as merged duplicates, synced them to my Legacy file, and helped my family request the ordinances that need to be done. That took a huge number of hours, probably 50 total, so I watched a documentary (98 episodes!) about the Joseph Smith Papers Project as I was working.

I felt inspired to study more about Joseph Smith because of some comments from a friend who left the Church. I'm currently reading a book called Rough Stone Rolling, which is a historical view (rather than Church-endorsed, condensed view) of his life. It's absolutely fascinating. I have no doubt that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. There are many things about his life I didn't know. He certainly wasn't a perfect man, not even close, but God worked with that "rough stone" to smooth his edges and polish him into a prophet. The funny thing is that she (now an ex-Mormon) recommended this book. It will not change anyone's view of Joseph as a prophet. As a person, maybe, if you thought he was perfect.

I'm come to realize again and again that one of the most important components of believing is wanting to. If I didn't want to believe something, I'd do everything in my power to tear it down so I felt justified in not believing it. It's exactly what she did to the Church and all religion. I see it happening to another one of my friends, and it breaks my heart.

A trip to the temple helped me clear my mind of these worries. I'm grateful to have one so close so I can do the ordinances I keep finding for my ancestors! I feel a special connection to them as I pore over their names.

Life is good. Others may use their agency to abandon all that is good, but I will never!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A New Year

I am happy to say that I met my resolutions last year, so I've made some brand new ones. As hard as fall is, this part of winter is made more tolerable by the days getting longer and the stress of Christmas over. I love making goals for the new year.

I have three goals this year.

1. Never leave a kind word unspoken. This is a tough one because I worry too much about what people will think, even when I'm saying something kind and sincere. I have a tendency to brush off compliments because I don't feel I deserve them, which brings me to my second goal.

2. Be kind to myself. This includes eating well, not criticizing myself so much, and taking time to do things for myself to recharge.

3. Read to my kids. Even if it's only 5 minutes, I know it makes a difference.

A really nasty bug had both Kenny and Katie throwing up and dirtying lots of diapers all week (ever since getting back from the trip). I'm crossing my fingers that it's over. My kids have never been sick with anything like that for so long. Here's to a new week with a lot less laundry!


Friday, January 2, 2015

Christmas Break

We're cursed, I think.

Katie has been completely healthy all year except for when we travel to Rexburg. In June, she got a bad ear infection. In November, it was croup. This past trip, throwing up. It's not anything horrible, but it's still really frustrating.

Last January, we had car trouble and a broken pipe. This trip, we returned to find the water in the bathtub running (which was turned off when we left), the cat shut in our room (which was open when we left) - so things were scratched up, and a dishwasher not working properly.

The trip was good but too long for me. I don't like traveling very much. It's stressful, and I come home feeling gross from indulging in junk food too much over the holidays. Still, we had a good time.

Highlights (the good ones):

Christmas morning with the Heads (and Sam and Jesse)
seeing the Head and Lee grandparents
kids sledding with Rocky pulling
caroling
a dinner/movie date with James
New Year's games and hors d'oeuvres
visiting the big D.I. and finding American Girl dolls

It's great to be home, but the stress of the unpacking/packing up Christmas/fixing the stupid dishwasher/having to go buy food has really not made today very pleasant. Maybe tomorrow will be better. I hope so!