Mom Story

I grew up with a very loving mother. In fact, I remember being little and thinking sometimes that my mother was smothering me with love. Ha! It was a daily given in my life for as long as I can remember back. Her love has always been something that has been the strength to my foundation for every thing in life. No matter what has happened or what I have chosen I know my mother loves me and there is nothing more valuable than that.

When I was a young adult and dating and even when Regan and I were first married, I was actually quite afraid to have kids. I wanted it badly but it was also absolutely terrifying to me. I had seen my own mother and how hard it was to parent and the heartache she had survived through as her children made choices that she took personally. Regan and I talked a lot about it and I always knew that I wanted kids. It was all I wanted to be when I grew up, but it was still totally and completely scary to me.

I still remember first finding out that I was pregnant with Alden. And I remember the hours I spent barfing. Out my car door, in the garbage by my desk at work, grocery store bathrooms. I barfed constantly and everywhere. And I was still so excited about the idea of being a mom.

In the weeks leading up to his delivery and becoming a mom, I was randomly calm about the whole thing. I had received peace about my role as a mother and how I KNEW that God would help me. I knew that I wouldn’t be perfect at it. In fact, I knew i’d make mistakes. But I also had faith and trust that God would make up where I lack.

The relief and experience of delivering a baby is almost hard to describe. But I’ll never forget the physical relief as well as emotional from hearing the voices of the doctor as Alden was born. “It’s a boy” “Holy cow, this is a huge baby”. “You did it Rhonda.” So many words of support and love coming at me. And then them handing me my firstborn. Locking eyes with Regan and feeling the power of love in our little family unit was eternal and indescribable. This was what I was called to do. And nothing that I wanted more.

Since then we have added 4 more kids to our family. And each one has been a challenge and a joy. Motherhood is no joke. It is physically tiring and exhausting. NOTHING pushes and challenges me more. And nothing competes with the joy I feel with it. Regan and I LOVE being parents. We love our children. I have so many many moments when I am completely at a loss of what to do. I actually have no idea how to be a mother. But I am trying every single day. And trying to put my very best into doing it. My children are the world to me and I am so very grateful that I get the opportunity to be involved in raising them. I get to spend my time nurturing them.

Motherhood is something that affects every living human. Whether you birthed them, adopted them, buried them, lost them, – our children are always a part of us.

Motherhood is something to be celebrated and supported and encouraged in every culture and country. Physically supported. Monetarily supported. Emotionally Supported. Love is not a burden, it is the reason behind everything. The power and strength of a country and even humanity comes back to the cradle and the homes where the babies are raised.

There is a United Nations town hall meeting today with the UN Secretary General that will be full of people who are hostile to the family and working against it on all fronts. Their voices are heard above the voices of parents, and we’d like to give you a chance to help our voices be heard and, even better, the Ambassadors and delegates will hopefully take notice of it!

Here is our initiative that we need urgent help with starting now and going over the weekend. We’re focusing on one thing at a time and tomorrow this is the goal: to testify about motherhood NOT being a burden.”

I am proud to be a mother. So very proud. I love these humans with my whole heart.


Please, please, please share the love you feel for being a mother, for your own mother, for motherhood, for your desire to be a mother. Even if you feel like this won’t affect you, more voices add power. Every voice of support is needed. For more info go go to:

And we need it today.



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Norah at 4

This lovely little girl turns 4 today. I still remember very vividly realising that we were pregnant. I had a nine month old. And I was barfing my guts out. And it was a complete shock to us. It always took us a lot of time to get pregnant and here we were with a surprise. That was something that happened to other people. And I was puking my GUTS out with a baby. I cried about it a lot. (After the shock wore off.) Months later when Id gotten my brain around it I was at the swimming pool and I saw a friend who lives far away. She was talking to me about having kids so close and basically she said “Oh Rhonda, it’ll be TERRIBLE for about 2 years. And then it will be so so awesome. They’ll be the best pals and you will love it. But yes, it’ll be terrible for the beginning but you can do it.” And looking back now 4 years later, she was SO right. The first 2 years were so so hard. But we fumbled our way through it. Lots of disasters and embarrassing moments (mostly at church). Post-pardum depression. Feeling completely overwhelmed with it all. But here we are at 4 and that feels like a lifetime ago already. And man do we love having this sweet girl as the baby in our family. On a side note, if the kids say Norah is baby, she always responds with “I’m the baby of the family, but I’m not a baby.” It’s adorable.

Norah at 4:

  • still doesn’t sleep thru the night every night (we were awake from 2-530 last night)
  • loves little things like little critters and small polly pocket style toys
  • is obsessed with her cousin Sage and asks to see her almost the minute she wakes up and she cries almost every time they said good bye
  • loves cats a lot.
  • is totally a mom’s girl
  • she knows most of her letter names and sounds. She can write her name and spell mom and dad and recognise all the kids names in our family
  • she loves stay and play and literally jumps for joy when it’s time to go
  • she loves to read books
  • she loves to paint and do crafty things
  • She wears dresses most days and loves to dress up
  • she still loves to be carried most places
  • she can’t wait to go to school and learn
  • she loves that she gets to go to REAL primary class now at church
  • she still is quite tiny, not even 30 pounds yet
  • her shoe size is still really small too – only size 9
  • she has very blue eyes
  • she uses her lower lip to pout quite often to try and get things
  • she loves to play pretend family especially with ollie
  • we just finally got her out of the habit of having to read her a book EVERY single time she uses the bathroom
  • she loves bubble baths
  • she loves playing in the snow
  • when something is cute she talks in a teeny tiny high voice about it “Oh this is soooo cute”
  • she loves pizza – but only pepperoni
  • she loves cheese – strings, sharp ones, loves a smoked gouda
  • she loves bread and fruit too
  • she actually is kind of a terrible eater
  • she adores and looks up to Lucy a lot and especially loves it when Lucy does “School” with her and teaches her things
  • She’ll ask me to list how much i love her and giggles the whole time while I do my list
  • she runs to dad and jumps into his arms to welcome him home
  • she’s my sidekick and goes most places with me
  • she’s used to playing with kids older than she is, so sometimes she has a hard time connecting with kids her own age

She really is loved, this little pal of mine. She is our best surprise we’ve ever had!

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Lesson on Motherhood: Giving Gifts

Lessons on Motherhood: Giving Gifts | Just Rhonda

A month or so ago it was our anniversary. I was going about my day trying to get my list done, trying to get things ready so that we could go out for the evening and I was even working on my Week in the Life pictures since that was smack in the middle of that too. My usual go to is a few things on the go. Regan and I had not boughten each other gifts since we were going on a trip shortly. To us that was our anniversary present to each other. (And I’d totally take a trip any day!)

Right in the midst of getting ready to leave on our evening date, Lucy said she needed to just give me something. She ran down to her room and came upstairs with these cutest little people. Me and Regan on our wedding day.

Lessons on Motherhood: Giving Gifts | Just Rhonda

Lucy is a gift giver. She is a gift giver from the heart. She thought on her own to do this and went about and did it. I have learned a few lessons from being on the receiving end of these gifts and also from watching her give them to other people.

  1. Gifts from the heart mean more. Giving a gift just for the action mean less than something that is thought out. Think about the person that you are giving too. For some people that is harder to think of something good, but the more we know and love someone and spend time with them
  2. It doesn’t have to cost a lot to mean something. Case in point, these sweet little people.
  3. Just Do it. Don’t just think about it. As a wise woman Camilla Kimball said “never suppress a generous thought.” Thought of something kind to do for someone else? Do it. It’ll make everyone’s day better!

I love this sweet girl of mine and her big heart. And I want to follow her example and do more of this.

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Back to School 2015

Last year I started the new family tradition of a Back to School Feast. This tradition was started by the totally inspiring Stephanie Neilson and you can see her 2015 Feast here.This year I waffled around with our theme. I wanted it to mean something good. And there are so many lovely words of wisdom out there. But first our meal. Last year we did it the night before but this year we went with the night of the first day of school. It was our family home evening for the night and worked out good. (Especially since I had very little food in the house because we were on vacation the week before!)

So I sent the kids off to school (with probably the saddest back to school lunches. hahahahaha)

Back to School Feast 2015 | Just Rhonda

I used to always go to the school to take their pictures but as the kids have gotten older they don’t like that. So instead I do it on my front lawn and then send them all on the bus. (and then I can stay in my pjs too!)
Back to School Feast 2015 | Just Rhonda

Some kids are nervous about their classroom and finding it and seeing their teacher but my kids aren’t really like that. Both Alden and Lucy were when they were younger but Eli could care less. He would have ridden his bike on his own. I’m sure I’ll be dropping Oliver off door to door for his first day. But this works for now! 😉

Last year I decorated a bit more, but this year it was more simple.

Back to School Feast 2015 | Just Rhonda

A fancy paper table cloth from Super Store with matching napkins. And then some school supplies (like last year) along with some tools to go along with a discussion. We talked about how all the things they learn at school are only tools.


And that they have to actually use them properly and apply them to make their lives better. And we talked a lot about work. And how that is part of life. Especially at school.

And we introduced our theme for this year:

Back to School Feast 2015 | Just Rhonda

I made this to hang in each one of their rooms. (If you want to print it just click on it to download it)



I am hoping they learn that work is a major part of life so they need to learn to accept it and enjoy it. And we always end the evening with Father’s Blessings before the new school year.

Then we did Raclette for dinner. I only took pictures of the food not the actual Raclette apparently. If you don’t know what it is you can go read about it here. 

Back to School Feast 2015 | Just Rhonda

So I had lots of things to choose from from seafood to chicken and pork and then 5 different cheeses. I even made a plate that had pizza toppings so they could just make little pizzas.

Back to School Feast 2015 | Just RhondaIt’s one of Lucy’s favorite meals and me and Regan are big fans too. Alden loved since I had included Salmon. And Eli of course wouldn’t really eat any of it. HA! I love starting out the new year this way: full of hope and joy and enthusiasm. If you did a back to school feast I’d love to read about it, so leave a link for me to see in the comments!

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Dear Norah

Dear Norah,

You are at such a fun little age now! You are 2 and a half and so so cute. Your sweet little voice is soft and high. Your speaking is really improving and you are constantly surprising me with what you notice and say. I think it is because  you are my baby and still pretty small. You are talking really well. Your newest thing to to softly sing to yourself. It is pretty much the cutest thing I’ve ever heard. I love when you sing ABCs and any primary song. We still play the “I love you more” game and you still end it in giggles and kisses. That adds to your cuteness level.

You finally got another tooth. That makes 9. Still lots of gaps in your mouth but I think you are finally getting them. You told me when the last one came in and said “ouch, oh ouch, my mouth”.  It was cute too 😉 Your mouth has totally healed from your surgery and it’s looking good. I don’t know if that has affected your speech or if it just happened around the same time but you definitely talk more now.

You have decided that polka dots is where it’s at. You get really feisty on sunday mornings about your sunday dresses. It’s quite the process to pick out your clothes and have the time you spill food on it before we leave anyways and we have to try again to find one you are satisfied with. You always say “oh a princess one” when we finally pick a dress and put it on you. (Add another cuteness notch.)

You love to read the same three stories for bedtime and have been on that kick for a few weeks now. I’ve had enough of them frankly, but we keep reading them. They are three Dora books (she’s not my favorite) and you love that you know what is coming. You really love books and LOVE to be read too. It happens a LOT. A Lot, a lot.

You still sleep with a soother but really only use it in bed. Even in the morning when you get up you are holding it when I come in to get you and you just hand it over to me. The bottles are all gone now. But you still call your sippy cup your bottle.

You are a REAL fan of Lucy. (Lucy loves to say she is your favorite next to mom) She can babysit you and put you to bed easily. It’s really awesome how well you two get along and i totally am reminded of me and my little sister Aunt Kelly. I love to see it. It really means a lot to me. You are still a momma’s girl but you’ve decided that dad is pretty awesome too. Really you make everyone in our family happy. (Sometimes it’s real work with Oliver but you patiently ask over and over “mom is he happy yet?”)

When I have been gone even for a short while, when I walk back into the room you come running with your arms spread wide with the HUGEST grin on your face and it is the CUTEST!! I love it soooooo much.

We just love having you in our family sweet girl. You light up our home and fill up our hearts.

Love mom.

Dear Norah | Just Rhonda

* I love writing letters to my kids that they can read when they get older. I think it’s a great way to share my feelings but also record memories about them at different stages. I love leaving them in my own voice.

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Happy Mother’s Day: What Motherhood Looks like

Celebrating Motherhood | Just Rhonda

A few months ago I posted a collection of photos that I took depicting motherhood. Well for weeks after that I kept thinking of other things that I could capture to show motherhood. There are so many faucets to it. And it varies from each woman to the next. It’s been on my mind for a while. And so today, on mother’s day I made a video. I added some of those last pictures and I added in some more.

I hope you’ll share it with a mother who you love and it will remind you of all the things you love about being a mom if you are one.


And I just have to add how much I love my own mother and my mother in law and all that they do for me.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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How Memory Keeping Makes me a Better Mother

Celebrating Motherhood | Just Rhonda

Today while I am sharing another spread from Feb 22-28, 2015,  I also want to talk a little bit about why memory keeping is important to me as a mother. I feel like it helps me in a few ways.


1. Memory keeping makes me a better mother because tt helps me see the small moments (pockets of joy or tapping of my heart) that happen each day. Doing this makes me happier in not only those small moments but also the bigger scheme of things too. It helps me see my children more clearly. In their goodness and their little quirks.


2. Memory keeping helps my mothering by filling my heart with more gratitude. I see this good life I have, even when things are hard, and see how blessed I am. I know I am blessed but sometimes during the really hard days I forget it. And reminding myself again and again of these small day to day moments show me the hand of God and the joy that runs through it. And documenting the hard exhausting moments makes me thankful that I made it through them and that I have so much help with my good husband and my family around.


3. Memory Keeping makes me a better mother because it gives me a place to write down how I feel. Another avenue to express my love for my family and they can SEE it and FEEL it and READ it. I think it’s another place that my kids can learn about my love for them.


4. Memory Keeping makes me a better mother because it helps me stop and slow down during the day to notice the little people around me. I am 100% a dreamer. I have lists of dreams and ideas (literally) and my head is sometimes in the clouds. Memory keeping keeps me grounded and noticing the lovely people around me more. It centers my mind and uses the creativity in my head towards mothering.


5. Memory keeping makes me a better mother because i have a creative release. Kind of along the same lines as #4 – I need a creative outlet. I go a  bit stir crazy if I don’t get a little creative during my days. I need it to feel like human. It builds up in me and I think this is a very positive outlet! 😉


6. Memory keeping helps me  be a better mother because it helps me to remember. I am totally forgetful. In a lot of ways. And I don’t want to forget the little details of my kids lives. The more kids we added too our family the more I was forgetting even the big stuff. It all kind of blurs together 😉


7. Memory keeping makes me a better mother because it stretches my mind and my own soul. It helps me and challenges me to get it done and work on it.

2015Feb22-286I am genuinely a fan of memory keeping. My story matters. As a mother, as a wife, as a sister, as a human. And I get to play with pretty supplies too… what’s not to love 🙂


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Mother’s Day Questionnaires

Celebrating Motherhood | Just Rhonda

I’ve been a mom for a few years (12 years to be exact) and the things I’ve loved the most that my kids have given me are the things they have written. Things they have filled out and written. Both the words and their handwriting. i LOVE Them. So today I’m sharing some pages that kids can fill out. And there is even one for grandma.

All About my grandma

All About my grandma

All About my mom

All About my mom


So print them out and get your kids to fill them out. Or get your husband to get your kids to print them out 😉

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Lessons on Motherhood: Why I want my kids to fail

Lessons in Motherhood: Let them fail

There are lots of things that are different now for kids than when I grew up. The Internet is a big one that immediately comes to mind. My kids will never understand that it just didn’t exist. Or the idea that there were only three channels and if we wanted to watch Inspector Gadget we had to be there from 330-4 or we just didn’t see it.

Another thing I have noticed that seems to be is the idea that everyone wins. It is common place nowadays that instead of first and second and third, everyone gets a ribbon.

I don’t want my kids to get a ribbon for everything they do. Part of life is learning to lose. I want my children to know that sometimes you don’t get picked first and you’ll be okay. That part of growing up is sometimes losing at small things so that they will learn to fight and work hard for the big things.

I want my kids to know that you have to work hard and strive for excellence and sometimes you don’t make it. You mess up and aren’t the best. Often in fact you aren’t the best. No one is the best at everything. But someone is the best in that game or that test or that race. And it is OK if it wasn’t you. You can try again and work hard and improve. I want them to know that the next time you try harder you push further and you learn from your mistakes. And you gain determination from working and putting your best effort forward.

Trying over and over and over and over is life and that is how we strive for excellence. That is how discoveries and courage and determination are formed. Many of the inventions in life are because people had to work through problems. I want my kids to know that with problems come solutions.

Watching your child lose is not easy. Especially when they take it hard. I’ve seen my kids not get picked and lose at things and even as a parent it still stings a little bit. I want my kids to also know that sometimes when they’ve done their best effort I am going to  fight for them. I am always on their side and their biggest supporter in life. But sometimes learning from loss is just as important as learning from winning.

Failure is opportunity to try again

How is humanity blessed by everyone being equal? How is the world blessed by everyone being the same? How is the world blessed or growth or development or any of those things if everyone “wins” everything? We are raising a generation of children who think that they deserve a ribbon just for showing up and that even if they put forth no effort whatsoever they can be the best. There is no pride in workmanship or for the effort they have put forth because they don’t have to.

I want my kids to know that if they want something they have to fight for it and work for it. I want my kids to know that they are required to put in the work and that they can do anything.

As a young man, Abraham Lincoln went to war a captain and returned a private. Afterwards, he was a failure as a businessman. As a lawyer in Springfield, he was too impractical and temperamental to be a success. He turned to politics and was defeated in his first try for the legislature, again defeated in his first attempt to be nominated for congress, defeated in his application to be commissioner of the General Land Office, defeated in the senatorial election of 1854, defeated in his efforts for the vice-presidency in 1856, and defeated in the senatorial election of 1858. At about that time, he wrote in a letter to a friend, “I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth.”

Git back up and try again

Winston Churchill repeated a grade during elementary school and, when he entered Harrow, was placed in the lowest division of the lowest class. Later, he twice failed the entrance exam to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. He was defeated in his first effort to serve in Parliament. He became Prime Minister at the age of 62. He later wrote, “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never, Never, Never, Never give up.” (from here)

As a parent is to protect my children from everything but what good would that do do them. A chicken must fight it’s way out of the egg to survive. I want my kids to have small failures so that they can learn that I will always be waiting to hold them to comfort them and to encourage them to try again. And that they can do anything they put forth the effort to and that the feeling of accomplishing something you have worked for is amazing and so satisfying. I want my kids to learn how to turn failure into success as a child so that when they are an adult they will have the determination to work and try and keep on trying if it doesn’t work the first time.

I want them to strive for perfection by improving themselves every day and working hard and being their best selves. And sometimes that means losing and failing on the way. I want those to be small failures so that they will learn when they are small to fight and work for things when they are grown.

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Norah at 2: A Love Letter

Dear Norah,

Norah at 2 | A love letter

You are two. Actually you are 2 and a bit. And you are such a delightful little thing! We play this little game right now, me and you. Where you’ll come over and say “I love you.” And I’ll say “I love you more” and then you’ll laugh and say “No I love YOU more” and we go back and forth while you giggle uncontrollably. It is THE CUTEST thing EVER! Around your second birthday you started saying I love you to me. You’d said it before but now you will stop what you are doing and run over to me and lean in to hug my and say “i love you mom” and run off to play. I can’t even explain how much I love it.

Norah at 2 | A love letter

You are still tiny. But you did finally move up one shoe size and a clothing size so you are growing. You still don’t eat a ton. But you finally like something for breakfast. Either eggs with ketchup (as long as they are room temperature) or oatmeal or cinnamon toast crunch. Your pediatrician told me to give me any thing that’s fatty that you ask for. So no joke, the other day you ate a cup of whipped cream with a spoon. You wanted some and… why not?! You LOVE anything with sugar. Candy? You bet! Ice cream or cake or anything else? You are on it! You’ll often eat the stuff Oliver won’t eat since he only will eat chocolate.

I would feel a lot better about you not getting big if you were a big eater. As long as you are growing and getting bigger.

Norah at 2 | A love letter

You still follow Oliver around a LOT. Like everywhere. One day I went to put you into the tub right after Oliver at gone pee on the toilet and I put him in. You said “me pee too” so I took off your diaper and went to put you on the toilet and you totally tried to lean into the toilet to pee just like over did. It was so funny. You were staring at yourself say “doesn’t work, doesn’t work”. I said nope and put you up sitting and we moved on. It was sooooo funny. You have learned to pretend from him. And you ask what words say because you have seen him do it. You also have learned to yell and get mad from him.

You are 100% a mommas girl. All the way. You ask for mom all the time. But you also are a BIG fan of Lucy. When mom’s not around Lucy is often the one you want. She can take you on walks or to play in the backyard or anywhere else and it is so sweet. I LOVE to see your sister relationship grow and develop. It makes me think of Aunty Kelly and how much I miss her but also how much I really enjoyed having a sister.

Norah at 2 | A love letter

You talk a lot. Like a lot, a lot. Often a running commentary of words. Some days we can easily tell what you are saying and other times we have no IDEA what you are saying. You get mad on those times. You want to be understood, which is completely normal! I want to be understood too.

You can sing a couple songs all by yourself. Although if you notice that someone is listening you start singing really quiet and look all shy.

Norah at 2 | A love letter

You still love music. You have loved music since were you born. It would calm you down when you were crying. Now you love to dance and move to it. Sometimes you’ll sing along even if you don’t know the words. I hope that you’ll continue to find joy in music and that in the future we’ll find an instrument that you can use to express your own music.

Norah at 2 | A love letter

You love stories. A lot. And you could sit and be read to all day. Although you like to talk about the books. All of the other kids would just sit and listen but you want have running dialogue of  what you see and what’s in the books. It’s funny but kind of hard to finish stories sometimes.

Norah at 2 | A love letter

You are such a beautiful little girl. We are often told by others how cute you are. We already know. 🙂 The other day we had to leave Sacrament meeting and when we walked back in you were waving to all the people as we walked back to our seat. Just like a little queen wave to your fans. It was so cute. Those big beautiful eyes and your long lashes? So sweet.

You have to get surgery soon. On your mouth. You have a lingual frenum that is getting cut as well as a tongue tie. That’s gonna happen in a month or so. It makes me a little nervous but I know you’ll be fine. Your two front teeth have a nice big gap and that will help a bit. Speaking of teeth you still only have 8. Four front ones and four molars. That’s it. We don’t know why but we are on a weight list for a pediatric dentist. We’ll see if you end up actually getting some before we get seen.

Norah at 2 | A love letter

You are very sweet. Most of the time when you get upset if I just explain why you can’t have the iPad or that you can go outside after your nap, you’ll stop crying and say oh, okay mom.” Especially when I am putting you to bed. You are particularly easy going about going to bed. Often saying “ok, I’m ready for bed now mom.”

Norah at 2 | A love letter

Mom and dad love you little Norah, so very much and we are so glad you are part of our family.

Love Mom.

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Lessons in Motherhood: Find Pockets of Joy

Lessons in Motherhood: Find pockets of joy

I read this fabulous post the other day from the lovely Stephanie Nielson about motherhood and it really reached out and grabbed my heart. Motherhood isn’t for wimps. It is hard. And there are days when I think every mom feels like throwing in the towel. But we don’t. We keep going. And hopefully we find little pockets of joy. I wrote a bit about this idea over on Becky Higgins blog a few weeks ago for a cultivating a good life entry about choosing joy with Eli. And how I am trying to do that.

I feel like that is a great idea. In fact it’s a wonderful idea. But some days it is still hard. When you are overtired and your kids are having an off day. When you burn your supper or your hand on supper. When everyone cries at what you made for supper and every interaction between the kids seems to end in someone crying or yelling. When your head hurts or your back and you are totally in survival mode.

On those days it can get hard to just be positive. For me at least. And I don’t think I’m alone. I was thinking about this last week during the day. About choosing to see joy and finding it in this most important thing we are doing. I know that motherhood is what I was meant to do. It is a divine role that I luckily get to live in. And I am blessed to be able to do this and be this. They are my greatest accomplishment and creation. My heart walking outside my body. I know all that. And still some days it is hard to do it. To be here in this overtired overworked under appreciated place.

Dancing on the Table

Last week I had a moment. A spiritual tapping of my mother heart as Stephanie Nielson called it on another occasion. It started with a little play list we have on our computer called Oliver. It has exactly three songs in it. Happy from Pharrell Williams, Barnyard Dance from the kids book by Sandra Boynton and Jingle Bells by Barenaked Ladies. It is frankly an annoying play list. Especially since we listen to it on repeat…. for most of the morning. (Unfortunately I could sing you all of these songs……)

It was a very regular day really. I was cleaning up the kitchen and the two littles were playing around me. And “Happy” came on and even though they have heard that song a lot (the play list is currently at 392 times….) they just really got into it and were dancing up a storm. And then Oliver climbed on to the table and they were dancing up there. My first reaction was to get them down. I actually hate seeing kids on tables or counters. It just annoys me. But they were having SO much fun. And they were eating it up. All of it.

Dancing on the Table together

I stopped what I was doing, got out my camera and just enjoyed them and their energy and their love for that overplayed song. It was a total pocket of joy. They danced and  played and even tried a few break dance moves. I could have not noticed it. I need to stop what I was doing and stop trying to do my list of things. Just for a few moments I did. I ate it up and they did too and my momma heart was filled up with joy.

It was the briefest moment. It ended just as quickly as it started. (In fact I think it ended in a fight over the witch hat Norah was wearing.) But that little pocket of joy was something. It was there in my day. And it wasn’t the only one. It was the only one I took a picture of that day but there were more. Filling up my heart all day long. As long as I stop and notice them they are there.

I found this lovely quote from Love, Play, Learn a few ago when preparing a talk I was giving on motherhood.

“Motherhood can often be monotonous. Days can blur together and you really can get bogged down in all the stressful and boring aspects of caring for your home and children. However, if we stop and start to pay attention in our day we find these small moments that make all the hard parts of motherhood worth it. It is the giggles between your children behind close doors as they play happily together. It is the random I love yous. It is the slobbery open mouth kisses from your baby. It is the gleam of pure happiness in your child’s eyes when you introduce them to something new and exciting. It is their uncontrollable laughter when you are tickling them. It is the way your baby leans their head on your shoulder if only for a second. It is your baby’s first step. When they first learn to ride a bike. These are the moments that make motherhood. That make your heart fill with such love that you didn’t know existed. That make up for the sleepless nights and the messes and everything else that make it such a difficult job. When we are deliberate and conscious in our days to stop and really recognize these moments, we can find the happiness and joy in motherhood. I am not much of a journal writer but I have started writing in a notebook just a few minutes a day thing that I want to remember. Every entry starts out with “Happiness Is…” and I fill it with moments that brought me happiness in the day. It is simple and I literally spend 1-2 minutes doing it but it really helps me see that my days are filled with happiness. I just need to stop and enjoy the moments.”

Yes, Yes, Yes. I love this whole idea. The looking for these moments or as I’ve started calling them the pockets of joy is essential. And so is writing them down. Document them because of their fleeting nature they are over just as quickly as they start. And humans are forgetful. We need to remember. (Which is also an important word, but that’s a whole other conversation!)

These little moments are what matter. The pockets of joy in our everyday. Stop and notice them. And document them somehow so that when you are having a day when you just can’t seem to see them you can go back and relive those joy pockets.

I’d love you to comment and tell me a pocket of joy you noticed in your home in the last few days.

Just Rhonda Footer

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My Threenager

Dear Oliver,

Oliver at 3

You are the midst of the threes and wow, you are tough. When you are happy, you are so happy. Your smile can seriously light up the room. It is a full faced smile that just warms everyone who gets to see it. But when you are mad? Oh vey! Yesterday you screamed at Norah “I DONT WANT TO BE HAPPY.” We believed you. Some days I have tons of patience for your outburst. Lucy used to have them too, you know. She used to strip her clothes and scream and pee on herself and pull her own hair. It was shocking and I took it personally. Most of the time with you, I don’t take it personally but it still gets under my skin. More than anything I just have a hard time with the middle of the nights screaming fits that can wake up Norah. That I do take personally.

Oliver at 3

When you were born I just ate you up. I was in such a good place and I think enjoyed you so much. Everything you did, night feedings, fussy periods, Only-mom-will-do stage? Loved it. All of it.  And then all that got shaken up when I got pregnant with Norah and I was just so sick and you were still so small. That was tough but we did it. Sometimes I wonder if you feel gipped that Norah is around all the time.

Some days you are Norah are the best of friends. Most of the time really. You get into this play zone and you travel from room to room in the house, making messes and playing and it is so lovely to see. Some days you two have a bit of a hard time getting along.

Oliver at 3

Now you are three. Three and a half really. And I think all three year olds have a tough time. They are learning independence and trying to express it even more than before. It’s hard to be three. I get that. And I’m trying to be patient with your expressions and outbursts. We’ve started sending you to your room and you come back out and say “OK I’m ready to be happy.” It’s the least painful for everyone. And I think it’s important that you learn to deal with your emotions. It’s something we all have to learn to do.

You are freaky smart. You know all your letters, names and sounds and all your numbers up to 20. You especially love a couple apps on the iPad that teach the alphabet and spelling and you have learned most of them through that. Grandma Davis is pretty sure that if I worked with you I could get you to read. I have done a bit, but frankly I need you to get potty trained first. I have been trying lately but you get so mad about it all. And you don’t care that it feels gross. Just so you know, I hate potty training and that makes the whole thing harder. It would be kind of funny if you could read before you were potty trained.

Oliver at 3

You will only take chocolate. Like if someone offers you candy, you will not take it unless it is chocolate. You’ll respond with “I only take chocolate.” It’s pretty funny and at Halloween it means I get to eat everything else, so thanks. You still LOVE chicken nuggets and fries and you will ask for that daily if I give you the option. But only if there is LOTS of ketchup. (It’s practically a side dish for you!)

You still LOVE your cousin Sage. She’s kind of like a happy button for you. Most of the time she is around you are in a good mood. Lately you’ve realized that your other cousin Oscar is awesome too and you’ve started asking to play with “my friend Oscar.” The two of you play Paw Patrol and do lots of imaginary play together.

We love you Oliver. Even when you are screaming at us that “You just want to scream” or that “you hate being happy”. We love you and we’ll try out best to be patient. I hope you’ll do the same with us.

Love Mom.

Just Rhonda Footer

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Write your Heart Out: Today I want to Remember

I’ve decided to follow along with the ever inspiring ladies over at Life Captured Inc with their December writing project called Write your Heart Out.  They have a list of posts and are encouraging participation through words and photographs to document your life story. And since I am working on my December Daily this year for the first time I thought I’d tie it all in together if possible.

December. Day 1. Describe a moment from today that you always want to remember.


In my experience mothering is not a day filled with peaceful loving moments. Instead it is a way of fluctuating moments. Quiet, peaceful moments hidden inside loud, head hurting moments. Moments when one, two or three kids are all crying at the same time and moments that fill up my heart to the very top. There have been times that I have been trapped in the routine of only noticing the hard moments. When I am ready to cry along with my kids. Thankfully, other times I can easily see the beautiful perfect moments all around me. I am so grateful for those times. They carry me through hard mothering days.

I decided a few months ago to get over myself and my constant tiredness and just exercise. To cast all my excuses aside and just do it. Now it is in our routine to send the older kids off to school on the bus, dad off to work and then I put on my exercise clothes. I might still end up cleaning the breakfast mess from the kitchen counters and if I am smart, start a load of laundry, and then I set out some toys for Oliver and Norah and I get on the treadmill.

Today before we ventured downstairs to the huge toy disaster in the basement and the treadmill waiting for me I made my bed. I love putting new sheets on and I’ve even say if I didn’t have to wash and dry them I’d be a fan of putting clean sheets every single day. Today was one of those lovely days when I had clean sheets to put on. And, as usual, as soon as I started to spread out the sheets my kids came running to climb on top of the bed. I dunno what it is, but every single time I make my bed any of my kids under 7 think it is so fun! They love to climb on it and have the blankets spread over top of them. They dive in between the blankets and the sheets, squirming their way to the middle of the bed. It instantly amounts to sweet little giggles and lovely belly laughs. It is never a 2 minute job. But instead it is drawn out as they yell “AGAIN” in between their fits of laughter.

Today, Norah’s sweet gap toothed grin and her bell like tinkling laugh drew me in. She has this new laugh that is seriously the cutest thing I have ever heard. Her eyes were lit up and taking me all in. Oliver was squished right next to her and laughing in his loud, low belly laugh. He was yelling peek a boo at the top of his lungs. And every time I would  spread the blanket out on them I was turning the laughter switch on. It was absolutely lovely.  Their two heads were next to each other in the middle of the bed and Norah’s wispy blonde hair was every where from the static. Oliver was pulling on the blankets too and I had to keep saying Let go, so I can do it again. He was too excited to let go. He’d smash his arms down on to of the blanket every time it would gently land on him. His cheeks were rosy from laughter and Norah would look over at him and keep laughing because of his laughter.


I leaned over and kissed them both on the neck and that added to the giggles. Norah was patting her neck where she wanted me to kiss her and giggling profusely. Oliver’s whole face was lit up with that great smile of his and he grabbed my neck tightly with his arms and squeezed me as tight as he could.


Just as quickly as the moment started it was over. We moved on with the morning. A brief, wonderful moment that filled me up for the rest of the day.

I’m sure lucky to be a mom.

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Lessons on Motherhood: Learning Zone


Another Lesson in Motherhood from a fabulous mother I know named Laura. Laura and I met when she moved into our neighborhood and we met each other. She’s move away from my neighborhood but we still get to see each other every once in a while and I am grateful.


Dear Reader,

I found myself with a few spare moments to sit down and check out some things on the computer when I realized a good friend has sent me a message. She was making a simple request of me. Would I jot down a few thoughts on what the years of motherhood had taught me? She would like to share this as part of her blog. Being a good friend to me, in fact one of the few people who welcomed me when I was a stranger, I could not say ‘no’ and so despite a crazy schedule I replied that I would. Then it began ‘What would I write? Would others be interested in my thoughts? What could I really say on such a vast topic?’ in time my voice came and I began to write…

My Thoughts on Motherhood

  1. Children are a Gift. As any woman who has struggled with infertility will tell you, children don’t just come when you want them. They are not some commodity you can pick up at the grocery store… they are gift given in love from Love itself and meant to be raised in love.

After our first child was born, my husband and I did battle with 3 years of infertility. It ravaged my body and filled my mind with doubts about ever fulfilling the dreams I had for the family we had begun. It created tensions where there were none before, it medicalized what was supposed to be natural and it left me high and dry. The only recourse I had was to pour all my love and efforts into the one chid we were blessed with. Over the years I started to let go, I learned to be thankful instead of fretful, I even accepted our little family and appreciated the little unit we were. The pressure was off and I began to move forward. It was then that Love touched us again and we were blessed with two consecutive pregnancies. I discovered that children teach a quiet hopeful trust NOT a despairing grasp at our own desires. What a gift!

  1. Children speak the Truth. It wasn’t long after my first born learned to speak that I realized she was only capable of telling the truth, and nothing but the truth. To illustrate, here is an example from my personal life.

As a young lady I developed a full and voluptuous figure far earlier than any of my counterparts and needless to say this attracted much unsolicited attention. Rough interactions ensued from glances, to comments, to jealous fights and yes, unfortunately, even negative sexual encounters. Over the years these interactions caused within me a deep wound. I couldn’t see myself naked without thinking of these negative memories. I developed an aversion to my breasts, and would be disturbed at their sight. One day while coming out of the shower my full profile came into the mirrored view and as I stared, the memories of the past played in my head and a familiar disgust rose up and out loud I spoke these words, ‘they are so ugly’. I didn’t realize that my daughter was in the room watching and listening and the minute those words were spoken she stepped forward and said ‘I think your breasts beautiful’. You see, she had been nursed for over a year and new the comfort that nursing had brought to her little heart. She was a speaking total TRUTH and did see them as beautiful. Well my eyes filled with tears, and my heart broke as truth shattered its encasement and penetrated deeply.   There was no way she’d lie and I decided to listen to that truth. The truth she knew first hand and was so capable of speaking!

  1. Children inspire us to follow our true self by modelling how it’s done. I’ll never forget the time my 6 year old daughter was propositioned by a stranger to accept a tattoo. She and I had previously discussed those fake tattoos that are often put in ‘loot bags’ of various sorts and had concluded that it was not for us because they mucked up our skin. So, on this day when a vender at a community trade show was pushing a tattoo into her hands, she promptly spoke up saying ‘no thank you’. Well this person didn’t understand and so he tried again, ‘but they are free and washable and fun, why won’t you take it?’ She spoke more resolutely ‘I do not want it’. This person went hysterical looking to us for help ‘surely she doesn’t know what she is talking about. Tattoos are fun, every kid likes tattoos’. My husband and I sided with our daughter and we walked on. Wouldn’t it be cool if we all could live in the freedom of following the law of our hearts and be respected for it? I think so, and children remind us of that.
  1. Children come for our good as well as theirs. I don’t believe it when people call children an ‘undesirable burden’ that parents just have to put up with until they are 18 years old. No, people who speak this way have either forgotten or never known the touch of little warm hands, or spontaneous words of love spoken from a genuine heart. Children make us better people by helping us to think less of ourselves and more about others. We become concerned citizens because now our children also live in this world. Children make us tender again they teach simplicity and ultimately will grow us into children once again if we let them do it. As my husband and I welcome our fourth child there has been nothing more gratifying and more fulfilling for us than to share the mutual task of growing our children. We are better for it!

Ok, so you’ve heard my thoughts, now what about you? What has motherhood taught you over the years and what would you share if you could? Happy reflecting…

Yours truly,



Wasn’t that wonderful?? Laura and I have lots of things in common.   We are both happily married and have kids who we love and care for. We both want our children to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ. We both stay at home to raise them and want the best for our kids.  Laura and I also have some differences.  She is a home schooler and I send my kids to public education. She is a Catholic and I am a Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. She is pregnant and I am not I think lessons in motherhood can come from moms who are the same as you and the moms who are different from you – she’s both.  I’m so grateful to Laura for sharing her heart so willing with me and all of you today. Love ya, Laura!

Just Rhonda More posts like this:

Danger Zones in Mothering

Another Lesson in Motherhood today from another fabulous Mother I know and love named Kristin Smith.


Why hello there!


My name is Kristin Smith. I’m 30 (and thriving! Ha.), I have 4 kids ages 8.5- almost 1 (boy, girl, boy, girl). I’m a small town girl with a love of learning, music, laughter, and dancing. (not profesh dancing, just dancing in your kitchen kind of dancing.)

I’m nervous to write this. Rhonda is a friend of mine and asked me to do it. Pretty much my first response was like a wild dog with rabies – wide eyed and foaming at the mouth – then I peed my pants a little, brushed myself off, and decided that it would be good for me.

It would be an opportunity to write the thoughts that are near and dear to my heart. To write about a topic that I’ve struggled with through the years, but that’s forming me (slowly) into the type of person I want to be.


So, with a “bring it on” mentality, a bit of nerves, here I am. My thoughts completely at your disposal, so be gentle 🙂

Motherhood has never come naturally to me.

People think I’m lying when I say that, but it’s true. I understand why they see it that way though. In public I’m vibrant, enthusiastic, fun, and lots of other positive characteristics. In my home though, let’s just say I’m a work in progress. The positive qualities I do possess have a tendency to go missing sometimes. 🙂

I have a short temper. I yell too much. I wish that patience was a virtue I’d already established. I should be more affectionate. I could go on and on.

Yet, I love being a mother. I find motherhood to be the best post secondary education I’ve received. It’s hands on learning (literally!) and it challenges you everyday. It challenges you to find joy in the small things, to have an attitude of gratitude, and to serve unselfishly. I’d like to talk about a couple of the danger zones that I try to stay away from regarding motherhood.

First danger zone: comparison.

Comparison is the gateway to an unhappy life. (says I.)

Their best + your worst = sucky self esteem.

Which brings me to mention my love of snowflakes. (RANDOM.) I love snowflakes. Don’t think I’m crazy – just hear me out first.

Did you know that every snowflake is different? Not one is the same?

I was thinking about that the last time it was snowing. As I slowly turned around watching snowflakes fall all around me, I marvelled that there was no any 2 snowflakes alike.

It’s just amazing I tell you.

Snowflakes are just like all of us as women and mothers.

We are each beautiful, ornate, and intricate with our own specific details. We were not meant to be cookie cutter molds of each other.

Heavenly Father amazes me in his wisdom to remind us of our divine worth. He’s given us earthly reminders – like snowflakes – to let us know how special each one of us are. Think about that the next time it snows and you’re first inkling is a depressed state J

President Uchtdorf said in this fabulous talk:


85x11comparision Let me introduce you to my mother: Janet Drew. My wonderful mother gave birth to 7 children in 11 years.

  1. That’s flipping (excuse my language!) amazing
  2. My mother is organized, serves without recognition, keeps an immaculately clean house, faithful to the core, and supported all 7 of us children in our pursuits.

Did I mention that she worked as a nurse and served faithfully in church callings? Enter me, Kristin Smith, as I was presented my baby boy almost 9 years ago. Like motherhood always does, I was tossed in head first with too many unrealistic ideals of what would make me a good mother. I determined my worth as a mother by comparing it with the mother I had.

My little snowflake was trying so hard to be something it wasn’t. It was discouraging. Worse than discouraging – I felt that I just would never measure up. All I could see were amazing mothers in this world and I was the mom who despite the desire to not, struggled with yelling at her kids and a dozen other vices. It took me a few years (and I’m constantly reminding myself) that the truth is, I am good enough. I am a good mother. I make mistakes daily, but I know that my heart is in the right place.

A quote from Elder M. Russell Ballard:


YES and can I get an amen?! I remind myself that I am the best mother for my children and continue trying to leave comparisons in the dust.

Second danger zone: discouragement/guilt. (I guess that is 2 things, but….too bad.)

Monotony and motherhood can go hand in hand. Some days I think “what did I even accomplish today?” (Ok, I do know that I was on Instagram a good hour…) The diapers, laundry, food, – I know you all know the list – is unending for tasks that need to be done without recognition.

I find it easy to get discouraged. A little too easy.

Our prophet President Thomas S. Monson has said:


I know this is true and it will happen because I hear women with older children reiterate that same message.

YOU WILL MISS THIS. Try to think about that when your child has just thrown up for the 6th time in their bed, or your house is a disaster, or you want to just run away from all the chaos and crying! Those little babies will become teenagers and adults with families of their own.

Don’t wish their small years away. Before you blink, these long, tedious, draining days will just be a missed memory.


Third danger zone: Negativity

I always wanted to be a cheerleader when I was younger. That boat never sailed so excuse me for asking, but may I please be yours?

I want to be an advocate for motherhood – in the sense there’s no right way to do it. You’re a mom, so as President (I voted myself in) I’m officially welcoming you to the club. This club exists in support of other mothers. We don’t judge. We encourage and strengthen. We recognize that there are going to be really good days and really bad days. We take each in stride. Surround yourself with other cheerleaders. Be that cheerleader for someone else. Positivity and gratitude will bring joy. (It won’t fix your problems, but it will help you to find joyful moments in the midst of those problems!)

If there’s anything that you take away from reading this LONG post – remember this. You are loved. So, so much. I know that Heavenly Father loves all his children. No one is left out of his “club”. Motherhood has given me a greater appreciation for the atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ. His gift provides me the chance to repent daily – to acknowledge my weaknesses and with his help, to continue working to make them strengths. I don’t expect to have perfection as a mother. It’s not possible. I would be pushing the atonement aside saying I have no need for it. Motherhood is trying. Trying over and over again. Setting the example for your children that you never give up. Change is possible.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said :


I echo those same words. Don’t ever forget your worth as a woman and mother. Keep your chin up. You’ve got this.


Awesomeness right?!! LOVE you Kristin! And love this!

Just Rhonda

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Back to School Feast: 2014

My friend Serena told me about a great tradition called Back to School Feast from the lovely Stephanie Nielson. I loved the idea. Love loved it. So I decided that we would start the tradition too! So last night, the night before school we had a fancy meal. Really it was a regular meal with a few things from around the house to fancy it up. I wanted to pick something that all the kids would eat without complaining. So I went with Spaghetti with meatballs. For decorations I used things from around the house. RLS_4675RLS_4677

I made crowns for all the kids.


This was about as good as it got with all the kids in one picture.

RLS_4722The three that are off to school.


And all the three kids showing how they feel about school…..



Regan and I picked a theme that we wanted the kids to think about for the year. So this is what we went with. We talked to them about how we wanted them to try things. Work hard and live life to the fullest.


The kids really loved that it was all set up. They loved the decorations and they loved that we were making it fancy. When Eli walked in he announced “what the heck is all this for?” I think they mostly loved that we made it special. After we had dinner and dessert and then Regan gave Alden, Lucy and Eli a father’s blessing before we sent them off to bed.

Just Rhonda

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Norah at 19 months

Dear Norah,

You are such a sweet little thing. Lately your personality is starting to emerge even more. And it is so sweet to see. Kind of like a little sweet package that is opening up more and more. I love it! You are really starting to love books. The cutest is when I am sitting on the floor and you do your little backup move to sit onto my lap. It makes me smile every time. You also love to be tickled. Like you will stick your foot out over and over and over so that we keep doing it.  You are understanding more and more when we talk to you. You still don’t have many words. Only about 10 or so. But you understand a lot. I can get you to do things like taking out your soother so I can take your picture.

Speaking of soothers, you love to have one in your mouth and one in each hand so that if Eli or Oliver steal the one in your mouth you can quickly put another one in. (I don’t know why they do that….) You don’t get upset at all, you just put in a different one. You’ve learned to work with those energetic big brothers of yours!


You are really loving following Oliver around lately. He is getting into it too. You two will go downstairs in the mornings and play for little bits of time. (Which I love) It gives me hope that when school starts next week that you two will enjoy each other more and more.

Also in the last month you have decided that Lucy is pretty awesome. I love it. And I think it makes Lucy so proud! She loves to randomly announce “After Mom, I think I am Norah’s favorite!”. Often then an argument breaks out between the kids about who you love best. It actually reminds me of when I was a kid and the boys would argue about who Aunty Kelly loved the best.


You are still TINY! You still fit in some 6-12 month clothes. You still weigh 19 pounds. So you really haven’t put on any weight in three months. I am a little worried about it. We went to see a Pediatrician about it, just to be sure everything is ok. I’m sure you are just lucky and ended up with those tiny little girl Steed genes. (Lucky you!)

I keep trying to pretend your hair is long enough for piggy tails. It is a lot of work. I can distract you for one but the other one is a lot more tricky. That and the rest of your hair is so fine and it grows totally right into your face. I love it’s blonde color!


You are very much in a MOM stage. You want me to hold you and put you to bed, and read you stories, and sit on my lap while I eat supper, and feed your your bottle, and hold your hand, and everything holding you. For that reason I am glad you are so small! Easier to carry around!

I got you a doll for your first birthday and I have been putting it in your bed since then. And just recently  you have decided that it is your baby and you love to hug it when you sleep and lots of times you carry it around with you. It is soooo cute. That and you love to have a blanket with you.


I love you norah. I can’t image our family with out you. You bring love and sweetness and we just all love having you around. Can ya just put on a little weight to make me not worry? That and sleep more?

Love mom.


Norah’s shoes are Fledge Feet  Nutmeg & Eden Flower and her little jacket and pants are both from Baby Gap. 

Just Rhonda

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Lessons in Motherhood: Try again Tomorrow

This morning I’m sharing a Lesson in Motherhood from my good friend Chelsea. She is one of the ladies that people just love. And totally look up too. And she is filled with wisdom far beyond her years. Some of which, she’s going to share with us all today!


When Rhonda asked me to do a guest post on motherhood, we were at the end of a couple of pretty rotten days.

Days where I just seemed to have no patience whatsoever. Where I’d hollered and flown off the handle (repeatedly) and my children had been following suit– being impatient with each other, hollering, flying off the handle–which was making me even more upset. Negative spiral, you get the picture (though it’s not on instagram).

A post on motherhood? My first thought was, well, I better shape up so I have something lovely and touching to share. Better put on a ruffly white house dress and smile at my baby in a garden full of perennials praising my motherly prowess with their blossomy nods. (You know the kind of paintings I’m alluding to right?)

And then I thought nope. If there is anything I know about motherhood, it is that there is no such thing as a perfect mom. I know a lot of you get close, but for the majority of us I think we all have bad days.

In a great talk by Boyd K Packer where he compares physical self -reliance to emotional resilience, he said: “Teach our members [and I’d insert mothers] that if they have a good, miserable day once in a while, or several in a row, to stand steady and face them. Things will straighten out. There is great purpose in our struggle in life.”

Does that mean I should yell at my kids? No. But it means a rough day can be just that. A rough day. And tomorrow can be better.

There’s been a few times when I have felt us headed towards one of those grumpy days. I’m usually still in a housecoat, the children have found some leftover late night TV snack Ben and I had and have snuck it downstairs as their “bwek-fist”.

Maybe my special needs child was up all night, or my baby, or my 4-year-old wet his bed, or my 5 year old had a bad dream…or ALL of thee above! For whatever reason we’re off to a bad start. I have stopped in my tracks, balled up my fists, thrown back my unshowered head and called out “RE-DO!”

We all go back to our beds and pretend to wake up again. I come in and in my best sugary mom impersonation greet my children to the pretend new day, ask them lovingly how their sleep was and they smile at my little charade and probably wonder why they got such a crazy weird mom.

And then we pray and read scriptures and eat something other than Doritos and sometimes the day still spirals away from us again but sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes we just needed to try again. Which is what I want my kids to learn. They can always try again. They can always repent. It’s never too late.

As the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, who in the end gave up their lives to stay true to the changes they made when they were converted to the gospel, expressed: “And I also thank my God, yea, my great God, that he hath granted unto us that we might repent of these things, and also that he hath forgiven us of those our many sins … which we have committed, and taken away the guilt from our hearts, through the merits of his Son. And the great God has had mercy on us, and made these things known unto us … because he loveth our souls as well as he loveth our children; therefore, in his mercy he doth visit us by his angels, that the plan of salvation might be made known unto us as well as unto future generations. (Alma 24:10)

The plan is Christ. For Christ to make it possible for us to grow. For Christ to take away the despair of wrong doing and allow us the hope of change. And there is nothing I hope for more than for me and my kids to believe in Christ enough to change. Linda K. Leavitt wrote a children’s book she hoped would “inspire and help unlock the power within to break negative cycles” entitled “A Touch, A Kiss and a Hold”.

When my mother in law gave it to me for Christmas I bawled as I read it because it’s sweet little rhyme (aren’t bedtime stories that rhyme so much easier to read with a tired mommy brain?) spoke to one of the deep desires of my heart– for my kids to be better than me.

It goes like this:

“When I was a little child

Most days I was meek and mild,

Hardly ever was I wild.

But sometimes there were those days

When I really had to have my ways.

 Then mom’s voice got cross as she would scold

And I felt bad and sad and wished I’d told,

“Mommy, I just need a touch, a kiss and a hold.”

Instead I kept it all inside

Or ran to my bedroom where I cried.

Then I thought to myself,

“When I grow up I’ll never yell.

Instead, tender words of love I’ll tell,

I’ll treat my children very well.”


Then I grew up and became a mom

When straight from heaven my babe had come

And each day I would play and laugh and hum.

My baby grew into a child.

Most days she was meek and mild,

Hardly ever was she mad or wild.

But sometimes there were those days

When she really had to have her ways.

Then my voice got cross and I would scold

And she felt bad and sad, but bravely told,

“Mommy I just need a touch, a kiss and a hold.”


She did not keep it all inside.

We both hugged and we both cried.

Then I thought to myself,

“I have grown up, I must never yell

Instead, tender words of love I’ll tell,

I’ll treat my child very well.”


Then she grew up and became a mom

When straight from heaven her babe had come

And each day she would play and laugh and hum.

Her babe grew into a little child.

Most days she was meek and mild,

Hardly ever was she mad or wild.

But sometimes there were those days

When she really had to have her ways.

Mom’s voice grew soft, she didn’t scold.

Her child felt glad not sad, and sweetly told,

“Mommy, we just need a touch, a kiss and a hold.”

Then mom and child hugged very tight.

They knew they’d done just what was right.”


On days when I don’t do the right things I cling to the hope that if I can show my children that we all make mistakes and help them understand that how we deal with those mistakes is infinitely more important than the impossible attempts to never mess up.

I remember a good friend saying once that bedtime was when her and her kids forgave each other. I love that. I often go into my kids rooms (sometimes after I’ve shouted them to bed with threats and “That it! I’m done!”s) and stroke their hair as they (finally) drift off to sleep and say “was mommy a little mean today?” to which they always answer so honestly, “Yes.” Then I tell them I’m sorry and that I will try harder tomorrow. Sometimes we even say a little prayer together. And then I always ask, “Do you forgive me?” And again, their honest, easy answer is “Yes.” As they roll over to fall asleep, and I leave the room with a tear or two rolling down my still unshowered face.

I hope one day my children are better parents then I am. I hope they will learn the power of forgiveness. That through my example they will know that the atonement is real and that we have to grasp on to the merits of our Savior because our own attempts so often fail.

 Parents often express the fear of “messing up “ their kids. I believe this is inevitable. It is just part mortality to mess up and be messed up. In a fallen world, we all fall down. Yet, as long as we point our children to Christ, He will lift them up. Will heal them. Will make everything okay.

As Alma the younger taught his sons (one of the many parents in the scriptures who had to deal with making mistakes themselves and then dealing with their kids making mistakes too) “Preach unto them repentance, and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ; teach them to humble themselves and to be meek and lowly in heart; teach them to withstand every temptation of the devil, with their faith on the Lord Jesus Christ. Teach them to never be weary of good works, but to be meek and lowly in heart; for such shall find rest to their souls. – (Alma 37:33-34)

Just like at the end of those long, cranky days, when I receive much needed forgiveness from my little kiddos at their bedsides, there will come a time after this mortal “long day” where I will stand with my family before my Savior and we’ll all know perfectly the failing and mistakes of my lifetime, but just like with my sweet kiddos, I will be able to ask, “Do you forgive me?” and He will say “Yes.”




Wasn’t that awesome and so so encouraging?? Wonderful, wonderful lesson for us all.

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Lessons in Motherhood: Assume the Good


Every summer I put my kids into swimming lessons. I’m not a great swimmer (I’m actually quite scared of deep water and drowning.) I want my kids to be safer and better at it than me. So I put them in every year and hope that they’ll be better at it than me. The more kids we have had, the more time it takes. But I think it’s worth it. Tutelage like Private swimming thornhill lessons are invaluable in the long run; you never know when these swimming skills will become the difference between life and… well, it’s not worth thinking about! Last year it was difficult in the fact that Norah was quite small and Oliver wanted to get into the water too. So a lot of the time was me chasing him with a baby. In the past my other kids have also handled swimming lessons quite differently. For his first year Eli literally clung to the teacher. I don’t know if he was actually scared or if he was just doing that. Sometimes with him it’s hard to know. So the next year we debated even putting him in. But then again I want my kids to learn to swim, so we did it.

One of the days I was sitting on the sides with both littles and I looked over to check on Eli in his swimming class. And I saw him far away from the teacher, almost hiding. I immediately got up (carrying Norah) and went over and told him to get back to his teacher and listen. He stopped and looked up at me with sad eyes and said “Mom, we are playing hide and seek and I’m hiding.” I said sorry to him and the teacher and went and sat back down. I felt foolish.

I had assumed he was misbehaving. Too often I assume that’s what’s happening with him. I assume he’s the one who’s caused the problem or made the mess or started the fight or been disobedient. It was my lesson that day. Assume the good.

Do you give your kids the benefit of the doubt? I definitely think that we can swing to far the other way and think our kids can never do anything wrong. In my mind that is just as harmful. All of our kids can do bad things. My mom likes to joke that you should never say “My child will never….” because that’s just asking for your child to do that 😉 As parents we need to accept that our children do make bad choices, but we need to hope and expect them to make good choices.

Children live up to what you believe of them.

In a world that will fight against our kids, they need us to be our their side. I remember knowing my parents would go to bat for me whenever I was in a situation where I needed help. But I also knew just as strongly that when I did wrong they expected me to fix it and I knew what was expected of me. I knew where the boundaries were but I knew I could fall back on a safe place where I was always loved and supported. Really that is how Heavenly Father takes care of us too. No matter our terrible choices or what we have chosen, He loves us unconditionally and sees our true potential that we sometimes miss seeing. I am sure He is disappointed when we make bad choices but those wrong decisions never affect the level of His love for us. The perfect model for our own parenting.

So with an open mind and heart, let’s assume the good of these lovely little people we have in our homes.



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5 Strategies for Easy Memory Keeping

from RhondaSteed.comLast Friday I talked a little bit about why I want to memory keep. My friend Kristen Duke had a guess post by the fabulous Heather Walker where she talked about how photos increase our happiness. Sometimes the idea of memory keeping can seem overwhelming. I hear lots of people talk about being “behind” on their scrapbooking or feeling bad about not writing in their journals for a long time. We all get busy and life moves quickly. And I don’t know about you, but I am SO forgetful!!! I don’t think I am alone. Every time I talk to other moms about when something happened with their kids, it takes time to figure it out. And if you didn’t write it down… good luck!! That is just one of the reasons I think memory keeping is important.

I don’t think that it has to be hard. I think you can use easy strategies to work memory keeping into your life. Here are 5 that I use:

1. Project Life. I have been a long time scrapbooker. And every week I try and share a spread in my 2014 album. It’s a great and quick way to record the memories in our family. I love using mini albums and the baby albums and a regular yearly Project Life album!

2. Blurb Books and other random journals. I have done a few of these. They are not my primary way of memory keeping but we still have some made. We’ve a few different ones. I like to give ones to the grandparents for christmas and get one printed for us too. These are a few of the ones we’ve gotten printed.

Screen Shot 2014-07-19 at 8.12.48 AM

3. Using Facebook to write down funny things your kids say. It’s easy and quick and other people get to enjoy it too! And you now have a written down copy of those little things you will forget.

Screen Shot 2014-07-19 at 7.30.11 AM

4. Apps on your Phone. There are some great Apps you can use now for your phone where you can keep both photos and journalling. And since most people have their phones with them most of the time, you can easily add in a memory here and there. I’ve used Momento, Wunderlust, Twitter and  Collect. Momento is a great little app where you can write down little moments on a calendar and record when they happened. You can add pictures and tags so that you can search for them later. Collect is similar only with collect you can have them printed with Persnickety Prints and have them printed to fit right into your Project Life Album. How cool is that?! Wunderlist is a list making app that you can certainly add lists of memories too. It can use iCloud and so you can coordinate with all your mobile devices and your computer. Of course you could use Twitter to write down funny things your kid say.


5. Photo Projects. I try to do lots of them. 15 on the 15th. 5 on the 5th and other photo link ups with friends. 5 Minutes. Our Year in Photos. Family Photos once a month. Do I keep up on all of them? NO! But some of them I am consistent on. And some of them I do here and there. But when you add them all up you get a whole lot of pictures taken of everyday things of our family. And I get these types of moments captured, memories in our lives. RLS_2892                              RLS_2226RLS_8354RLS_8012RLS_3339RLS_2080                                                                                   RLS_1749DSC_4956DSC_4784DSC_4855DSC_3656DSC_3495                             DSC_3160DSC_1957DSC_0001DSC_0314DSC_9449DSC_5834IMG_1452DSC_0745DSC_8467                                     DSC_9078DSC_8589DSC_8446

So many memories and more than these have been captured with using my camera. I think it’s important too that you can start capturing your family no matter your level of photography! Just start taking pictures of your life and your kids.

Do you use any strategies to record your family memories? What works for you?


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Moments of Clarity

Just in case your here looking for the giveaway, its down a post. Or click here and get to it!!


When I was little I always had the number six in my head for the amount of kids I’d have one day. I’m not sure why I thought that many or where the number came from. It was just always there. After I got married we really didn’t sit down and say “this is our number” but somewhere it kind of surfaced as the number there too. And then I had kids. And the whole idea of having a number of kids just seemed absurd. I changed to the mindset of knowing that I’d know when our family was complete. And that we’d just take it one kid at a time.


Each child is so different. Each baby starts out differently, you handle it differently. Your husband passes through school and then to a job. (Or as in our case school, school, a job, then more and more school and THEN a job.) So many things add up to the amount of kids for your family. And it is so different for each family. Through all our moves (cross country and back) and all our school (undergrad, masters then medical school) we were having kids. And it was hard but we knew it was right. And it was what I knew I was always supposed to do. From the time I was little I wanted to be a mom. To have my own babies and my own home and my own loving husband. All of which I got/ have.

When I got pregnant with Oliver (number four) I thought, this is our last. Every little thing I need to enjoy and just eat it up. And I did. I can not explain to you how much I just ate up every little thing he did. He was crying in the night? I just snuggled him and took it for what it was, a short moment in his little life when I was everything. When he breastfeed I sat and relaxed (and read a lot of books) and just was there. (Yes my other three might have been doing all kinds of troublesome things  – but I was just enjoying my last.)

And then a funny thing happened around nine months. I found out he wasn’t really my last. Us, a couple who waited a year a least for each of our first four, all of a sudden had a surprise baby. We sincerely didn’t think that could happen. Because of how long it took us to have all the others. And then I throw head first into being so sick while having a baby. Puking while holding another baby out of the toilet. And that was hard. Harder than a lot of other things I have done. It was physically and emotionally exhausting. I was in over my head. There were a LOT of days when we were going to bed and Regan would say to me “5 KIDS!! We are going to have 5 KIDS!” And I’d just answer with a “I know”.

The first year was hard. Some days still are hard. Post pardum depression was hard. Some times I am grumpy at the fact that I have all these little people constantly climbing on me. And clambering for me to help them. The finger nails to clip, the mouths to feed, the laundry (oh my the piles of laundry!), the sick floors and spilled smoothies, the crying at what I made for supper. It’s all a lot at times. From a lot of little people. (I am in awe of my mother and mother in law and anyone who has MORE than 5 kids! oh my!)

But this thing I’m doing. It’s what I was born to do. It’s what I’ve wanted since I was 3 years old. And here I am. Right in the thick of it. Yes, some days I’m going to complain about the hard things. I wish I was a little bit more rose colored glasses about mothering. But I’m not. Often I see all the hard things. But right in the middle of all this I see some other things too.

1. I see that my children are so special. Each personality is so different. They were special before they came to this earth and they are special now. And I am honored that I get to raise them. Honored that God thinks enough of me to send me such special choice little people who I get to nurture and teach and snuggle and hopefully not screw up. 😉

2. I see that the Lord loves ME and loves my Children. He loves these little ones way more than I do. More than I ever can. Because he is their Heavenly Father. And because of that, He is going to guide while I parent them. As long as I go to Him in prayer and search my scriptures He is going to hold my hand while I hold theirs.

3. And man do I see beauty and love of God through these kids. In their smiles and their snuggles and their sweet little voices. I am filled up with love from them daily.

4. I see that it is up to me to choose to be happy while I do this. And man for me personally some days that is hard. The Lord is trying to mold me into something better. And a lot of that comes from my kids. They are teaching me daily. Probably more than I am teaching them.

5. I see how lucky I am to have a supportive, loving, devoted husband who loves our kids something fierce. Who delights in them and me. Someone who is fighting this good fight with me and leading our family with me toward our Father.

I am so glad to be here. Even though it is hard. Right and good doesn’t always mean easy. Lots of times it isn’t easy. But truly the Lord blesses me (and I think all parents) with moments of clarity where we can see the purpose and plan of all of it. And for that I am grateful.

Norah at One

Dear Norah,

I seriously can’t even believe you are one! How strange! Started out as a pudgy 8 pound 14 ounce baby girl.

And now you have turned into this sweet, squirmy, smiling toddler.

Just look at your sweetness?! This year has been so fast and so slow at the same time. The beginning was lots of adjustments and really we are still doing that. As you grow and change, so does everyone else in the family. Especially Oliver. You two are so cute together (when Oliver is having fun with you.)

You are a funny little eater lately. You used to eat anything I put in front of you. Now you are much more choosy. You love fruit, especially applesauce, blueberries, strawberries, oranges and grapes. You like oatmeal, yogurt, buns, cheese, toast, lasagna, crackers, and multigrain cheerios. You eat scrambled eggs sometimes. Other sometimes foods are peanut butter sandwiches, meatballs, bananas, chicken, peas, and corn. I am worried about how little you eat. You are so tiny!! We are just getting you onto a bottle right now and you take it not bad. I decided that we are going to be done breastfeeding. (I just couldn’t do it today on your birthday!) You don’t have a single tooth.

You love books lately (although far too many have been ripped at your hand lately). You are the squirmiest baby!!! Equal to what Eli was (and he was like holding a wet live fish.) Unless you are tired or sick you don’t just sit on our laps content. You are always moving. Even putting you to sleep involves bouncing. You sleep pretty good in the van! Sometimes it drives me CRAZY how squirmy you are. Especially in church!

I am trying to help you switch from two naps to one. It really hasn’t worked out well this past week, but we are still working on it! You are ready for bed around 630-7 every night and up at 630-7 every morning. You sleep through the night now about 75% of the time. I’m hoping that when we stop breastfeeding it’ll be all the time. (But I’m not holding my breath!)

You recently learned the stairs are something fun to climb up. Which makes hanging out in the basement more of a workout for me. You will play for a while but then as soon as I stop paying attention you are over there, giggling, onto the steps.  You love to cruise around the coffee table and couches but if we try and get you to hold our hands and walk , you immediately sit. You really have no interest in walking at all.

You only say two things. “Hi Dad.” And “Mum mum mum”. You make lots of noises but nothing else seems to resemble actual words!

You love to watch your older siblings. Especially Oliver. You just love following him around. You loooove when anyone crawls on the floor with you. A big smile breaks out on your little face every time. You light up our house. We just love and adore you.

I have enjoyed the last year of watching you grow from a newborn into a toddler. We are so happy to have you in our home and in our hearts little one.

Love Mom.

One Little Word: 2014


I’ve thought about my word a lot. And one day it totally came to me out of the blue. One of my great difficulties in life is focus. My mind is constantly going.

When Regan and I were first married we decided we were going to volunteer in a ESL program where we would help people learn to read. In the beginning they did a test where we found out how we each learned. Every other person in the entire group learned one way and I did another. I need to move around. I am learn better while I move and while I see it. It’s kind how I am made. I am fidgety and always dreaming of something. And sometimes that inability to focus makes it really hard for me to pay attention to the things happening around me. Sometimes especially I get really caught up in plans. (Don’t get me started on my business ideas.)

I’ve realized lately that I need to try and focus more. Focus on my kids when they are right there. Focus on my husband. Focus on the Gospel and serving others. Focusing on the things that matter most. Obviously there is time for dreaming and scheming. But there are times when I need to focus on what’s right in front of me. I remember someone describing me as someone who if I was checking the cows, I’d be thinking of the chickens, and when I  got to the chickens I’d be thinking of the sheep, and so on. It’s so true! I do try to stop and be still and aware. But I need to do that more. And it’s what I am going to work on this year.

One of the things I love about taking pictures of my kids is that it helps me to SEE them. To watch and wait and see who they are. And it helps me to capture that too. I feel like photography of my family makes me a better mom. It helps me enjoy small moments.

So that later when I look back and see those pictures again, I am reminded of how special they each are and how much I love them. Since having Norah a lot of extra things I did in my life have been whittled away. I do less of other things. It is so good for me. But so hard too. I feel lost in a way that those things I love to do are less of me. And finding myself even more in my motherhood has been eye opening and challenging. I am more aware of who I am than I think ever before. In some ways that makes it hard too since I see my flaws so much more apparently.

Norah likes me to hold her. A lot. And that has made it hard to get my big camera out. I feel like some child is constantly in my lap. And that makes taking pictures harder. But if I think about it and have it out and around I can capture things. And so can Regan. And now so can Alden and Lucy. Regan took the ones of Lucy in this post and the top one of Eli. It’s getting everyone involved in the capturing of our family. Its funny now cause Lucy and Alden will say “Quick mom, go get your camera. Norah’s doing something really cute!” And if it’s just sitting there, they will take pictures with it too. So I try and leave it exposed for the light in the room we are in most of the time.

This last year I used my phone to a lot. And I am sure I will do it again this year. But I am going to try and get back to using the real camera again. My phone can take great pictures, but I have more freedom and better shots with my big camera. And it distracts the kids less (which is funny) because they aren’t looking for my phone. They ignore my big camera more. 🙂

I want to see my kids in all their beauty and all the blessings in my life. I want to be filled with gratitude and enjoy where I am and who I am with. I want to rejoice in my life more and I think focusing on who I am with and what we are doing will help me to do that more. Less distraction and more focus.

I think we all need a little less technology and a little more human interaction in our lives. I want my kids to know them come first. 

I mean, look at that smile. The love in those eyes. I gotta focus on that and soak it all in.




New Years Day

We took the kids up to Waterton on New Years Day. It takes a lot of work to take all these kids and have everyone outfitted for sledding. I’ve been thinking lately about taking our kids to do things. A few years (and kids ago) I was a very active mom. I took my kids to museums or on walks a lot, really just out doing things a lot more. But the more kids that have come along the tougher it has gotten. It has made me think a lot about my mom and all the things she took us to do. She really was a super mom. I can’t image doing half the things she did. And she had two more kids than me! This year we are going to try again to make sure that we are doing things, even when it seems easier to just stay home. Making memories. Even if the sledding really only lasted 35-40 minutes and ended in Oliver screaming his head off in the van for 15 minutes until he passed out from exhaustion. We still did it. And I’ll take this one as a win. 😉

A Simpler Christmas

We are keeping this simple this year. Really trying to focus on the real meaning of Christmas and less on all the other stuff that comes with this commercialized  over-scheduled time. We put up the Christmas tree late. (More of that had to do with both Norah and Oliver being at tough stages for trees and decorations.) I got smart and put only one tree (we have one kid one and one mom one) and it’s in the basement. So that makes it less accessible to Norah. And it’s still by a fireplace and all cozy. Win-win.

Presents are simple this year too. More about the Savior and less about things. Our advent calendar got changed and this year each night it has a hymn, scripture and activity that centers on the Savior. I’m loving it and I hope my kids are too.

I hope the remember the time together and our testimonies of the Savior’s birth. I love to buy my kids presents and clothes. I love to be able to give them new things that I didn’t get when I was a kid. But in reality I got what I needed. I grew up knowing why Christmas is special. And why we really celebrate.

And in the end, THAT is what I want for all my kids.



Little moments

The other morning I was feeling frustrated about getting things done. I am a list maker. An accomplisher. Give me a list of tasks and I’d love to get them done & check them off. At the end of the day, I measure my daily success in tasks crossed off. Lately that isn’t the way my life works. I still make lists. But I know even while I’m making them that only 10% of them even have a remote chance of getting done. I hate that. I’m trying to not let it make me crazy.

I am trying to just put less stuff on my list. That seems like a smarter choice. I’m trying to just sit down and watch as Oliver enjoys his new favorite food:  mini wheats.

Lucy’s Baptism

I realized I hadn’t shared any pictures of Lucy’s baptism. So here some are 🙂 Regan and Lucy with Alli and Derek.

Here’s the whole family after the baptism (thanks Sean for taking this!) Nice smile from Alden. Hahahaha.

I had a few things in my mind that I wanted to happen at the baptism. And well, they didn’t work out. I’m starting to realize lately that that is life how goes lately. Things don’t seem to go how I have them planned. Lucy got baptized. And really that’s all that matters.

At this point the girls were asking why I had to take another picture of them 😉 hahaha

Coming to the Rescue

Yesterday afternoon Lucy was working on a Kiwi Crate. Lucy was working on the Kiwi Crate. She was making this Jelly fish.

After she got it all done, she stuck it to the window in the kitchen. It kept falling forward and she said to me “Mom, I can’t get it to hang right.”

You see earlier, Eli had opened in earlier and taken some of the instructions of out it and put them who knows where. So she was just figuring it out. (She has no fear when it comes to anything artsy or crafty.) My first thought was to tell her how to fix it. And then I stopped myself.  I waited. I asked her what she thought she could do to fix it. After a minute or two she came up with a plan and fixed it.

I think part of being a parent is our great desire to rescue our kids. There are times I have needed rescuing. I can think of specific instances where my parents stepped in and rescued me. And other people. And I know there will be more. As parents, we want to rescue them from pain, from heartache, from anything scary or hard. We love them, so of course we want to save them from it. But if we are constantly saving them from everything, how will they learn?  Made me think of the idea this cartoon is sharing.  I have a good friend who told me about some counseling they are doing in their marriage. And how in their sessions they learned about roles in unhealthy relationships. How there are victims and bullies and saviors. People get stuck in these roles. Someone steps in the save the victim. Now obviously there are MANY circumstances where people need to be saved. I’m not saying that’s bad AT ALL. But if we constantly step in and save our children from every single thing they will never learn to think, do or be anything for themselves.

If we want them to be courageous, they have to do scary things. If we want them to be able to stand up for whats right, they have to be placed in situations where others are not doing whats right. If we want them to the grow and learn and become strong adults, they have to be challenged. Life is full of challenges.

Kind of deep thoughts for a Wednesday afternoon.


Norah at 8 months

Dear Norah,

I started you on solids, and MAN, do you loooove them! You can seriously pack away the food. I have to admit it makes me sooooo happy. 🙂 You have liked anything I have given you except raspberries. (But really those are tart!) Every thing else you just gobble up.

You have finally started to have long naps. One good on in the morning (usually around 10 am) and then one in the afternoon (varies what time). They aren’t the same lengthen every day, but we are getting soooo much closer to a schedule. Can you hear the angels singing?? 😉 Some nights are kind of having consistency too… kind of. I’m hoping that some day soon you’ll sleep through the night. My first couple kids I made them cry it out. But then I got Eli and he’d just cry and cry and cry and then puke. So there was no point. And after that I just couldn’t make Oliver do it…. and you seem so small. So I hope you figure it out on your own…. some time soon preferably.

Speaking or your size, you are my first baby to remain so…. tiny. All the other kids weighed WAY more by the time they were your age. You are petite and small with tiny little feet and hands. Sometimes when I am holding you I am amazed at how really small you still are.

You are in my FAVORITE baby stage! Sitting up. You just recently have tried to crawl. You have no idea how to do it at all. But you kind of fall forward now. It’s often in attempt to get something. You do this funny back arching thing to move along the floor if you are on your back. You really can get around doing it so we have to make sure you are safe. But it definitely isn’t crawling!

You love Oliver. It is sooooo cute. You coo and giggle at him and just love any attention he gives you. I sure hope that the two of you become better and better little buddies! Little built in playmates! I loved playing with my siblings when I was small and I hope you find that same enjoyment!  Any of the kids talking to you makes you pretty happy! Alden carts you around the house sometimes and as soon as he moves even a tiny bit quickly you are all giggles. It’s totally sweet.

Lately you only want me to hold you. And you think I have to stand. It’s frankly kind of annoying! You used to be so good with whoever holding you… maybe I handed you off too much? Hopefully you grow out of that soon since it’s hard to hold you and Oliver all the time! You rarely sit still when I am holding you. Like seriously you are so squirmy. And you like it if I move when I am holding you. Bouncy, swinging. Something. It’s almost exercise just to have you around!

Norah, I just love you. You are sweet and so very very loved. I love to hear your little voice and the way your whole face lights up when you smile. You have strikingly beautiful blue eyes. They are stunning. And your hair is starting to really grow in all over. (I might actually be having to do it soon! Trouble!) It’s a pleasure to watch you grow. I hope you know how wonderful it is to have you part of our family!

Love mom.

Norah at 4 months

Dear Norah,

I missed last month. But I’m just gonna keep on going with writing to you each month this year.

I was sitting on my bed the other afternoon with you. Oliver was sleeping. Eli, Alden & Lucy were all at school. It was a quiet little time. In the beginning I was just wishing you’d go to sleep. I was tired and wanted to sleep myself. But I tried to change my attitude and enjoy my alone time with you. Since you are baby number 5, it seems just me and you time is harder and harder to get. Half the time I am breastfeeding you, Oliver is trying to climb up too. Or I am quickly trying to feed you under a blanket in the car at the grocery store or a soccer game. Not exactly the relaxing one on one time that most of the other kids got.

But this afternoon the house was quiet and my bedroom was filled with soft, afternoon light. And I laid with you  on my bed and just took you in. I enjoyed your little facial expressions, the way you wave your arms (to me it looks like you are leading music), the little notes in your voice (perhaps the singing to that music?). I was just loving you. And it was so nice. It filled up my overwhelmed over tired momma heart.

I love that you laugh now. It is my favorite. You are seriously SO ticklish. Sometimes when I am trying to change you quickly because of the spit up (I seem to always smell like spit up lately) and I take off your shirt you giggle because my hand brushed your side. You are THAT ticklish. Every time it stops me in my tracks to smile at you and enjoy that little giggle. I think it’s a little tender mercy from Heavenly Father. It seems like a small thing but it brings me such joy. Little moments when I know we are connecting with each other. I love the way you look at me too. With complete adoration. Lately I’ve been feeling worried about if I am raising you and your siblings right. If I am adequately preparing you for all that this big old world is going to throw at you. But when you look at me with such love in your eyes, I am filled up. My cup runneth over, as some say.

You know I’d really like it if you started sleeping more. I mean, you are doing better. But frankly you had no where to go but better. But I’m kinda feeling over the every 3.5 hours. Can we get one of those 11 hours? Alden used to do that. And it was AWESOME. I am so glad you decided to go for the soother. You wouldn’t take it and so I gave up. But then I tried again close to 3 months and low and behold you took it. It was strange. And SO awesome! I am sooo glad. It makes putting you to bed so much easier. And now I can hold you off sometimes to feed. That was another tender mercy and I’m grateful.

You are so willing to let anyone hold you. You are just happy someone has you. You love to look and smile at everyone and anyone. I have caught the other kids stopping to talk to you when you are laying on the floor so many times. You stop them with your smile. Just like you do to me and others. It is a lovely little gift. My mom always told me I was like that as a baby too. I feel like I am starting to understand your cues better. Knowing when you are tired or hungry or just that you want some attention. That is making things easier too.

I love you little one. Even though I am scatter brained and over whelmed and over tired, I love you so much. I am enjoying you. I hope you’ll always know I love you more than I can explain.


Love Mom

Linked 52: Simple

This month I was struggling to thing of what to take. And I have been struggling with parenting. And then they came together in my mind.

Parenting is anything but simple. Some days I wish it was a little more simple. Trying to figure out the right thing to do and when. I think real consequences for actions are the best “punishment” for kids actions. But sometimes figuring out what the right real life consequences are isn’t so simple. When they are small it’s the best time for them to figure out what happens when you make a bad decision. Cause their decisions are smaller. I’d rather a kid stole a chocolate bar when they are eight than a car when they are 18. (Not that we’ve had a kid do that -but it gets my point across.)

Really lately I’ve been trying to let things go that don’t matter. Saying yes more often. But when your child is constantly pushing boundaries and literally asking for things ALL DAY long. Like asking and then changing his mind as soon as you make the food he wanted. Or, let’s say, as soon as you build an entire track for his cars which takes you 25 minutes while you hold a crying baby and then he says nah I don’t really want to do that anymore… can you build me a train track…… I mean… hypothetically speaking….. That is so …. um … maddening.

Or let’s say, your child keeps doing things you have asked him not to do… and he’s been punished for over and over and over. Like turning on the water on the side of you house and leaving it on for days…. or let’s say…. completely destroying his siblings lego creations that they spent considerable time on just because he felt like it….. I mean, hypothetically speaking of course. Trying to help these special little people grow up and be able to navigate the world out there in a positive, righteous way… that’s anything but simple. It’s an all consuming task. Never mind the little details of just keeping everyones toe nails clipped and clothes clean and mouths fed.

More and more lately I am trying to remember that I am trying to raise some very special spirits. Specially sent to ME. That is overwhelming and scary to realize. I want to love them and try to parent them right. If I love them, it should make it more simple. Love them and hold them close. Simply put, it’s my job to love them and try my best. To work at parenting in a positive and loving way.


linked 2013 is a monthly blog project. check out what simple looks like to these ladies linking up with me this month:

 AmandaCarlaHanneHeather,  JanetJennTracey and Tracy

Norah at 2 Months

Dear Norah,

It’s been two months. Actually it’s been more, but I just didn’t get around to sitting down to write yet. So here I am a little late. It’s just a sign of life lately. I am hanging on and completely overwhelmed. The swing has become a life saver. You sleep in it. With all your brothers and sister I was a bit crazy about sleep. With my routines and my plans. I thought it worked so well, until I got to Eli. From him on down I basically threw all that out the window. I would have NEVER used the swing seeing as it would have started a bad habit. Now I am just so happy you are sleeping some that I’ll deal with bad habits later. I’m taking what I can get! The past week you’ve had some good nights. Even with some 6 hour spurts. It seems most nights someone else wakes us up, but I appreciate that you are starting to sleep more.

Really lately I’ve been feeling frustrated with your nursing. I’ve never had such a frustrating nurser. I have tons of milk but sometimes you just won’t latch. It’s spraying you in the face and you just won’t eat. I don’t get it. And sometimes I find myself very frustrated. Enough that I have to set you down and walk away or hand you off to dad. I feel bad that I get frustrated with you but it just goes to show where I am right now. I know it’s not your fault, you’re a baby and your body is new and you are figuring everything out. I am trying to do that too. I think I’m learning that sometimes taking a breath is better. Stopping to pull myself together and then trying again. Really it’s a good lesson for life… so thanks…. i think.

Don’t let the pictures fool you. I really don’t get you dressed that often. More often than not, it’s pjs. We don’t seem to go out very often lately, so why? That’s what makes Sundays fun! Then I get to dress you up all cute. For Easter I got you a dress that matched Lucy’s. Well kind of matched. I remember when I was a little girl and my mom got me and Kelly matching dresses. I loved it and hated it. I love her so I liked that but I wanted to be myself. So I found dresses that had similar fabric but were different for each of you.

All the kids seem to be adjusting to you being around in different ways. Alden is helping out a lot more. He has realized that helping with Oliver is easier than helping with you. So he’s started doing that. Lucy is really just trying to wait until you are bigger so she can play with you. Eli is struggling. It’ll be interesting to see how your relationship grows the older you two get. He loves you but man is he struggling lately. He is emotional and pushing every single boundary he can find. He asks to hold you the most and is constantly kissing you. Today he tried to hold you with no hands. Good thing I saved you. Oliver is getting more used to your existence. I think he’s starting to accept you aren’t leaving.

Norah, your smiles make things so much better. Your whole face lights up when you see me and it melts my heart. I love it. You smile at anyone who holds you but I tell myself that you save your WHOLE face smiles for me. I love you little one. I’m trying to be a good mom. And I am loving watching you grow.

Love mom.


Eli’s Dragon

When Norah was born it had a different effect on each member of our family. One of the most interesting to watch has been with Eli. According to Eli,  two dragons were born at the Lethbridge hospital the same day that Norah was born. And then these dragons followed us home. He has talked about them in various ways. The interesting thing is that he has kept talking about these dragons.

When we go somewhere he asks if the dragons can come too. For weeks, since Norah’s birth, he has been talking about them. He even convinced his entire preschool class that they exist. They asked if they could pet them. He wears socks on his hands lately often. They are to pet his dragons.


My lovely Grandma Stasiuk has heard Eli talk about these dragons. So she made him one. Isn’t that so nice? He loves it. When grandma gave it to him she told him it had magic powers. It helps him stay in bed all night. Is she not the best???? He told Grandma one of his dragons was red. So she made him a red one.

Of all of my kids Eli seems to be the most excited about Norah. He asks the most to hold her and kisses her often. It is interesting to me that these dragons came about the same day Norah was born and in the same place. Sometimes I wish I could see into my kids minds.

 Eli is a challenging child to parent. He is physically and mentally exhausting. But things like this are so him. And so endearing. Definately one of the things I love about him!

Month One

Dear Norah,

It’s crazy to think that you are already a month old. Most of the past month I’ve spent in a sleep deprived state. (Hey, I’m just keeping it real since one day you’re going to be a mom too.) I’d love to say it’s been all roses and easy. But it hasn’t. You really, from the beginning have been an adjustment. We weren’t planning on you and now we feel completely outnumbered and overwhelmed. Just so you know that doesn’t affect how much we love you. We love you a lot. More that we can explain. But it doesn’t change the fact that all this is overwhelming. And every though I’ve been sleep deprived I have been enjoying moments with you. Quiet peaceful moments holding and feeding you. I was lucky for the first week that dad stayed home and was completely helpful with all the other kids. So I got to just focus mostly on you. Well you and trying to rest. Some of the things that I want to remember about your first month:

  1. Your long hair and eyelashes. Every one has commented on them. “Oh what a pretty baby… look at her hair…. what long eyelashes she has!” It’s usually along those lines.
  2. How much the other kids (well let’s face it – besides Oliver) have REALLY enjoyed you being here. They love to hold you and talk to you and are being relatively helpful.
  3. The feeling in the room after you were born. Relief in a lot of ways. Mostly a relief that our family is done. That we just needed YOU to finish it off.
  4. How happy I am to have another little girl. That Lucy and you both get to experience sisterhood. Something I’ve wanted for Lucy her whole life. And now you make that possible.
  5. Realizing how much you love your bum patted. It’s kinda funny.
  6. And the bouncing! You sure love that too.
  7. And the swing. (I’m sure glad Aunt Lindsay brought that over!)
  8. Just learning the little thing that you like. How you like to be held and burped. Just all the things that work. It’s a bit of getting to know you as a baby. A kind of discovery really.

Just know we love you. So very much.

Love, Mom



12 Things for Getting ready for baby

Since baby number five is coming along soon, I’ve been in a bit of a nesting stage. At least in the last week or so. I got rid of a lot of baby things. Well most, besides the things Oliver is still using. (Since we thought he was the last!) And now that it’s time to get ready for another baby I’ve been thinking about what is necessary. There are LOTS of things out there to buy for babies. It is a million dollar industry. And a lot of it is completely unneeded. My list of necessary 12 things for a babies arrival.

1. Sleepers with Zippers. My favorite brand? Carters! I love that they are long and skinny. Just like my kids usually are.

2. Swaddling Blankets. Love these from Basic Grey!

3. First Meals Cookbook. I think this is the best cookbook about feeding kids. There are lots of others I think are great, but this covers all your basics for any first time mom. (or fifth time.)

4. A freezer Meal or 2…. or 6. I have an entire pinterest board to crockpot and freezer meals. Lots of good links.

5. A good camera and some memory cards. A fancy camera will do you no good taking pictures of your new baby if you don’t know how to USE it! Have one you know how to use before the baby comes. Then you can do a project like I did with Oliver where I took a picture  every day for the first 30 days.

6. Tucks (for healing). Giving birth is… well painful. And tearing is a real part of it. A painful part. These little beauties really help out with the healing part. 

7.  A glider Rocking Chair. Over the years of my small babies I have had 3 different gliders. All hand me downs. And finally we have one that is nice. And it is the BEST thing EVER. I wish we would have just saved up in the beginning and bought a real one! It would have lasted the whole time! This is a nice one from Toys R uUs.

8. A nice journal to write in. Or even better Project Life.

9. Baby Carrier. My favorites??  Are my baby bjorn….  and I finally have a sling I LOVE. Regan’s cousin gave it to me and I love using it in the first few weeks especially. I need to get it out and get it accessible for #5.

10. A good Water Bottle. Breastfeeding makes you thirsty!!! My favorite is a new one I have with a straw. Best ever.

11. Healthy snacks. Like muffins and lots of fresh cut up fruit and veggies.

12. Clean, Soft Washcloths and diapers. Lots and lots of diapers. 🙂

And a few Things that are extra but oh so nice….

1. Sleeper Gowns. (From Carter’s again!) Yep even for little boys. They are seriously the nicest thing to have your baby in in the beginning when you are changing a million diapers.

2. A Sleep sack. Never had one of these until Oliver (although his didn’t look like this girly thing!) and I love them!

What do YOU Think is a must for a having a new baby around???



Losing it….

Literally from the time he got up (which is always between 530am-630am) Eli was asking to go trick or treating yesterday. I told him that he couldn’t go until night time. His response was, “huh? it’s dark out right now.” I tried to explain that it wasn’t about the darkness – it just happened at night and that was the way it was.
Eli at 4

For the entire day he asked over and over and over and over (x1000) if he could go trick or treating yet. And every time I told him it wasn’t time, he’d start to cry. Loudly.

Heaven help me, I was pretty annoyed by the time it actually WAS time to go trick or treating.

At 4pm he comes up to me and says “Mom, I’m going to set the table now so we can eat supper and then I’m going trick or treating.” To which I told him it wasn’t time but I’d love him to set the table for supper. Pretty soon I’d be rolling out the pizza and putting it in the oven. He was not pleased with my answer.

So it comes to 530pm. Finally Eli has settled into doing something that entertains him for more than 3 minutes – which was playing with play dough with Lucy. I was cooking pizza for supper (our usual on Halloween) and needing the counter space but I was making due so that the kids had some place to play on the counter too. So the pizza is ready and I say to the kids, “It’s time to clean up now and set the table so we can eat and then it’ll be time to go trick or treating.”

Eli’s response? “I don’t want to go trick or treating. I don’t even like candy.”


Instead I went into the other room and called my mom to tell her so we could laugh about it. It seemed like the better option.

I have had a kid (Lucy) who in the past threw fits. I mean crazy fits. I mean strip-yourself-naked-pee-on-the-floor-while-you-pull-your-own-hair kind of fits. Now they sound funny, but at the time I was in the middle/end of my worst pregnancy (with Eli) and very sick) and Regan was in a busy year of medical school. I was also serving as primary president in my ward and frankly I am not sure how I survived it all. (Especially without ever harming my child.)

I don’t think there is a lot you can do when you have a child who throws fits. Except give in. For heavens sakes, don’t give in! It is embarrassing that they are losing it in public? A.B.S.O.L.U.T.E.L.Y. But giving in to their crying and screaming is saying to the child “just start to make a little noise and I’ll hand over whatever you want.” How in the world is that going to make anything better?

If you’ve read my blog for a while you may or may not remember Alden’s first day of grade one. I had parked and walked to the school while carrying Eli (he was pretty small then) and made Lucy walk. When Alden finally comes out of the school he was super happy from his first day and talking. Lucy’s response? She sucker punched him in the face. She was mad he was at school and apparently needed to express it. So Alden started crying. Lucy started losing it. And I was carrying Eli. I set Eli down to hug Alden and tell him I was sorry that happened. We are standing in a school ground with piles of people around witnessing the sweetness. Eli starts crying and I can’t get Lucy to move. My usual technique is to walk away from the losing child which normally makes my kids follow me crying and all. But she wasn’t moving. So I had to pick her up and carry her which was like carrying a slippery shark. So I’m trying to carry Eli and losing Lucy which was working well. So some random lady tries to come and help me by taking Eli. Which made him cry louder. So we finally get to the car and all three of my kids are crying. And I am trying to shove Lucy into her seat and she is doing that lovely stiff as a board thing while screaming. I finally shove her in and close the door and take crying Eli from her. And she tells me not to worry cause kids are always done having fits like that when they are 3. (Lucy is totally older than that at the time….) It was a ridiculous day.

Eli has been crazy about things lately. Crying to get his way or asking over and over and over and over and over. And even though we aren’t giving in he’s still doing it. I don’t know if he sees that it works for some kids and so he’s trying to make it work at our house. Or if he is just starting to realize that the world doesn’t’ revolve around him. (That’s a shocking realization for some kids!)

We’ll just have to suffer through this phase. And hope that he that the current phase passes soon.

Living with Creativity



I grew up in a very creative household. My mom would set out still life objects on the table, with lamps and we’d sit around and sketch it together. She’d let me make my own pies by the time I was Lucy’s age. I felt apart of my mother’s world and more myself because of all of the creative-ness in our lives. It just was how we were. It was free and easy and cheap and so my childhood. All of those things are apart of my children’s lives now too I think. I don’t do the still life with lamps but we are creative in other ways. I must admit it is harder with Eli because he seems to have less patience with it all that my older two. They relish everything we do that is creative.

So are you wondering, how do you live creatively? Well this is totally my two cents on the idea. But these would be my tips.

1. Keep supplies for crafts around and available and accessible. We have various collections of art supplies. There is so much fun creative stuff at the dollar store now. And that is great. But sometimes too it is nice to be able to get them the nice art stuff, like a good sketch book and good pencils or the cute cupcake liners you’ve been saving, and let your kids use them. Yep, they’ll do a kid job with them. But they’ll realize that you value what they do enough to let them use it.

2. Accept that creative often breeds mess. Oh my I could show you the piles that are made around here constantly. I am trying to teach them now (especially Lucy) that paper mess needs to be picked up after you finish. But even think about creativity in the kitchen – that makes mess. Playing in the dirt? Messy.

3. Do something creative with your kids, not just them doing it alone. Family drawing time, building lego with them, playing with play dough, creating a stop motion movie with their lego creations, sculpting, junk sculptures, etc.

4. Let them see you doing things that are creative. Create things yourself. Start project life, write, take some pictures, draw, get creative in the kitchen, build something, paint a wall or a picture, etc….

5. Creative living isn’t just arts and crafts. Creativity comes in music, in cooking and baking, in yard work, in writing, in paper crafts, in dress up and plays, in story telling, in dancing, in decorating, in building, etc.

6. Resist the urge to fix it. Let them do it however they are going to do it. And have THEM do it themselves. I can tell the kids who are over who’s parents intervene in their creative endeavors by the way they constantly ask for help or have trouble getting started unless they are given complete instructions. If you want to show them, get your OWN stuff and model how to do it. When you do it for them you are telling them you don’t think they are capable. Letting them do it on their own builds the thought in them “I am capable, I can do it.”

7. Talk about it. When your children show you something they have made, ask them to tell you about instead of saying “is this a __________”. Let them tell you and be interested and attentive to what they say. The greatest compliment to a child is when they hear an adult tell another person about what they’ve done. It means way more. So listen and then share it in their presence.

8. Give them a place to display what they’ve made. For my kids this basement wall is the place. The big wooden frame that is empty has a clip in it that they can rotate things they’ve made. And it’s “framed”.
Basement Photo Wall

9. Finds things out of the house that are creative. Like an art class or get a group of kids together and have them create a play or something together.
aug 12 - Cartooning class

10. Undirected play time (without screens) helps creativity in children. Think about when you were a kid. And how you created things, games, stories, ect. Often we over schedule our kids and they don’t get a chance to just BE kids and let their minds create. There is a whole book that is great about this.

So what do YOU do to help your children live creatively?


I don’t know about you but sometimes I get distracted. I get side tracked and forget about what’s most important. Two nights ago I was tired. (Which by the way seems most of the time lately. I really at some point need to start getting more sleep or accept that at this stage in life I am just going to be tired all the time and learn to deal with it better.) ANYWAYS, I was tired from planting that garden and from a terrible nights sleep and just mothering.

I needed a few minutes to myself. I could feel that I was being crabby and not because of anything. Just anything. So my wonderful husband told me to go take a shower (I chose a bath) and he took care of things. I had a really hot bath and enjoyed just being in quiet and still.

After I was still tired – maybe cause my bath was SO hot. And I was still feeling a tad bit grouchy. It was time to put Oliver to bed, so I took him into his room and sat down to feed him. It was a great. It was quiet and peaceful. And as I was sitting there in the dark with just Oliver, I had a small thought come into my head. That this is the reason I am here. That all those silly things, like the ipod game I was playing while I nursed Oliver or the blog I want to read once they are finally in bed or the painting project in my garage half done. All of those are fun and lovely. But my kids are what I am about. It was a little whisper of the Holy Ghost tapping my heart, reminding me of what’s important.

Made me think of this quote.

After those brief moments alone and a little bit of heavenly help I was ready for all the work of bedtime. And I was happier to do it. We laughed together and sang a few songs and did scriptures and testimonies and did all of it happily.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about being a mom. And moments like this remind me of the importance of it. I know I want lots of things. I want to be lots of things. And somedays I feel like I have things bursting out of me to create or read or make. Of course I want to be a good mom. Doesn’t every mother (and father) want to be good at it? I think so. But often I need reminding that this is what I am about. I am lucky enough to get to do some “nice to do” things as Julie B Beck called them. But the “essential” and the “necessary” things come first. (Go read that talk. It’s amazing!)

The older I get the more I am realizing that each of us do it differently. And that that is the point. We are SUPPOSED to do it differently. I firmly believe that God chose the special spirits that came to my home suited perfectly for Regan and I. And that He did that for every other family. That knowledge should give me power. It should give me strength in what I am doing. Never mind what anyone else is doing.

I have attended some parenting classes in our town. And I have very mixed feelings about them. There are things I strongly disagree with and things I whole heartily accept. I could say a whole lot about it. But it’s not necessary.

Above all my greatest problem with the classes is the feeling that is taught is that they know the RIGHT way to parent and that no other way is right. No matter what parenting style there is no cookie cutter mold for all children. I know I am not alone in thinking this. (In fact I had a talk TODAY with two different women who shared this exact feeling. And I could make a list of other women who feel the same.)

I collect parenting books. Like I’ve read a LOT of them. Some of them made me laugh at their ideas and some made me angry what they claimed and some I read and thought well that was a waste of time. But I think in every single book I have taken at least ONE thing and applied it to myself. Or at least tried. There are good nuggets in them. Even though every single one shares a different way to parent.

Above all I think these three things.
1. As long as I am prayerful and follow the answers and inspiration I receive for my OWN family I am doing what I should.
2. It doesn’t matter how anyone else parents, it matters how I parent.
3. If I am overwhelmed with a child and a problem, first consult the Lord & my spouse, then look for outside help if I need it.

I am so lucky to have my children. They are fun, crazy, creative, smart, frustrating, happy, sometimes disobedient, encouraging, maddening, hilarious, talkative, affectionate little people who are growing up so fast. And I am so happy they are mine.

Guess who

is on the move now?????
12 May 2012
Here comes trouble 🙂

Family Road Trip: Calgary Zoo

(Laura asked for my data on the shots and lenses so I added it)

A few weeks back we went up to Calgary (day after Easter weekend) since Regan had the day off.

Well I wanted to find a hotel that wasn’t just all of us stuffed into one room. Since we have four kids (including one that is a baby and one that is a terrible sleeper) for my own sanity I needed something that would work for our family. I called around and found the hotel called Service Plus. It had a room called the Family Suite where it had one room with bunk beds and then a pull out cot. So Alden, Eli and Lucy could all sleep in there
(f 1.4 at 1/60 ISO 500 with Nikorr 85mm 1.4 lens)
and then Regan and Oliver and I could have the main room.
(f 1.4 at 1/320 ISO 500 with Nikorr 85mm 1.4 lens)
It was sooooo much better than a regular room. Especially since we can’t all fit in one room anymore. We’d need two. It was great and if we stay over in Calgary again we will definitely be staying there again! It had a complimentary breakfast so we could feed the kids right there and a water slide and pool. Best part was no one else was at the pool so we had it all to ourselves 🙂 Bonus!
(f 2.0 at 1/1000 ISO 400 with Nikorr 85mm 1.4 lens)
And man did the kids enjoy it 🙂
(f 1.4 at 1/800 ISO 400 with Nikorr 85mm 1.4 lens)
(f 1.8 at 1/800 ISO 400 with Nikorr 85mm 1.4 lens)
(f 1.8 at 1/800 ISO 400 with Nikorr 85mm 1.4 lens)
(f 1.8 at 1/320 ISO 400 with Nikorr 85mm 1.4 lens)
I tried to do a timer shot before my battery ran out but it was all blurry – oh well, keeping it anyways!
(f 2.0 at 1/250 ISO 400 with Nikorr 85mm 1.4 lens)
The next day we went to the Calgary Zoo. When we lived in Calgary we went a lot. We had passes and went quite often. I think it is a great zoo. It’s a lot of walking. (I mean a lot!) Some snap shots from the day. (We met up with Susie and Lindsay and kids there too)
(f 1.4 at 1/4000 ISO 1250 with Nikorr 85mm 1.4 lens)
(f 1.8 at 1/60 ISO 1250 & f 8.0 at 1/800 ISO 500 with Nikorr 35mm 1.8 lens)
(f 1.4 at 1/1250 ISO 1000 with Nikorr 85mm 1.4 lens)
(f 1.4 at 1/1250 ISO 1000 with Nikorr 85mm 1.4 lens)
(f 2.2 at 1/8000 ISO 500 with Nikorr 85mm 1.4 lens)
(f 1.4 at 1/640 & f 1.4 at 1/500 ISO 2000 with Nikorr 85mm 1.4 lens)
(f 1.4 at 1/800 ISO 2000 with Nikorr 85mm 1.4 lens)
(f 13 at 1/320 & f 2.5 at 1/8000 ISO 500 with Nikorr 85mm 1.4 lens)
(f 3.5 at 1/2000 ISO 500 & f 8.0 at 1/800 ISO 500 with Nikorr 85mm 1.4 lens)
One of my favorite things was the butterfly place. All the beautiful stuff in there!!
Flowers at Butterflys
(f 3.2 at 1/1000 ISO 500 with Nikorr 105mm 2.8 (macro) lens)
(f 3.2 at 1/1000 ISO 500 with Nikorr 105mm 2.8 (macro) lens)
We were all a bit of a gong show with three small babies and feedings and all the other kids. Glad Regan was there!! It was a great day! Lots of memories made!


Eli: “Mom is Jesus in the night?”
Me: ” What do you mean?”
Eli: “Does he fly in the night in a rocket? Up like in space?”
“Me: “Well he’s not in a rocket but I think he’s up in heaven.”
Eli: “Well, maybe we should get a telescope then we can see him and find him up there.”

Eli: ” Mom, Alden and Kolten were tipping my chair back.”
Me: ” Was that fun or scary?”
Eli: “Scary. And I asked them to stop but they wouldn’t.”
Me: “So, what did you do? Hit them?”
Eli: “No! Maybe I could tell them to freeze!”
Me: “Like freeze Alden?”
Eli: “And Kolten. That’s what Diego does.”


My brother and SIL invited us to go for a looong drive Saturday to the dinosaur museum. We wavered… it’s a long drive from here. But I think it’s good to try to do fun things like this with our kids. And friends going too? Great!
The kids surprised us with how good they travelled. And confirmed it for us – on the summer we’l drive down to Utah for a vacation!
Then we checked out reptile world and it was gross, cool and really really stinky.
Then we went and checked out the HUGE T-Rex you can climb up. (Totally a ripoff but the kids loved it!)
Then we all went out to Boston Pizza – the waitress earned her tips that night! And a crazy snow storm blew in while we drove home.
It was a great day!

10 on Tuesday

1. A few of you have emailed me and asked about how to make the proclamation art from last week… I’ll give you a run down tomorrow.

2. Caught this shot of Regan and Lucy singing songs together after church and dinner last Sunday.
4 March 2012

3. Some days I think my best mothering skill is making my children cry.

4. Took all my kids to the eye doctor and Lucy might need glasses some time soon. For now we are “Watching” it.
8 March 2012

5. Look who’s sitting in a high chair now.
9 March 2012

6. I found this song lately thanks to a friend who linked it on another’s friend’s facebook page. I downloaded it and listen to it over and over….

7. We had kids over every day for a week and this is what the basement looked like. Really it’s been a lot worse than this. Sometimes I just leave it for a few days until it drives me batty then I make them clean it up. Although every Saturday it gets a good clean. But really, this shot shows that fun was had here!
10 March 2012

8. This kid stayed up reading over 90 pages of Harry Potter sunday night. Yep he was tired Monday for school!
3 March 2012

9. Eli has learned to spell his name. I am still working with him to get to write the letters. Really his name should be EASY! He did this and then added a random j too….
7 March 2012

10. If you are use instagram on your iphone, I have a photographer husband you can follow here.….

PS did you see my latest family session over here


I’ve been writing down things Eli says for a while. Just cause he says so many funny things. It’s partly the age and partly him I think.

Some of my favorites:

“SURRENDER” – always yelled at the top of his lungs (which is annoying)

“tailnippers” – nail clippers

“well that’s exactly what I’m going to do”

“Oliberry” – Oliver

“i think he needs mommy milk”

“i’m totally dressed now”

“i want to watch piderman but not the bad one, only the good one” (he never says the s for spiderman)


“ife” – knife

motorbicyle – motorcycle

“commudered” – computer

“yea I fixed it” (how) “with the button on top”

“can I have a mixtery” (all my kids say that instead of mixture but only when talking about cereal)

Whenever we try to get him to say the letter sound properly in a word he always says it just fine but then goes on saying the word all funny.

And this conversation goes on pretty much EVERY DAY about 5 times a day (or more) and frankly drives me bonkers.

“can i watch a movie on the computer” (no)
” can i watch on the tv?” (no)
“dad’s iphone?” (no)
“can I go to James’ house?” (not right now)
“can I play with Talan?” (not right now)
“can I play with Roman?” (not right now)
“can I play with Mason?” (not right now)
“well then can i watch a movie on the computer”
and on and on….

He keeps us on our toes in many many ways. Good thing he’s so cute!

10 on Tuesday

1. Did you know I hate competition? I think it only applies in sports (and not at any crazy level there – HATE that) and games (and even then only a very small level of it). I think it is such a waste of time and energy and good will to constantly compare and compete. Competition in our lives in other areas robs us of self worth and can consume us and create unkind feelings and actions to others. Life is just too short for all that nonsense.

2. I love love love love LOVE my dinner club. (Did I mention I love it?)

3. Is this not the cutest sound?

4. Alden has been asking me for quite some time if he could read Harry Potter and finally I told him he could read the first book if he wanted. He started that instant.
19 February 2012

5. Last week while school was out Alden wanted (and got) to play the wii TOO much. So on one day I wrote a list of random things and then put them all into a container and he picked them out and had to build them out of lego. This is his temple. It had an angel Moroni but someone took it off.
Lego Temple

6. Grandma came over to visit. And Oliver likes to follow his mom wherever she goes. And apparently Eli likes to eat his toes.
20 February 2012

7. This kid was in DIRE need of a hair cut. My friend Rebecca came over and did it…. and Eli wasn’t such a fan (as usual)
17 February 2012

8. It SNOWED and looks all pretty now.

9. Our new van is AWESOME!! It’s a 2012 Honda Odessey. Did I already tell you that? Can’t remember. I need to take a picture of it! Tomorrow (maybe)

10. I baked a LOT of stuff over the past week. And sadly now I want brownies. These ones to be exact. I made them at Christmas and I *might* still be dreaming of them. I wonder if I can still find some candy canes…..

Oliver at 4 Months

Can you believe this little man is 4 months already?!!
sooo serious
It has gone by so fast!!!
At 4 months Oliver…
Tummy time
• loves to baby talk but it comes out sounding more like gargling most of the time
• is very very social
• squirms around a lot in his crib when he wakes up
• is a noisy sleeper
• now in his own room (since he is a noisy sleeper)
Big eyes
• smiles at ANYONE who pays him attention and even if we aren’t paying attention – he’ll just look at us and smile
• has a smile that lights up his whole face
Big Grin
• can burp REALLY loud
• spits up a lot less than the first two months but still spits up a bit
• loves to look in the mirror
• puts up with a LOT of “love” from Eli and really just smiles at him… most of the time (he looks scared here…)
17 January 2012
• sleeps on his tummy
• loves his soother
• slobbers a LOT
• swings his arms at toys that are above him and can even grab them sometimes but then can’t let go
• has the BEST laugh and sometimes even snorts
• is sitting up in the Bumbo Chair
• is getting a semi regular schedule
• taking longer and longer naps
From below
• slept last night from 10pm-7am but normally sleeps from around 830pm to 3am then eats and back to sleep til 7am
• loves the jolly jumper especially if one of the kids is sitting in front of him to look at
• finally loves bath time
• has realized he has feet and hands and stares at them
Oliver & me.
• is a great breastfeeder
• is very ticklish
• loves to jump in your arms
• thinks it is sooo funny if you bouncy him around but that often ends up in spit up
20 January 2012
• turns to see us whenever he hears dad or mom’s voice
• never really cries much unless he is tired or hungry
• gets lots of attention from his siblings
• is very content to just sit and look around especially if someone is holding him
• wears 3-6 months clothes
• has dark hair growing in and quite a bit of it
• sucks on two fingers of his left hand often
Oliver @ 4 months
• pretty much always goes to sleep in vehicles
• often has his eyes WIDE open staring around
• is such a joy to have in our home!


This child is so funny.

On Christmas Eve he was kind of grouchy. He didn’t want to leave Grandma’s house to go home to bed.
To which I, of course, replied that we had to go home to bed so Santa could come cause he only brings toys to good kids.
Eli: “Well I don’t like Santa.”
Me: “Why not?”
Eli: “And he doesn’t like me.”
Me: “Yes he does”
Regan: ” He likes all kids”
Eli: “Nope. Not me. He doesn’t like little boys.”
Me: “How do you know that?”
Eli: “He told me”
Me: “When?”
Eli: “2:30.”
Alden: “Yeah, well where were you?”
Eli: “In the North Pole” (said in a tone indicating obviously)
Alden & Lucy start laughing.
Me: “Eli he likes you and he’ll bring you some presents tonight.”
Eli: “I don’t want them. You can give them to Oliver.”
Me: “What about the train set you asked for?”
Eli: “Our baby can have them. I don’t want to go to bed.”

And he CAN NOT stop kissing everyone. But especially Oliver. I am worried it is going to scar the poor child.

Lucy at six

I always like to do a list of things about my kids at their birthdays and I never got around to it, so this is a make-up post!

At six Lucy is….
Lucy at six
• a great reader! Reads above her grade level and finds it quite easy to do.
• has decided that she needs to read the scriptures each night as personal scripture study (we have Alden do it since he turned 8).
• still has major flip outs from time to time (more often than you’d imagine for a 6 year old!)
june 16: Cowgirl
• loves wearing dresses and skirts but finally can be convinced on some days to wear pants
• favorite foods are chicken nuggets, fries, Hawaiian pizza, smoothies and cranberries
• seems quite interested in boys lately (constantly talking about some in her class and how smart and funny they are)
day 9: Lucy & Oliver
• loves to give a scowl look at you when you tell her anything that isn’t what she wants to hear
• loves to play with barbies, littlest pet shop and also lego with Alden
• Alden is truly her best friend
• has asked if we can go back to Lethbridge since that is where her REAL friends are
• loves having her picture taken
• every night at bed she has Regan do a reciprocal quadruple Eskimo kiss
• loves to hold Oliver and thinks it is hilarious when he does baby cooing
aug 8 - Reader
• thinks her teacher, Miss Jensen, is hilarious!
• loves to be read to
• has an insatiable thirst for knowledge. She drinks it in. She loves to learn anything about anything.
• she asks a LOT of questions
• she loves to help in the kitchen
• has to make at LEAST one art project a day. But usually it ranges a lot higher per day.
• wants to keep everything. Has trouble throwing anything out.
• has an up and down relationship with Eli. Either they are having tons of fun together or they are fighting.
june 17: Interrupting
• has very sensitive feelings
• has the loudest cry of anyone in our family
• has her own unique sense of style in clothing
• loved playing basketball at the elementary
• is a very social child. Always learns people’s names and loves to say hi to everyone
• loves to giggle and laugh and can really brighten the room with her smile
• is taking tap dance and looooooves it
We Love Lucy!

Welcome to the World Oliver!

Well last Thursday the newest member of our family decided it was the day to join us. And we couldn’t be happier!
Baby #4
Oliver Smith Steed born Sept 15th in Lethbridge at 11:50am 9lbs 5 oz 22 in. long

I thought I’d write down the details here of his arrival. For weeks before hand I had been having lots of strong Braxton hicks. Too much for my liking! But so much of it had me thrown off since I never really had that many with my other kids. But with Oliver I seemed to be having lots of them ahead of time. The two nights before I had had serious contractions and we thought we were going to have a baby, but then they’d stop and I’d be upset and tired and have nothing to show for it all.

So Thursday morning I woke up at 420am with contractions. They were strong but still not consistent. So I just laid in bed and tried to sleep. Until about 6am when I REALLY wanted to eat a ding dong 🙂 So I did. Then I laid back down, Eli was up and the kids had to get ready for school and Regan was supposed to be on call that day out here in Raymond. We weren’t sure if things were just going to end again or if things were actually going to become real labour. So Reg got the kids off to school and he got off to work. Eli started watching cartoons so I could lay in bed and be uncomfortable. The contractions got closer and a lot stronger. So I called Regan at the hospital at around 830 and said that I think we actually were going to have a baby today. So he needed to figure out where Eli was going (his mom had gone on a hike that day) and he needed someone to cover for him at the hospital here. I called him again a few times after that…. He got home at 930 and we got into the car. Dropped off Eli to Grandpa Steed (who luckily had the day off) and drove like crazy into Lethbridge.

When we got there and into the hospital it was about 10am. Got right upstairs and into a room. (Saw a few people we knew at the hospital on the way 🙂 ) My doctor went out of town the night before and so Dr Dave Stewart was covering for him instead. He was at the hospital, so he came in right away and checked me and I was at 5 cm. So I said I want an epidural and he said he’d come back after all that. Around 1130 or so I got my epidural and 15 minutes later Dr Stewart was back and checked me again. I was at 9.5 cm. So he broke my water and said “actually I think you can just push now.” So I did. And surprisingly enough it was little boy that came out. Well not too little, 9lbs 5 oz 22 in. long.

Freshly out!

We really were expecting a girl. Not for any reason in particular. But we were. We literally had no boy names. So we didn’t name him that day. Or that night. We had talked about a middle name in case he was a boy. And decided we would use Smith. Smith is Regan’s mom’s maiden name and my grandma’s maiden name. All of our kids have middle names that have family meaning. Alden Ryan – named after Regan’s oldest brother who passed away, Lucy Ann – named after my sister who passed away (Kelly Ann), Eli Davis – named with my maiden name, and now Oliver Smith. Regan’s middle name is also his grandmother’s maiden name. (Carlson)

Proud daddy!

When Regan came back to the hospital to pick me up the next day he came with a list of names. And it made me laugh…so I thought I’d include it here for you all to enjoy too….

Lists of names:
– Oliver
– Isaac

Names maybe we’d both like:
– Ashton
– Bram
– Lincoln
– Linus
– Martel
– Miller

Names I like but I don’t think you will (but if you do that would be great):
– Abel
– Abraham
– Clement
– Gabriel
– Hugh
– Moses
– Neal
– Walt

Day 1
Regan did a great job taking some pictures of us in the hospital. And I’ve taken a few so far too.

His tiny bit of hair

He is doing well and I am too. Tired but good.

The kids came to see Oliver and me the night he was born and Alden and Lucy left me these little notes on the room white board. 🙂 Pretty cute hey!
love notes

We sure are happy to have him here. I’ve decided I’m going to take a picture a day of Oliver for the first 30 days of his life. Might be kind of a fun project to do 🙂

We’ve already been asked about how the kids feel.

Alden – loves him. A lot. More interested in Oliver than he has been with any of the others. And a lot more able to be helpful and hold him safely 🙂
Lucy – apparently when Regan called to tell the kids that Oliver was a boy, Lucy’s only response…. “Dangit”. But she loves him and is smothering him with kisses.
Eli – loves him a little too physically. I will be having to keep a close eye on Oliver when Eli is around. He tried to dog pile him this afternoon and is always trying to share his blanket with him and cover him with it.
We sure love him a lot!

Day 2.
Day 2

Welcome to the world baby Oliver!

I need help!

Seriously I don’t know what to do about Eli’s sleep.
Last night he was up more than 5 times.
I get up as much with him as I do with a newborn.
And I have one of those on the way too.

I feel trapped and I am not sure what to do.
But I can’t keep up with the current schedule. Regan is working in Pincher Creek so he gets home around 630-7pm each night when he’s not on call. And I can’t make Regan get up all the time when he has to commute one hour each way (he is TERRIBLE for falling asleep while driving) and being up for on call and he kind of helps with people’s lives, so he should sort of be alert. 😉

So I have been staying up to hang out with him. Which means bed time at around 11pm. Then Eli is up 4-6 times a night. And up for the day between 5-630am. I am pregnant and taking dicletin (which makes me more sleepy). I feel like a zombie most days. I just don’t know what to do.

I am just at my wit’s end. And I don’t know what to do. He gets up for unknown reasons. Last night one time cause of a bad dream, twice to go pee, and the three other times who knows. He just keeps showing up in our room. I think part of it is that he is a terrible eater and I think he is hungry so he wakes up with a stomach ache. But his eating isn’t getting any better either.

I just don’t know how I will survive having a newborn with this current craziness going on.

Mother’s day 2011

Not a lot to say, but I wanted to add some pictures Regan took yesterday of me and my kiddos.
Mother's day 2011
May 8 -2
May 8 - me
I am grateful to be a mom, for my mom and for my mil.
I am blessed.

Listography 5: 10 things I love about my boys

feb 9- My boys

I love…
1. That he is completely himself. In all situations and around all people. I love that he is so comfortable with himself to not be influenced to be how he thinks people think he should be.
2. How artistic and creative he is.
3. that he still sakes to snuggle with me.
4. his laugh and smile.
5. how smart he is.
6. that he knows the Gospel and has strong testimony.
7. I love how handsome he is
8. how much he admires his dad
9. how he plays with Lucy
10. that he is so even tempered and rarely gets mad.

I love…
1. how light hearted and happy he is.
2. his cute little voice.
3. how he says my name.
4. his sweet kissable cheeks.
5. how excited he gets when anyone in the family gets home.
6. his sweet hugs.
7. his little laugh.
8. how much he loves his mommy.
9. how easy it is to make him laugh.
10. his beautiful blue eyes.

Listography 5: 10 things I love about Lucy

jan24 - Story

1. That she likes to cook and bake with me

2. The way she says something and then says “right mom?” in this sweet little voice that is hard to describe.

3. That she can mostly read and did it mostly on her own

4. That she has a testimony of God and loves to bear it to other people.

5. That she loves arts and crafts as much as I do

6. Her heaps of creativity

7. Her sweet blue eyes

8. When she decides to be helpful she can do a lot and especially helps out with Eli

9. How she calls her pj’s her “night night clothes”

10. That she loves to sing and wants to be a singer when she grows up


jan11 - Independence
This year one of my goals is to teach more life skills to my kids. I am reading a book right now about teaching my kids to work and it really had some things in it that really stuck with me. The point of parenting is to prepare my kids for adulthood. To be capable, able adults. If I am not teaching them things, then I am giving them MORE problems in the future. Yes it can be more work. But is it worth it. Yes.

So this year one of the skills I am going to teach is cooking. Each week they will each help cook one meal. They can pick whatever they want to make but it can’t be cheeseburgers every week for Alden and chicken nuggets every week for Lucy. They have to try new things. Alden will be Tuesdays and Lucy will be Wednesdays.

Alden’s was last night. He picked stuffed manicotti and garlic toast with fresh veggies. We worked together and he was totally excited. He first wanted stuffed shells but I didn’t have shells so I showed him manicotti and how it was the same just a different shape. And he said great. The best part is, he totally ate it and so did Lucy.

After I was thinking, maybe the way I have gone about trying to get my kids to eat has been all wrong. If they are more involved with the picking and making perhaps they’ll be more involved in the eating too.

New Year’s Resolutions

WEll did you make them?

I try to keep some in mind but I don’t make myself crazy with them. Instead I kind of have a general I’m trying to do better in these areas kind of mantra.

But I thought I’d share my areas 🙂

1. Healthy living. We are trying to eat healthier and exercise more around here. Been doing the treadmill (it’s even in the unheated garage so it’s COLD when I go on it – so I feel extra proud of myself for doing it). Next weekend I will hopefully be all done my MSBH challenge. And then we are doing a whole lot more healthy eating. (Reg says I should cook a whole weight watchers book now to helps us all out. hahahahaha)

2. Religious-ness. Working on studying my scriptures better and for a longer time each day. Working on actually making what I read apply to my life and make a difference. Focusing more on reaching out to people around me in need.

3. Organizing. Reading a book and organizing my life. De junking (any one need a kitchen table or a big chalk board? Both have to go – along with lots of other things)

4. Monthly date night. We are pretty good – but sometimes Reg is busy and that kind of things gets pushed back and set aside.

Did you make any?
And since a post with a picture is more fun….
Alden with his current love.


jan 4: Beginning Reader
This little girl is reading. She is at the beginning stages but she is doing really well. And all one her own. Lucy is a natural reader. She is half way through kindergarden and already can read quite a bit. I have done nothing and she just knows words. So I’ve committed to working with her and helping her along to encourage it. I love to read and I want my kids to as well. It sure is nice to have a child WANT to read and WANT to do homework! Refreshing change from fighting to get Alden to do it!

Family Time

One of the things we like to do is go for walks together. It started way back when we lived in Nova Scotia and we would go for Sunday walks by the beach. And Tuesday walks. And whatever day it was. But most weeks especially Sunday walks. Well, if we need out of the house we still go for a walk. It’s free. And you get to enjoy beautiful creations of God. Sounds like a win win to me!
Last week we went on a walk and I had fun taking pictures. And so did Alden.
Budding Photographer
Alden has decided that he wants to learn to take pictures. I still have my old D80 around. I couldn’t sell it since some times it works and some times it doesn’t. So Regan and Alden have claimed it to be theirs.
While we were out walking, Alden said to me “mom, how about we have like photography classes were you teach me how to take good pictures….but I might need a new camera since this one doesn’t always work.”
I told him photo classes with us two would be great, but no new cameras would be coming to him any time soon.
The Hat
My mom makes all of us a new hat every year for Christmas. This was Eli’s this year. I love it and so does he. He calls it his Santa Hat.
Eli's Santa Hat
These two
They just love love love each other. And I love that they do.
I told him to smile and this is what I get. Totally him right now.
Totally a goof!
Cold winter in Southern Alberta. Love the spots of color!
I love to find plants that survive the winter. It gives hope in a lot of ways.
I love the days when the sun is shining and sparkling the snow. Those are the winter days I enjoy!
Dec 28: Our family
In my 365 this upcoming year, I am doing one family shot a month. This one was out on our walk. I propped my camera in the snow and timed it. Lucy was goofing around, Alden was shooting it too, Eli was happy to be here. I love this picture!

Winter Play

dec 9- snow play

I am in the count down until Regan comes home.
This Friday.


As we were walking in today at lunch time after picking up Alden from school.

Lucy: “Hey, who smells like Grandma Davis?”

Mom: ” What does Grandma Davis smell like?”

Alden: “Potatoes!”

Mom: “Grandma Davis smells like potatoes?”

Alden: “Well she IS a gardener!”

Mom: “I don’t think Grandma smells like potatoes”

Lucy: ” I think she just smells like an old lady”

Mom: “What does that smell like?”

Lucy: “ummmm bread and…. potatoes?”

dec 8- christmas reflection