Monday, December 27, 2010

The Week after Christmas

I have such a love/hate relationship with the week after Christmas. I hate that the magic of Christmas is over. I hate that the excitement and anticipation is gone. But I do love the fact that I can leave my Christmas decorations out for one more week and that it is okay if I listen to Christmas music just a little bit longer.

Our Christmas was wonderful. I was sick (not just pregnant sick, also yucky green stuff coming out of my nose and uncontrollable coughing sick, but I have an AMAZING husband who still made Christmas perfect in every single way. He did everything and so much more. I think I seriously fell in love with him all over again. Not only was everything perfect, but I also received the most incredibly beautiful gift EVER!!! But it was so amazing that it really deserves a post of its very own {coming soon}.

Thanks for all of the well wishes and congratulations on our exciting, yet surprising, news. It took awhile for me to get over the initial shock. I guess you do what you can to plan when the next baby will come, or not come, but in the end it is really out of our hands. Yes, we are absolutely hoping for a little boy this time. But, the odds are definitely not in our favor. :) We have actually talked about not even finding out the sex until he/she is born. But, I'm having a hard time seeing myself actually being able to do that. It does sound kindof exciting though. We'll see. In the mean time, I am just trying to get through the next couple of weeks. As if January isn't depressing enough. Blah. I guess I better come up with some fun ideas for January. Maybe I should make Christmas cards for next year. Last year my excuse was, "oh I'll just send out baby announcements in February." This year my excuse was, "I want to vomit all over everything." So, once Christmas cards from us. What a slacker I am!!!

Anyways, I hope you enjoy your "Week after Christmas" week.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Five is the number of cute little toenails on Katelund's feet that are now painted red.

Five is the number of years that Cloey has blessed my life.

Five is the number of sweet little fingers that Hailey always seems to want to put in my mouth while she is nursing.

Five is the number of inches of snow that I am expecting on Christmas (they are actually only forecasting .5, but hey, a girl can dream right?)

Five is the number of different kinds of wrapping paper I bought.

Five is what time I woke up this morning because I couldn't stop coughing.

Five is my favorite time of the day because that is when Cory comes home and makes everything better.

Five is the number of dollars I have in my wallet right now.

Five is the number of times I woke up last night.

Five is the number of times I have gagged in the last hour....because.....

Five is also the number of children that I will have come July. SURPRISE!!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Feeling Better [and other random thoughts]

This has been the longest stretch of sickness EVER!!! On Sunday, I thought I was going to die. Okay not really, but I was SO weak and I couldn't keep anything down, not even water. Yesterday when I woke up, I was determined to feel better (mostly because I had things that I needed to get done and I didn't have time to be sick anymore). It was a pretty miserable day, but it's over and today I'm feeling so much better. Unfortunately, Katelund woke up with another fever this morning. But, at least I can take care of her today.

This morning I went and read all the comments on my education posts. I LOVED reading them!!!! Thanks so much for taking the time to express your opinions. This morning I read a post (click here) by my friend Erin who wrote about the importance of having your own opinions and also respecting those of others. I always love to read what she writes, but this time it really hit home with me. Just as Erin pointed out, you can hardly listen to any political views these days without also hearing them slander those who disagree with them. I am DEFINITELY not a political expert by any means, but I do believe that this kind of slander and pride goes against the very core belief of a democracy, the idea that each man has the right to his/her own beliefs and opinions. If you disagree with a political issue stand up and disagree, don't hide behind sarcasm, mockery, and degrading impersonations. The second we start to take that right away, by bullying, persecuting, or slandering, I think we are on a very steep and slippery slope. It is, after all, the idea of coercing and leading with fear that is at the very heart of totalitarianism and dictatorships.

Last week I finished reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. The books reminded me in many ways of George Orwell's book 1984. The books were very well written and a very fast-pace read, but they were more than that. The characters were gruesome, disturbing, and yet,heart warming and heroic. There were moments where I hated the book and wondered why I was still reading, and then other times when I loved it. I definitely would recommend them but with a caution. Go into it knowing that there are parts (especially in Book 3) that are violent. The books spoke to me on such a deeper level though. It made me so grateful for the country in which we are so blessed to live, but it also made me realize that the freedoms we enjoy are ones that we should still be constantly fighting for. The form of government that is depicted in the books, reminded both Cory and I of the government that exist today in North Korea. My heart just breaks for the people of North Korea. How did they get to where they are today? Really, how does any country go from one of democracy and freedom to one filled with oppression and fear? I don't know. All I know is it makes me want to be a greater fighter of freedom and a greater advocate of humanity and civility. It makes me want to be a more charitable neighbor, a better mother, and a more devoted disciple. For in the end, the government shall be upon His shoulders and He shall rule and reign as King of Kings. Oh, how I look forward to that day.

Okay, one more thing.......are you ready for this?? Nope, I'm not ready to tell. Maybe tomorrow. :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What a day!

It all started on Sunday night after our dinner guests left. Cloey ran to the bathroom and threw up and then the fever came about 10 minutes later. The fever has come and gone for the last three days. Cory and I have been suffering through a horrible head cold this week. Katelund's fever began around 11 today and Hailey coughed all through the night last night and woke up this morning with her eyes glued shut and dried green junk all over her nose. So.......I spent the day at the doctor's office (it is SO not fun to have three sick children at the doctor's office!!). I came home with the following diagnosis...
Hailey has pink eye in both eyes and an ear infection.
Katelund has a urinary tract infection.
Cloey has the flu.
Four hours later, I'm still waiting for the pharmacy to have the prescriptions ready, I have three miserable little girls (and husband...and me too, but oh wait, I can't be sick or who would take care of everyone else!!???), and all I want to do is relax in a bubble bath and finish my book! I really hope tomorrow is a better day!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Why am I not blogging?

Because I am obsessed with the birthday present my sisters sent me....the Hunger Games series. Have you read them? They are addicting, suspenseful, and totally worth the 10 hours that I will have spent reading them over the last week!! Half a book to go and then I will come back to reality.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Education Part II

Either I only have 2 people that read my blog these days or there are only 2 people who have an opinion on education. Seriously, doesn't anyone else have anything to say?

Tonya, I think you are absolutely right. It is definitely not the teacher's fault. They are just doing what they have been told to do. In fact, did you know that recent studies show that over 50% of all new teachers will quit within their first five years of teaching? When I started teaching in Texas and was immersed into a real classroom, I was so glad that I was teaching Kindergarten. I was shocked to see the kind of pressure and stress that the older grades had to put on their students in order to get a certain percentage of them to pass the test so that the school would get funding and the teachers would get their bonus. It really is not fair to the teachers, or the children. For so long, I blamed it on the government. I blamed it on the government program No Child Left Behind. But, it really isn't the government's fault. In my opinion, they shouldn't be so involved in education, but the problem is that we, as a country, have forced them to get involved. We force them to get involve as the drop out rates have hit a dangerously high level. We have forced them to get involved as the standards have become lower and lower in schools because the teachers are no longer just teachers teaching math, science, and english, they are also standing in as mentors and confidants teaching students what they are not being taught in their homes by their own parents.

What children are not getting in their own homes, the schools are having to make up for. So, really when it comes down to is our fault. And when I say "our" I mean every one of us. We can all do more. We can do more to teach our own children. We can do more to encourage education and family in our communities. We can do more in our children's schools. We can do more within our own homes to foster a love for reading and learning. It just fascinates me how in Pakistan the terrorist blow up girls schools. They feel SO threatened by Greg Mortenson, who is "fighting terrorist one school at a time" because they know that if the girls are given an opportunity to be educated then they will not allow their sons to join the terrorist groups (culturally, they must get permission from their mothers in order to do so). In this example, as in so many others, education could change everything, and in turn, save a nation.

I feel like, as mothers, we have the greatest responsibility to promote and encourage a love of learning. When you think of the Stripling Warriors, you always think of their "mothers who knew". We must be those same kind of mothers. Mothers who know that education is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children. Mothers who know that the most important classroom is the one within our own homes.

Just recently, President Obama said that the drop out rate is becoming a "national crisis". I think that if we were to just do a little more in our own homes and community, then we could make a change, even if it's a small one, in our little corner of the world. I believe that as we all do a little more and take this crisis as seriously as we should, then in turn, we could literally save our own nation.

Monday, December 06, 2010

My Soap Box....Education Part I

I mentioned in a previous post how my sister, Andrea, has gone back to school to get her degree in elementary ed. Since I REALLY miss being in college (seriously, I do...there is no sarcasm in that statement), I told my sister that I wanted to read her papers and that I'd love to help her with research, writing, editing, or anything else that she might want some help with (not that she can't do it on her own...she is just so busy and I LOVE to write papers). Anyways, just recently she called me and told me that she was writing a paper on standardized testing and that she needed more. So I went to work...and oh man did she wake a sleeping giant. I had forgotten how passionately I felt about standardized testing, No Child Left Behind, etc. I researched and researched and called everyone I knew (okay, not everyone) and told them all about my feelings on the subject. It is one of those subjects that you probably do not want to engage me in unless you are ready for some long-winded passion (another one of those subjects is the UFC fighting). I had decided against blogging about it because part of my feelings have to do with politics and I learned awhile back that it is probably not a good idea to express political views on a blog unless you want some serious debate. But, the more I've thought about this, the more that I've realized that if I don't speak out, then I am no different than the person who could care less about education in America. I do care. I not only care, but I am deeply concerned. Below is just a little portion of what I sent my sister.

...In this same article that was quoted above, Henry lists 12 reasons why high stakes tests are failing our kids. Over and over again the point is brought out that standardized testing focuses on lower level thinking skills. While the higher level skills of creativity, whole analysis, critical thinking, creative problem solving, and complex reasoning are being pushed aside in order to focus on the rote memorization and multiple choice questions that "will be on the test". I wonder how many creative geniuses are being shut down or how many innovative ideas will never surface because of the way our children are being taught. Education is a life long process. It is the very foundation upon which our country rests and it is the pivotal point upon which our children's future will be determined. How can we teach our children the value of continuing and loving education if the excitement and endless possibilities of learning are being diluted and stifled with standardized testing? Yes, there must be accountability. But when did the solution to accountability turn into a high stakes test where a student's future and current capacity rest on the multiple choice answers of A,B,C, or D?

What are your opinions? If you don't have any, you may want to read this article.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Goodbye 20's...Hello 30!

This was the last picture taken of me as a 29 year old. Before I begin to tell you about how I feel being 30, I have to clarify one thing. I am NOT a Yankee fan. I am a Rangers fan. But, I don't have a Rangers hat and my sweet friend Austyn sent this hat to me after she moved to NYC. So, I am a fan of NYC and my friend Austyn, but definitely NOT a Yankee fan. Whew. I feel much better.

On to being 30.....I am loving it!! Really! I thought it would be hard, but I was so wrong. It's probably because I am still on a high from my AMAZING birthday party last night. Seriously, it was the best birthday party I have ever had in my life...thanks to my INCREDIBLE (and incredibly beautiful) friend Kristi. Wow, does she know how to throw a party! Are you just dying to know what we did?

First I have to explain something. So, remember how much I love and adore my Grandpa Black who passed away a couple years ago? Well, one of the things that he would always do is record in his journal on his birthday about the miles that he either biked, ran, or swam that day. I love this tradition because I just can't think of a better way to celebrate life. To me, there is just nothing better than the euphoria I feel after finishing a race or a really long bike ride (maybe not so much a swim since the last experience I had in a swim meet was really quite embarrassing....but,that's a whole other story for another time).

With that being said, my friend Kristi wanted to plan a party for me where we did something that I loved. After talking it over (while we sipped away on DELICIOUS hot chocolate from Starbucks), she came up with a plan. She organized a private spin class (with an AMAZING teacher) for me and 15 of my favorite girlfriends. Then, afterwards, we would go enjoy some delicious salad, pizza, bruschetta, and cake from a local favorite pizza joint. The spin class was the most amazing workout ever, especially because I shared it with such great company. We sweated together, cheered together, and cried out in pain together :). The instructor even had me go up to the front between each song and do push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, etc. I know this sounds like torture, but it wasn't! It was so much fun and I LOVED the whole night!!! There is nothing better than enjoying pizza and birthday cake after an intense workout. I came home last night with legs that felt like jelly, a whole car full of gifts, and left over birthday cake and brushetta to be enjoyed for breakfast. I brought everything in, kissed all three of my sleeping beauties, and then laid awake in bed as I thought about how completely spoiled I had been. I feel so blessed to have the friends that I do. They are each so incredibly talented and amazing in their own ways and they bring so much joy to my life!!!!! I frequently express my gratitude and love for my family but today I want to give thanks for my friends. For all the friends that I have had over the years who have brightened my days and enriched my life. Friends truly are one of God's greatest gifts.

So here's to the big 3-0!!!! And here's to a day of celebrating with my VERY favorite people (I am so going to beat Cory in tennis today!).

I'll post pics as soon as I get them. My friend Jessica was the photographer (since she's 8 months pregnant and we didn't want her to go into labor last night). She also shot some video, which I'm a little nervous about watching.

Thursday, December 02, 2010


These are kindof random pictures, but each of them are significant to me in their own way. The first picture was taken on Thanksgiving Day. Cory was super organized this year and made a job chart so that everyone had their particular assignments on Thanksgiving Day. I was in charge of the veggie tray, pecan pie, and setting the table. Can I just say how much I love how we do Thanksgiving??!!! Cory's Dad does the turkey and gravy. Mom does the mashed potatoes, rolls, and our festive drink. Logan does the ham. Becca does the sweet potatoes and apple crisp. Cory does the stuffing, vinegar shrimp, and then helps with the turkey. The reason I love it so much is because it is not overwhelming for anyone. We make our shopping list together, grocery shop together, and go to the annual turkey bowl together. (I am not one of those wives who stay home and cook while my husband is out having fun on Thanksgiving.) I run my own turkey trot 5k around the track and the girls have the time of their life running around playing. Anyways, back to the picture....since I was in charge of table setting, I had Katelund be in charge of the center piece. She took this assignment VERY seriously! I told her to go outside with a basket, gather stuff she could use, and then arrange it in the three little glass dishes. She did a great job and LOVED every minute of it.

The second and third pictures are of my sweet little helper. Hailey LOVES to help me with laundry. She is at such a fun stage! I just can't get enough of her.

The fourth picture was taken the other night when I went to tell Katelund to turn her lamp off. She loves to read in her bed at night. She also is REALLY loving the book that is shown in the picture. It is a book that answers all sorts of questions that kids might have about their bodies. I LOVE this book!!!! Katelund has decided that she wants to be a scientist when she grows up, which I can totally see. She loves learning about plants, animals, people, etc. It is so cute to see her developing into her own little grown up person.

The last picture is of a recent book that I ordered from Deseret Book. It is AMAZING!!!! Seriously, one of the best Christmas books ever. It is meant to be read before Christmas. I would HIGHLY recommend it to everyone!!! If you are looking for ways to enrich the Christmas season, I also HIGHLY recommend listening to this. It was a BYU Education Week talk that was given last year by Susan Easton Black (love her!!!). It is called "The Road to Bethlehem -The Birth of Jesus". It is kinda long (50 min) but totally worth every minute!!!

Last but not least, my 30th birthday is just days away. My friend Kristi has planned the BEST birthday party ever!!! I promise I'll blog all about it and post pics.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Joy, a Rainbow, and a Grateful Heart

On the eve of Thanksgiving weekend, I finally find myself here at the computer. As I contemplate and remember all of the moments that mattered over the last week, I find my heart overflowing with joy. The joy that comes from a home bursting with family. The joy that comes from deep and all-consuming gratitude for blessings that are too numerous to count. The joy that comes from the magic and warmth of the holiday season. Tonight as I ponder upon these things, I think of my wonderful parents who are on their way to Idaho Falls, their new home. I wonder what adventures lay in store for them. I wonder whose lives will forever be changed because of their wonderful examples. I think of my in-laws, who once again made the 8 hour drive to come and spend Thanksgiving with us. It just wouldn't be the same without them here. I think of Cory's brother Logan and his sweet wife Becca who will be delivering their first baby at the end of December. They came out almost a week before Thanksgiving and together we made memories that will last a lifetime. I also think of both of my sweet sisters and their families and all of the rest of my sister-in-laws, brother-in-laws, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc. Each one of them bring joy to my life in their own unique way. When I think of gratitude, I just can't help but think of my family.

The food is bursting out of our fridge, the trash is taking over our driveway, all of the rooms in our house need some major attention, and the Christmas decorations are just calling my name. But tonight, I want to just take it all in. I want to be still and just let my heart overflow with gratitude and joy. The other day as I was clearing off the kitchen table, I noticed that it had been raining outside. As my mother-in-law opened the back door, there in the sky was one of the most beautiful rainbows I have ever seen. As quickly as we could, we called the girls from downstairs to come up and see. We all stood on the back patio in awe at the wonder of such a magnificent sight. Then we all went back inside....except Cloey. As I turned back to see what she was doing, I saw a sight even more magnificent than the rainbow. There in front of my eyes was my five year old daughter kneeling on the ground as she thanked her Heavenly Father for making us a rainbow. Tears began to puddle in my eyes as I considered the powerful lesson I had just been taught. All though I have no pictures from the holidays (what was I thinking???!!), the picture I have in my mind of that moment, is one that will never be erased. A precious moment where I was taught what it truly means to have a grateful heart.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Picture and a Story

Picture 1---This was taken at the school's fall festival. I was working one of the booths and Cory was taking the girls around. After I was done with my shift, I walked up to two pink haired children with paw print tattoos on their arms (which they know that they never would've gotten if I had been taking them around...not the pink hair, the tattoos...I'm not a fan). They both decided that someday when they are old enough to get their hair dyed, that they want to have pink hair. It made me a little nervous.

Picture 2----About a month ago, we were toilet papered AGAIN. The crazy thing about it this time is that they did it in the middle of the day while we were out playing tennis. My friend Marilyn loaded up her car with about 10 youth and came to show Cory how it is really done (Cory teased the youth last time and told them that they did an amateur job). They actually did a pretty good job this time. The girls LOVED to clean it up (as you can see from the picture).

Picture 3----Last week I hosted a baby shower at my house for a sweet lady in my ward. It was the easiest baby shower I've ever helped plan because one of my friends was in charge of invitations, another was in charge of the food, and then all I had to do was decorate a little, clean my house, and provide the paper products. Seriously, it is the BEST way to do a baby shower! Here is a pic of the decorations. It's not a good picture but it was fast, easy, and turned out pretty cute.

Picture 4----Cloey had a "sick" day last week. She had a little too much fun!

Picture 5----I love my husband!!! After a really bad day of Hailey choking and me being hysterical (and then the next day she fell out of her crib), Cory came home with a chocolate cupcake just for me. I'm not such a big fun of these kinds of cupcakes bc it is WAY too much icing for me, but in this case, it was the thought that counted BIG TIME!!!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Punky Brewster and the Tooth Fairy

This picture is not very clear, but I love it because it is so Katelund. She just has her own sense of style, and I think it is great! Most of the time she goes to school in some pretty crazy outfits, but as long as she feels cute...that is all that matters to me. I tell her that she is my Punky Brewster. Do you remember that show? I LOVED it!!!

When I was doing my student teaching, I remember one day when a little girl was drawing a purple cat. The teacher's aid walked over to her and told her that cats are not purple and that she needed to change the color. I was furious. I totally disagreed. If that sweet little 5 year old girl wanted her cat to be purple then why couldn't it be??? So now I tell my girls all the time that when they are drawing, it is their world. They can color and draw things however they want. I feel the same way about what they wear (unless it is too small, short, or the wrong season...oh, and if we are going somewhere nice).

Anyways, on to some exciting news. Katelund lost tooth #3 last night (yep, she is 7 and has only lost three teeth). She was so excited for the Tooth Fairy to come. When I tucked her into bed last night, she said, "Mommy, I just said a prayer that the Tooth Fairy would also put a dollar under Cloey's pillow because she really wants one and she's never lost a tooth." So of course, the Tooth Fairy HAD to put a dollar under Cloey's pillow as well. In the morning, Katelund ran in so excited that she had a dollar. Then after Cloey woke up, she ran in even more excited because Cloey had a dollar as well. I asked her how she thought the Tooth Fairy knew to give Cloey a dollar too. She said, "because Jesus told her." Duh. I think the Tooth Fairy may have started a really bad thing.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Grateful for Grandparents

My sister, Andrea, is finishing up her degree right now. She is such an inspiration. As a mother of two and with a full time job at their school, somehow she finds the time and energy to take classes as well. She is majoring in elementary education. Once she graduates, all three of me and my sisters will have degrees in education. I also have two cousins who graduated from BYU in elementary ed. a couple of years ago. Neither one of my parents have degrees in education and neither do my cousins' parents, but somehow the five of us all ended up in the same field.

Two years ago this November my Grandpa Black passed away. After his funeral, we, all of his children and grandchildren, gathered around in my Grandma and Grandpa's basement and we each took turns remembering and recounting experiences with Grandpa. Experiences that made us laugh, smile, and cry. Experiences that some of us never knew about and others that each of us will never forget. This picture in my mind of us gathered around as a family is one that is engraven upon my heart. We all loved Grandpa. All though he is not here with us anymore, his example and influence upon me will live forever.

He was a teacher and so was my Grandma. I do not think it is a coincidence that five of their granddaughters have, or will have, their degrees in education. The influence of a grandparent is no small thing. All though we live in a world today where grandparents are usually not just down the street, or in our case not even in the same state, they still stand as a powerful example to the generations that follow.

This month as I focus on my blessings, I thank God for grandparents whose examples are exemplar. And for my children, I also thank God for parents and in-laws who are the best influences and role models I could ever ask for. When my children think of their grandparents, I hope that they remember the family council (on the phone with all of the children and grandchildren) where their Grandpa and Grandma Mann shared their testimony of charity. I hope they remember the year that Grandma and Grandpa Black traveled back and forth every week from California to Texas so that Grandpa could fulfill his calling as Bishop. But above all, I hope that they will always know how much they are loved by each of them.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

So you want to be friends with Cloey?

Apparently, it is not an easy thing to be one of Cloey's friends. First, you must pass a whole list of requirements (no, I am not kidding). Here are some of the concerns she has with some of her new friends at school.

Cloey: "Mommy, I really like Avalina, but she is not modest and she always has to be the boss."

Cloey: "Jakayla and Demarcus are the kids who sit next to me at my table and they always act so crazy and don't listen to directions. They always ask me what to do."
Me: "Well maybe that is why your teacher put you next to them, so that you can help them and you can be a good example for them."
{after school that day}
Cloey: "Mommy, I told Jakayla and Demarcus that they need to stop being so crazy and that I am sitting next to them to help them and be an example for them."
Me: "You told them that??? Honey, that probably made them feel bad."
Cloey: "No, it didn't."

Cloey: "Lindsey always dresses modestly, but she doesn't go to church."
Me: How do you know? I asked her.

Cloey:"Mommy, I really want to have a play date with Anna. She dresses modestly, she goes to church, and her parents don't smoke."
Mom: "Did you ask her if her parents smoked?
Cloey: yep. Oh, and she said we can have a tea party but we can use water because I told her that I don't drink tea.

So, if you want to be friends with Cloey you MUST always dress modestly, not be bossy or act crazy (all though she acts crazier than anyone I know when she is in one of her moods), you must go to church, your parents can't smoke, and you have to be willing to drink water at your tea parties.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


When I think of patience, these are the images that come to my mind: long lines, crowded rooms, whiny children, slow drivers, pessimistic people, hungry children, bad internet connection, stories that never end, tired children, doctor's office, airports, Walmart, post office, a child who wets their bed night after night, loud obnoxious dogs in my neighborhood, smokers,etc, etc. Seriously, that list could go on and on....which should tell you that I have some serious issues with patience.

The other day, I was reading a family history story that my mom sent me about my great, great, great grandma, Alice Court Jones. In the story, her daughter said the following about her,

"She often prayed for strength and patience to accept nobly whatever she might be called to pass through. She found that patience is a form of strength; it is the product of struggle. It is not acquired through the pursuit of easy things...."

This faithful grandmother of mine was put through the ultimate test. She spent her life seeking God's will and learning to trust in him, in his ways, and in his timing. She had a very difficult heartbreaking life. One that I couldn't possibly imagine. But, one that I'm sure has lead her to win the prize that we all seek.

President Uchtdorf recently said that, "Patience means to abide in faith, knowing that sometimes it is in the waiting rather than in the receiving that we grow the most."

As a mother, I find my patience tested everyday by small things of little significance. And yet, when I look at the big picture, I see that it is in those small tests that I find the courage and faith to face the bigger ones with a little more patience.

The tests of patience that are placed before us come in many different forms. Whether it is waiting for a baby to come, a child to return, a change of direction, a disease to be cured, a trial to be lifted, a heart to be healed, or a miracle to happen; each one has its own kind of pain and agony, and yet, each one can lead us to become more like Him.

Just as my great, great, great, grandmother did all those years ago, today, I too will pray for strength and patience to accept nobly whatever I might be called to pass through.

Friday, November 05, 2010

A moment of perfection...

Today as I got off the phone with my mom, I turned up the Christmas music and scooped Hailey into my arms as I danced all around my kitchen. Joy. That is what I felt. The joy that comes from gratitude. From knowing that I have the life that I always dreamed of and from knowing how blessed I am to be surrounded by parents, a husband, children, and siblings that somehow and in someway make my life absolutely perfect.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

This week's happenings...

1. My sister was robbed!! Someone broke into her house during the day and stole all of their electronics AND her wedding ring (a prong is broken so she hasn't been wearing it). It has seriously freaked me out. Not only have I been worried about her and her family's safety, I have also had to once more face the ugly reality of the world we live in. All though there is MUCH good, there is also a lot of bad...too much bad.

2. My dad's uncle died. My parent drove up to Utah for the funeral yesterday. He was a wonderful man who has been very sick for a long time. I'm sure that he is now having a joyous reunion with two of his children who died from cancer at the ages of 8 and 12. Once again, I feel SO GRATEFUL for the knowledge and testimony that I have of life after death.

3. My parents could very possibly be moving away from Texas. I can't go into details just yet because it is not for sure, but very likely.

4. Cory's brother, Sean, came out to Tennessee for business this week. He drove down and stayed with us on Tuesday and Wednesday night. It was so great to see him. He's such a great uncle. It is also a lot of fun to reminisce and laugh over all the memories that we have from our teenage years together. Cory and I LOVE it when people, especially family, come to visit and stay in our home (yes, that is definitely an invitation).

5. Six years ago, I decided that I wanted to start a tradition with myself in order to make sure that I read the Book of Mormon all the way through at least once a year. So I opened up to the end of the Book of Mormon and put the date that I finished it. I have done this every year since. This time I actually did it a little differently. I got a blue soft cover Book of Mormon and I highlighted every time that it testifies of Jesus Christ and/or the Atonement. It was such an incredible experience! I just don't know how ANYONE could EVER wonder if Mormons are Christians. There was not a page that would go by without me marking something on it about Christ. It literally is another testament of Christ and I understand why more clearly than I ever have. I have such a burning testimony of the Book of Mormon and of the power that comes into my life when I consistently study and read from it. I have many "favorite heroes" from the scriptures. I love reading about the faith of Esther, the courage of Daniel, the love of Jonathon, the devotion of Peter, the humility of Moses, the integrity of Job, the obedience of Nephi, the submissiveness of Alma, and the charity of Ammon, but there are two stories that stand out above all others for me. One is the story of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, or the people of Ammon. When I read about their faith and their willingness to die rather than break their covenants, I am brought to tears every time. The other person that I love is Mormon. Throughout the entire book (well, except for the small plates) his voice is heard over and over again as he summarizes and recounts the words of the previous prophets. He consistently testifies of Christ and acknowledges the hand of God. He boldly proclaims his faith, hope, and love for not only Christ, but also for the future generations, including us. One of my very favorite versus from him is in Moroni 7:48, "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen."

Monday, November 01, 2010

The Countdown

Whew! Halloween is over. Don't get me wrong, I love all of the parties and dressing up...but it is just not my favorite holiday. In fact, I was shocked at how hard it was to find a costume for my 7 and 5 year old daughters that was not completely inappropriate. Seriously?? When did Halloween turn into a holiday full of sleezy costumes? Not sure, but what I am sure about is that Halloween is becoming more and more trashy and I don't like it. I also don't like all of the junk food in my house. I'd really like to send it and all of the sleezy comstumes out there into a huge trash can. And...don't even get me started on the store Halloween Express. Last year I had a not so good experience with them and a particular display they had out for my children and husband to see. After a long letter to their company, and no response back from anyone, I will n e v e r step my foot into one of their stores again (and neither will my husband or children.... if they want to live). Okay, I am done venting. I feel much better now.

So now the countdown begins. The countdown to my favorite time of the year. Of course I love Christmas, but I also LOVE Thanksgiving. I love the focus on gratitude and family. I can't think of two better things to focus on in order to prepare us for the season of Christmas. The season where our hearts become softer, our thoughts become purer, and our focus becomes clearer.

Let the countdown begin....

Friday, October 29, 2010

CrEePing and CRaWlinG

Here are some pics of the creepy (and cute) Halloween costumes this year. This morning was the girls' Halloween parties at school. It was pretty crazy switching back and forth between their classrooms. Between sprinting back and forth through the hallways and a sweet little baby who just wanted to be exploring on the ground, I came home with no pictures. But, I do have three little girls who are all on a major sugar high (yep, Hailey has pretty much been drinking sugar milk because of all of the Halloween candy that I have been consuming). I just hope that my girls don't start to wonder where all of their chocolate is going. I can't help it!! That is why I can't have it in my house. I don't buy ice cream and I only get chocolate on special occasions (which seem to come around a little too often lately).

On to other big and exciting news... Hailey has officially started crawling, as of two days ago. She is quite pleased with herself, and I am quickly realizing how much I need to baby proof my house. I am just going to have to learn how to let some things go because between my older girls playing pretend everywhere and then crying when I ruin their fort or their classroom and with Hailey getting into everything in sight, I'm going to lose my mind. I just have to remind myself that someday I will look back and miss these days. I will miss the sound of little girls giggling and the excitement over the small and simple things that make life so wonderful. I know that I will miss it more than anything, so as I learn to let things go, I will also remember to savor every moment.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Need a Halloween gift idea?

Cory and I stayed up late last night making salsa together. I squeezed the juice out of about 15 limes and Cory cut up more onion and cilantro than he ever imagined. Cory has worked on this perfect (at least it's perfect to us) salsa recipe for many, many, many months. We LOVE it!! So, for the sisters I visit teach, some neighbors, and some of Cory's co-workers, we are going to give them a jar of salsa for Halloween. And of course, I can't just give away a boring mason jar with salsa in it.

Here is what the poem says (you can find it on sugardoodle)....

Since this is the time for goblins and bats,
Halloween spirits and spooks and cats,
Weird happenings and witches brew,
These are the things that we wish for you....
May the only ghost that comes to stay
Be the Holy Ghost to guide your way.
May the only spirit you chance to meet,
Be the spirit of love and friendship sweet.
We hope that you feel the spirit and love,
That can only come from our Father above.
These are our Halloween wishes to you
And may God bless you in all that you do.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fall Break

This is what we did over Fall Break....

B.....brunch in bed (already mentioned in a previous post) and relaxation (I made a spa day in our home. They could get a manicure, pedicure, and/or facial with make-up. I had a price list for each thing because I am trying to work on money with Cloey)

E.....exploring the zoo (we went with some friends and had such a great time!)

A....a day at the mall (and a day in bed...this is the day that I got sick)

K....Katelund's costume hunting (I had already picked up a costume for Cloey and Hailey but hadn't found the one Katelund wanted. We spent the day shopping for the perfect costume and got some other fun Halloween decor.

Cloey was excited to go back to school this morning, Katelund was not happy at all. As nice as it is to have my alone time with Hailey, I'm missing them terribly this morning. These pics were just snapshots of the week. The real fun and the greatest memories were ones that cannot be captured: moments of kindness, love expressed, lots of laughter, friendships bonded, and conversations that I'll never forget.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


I think that the sickness is finally leaving. It all started on Wednesday night when I got all congested and my head starting hurting like crazy. Thursday, I felt bad all day, and then that night the fevers and cold chills began. Since I am still nursing and I refuse to pump (It's just not my thing), I have to continue feeding through sickness and all. When I was nursing Katelund, I remember being so sick one time that I couldn't keep anything down, even water. So of course, my milk was not letting down. I remember fervently praying that the Lord would intervene, just as he did for the Ishmaelite women in the Book of Mormon. He did, and I will forever consider it a miracle.

This time I was not as sick, but I knew that I could call upon the Lord once again. So there I was underneath of about four blankets shivering like crazy in the fetal position, as I snuggled Hailey up and patiently waited for another tender mercy, which came once again. Hailey is teething right now, and it is way worse than it was with the first two bottom teeth. So, she is up crying every two hours. Since Cory knew how horrible I was feeling, he stepped right in and helped comfort Hailey or bring her to my side. It helped so much and I was so grateful. He took a sick day yesterday in order to tend to his sick wife and take care of the girls. By about noon, I was feeling considerably better, but Cory was not. We both thought he was starting to get sick, but then I looked into his eyes and I knew exactly what was wrong. You see, Cory needs his sleep. If he gets less than 5 hours of sleep, his eyes get really red and watery in the afternoon and he just can't function. After he took a long nap in the basement, he was just fine. One sleepless night for him, was one too many.

It got me thinking. For the last 8 1/2 months, I have not slept a whole night. In fact, I think 5 hours is the longest that Hailey has gone. No, maybe she went 6 hours ONE night. I also have two other daughters who for some reason cannot seem to simultaneously sleep through the night. At least one of them will be up at some point needing a hug after a bad dream, a drink of water, a back rub, a leg rub, medicine, a heating pad, another blanket, a clean-up after peeing in the bed, etc, etc.... Somehow, I function during the day. I hardly ever take a nap because there are just so many other things that I should be doing. So, I just make do with the sleep that I get, and somehow, it is enough.

Someday, as we look back on our earthly experience, I believe that we will be very surprised how often the Lord mercifully intervened in our life and how frequently His hand was lifting and sustaining us. I truly believe that one of those times will be during the first year of my babies lives. During all of those long nights and days where, somehow, the sleep that I got was enough. Some may say that it is just because I am used to it and my body has adjusted, but I disagree. I believe that it is a blessing from heaven given to mothers. I am not going to say that I am never tired or that I don't look forward with great anticipation to the day when I will have a full night sleep, but for now, I am just grateful. I am grateful for a loving Savior whose infinite atonement has made it possible for not only the little sleep that I get to be enough, but has also promised that if I give all that I can give, which is really very little, that when that long awaited day comes that I return to my heavenly home, where I can experience a fullness of joy, somehow, the life that I lived and the effort that I gave, will be enough.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Reasons why "How to Train Your Dragon" is my new favorite movie

10. it is hilarious! (lots of good one-liners)
9. NO crude humor! (that's big for me)
8. a little romance (that's definitely a must for me)
7. very creative story line
6. our whole family LOVED it
5. great music! (I'm sure it's a great soundtrack)
4. no evil people
3. no parts where my girls have to close their eyes or plug their ears
2. made me cry (that is definitely another must for me)
1. oh the many lessons and symbolism behind so many things!!! I could blog on and on about all of the different things you can learn from this movie, but I will just state one. It's okay to be different and to stand up for something you believe in, even when you stand alone..


Can you say hormones?

Yesterday was not a good day. There really is no specific reason why; it was just one of those days. You know, the kind where you just aren't feeling it. When you know that there is a lot to be grateful for, and yet all you can seem to focus on are the things that aren't good. One of those days where I feel like all I ever do is clean up other people's messes and create new ones as I fix meals, organize drawers, balance the check book, etc. And of course the girls are home for fall break, which is good, but at the same time it just added more chaos and contention to my not so good day. I even tried to be a good mom and do fun stuff. I did "brunch in bed" for the girls. I even made a menu for them to choose their brunch of choice, and then I cooked it for them and served it to them all while they were sitting on my bed (with a whole lot of towels around them to contain the crumbs) watching a movie. I put my cute apron on and played the part of a waitress and everything, and yet I still was not feeling it. I was biting back my irritation with the fact that they were moving all around and screaming out my name when Hailey was in the other room sleeping. Of course she woke up, and wouldn't sleep good the rest of the day. When Cory got home, I thought that things would be better, but my mood did not improve. I hadn't said anything about my day or how I was feeling, but he just knew. In fact, he said to me, "Melissa, where is that sparkle in your eyes? Your not being your normal bubbly happy self." And then, the water works began. Actually, I think the tears really helped. Maybe all I needed was a good cry on Cory's shoulder. I'm not sure, but I'm pretty sure (scratch that...I'm very sure) that hormones had a lot to do with my day yesterday. Maybe it also had to do with the gray overcast skies, or MAYBE it was a full moon last night. I don't know. But whatever it was, I hope it doesn't return (at least for another month, right?) :)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Change of Seasons

I seriously L.O.V.E the fall!! I love the crisp cool air, the beautiful colored leaves, the delicious desserts, and the adorable decorations. I love it all. But, there is always a tinge of sadness that comes in knowing what the change will mean. Knowing that the long sunny days are so much shorter and so much colder. Knowing that going places with all three girls will not be as easy because of all of the sock, shoe, jacket, mitten, and hat hunting that takes place. It's just not quite as simple as "hey girls, grab your flip flops and let's go." But we'll adjust quickly. The shoes will be kept close by the door, the socks will be washed and put away (or in the laundry basket of overflowing clothes that need to be folded), and the jackets will be pulled out of the coat closet and hung on the coat rack by the garage. We'll enjoy the sunshine and blue skies even more when they are not as frequent and bedtime will definitely be easier. Change is good.

About a month ago, I was released from Young Womens. This change has been kinda hard. I miss the girls so badly! Every Wednesday night I wonder what they are doing and wish I was there to hear all about what's going on in their life. As I walk into the Relief Society room and try to decide where to sit, I can't help but glance down the hall and see who is walking into YWs. It also feels so weird to not have any meetings to go to. Instead of my family waiting on me, I now drive to and from church by myself and sit at home waiting for Cory. It is different, but I'm adjusting because I know that it is now Cory's turn to lead. And besides, I LOVE my new calling as a Sunday School teacher. I still get to be with the youth....15 of them in fact (mostly all boys) and I get to study the scriptures with them. If only, it was more than an hour a week. :)

So, ya, change is good. Life is good. Cory is traveling some but a lot less than he was earlier in the year, the girls are happy and doing wonderful in school, Hailey is almost crawling, and I am just enjoying the change of seasons.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dear Kristen,

{I know it is kind of weird that I am typing you this letter on my blog instead of as an email, but there is a really good reason. It is because someday when my children go back and read my writings, I want them to know what a true friend is so that they may search for them, cherish them, and also be one for someone else.}

Spending the day with you on Saturday was truly a gift. As I was with you, I remembered what I love so much about you. I know that you are not much of a camper, but surely from your boys and all your time as a cub master you learned that one of the most important rules of camping is that you always leave your campsite better than you found it. I have decided that this is your motto, because Kristin, you always leave people better than you find them. It is just who you are. You have a gift for loving people and I always feel so strong and ready to take on the world after I am with you.

I have so many wonderful memories of my time in Asheville, but as you know, I also have some difficult ones. But, in those difficult times, there was a reoccurring theme. You were always there. You have been by my side, as my visiting teacher, my secretary, my role model, my teacher, my sister, and my friend. I have poured my heart and soul out to you on many occasions, but some of the ones that stand out to me above all others, were the ones after I lost Clairisa. You were the first one, besides my family, that came into my home after I got back from the hospital. I didn't want to see anybody because I just didn't know what to say and I didn't want to hear what anyone else had to say either. But I knew that with you, it wouldn't matter, and of course, it didn't. Because the moment you came into my bedroom you sat by my side, embraced me in your arms, and just cried with me. As we sat and cried together, you said, without any words, exactly what I needed to hear. You taught me what Alma meant at the Waters of Mormon when he said that we should "mourn with those that mourn".

I also vividly recall the afternoon that we spent shoveling and digging up the earth to plant the tulips you had bought me, and then the many prayers that I know you prayed that they would rise in the spring because of what it would mean to me. I also remember many times in the church parking lot after our presidency meeting, standing outside and talking for hours about all of the challenges we were facing and giving hope and comfort to one another (as if you had nothing else better to do). And then of course I couldn't forget one of my last days in Asheville. As I was finishing up with all of the cleaning, there you were once again showing up in a moment when I needed a friend. You had brought lunch for us to eat together. Then as we ate, we laughed and cried on that upstairs playroom floor as we reminisced and remembered the good times we had shared.

On our way out from Asheville, you were the last person that I stopped to say goodbye to. And as I gave you those beautiful pink tulips, I wish I could have put into words all of the things that you had given me. Things that I will take with me in my heart for the rest of my life. Thank you for being such a wonderful friend. Thank you for loving my children. Thank you for always taking flowers to Clairisa's will never know how much that means to me. Elder Holland's words hit very close to home for me when he said the following...

"...When we speak of those who are instruments in the hand of God, we are reminded that not all angels are from the other side of the veil. Some of them we walk with and talk with—here, now, every day. Some of them reside in our own neighborhoods. Some of them gave birth to us, and in my case, one of them consented to marry me. Indeed heaven never seems closer than when we see the love of God manifested in the kindness and devotion of people so good and so pure that angelic is the only word that comes to mind."

As I sat beside you at Women's Conference on Saturday and sang the second verse of "As Sisters in Zion", I thought it very appropriate. For surely, the Lord knew that in my life you would have the errand of an angel.

Love Always,

Friday, October 08, 2010

photo session with my little pumpkin

I don't have a fancy camera (seriously $500 or more for a camera?? I just can't bring myself to spend that much. But it must be worth it because I think I am one of the last moms on earth that doesn't have one.). I also don't have any photography skills, BUT I do have a cute baby and two sweet little helpers so I think the pictures turned out pretty good.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

I just can't get enough of her!!!!

Hailey has got to be the best baby ever! She is SO HAPPY!!! I have so much fun with her and cherish every single moment. These last 8 months have just FLOWN by so quickly. She is still not crawling but it may have to do with the fact that I always want to hold her. She is still not sleeping at night, but it might be because I shoot out of bed the second I hear her whimper and snuggle her right in next to me while she nurses herself back to sleep. She is still not falling to sleep on her own in her crib, but probably because I always rock her to sleep. What can I say? I am breaking all of the rules and loving every second of it. I don't care what the experts say. I may be a zombie during the day but she will only be a baby once and then before I know it she'll be jumping out of the van door in the school drop-off line blowing kisses as she walks away with a skip in her step and excitement on her face. Meanwhile, I'll be driving away with huge puddles of tears welling up in my eyes as I wonder where the time went. (This very thing happened this morning as Cloey was about to walk in the school door but then turned around blew me a kiss and screamed at the top of her lungs, "I love you Mommy"... life just couldn't get any better than that.)

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