Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011 was wonderful for our family. One of the best parts was getting to spend it with Grandma and Grandpa Mann. It was so much fun to share our traditions with them and create the spirit and magic of Christmas together. It was a year that we will never forget. Of course, I wish I would've captured more of it on camera, but here is a little glimpse through a couple of pictures I did take.
Makayla created an instant bond with Grandpa. He can put her to sleep like nobody else can. It was so sweet to see her face light up when she saw him. He is such a sweet Grandpa and I am constantly amazed with how incredible he is with babies. I have yet to meet a baby that doesn't fall head over heels for him (and vice versa) :)
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Not the best picture of my Christmas dinner table, but I wanted to get a shot of the BEAUTIFUL new plates that my mom and dad gave me for Christmas. I LOVE them. Not only do I love the design, but I also love that they are Correll, which means they are durable and shatter resistant. The perfect plate set for our family. When my mom was here helping with Makayla, I had told her how much I love that my girls know how to do the dishes and load/unload the dishwasher BUT through the process of learning, my 8 piece plate set has dwindled to 5. So, not only did she send me durable beautiful plates, she also get me a set of 12. No, we are not going to have a family of 12 ( I would definitely have to be checked into a mental hospital..that many children takes a special you Tasha) but we do love to have company for dinner quite often and we also REALLY need some backups. :)
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Grandpa was totally my HERO while he was here. He started and finished so MANY projects around my house that have been on my "honey-do" list for way too long (love you Cory, but seriously, 6 months??!!) The week after Christmas Cory had to work so Dad stayed home and worked here. Not only did he finish projects around my house, he also watched the babies many times so that me and Mom could go shopping and get out. I'm pretty sure I have the best in-laws EVER!!!
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One of the projects Grandpa did was set up Hailey's new bed. Then, he and mom helped me "Hailey proof" her bedroom since the previous day during nap time, Hailey had stair stepped up her dresser and it almost crushed her (thank goodness for the crib that stopped the dresser from falling all the way down). I don't think I've even scratched the surface on my blog about how fun/crazy/mischevious/and HARD WORK Hailey is. This girl seriously keeps me on my toes. I could tell you story after story!! But, I think I'll save some of them for their own post. The whole transition to a big girl bed has not been easy at all. In fact, I think I'm going to do some research and try and find an 8 foot tall crib. :)
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A family picture we took after church on Christmas morning. Notice the ADORABLE Mary Jane shoes that Makayla is wearing. One of my sweet friends from the ward crocheted them for her. How sweet is that?! I love them!
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I love this picture! I took the girls with me to go and visit one of the sweet sisters I visit teach. Our family LOVES her. She feels more like a grandma to us than just a sister in the ward. In fact, on Sunday she kissed Cory on the cheek. It was so cute. When Katelund and Cloey were over there last week, she pulled out all sorts of dress up clothes for them. They were in HEAVEN!! This picture and the last picture of Katelund are some of the goods they came home with.
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I can't believe I didn't take any pictures with our other honored Christmas guest...Roxi (Uncle Logan and Aunt Becca's dog). The girls pampered her all week long. At first, Hailey was scared to death of her (I'm pretty sure that dogs are the only thing she is afraid of). But, after a day or two, she and Roxi became BFFs. Eventually we had to put Roxi downstairs while Hailey would eat, otherwise Hailey would throw all of her food off of her high chair tray onto the floor for Roxi. It was hilarious. Hailey is still asking where Roxi is everytime she eats. It was so cute to see my girls so in love with a dog. It ALMOST made me think that someday I might actually get one.
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Our Ride on the Polar Express

Four Months

Although Makayla has the most sensitive tummy EVER (yes, I'm still totally deprived of milk, cheese, ice cream, chocolate, broccoli, etc), she is such a sweet and happy baby. I'm LOVING every stage she is going through. I've decided not to introduce her to baby food until she is six months. I'm hoping it will give her a little more time to grow out of her food sensitivities.

Hailey is spelt T-R-O-U-B-L-E

Green Smoothies

Have you heard of these? Basically you fill your blender with spinach, frozen fruit, and water. Mix it all together for a super healthy drink. I was totally suprised by how much better tasting it was than I thought it would be. But, I was even more surprised by how much Hailey loved it.

Halloween Pictures

I'm trying to update my blog. It has seriously been suffering lately. So, I'm going all the way back to October to catch up on pictures.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Living with Gratitude

The other week we had some major septic issues in our home. When we moved in this home (almost 3 years ago) we were not given any specific directions on how to take care of a septic tank (although, in the last week I have learned more than I ever wanted to know about them). On Sunday night, as I was washing dishes after dinner and running the washer (Makayla had a MAJOR blow out diaper), the toilets started bubbling. The girls ran in and told me that something weird was happening in the bathroom. The next thing I know Cory is running in telling me to turn the water off because we had gray water filling our bathtubs. Yes, it was totally disgusting. At that point, we stopped using all our toilets, showers, washers, etc for the next three days. The reason we waited so long before it was fixed was because Monday morning we were told by a plumber that he was getting calls like crazy in our area. He said that because it had been raining non-stop for the last 2-3 days, the ground was super saturated and it was causing lots of issues for homes with septic tanks. He told us to wait until it stopped raining and then our issue would go away. Well we waited...and waited...until we just couldn't stand it any longer. The plumber who came out told us that our 1000 gallon tank was filled with 1200 gallons of sewage. He pumped our tank, cleared our drains, and we were good to go.

Yes, it was a total inconveniance but it was so much more than that. It became a lesson to always remember. Not a lesson on septic tanks, a lesson on gratitude and thanksgiving. I don't think it was a coincidence that this all happened around Thanksgiving week. Because you see, of all the many many lectures I have given my children on having an "attitude of gratitude" there are none that have made such a lasting and impressionable impact as this one. But, the greatest lesson was not the one learned by my children. It was the one taught to me.

On Sunday night, we loaded up all the girls into the van to take a trip to the church so that we could all go to the bathroom and brush our teeth for the night. As we were driving, I was totally feeling discouraged and down thinking about how I was ever going to be able to live without a septic system. As these pessimistic thoughts were overwhelming my mind, Katelund's voice pulled me back as she sweetly said to Cloey, "you know what song keeps going through my mind? Count Your Many Blessings." Then Cloey said, "Let's sing it." So they did. I was completely humbled. My children say and do a lot of naughty and impolite things at times, but then there are those other times....times when all of the sudden time stands still as a watch and listen in awe as they they do and/or say something amazing. So amazing that I wonder if during those sweet priceless moments, the Spirit is just pouring through their pure little hearts and inspiring them to say exactly what my troubled heart needs to hear. As their angelic little voices sang the words of the hymn, my mind and heart felt more peace than it had in a long time. It was then that I knew and realized how much I had to be grateful for.

Fast forward to Tuesday morning. After spending all day Monday running to grocery stores to use the bathroom and bathing myself and my children at a friend's house, I was feeling discouraged and pessimistic once again. As I immersed myself in the scriptures and tried to ignore the piles of dirty clothes and dishes and the sewer smell that was starting to take over our house, I came across the scripture about Elijah and how he will turn the hearts of the children to their fathers. It was at this point that the Spirit began to work on me once more. My thoughts turned to my ancestors. I thought about my 5th great grandma and the life she lived in hiding because of polygomy. I thought of another grandma and how she gave up everything in order to come to Zion. The stories that have brought strength to me through the years began to flow over and over in my mind as I began to see my circumstances in a new light. A light that made me feel completely weak, pathetic, and spoiled. I am, after all, the descendant of women who have gone through situations and circumstances that I can't even imagine. At this point, I knew what I needed to do. I got up and got busy. I took my dishes outside and washed them in the freezing rain. I cleaned up the best that I could and put a smile on my face. All though I have always loved that scripture because of its powerful message of prophecy being fulfilled in our day through the Spirit of Elijah, it now has personally found its way to my heart. I am a descendant of so many courageous men and women who lived hard lives and did things that seem almost impossible. As I turn my heart to all of my grandmothers who have lived lives of obedience, honor, courage, and faith, I find a greater desire to be true to the family name I bear. Just like them, I can also do hard things, and all things through Christ who strengthens me. My hard things don't even seem to compare to theirs, but just the same, together we stand fighting for our families, our children, and our faith....even if we stand decades and centuries apart.

This Thanksgiving, I learned what it really means to live with gratitude. Gratitude for children who speak the words of angels. Gratitude for ancestors whose lives and testimonies echo in my heart and stand as pillars of strength and courage in my life. Gratitude for friends who are so willing to serve and open their homes to my family. Gratitude for the Lord and the way that he teaches me so patiently, purposefully, and perfectly.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Conversations I don't want to forget....

After a family night on charity a couple weeks ago, Katelund told me that she had a great example of charity from that day. We have been talking a lot lately about the importance of choosing good friends. I tell my girls that choosing friends reminds me of how I eat a box of chocolates. I always take a little bit out of them to see what's in the middle so that I will know if I want to eat it or not. If I don't like what's in the middle then I put it back and don't eat it. I then told them as they get to know their friends they will begin to see what they are really like on the inside. If they discover that what is inside of that friend isn't that great or sweet, then they should not be friends with them. They have to be nice to everyone but they should always carefully choose their friends. Anyways, Katelund has a friend that she has really wanted to be friends with but she said that she isn't always nice to the other girls at recess. So Katelund had the following conversation with her...

Katelund: "I've decided that I don't really like you, but I am still going to try and be your friend."
friend: "Ok, I guess I can live with that."

If only we could all be that honest and humble.
Here is a conversation that happened later that night with Cloey...

Cloey: "Mommy, I have a really big problem"`
Me: "What is it?"
Cloey: "I don't like Lance anymore (Lance is in Cloey's primary class at church), but I really like another boy in my class. He is so nice, smart, and he never gets in trouble, just like me. I really want to marry him someday.....BUT (at this point she lowered her head) he can't take me to the temple.
Me: "That is a really big problem. What are you going to do?"
Cloey: "Well, I'm not going to marry him."
Me: "Good choice. It's a good thing that you're only six and you have plenty of time to find a boy who is just as nice and smart and who can take you to the temple someday."
Cloey: "And if I don't find someone, then I guess I'll just marry Lance."


Me: "Katelund, do you like the taste of spaghetti sauce on your broccoli?" (she kept dipping them in her sauce)
Katelund: "I am making them fall trees."

How clever is that?!


And since Hailey refuses to talk, I'll tell you the funny thing she was doing this morning. I guess she was getting bored and needed a challenge (I'm nipping the whole climbing thing in the least trying to) so she started walking all around the house with her eyes closed. When she would bump into things she would start laughing hysterically.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Pictures and No Pictures

Over the last two months I have been horrible about posting pictures and keeping my blog updated. So, here is a quick recap of pictures on my phone. Unfortunately, there were a lot of events that I didn't take pictures of but I still want to remember, so I'll give a quick recap of those as well (yes, quick and short...I promise I can do it).

My girls look pretty wild in this pictures, but I had to have one on here of "Aunt Stepi" (that's what they used to call her when we lived in Fayetteville).

Cory was in charge of our family night treat while Stefani was here. This is what he came up with. SERIOUSLY??!! Who is this guy? Just when I think I can out do him at something, he surprises me yet again. :)

This is the picture Stefani and I put together to "pin" on pinterest...but, then we realized how lame it would be to actually pin your own thing. We had a lot of fun setting up the "scenery". This was actually some of my homemade wheat bread that we gave to my friend's husband for stitching Stefani's finger up after she sliced it at our house.

Cory's parents just couldn't resist driving out here to visit Lily and their other grandkids....and maybe to see us too, then again maybe not....:)

Lily and Makayla are just weeks apart from each other. Their due dates were actually one day apart though. Apparently, none of my children like to come down to earth unless they can come down with a cousin.

Big sister taking care of the babies.

Hailey LOVES Makayla (a little too much!).

We had a family ward temple trip in October down to our temple in Atlanta. The primary had activities for the primary age children in the stake center while the adults and youth did sessions in the temple. When we first got there, I walked into the primary room to find my girls and another family's children all sitting in the chairs they'd set out and singing "Praise to the Man" together. It was the sweetest thing ever! Especially because they had decided to do it all on their own.

This is a love letter Katelund wrote to a little boy in her class.

Here is a picture of the handout I made for the Visiting Teaching Conference I did at the end of October. I wish I would've gotten pictures at the actual conference...but I guess I was too busy enjoying it.

Other things that I didn't take pictures of....

-I actually did the whole Breaking Dawn at midnight thing with a bunch of my friends. I've never gone to a midnight showing before, so I decided to do it for the last one. I'm so glad I did. The show itself was okay, but my favorite part was just being with the girls. Since we had to be there so stinking early beforehand, my friend Jenae and I, ran 3 miles around the movie theatre parking lot. It was a great way to wake myself up.

-For Halloween, we went over to a friend's house and did our traditional chili dinner with about 5 other families before the trick or treating. Then the kids went around while the adults all sat around their outdoor fire pit and hung out together. It was such a fun night!!

-For Thanksgiving, we actually didn't have any family this year so we invited three families and a man from our ward. I REALLY wish I would've taken pictures. The day started off great with my annual "Turkey Trot" (not an official one) with 3 of my friends. We ran about 5 miles...just enough to take away the guilt of all the pie we would eat. Then Cory went and played football at the ward Turkey Bowl. Cory and I cooked the turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and bought a pecan pie. Then everyone else brought two sides and a pie. We had DELICIOUS food and even better company.

-Then this last week we had a lesson in gratitude, but that is a whole other post....coming soon.

-Oh, and one more thing, Makayla is officially sleeping through the night!!!! WOOHOO!!!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Process vs. Product

Growing up, Saturday was our chore day. Even if we spent the night at a friend's house, we always had to be home by 7 am so that we could do our Saturday chores as a family. We worked until at least noon and then we were free to play with friends, or whatever else we wanted to do. Although at the time I HATED this Saturday tradition, as I look back on it now I think it was one of the best traditions we had. Me, my sisters, and my parents would clean out and organize the garage, pull weeds in the garden, scrub the bathrooms, mow the lawn, paint the house, etc. We worked hard and accomplished a least that's how I remember it.

Now fast forward to my life as a mother with children who are old enough to work. Seriously, Mom and Dad, how did you do it??!! Teaching children to work is not only hard work it also requires A LOT of patience, long-suffering, repitition, consistancy, and endurance. Disciplining is hard, but I think that teaching your children how to work is even harder. But, it is worth all the effort it takes (I need to remind myself of that every single day!!).

This last Saturday evening, after our chores were done, we decided to build a camp fire in our homemade backyard fire pit and roast marshmallows. Cory told the girls that they needed to go and help him break branches from the big pile of tree limbs that he had trimmed off our trees over the summer. I was in my bedroom feeding Makayla and as I looked out the window to watch my girls "working" with their Daddy, I started laughing. There was Cory breaking and cutting up wood while the girls were making leaf piles and running and jumping into them. Although part of me wanted to open the window and tell the girls to get back to work, I didn't. Instead, I just enjoyed the moment. I watched with fondness as they played with one another, laughed together, and even taught Hailey how to make an angel in the leaves. They were ten of the best minutes of my day.

Although they had only broken up a handful of branches, they had so much fun "working". As we sat around the campfire later that night, they proudly talked about all of the branches that they had helped break apart. The words of the kindergarten teacher that mentored me as I did my student teaching came to my mind. One day as we were looking at the finished products of one of the art projects I had come up with, I commented about how horrible they looked and that I guess that project was a failure. She then said, "Melissa, it is the process that matters most, not the product." Those words have become a life lesson for me over and over again through the last seven years.

So much of what we teach and do as parents end with a product that may at times seem like a failure. The "scrubbed" bathtub that is not even close to clean, the silverware put away in the wrong slots, the bedroom that is clean until you look under the bed, and the "clean" windows that now have more streaks than when they were dirty. But then there are moments, within the painful process of teaching, that the real lessons are learned and when the true measures of success are realized. Moments of clarity when all of the sudden the task to be accomplished is overshadowed and insignificant as you see what is truly happening in the process.

I'm sure that as I worked all of those many Saturdays growing up, that the jobs that I did were not even close to what my parents hoped for or expected. But nonetheless, within the recesses of my memory I can still see me "working" alongside my family to fix every problem that needed fixing and every job that needed doing. And in the process, we learned the most important lesson. The lesson that cannot be taught with words or lectures...because it is the lesson of love. The love that binds a family together. Growing up, we had that kind of love within our family, and we still have it today. This is the lesson that I want my children to learn. The people that we become, the product of our existance here on earth, will never be complete in mortality. But, the processes we go through, the lessons we learn along the way, are the ones that will determine the success or failure of the finished product.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

7 Things That Every Mother Needs...

1. two mothers (my own and my mother-in-law) who continually teach, love, and support me from hundreds of miles.

2. a husband who will sit with all four of your children for two hours of stake conference so that you can sit on the stand and be part of the choir. This is one of MANY things that he is constantly doing for me and our children. Although he's not perfect, he's perfectly what I need.

3. A friend to run with at 5:30 in the morning. Seriously, it is so therapeutic (mentally, emotionally, and physically). I look forward to my morning runs because I love to be with Jenae and because I am always so much more productive on days that I run.

4. Sisters who somehow always know when I need them (even though the closest one to me is 12 hours away). The other day I had one of those pity party days. The kind where I spent the day griping at my children and husband because I am sick of cleaning up everyone else's messes. I was also just feeling so inadequate and inferior in so many ways. Like I said, a major pity party. Little did I know that my sister had been working on this project for school all about me. She sent it to my email last night. As I watched it I just cried and cried. How did she know that I needed something like that? Because she is my sister and somehow she just always knows.

5. chocolate....except when you can't eat it! AHHHHHH!!! Can you tell that I'm still in withdrawls?! I'm actually doing okay without it (most days). It's a good thing I can still drink diet coke. :) I am learning so many things through this diet, but the greatest thing I'm learning is self control and self discipline. Two things that I really need to improve on.

6. A baby to kiss. I keep telling everyone that I am done having children, but then there is this other part of my heart that just can't imagine not ever having another sweet precious baby again. It is almost too hard to even think about. But, I'm pretty maxed out at this point so I guess I'll just keep enjoying this beautiful baby girl that is the toughest baby I've ever had. You'd think she was my first baby because she is SO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT than any of my other children.

7. Christmas music. Yep, I've already started listening to it and oh man it seriously makes all my mundane chores so much more exciting! I'm LOVING the beautiful music filling my home (I'm listening to the David Archuleta Holiday radio on Pandora) and the BEAUTIFUL fall colors out my window. I LOVE this time of year!!!

Monday, November 07, 2011


Cory and I trade off singing to our girls at bedtime. Each time one of us sings them to sleep, one song is never enough. It never fails, they will always ask for "one more song please". On Saturday night, after getting the girls to bed late, I was really trying to get away with just one song, but of course the all familiar pleading began for "just one more". So I did. I sang my all-time favorite songs. By the time I got to the second verse of How Great Thou Art, both girls were asleep. At this point, I usually just stop singing and quietly leave the room. But this time I didn't. I continued singing just a little bit more. As I sang, I stroked Katelund's hair and wondered where the time has gone. It seems like just yesterday she was a two year old running in circles around our living room floor. Then my thoughts went to the future as I realized that before too long she would no longer be wanting me to sing her to sleep or tuck her in at night. My singing then turned to pleading as I prayed for just a little more time. More time for her to just be a little girl. More time for me to teach her all the things that I need to teach her. More time to be silly with her, listen to her, comfort her, protect her, and learn from her.

More time for me to become the kind of mother that she needs me to be.

Yesterday in stake conference, I was part of the stake choir. One of the songs that we sang was More Holiness Give Me. As I sang the words to the song, I realized that the song I was singing was exactly what I was feeling inside throughout the entire conference weekend. Yes, there were some AMAZING talks (especially from our visiting General Authority), but it was even more than that. My heart was pricked over and over again as I not only heard the beautiful words of the speakers but also the powerful and humbling words of the Holy Ghost as he spoke to my mind and heart the exact words that I needed to hear. As I continued singing with the choir, I began to sing with more intensity and more feeling. The words that I sang became the prayer of my heart. Today, the words to that song are still singing within my soul as I plead for more holiness, more faith, more love, more freedom from earth stains, more strivings within, and...

...more time to become the kind of Christian that He needs me to be.

As we enter into the holiday season, I am filled with great hope. Not for more yummy holiday food (with my no dairy diet, I will miss out on all my favorites this year), not for more presents at Christmas (4 kids=no presents for me), and not for more family in our home (sob, sob no one is coming here and since this is super busy time for Cory, we aren't going anywhere either). I am filled with hope for more love in our home, more gratitude in my heart, and...

... more of my time filled with moments that will truly matter.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Love it!

A conversation after school today...

Cloey: "There is a new boy at school and today on the bus he told me that he wants to marry me."

Katelund: "Man, what is up with boys these days?!"

What I've Been Up To

Last week I got to spend time with one of my favorite people in the whole world, Stefani (Cory's baby sister) AND her beautiful baby, Lily. Lily and Makayla are only 3 weeks apart, so it was really fun doing the whole baby thing together. I can still see Stefani as that little 6 year old girl that was my best friend's little sister. I loved the time we spent in Fayetteville because I got to know her as a teenager. I seriously fell in love with her! She has a heart of gold!! I loved that girl so much and I haven't really gotten to spend a lot of time with her since then, which has been like six years. Having her in our home for a week was so WONDERFUL!!! Cory and I just kept saying over and over how much we love her and how much we are HOPING that her husband goes to med school out here in Tennessee (that's why they were out here) so that we will only be a couple hours away. It was amazing, while she was here my flaundry would somehow just fold on its own. I'd leave the room with a basket full of laundry on my bed and when I'd come back to it, it was already folded. That's just who Stefani is. One day she told me to just leave and go to the store on my own. Although I didn't leave Makayla, I really could have and not even worried. Stefani has such an amazing gift. She has always been SO GOOD with children. When we lived in Fayetteville, she would go and sit with women who were sitting alone with their children because their husbands were deployed. She saw a need and she would immediately act upon it. Someday when I grow up, I want to be like Stefani!!
We also had lots of laughs. One of the things that was consistent with almost every conversation we had was the sentence, "I saw it on Pinterest". So, after one of my friend's husband stitched up Stefani's finger (she sliced it open slicing apples) we made some bread to say thank you. But not only did we make bread, we also made up a cute saying, put some ribbon on it and created a "photo shoot" so we could put it on pinterest. Afterwards, we realized how lame that really was but we had a lot of fun doing it. She has been gone for a week now, and I am still having withdrawls. We had such a great time.

*Last Thursday was our ward's visiting teaching conference. I am the VT coordinator right now so this was my baby. I loved doing it and had a lot of fun with it. My theme was all centered around a s'more. I made up a whole analogy with a s'more and visiting teaching. We had the activity outside in our Bishop's backyard. We sat around a camp fire in snuggled up in our sweatshirts and blankets and listened to great talks by our RS president and Bishop. I wish I had taken some pictures. Two of my good friends helped me decorate with Christmas lights and outdoor lanterns. I do have one picture I'll post below of the handout I passed out the Sunday before.

*A couple of months ago, a girl moved into our ward. She had me at hello. Just kidding. But really, have you ever seen someone for the first time and just knew that you would be friends? That's how I felt about her. She has become such a great friend and I LOVE being with her. We have been meeting every morning REALLY early (this morning we met at 5:30) to run together. I never thought I would enjoy running so much, but it is so fun to run and talk with her. We have decided to do a half marathon in Feb. and then a full marathon in April. Crazy, right? I just have to do a full one. It's for my Grandpa Black. He ran MANY marathons in his life and after he passed away, I decided that since he can't run anymore (although maybe he does in the Spirit World) that I'll run for him. I am by no means a runner. Just a girl who loves her grandpa and loves a challenge, especially when I'm doing it with friends. We are trying to get a big group together to do it. Wanna do it with us? Fly out to Nashville in April. There's actually a country music concert every mile and then a big one at the end. It's going to be so much fun. Hopefully I don't kill myself getting there. We are up to 6 and a quarter or so miles each morning. Now I just have to be able to do four times that. Whew. I can do hard things. I can do hard things. :)

*Halloween was great! We had so much fun celebrating it with a bunch of family friends last night. I think Cory went a little over board on the girl's makeup but they liked it and so I guess that's all that matters. They were WAY TOO scary for me!! I'm all about the princess costume but they really wanted to be a spider witch and a vampire (this year we just re-used past costumes). But, my mind is already reeling for next year and I think I'm actually going to go all out next year with hand sewn family themed costumes like my sister-in-law, Amber, always does. You should see the one they did this year! She's amazing. Why do I have to have such incredible sisters and sisters-in-law. They just make me look so bad!!! Oh well, I love them anyways.:)

So apparently, I still need to upload my pics. They'll be coming soon, I've got to get off this computer and get some stuff done.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Humble Pie and Letting It Go

Without going into great detail (or any detail at all because you never know who will stumble across your blog), this week I have really been given a huge slice of humble pie. It is not that humble pie isn't good for you or that I have never had it before, but it was totally unexpected. Have you ever done something that you were super excited about and then somebody totally misinterpreted it and became offended by it? Yep, that's what happened. I really feel bad about it, but mostly because I just don't understand where this person is coming from. But, I'm swallowing it down and remembering that there is always something to be learned. Even if I don't understand and the prideful side of me really wants to fight back, I know that in the end what will really matter is how I handle it.

When we lived in Fayetteville (about 6 years ago), we had the MOST INCREDIBLE stake president ever!!!! He was actually just released a couple of weeks ago. Cory and I absolutely LOVED (and still love) him. Whenever you would pass him in the hallways at church, he would always stop, address you by name, and then make you feel like you were the most important person to him. When he spoke in stake conference, I would sit on the edge of my seat, write everything down that he said, and then leave determined to do exactly what he asked us to do. I have had some good stake presidents, but he was more than a good stake president. He was AMAZING!!

One stake conference, Cory and I walked in together and sat as far away as we could without making it totally obvious that we were in a fight. To this day, I have no idea what we were fighting about, but I do remember being really mad. We kept our distances and desperately tried to put on a happy face for those around us. I'm sure the talks were wonderful, but I was so upset that it was hard to even focus let alone feel the spirit. Then President Catlett stood up to speak. He gave a beautiful talk, one that only he could give. Near the end he spoke from his heart about some things that he wanted us, as the adult members of the stake, to improve upon. I don't remember exactly what he said, but I do remember three words that he said with such power and intensity that it pierced me to the very center of my heart. He said, "whatever it is that you are holding on to, whatever grudge you may be carrying, LET IT GO." After those three words my heart grew three sizes bigger and as I swallowed my pride and scooted right up next to Cory I whispered three other words in his ear, "I love you". Those three words made a huge impact on me that day. Little did I know that those three words, that specific and direct counsel from a man of God whom I loved and sustained completely and unquestionably, have come to my mind over the last six years over and over again. Today, they came once again, just as powerfully as they did all those years ago.

So today, I'm swallowing my pie and letting it go.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Wheat Bread and Wheat Pancake Recipe

Andrea's Wheat Bread

2 tbsp yeast
1/2 c warm water
5 cups hot water
12-13 cups wheat flour
2/3 c honey
2/3 c oil
2 tbsp salt

First, in a small bowl, mix 2 tbsp yeast with 1/2 c warm water.

In a separate bowl, mix 5 cups hot water with 7 cups wheat flour. Then add 2/3 c honey, 2/3 c oil, and 2 tbsp salt. Mix together and beat for 10 minutes (it feels like forever, but I think it's pretty important to do it the full length of time).

Add yeast mixture and then add 5-6 c more wheat flour. Mix for about 6 minutes, until dough pulls away from the side of the your mixing bowl.

Grease bread pans and pour oil on your hands. Then divide the dough into thirds or fourths (depending on the size of your loaf pan). Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.

Wheat Pancakes

1 c milk
3/4 c whole wheat flour
2 eggs
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp oil
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder

Blend milk and flour at high speed for 4 minutes. Turn blender to low speed and add remaining ingredients. Keep heat on griddle at medium-high setting as pancakes tend to scorch easily.

{My favorite way to eat these pancakes is with a little bit of syrup, sliced up bananas and cool whip on top.....SO YUMMY!}

AMAZING Minestrone Soup Recipe

Here it is girls, the best Minestrone soup ever. Well, I guess it's the only one I've ever made, but I LOVED it (I've eaten it for lunch for like 3 days straight!). I actually got it from my friend Melanie's blog. Have I told you about it before? If not, you MUST check it out. I get almost all of my recipes from it. Go to to check it out.

Here's the recipe....

Favorite Minestrone
submitted by Melanie

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
5 carrots, chopped
4 stalks celery leaves and all, chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can petite diced italian tomatoes
2 (14 ounce) can chicken broth
4 cups water
a couple of handfuls of chopped fresh spinach leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups cooked shell pasta
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir potatoes, carrots, celery, onion and garlic into pot. Mix in tomato paste, beans, tomatoes, broth and water. Season with basil, oregano and salt. Cook and stir 30-40 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
Add the chopped spinach the last 5 minutes.
Cook shell pasta in a separate pot until al dente. Stir pasta into soup. Serve with a generous sprinkle of fresh parmesan! Yum!

Thursday, October 13, 2011


My girls LOVE Star Wars. We watch them together as a family quite often on our Friday movie night. The other day Cloey decided to use lipstick to paint her face like the queen.

Katelund LOVES to write word problems for her math homework. Her teacher always puts comments about how funny they are. This is the one she wrote on one of her math pages this week. I LOVE the last line she writes... "You know like boom!"

Do you know those kind of people who can do it all? At the end of the day they look perfect, their house is perfectly clean, they have a delicious homemade meal on the table at 5, and kids are asleep at 7? Well, that is SO NOT ME!! I wish it was, but let me tell you how it is for me. Yesterday I decided to make some wheat bread (Andrea, I LOVE your recipe). In order for me to make wheat bread, I have to have a perfectly clean kitchen because by the end of the project it is going to be a huge disaster. Then I have to grind tons of wheat (so I have leftover for my favorite wheat pancakes), and then begin making the bread. Why does it take me all day? Because I have a 3 month old baby and a toddler who is in to EVERYTHING! At one point, I actually got so frustrated that I put all of the kitchen chairs into a locked bedroom so that she could no longer climb up onto the counters and into the idea I've ever had!! And I really try to have dinner made before my older girls get home from school so that I can put my attention on homework. So by the time Cory got home from work, he saw a beautifully clean kitchen, four loaves of homemade wheat bread, and a pot full of DELICIOUS Minestrone soup. (Olive Garden better watch out because I'm pretty sure mine is WAY better than theirs), homework complete, and four happy children. I was feeling pretty good about myself, until I looked in the mirror when I went to the bathroom. HOLY COW!!! I totally forgot to shower. I had mascara flakes around my eyes, crazy hair sticking out in all directions, and flour ALL over my total grunge outfit (you know the kind, very worn black yoga pants and high school tennis t-shirt) that I was wearing ALL DAY LONG and I'm pretty sure I ran in it the day before. Good thing he kissed me anyways and totally loved dinner!

My wheat grinder is one of the BEST Christmas gifts ever!! Thanks Mom!

I had to take a picture of Cory eating this dinner because not only did he love a soup full of vegetables (when we first got married all he would eat were corn and peas) and 100% whole wheat bread, but also a dinner WITHOUT any meat. Can you tell how excited he was about me taking this picture? LOL!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Our Clacky

I love this picture of Cloey. It is SO her! She is such a fun daughter to raise. She tries really hard to be obedient and she constantly amazes me with her desires to be good and stand up for what is right. She is also quite the little missionary. But, she is still learning boundaries. When I say boundaries, I mean personal space boundaries. She is not shy very often and she loves to give people hugs (although at times it feels more like a tackle). She also has this wacky fun side to her. In our home, we lovingly refer to her as "Clacky" when she is in one of those moods. She is hilarious when she's like that but we are still trying to teach her that sometimes she needs to keep the "clackiness contained" :). On Friday, Cory and I sat down with Katelund and Cloey and talked to them about some things that we want each of them to work on and get better at. As they continually work on these things over time, they will be rewarded, nothing better than a good incentive, right? One thing we want Cloey to work on is manners. It has been so cute to watch her this weekend as she has been trying so hard to be so polite.

We went on a family bike ride this weekend. As we were riding along the trail, Cory wanted to show us where he had his biking accident a couple days earlier (he had gone mountain biking with a friend and his bike slipped under him on a really rocky trail. He has some major cuts and road rash all over his body now, just one more thing to add to his softball injury a couple weeks earlier and his second round of poison ivy from an Elder's Quorum service activity). As we went off the road, Katelund told me she needed to go to the bathroom. So I took Katelund off the trail behind some trees and Cory kept riding since anytime he stopped Makalya would start crying (he was pulling them in a bike trailer). After we were done, we hurried onto our bikes to catch up. In Katelund's mad rush to be in the front with Cory, she fell off her bike and scratched up her hands and leg. We all gathered around to make sure she was okay. She was doing some serious crying. Then Hailey and Makayla both started crying as well. Cory and I just looked at each other, laughing on the inside, as we realized how pathetic our situation was. Amidst all the commotion, I looked over and saw Cloey quietly carrying Katelund's bike up to the trail for her. It was so sweet. I was so touched by her quiet and simple act of kindness.

Those are the moments that I live for as a mother. Yes, she is all about getting her incentive, but I don't think that had anything to do with why she did what she did. She did it because she loves her sister. She did it because she is just that kind of a person. A little person that continually amazes me with her huge capacity to love. Our family would be so incomplete without Cloey. She brings so much love, spunk, and excitement to our home. Life just wouldn't be the same without our little Clacky.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Chicken and Hormones

Ever since I have become obsessed (out of necessity of course) with the labels on food, I have come to realize how much junk is in things. I can totally see why people are going towards the "whole and real food" way of eating. I am all about eating an apple instead of apple juice, homemade bread vs store bought, making my own granola instead of buying the bars, etc...BUT, I am also not totally sold on the whole organic thing. I think there is some validity to what they say, but it is so stinking expensive to shop at stores like Earth Fare or Whole Foods. The thing that is really getting to me lately is the whole chicken thing. I buy my chicken from Sams. I LOVE the price and I also love that I can use two chicken breasts to feed my family of five (really 6 if you count the chicken that eventually trickles into my milk).

But what about the inhumane way that these chickens are being raised? What are the long term consequences of eating chicken that is filled with hormones and such to make them way bigger than they naturally are? I just don't know. How can I afford to feed my family if all of my food budget goes toward meat from Earth Fare? I can just hear myself now, "Sorry kids, there's no food in the cupboards but at least what you do eat is supposedly the best money can buy." I say supposedly because really what if the whole organic thing is just a big old scam? What if those chickens are given the exact same hormones just in lower doses or maybe they are given something way worse? AHHHH!! I just don't know. The real solution is to just have a huge garden in my backyard and my very own chicken coup for eggs and even a couple cows for milk. So I guess we need to live on a farm. We never should've moved away from Idaho. :)

But until that day, I think I'll just keeping buying my hormone filled chicken at Sam's Club and hopefully we won't all die from cancer in the meantime.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Battlefields and Prophets

The other weekend Cory and I loaded up our girls, their bikes, his bike, and the double stroller and drove about 20 miles down the road to one of the Civil War Battlefields. This particular battlefield was where the last major Confederate victory took place. It is 5300 acres!! It is not only huge, but it is also beautiful! There are monuments and trails everywhere. Cory went on a 25 mile bike ride with the boy scouts and the girls and I went on our own ride. The girls rode their bikes while I ran/walked with the stroller. It was so much fun!!! The weather was perfect and we even saw about seven deer.

The girls' favorite part was when we climbed up the winding staircase of the 85 foot monument that looked like Rapunzel's tower. On our way back to the van we each took turns making up our own story of the monument. I wish I had recorded their stories. They were hilarious. My story told of a love story between a girl who was from the south and a soldier from the north. She told him that she would meet him at the top of the tower and he would come and rescue her on his horse. Yep, I'm totally a sappy romantic. But I'm not the only one, you would be totally shocked at how romantic Cory is. Anyways, back to the other weekend....

As we were walking, the girls wanted to know all about the Civil War. As I explained to them what they were fighting about, the girls just didn't understand why anyone would be okay with having slaves (although, they sure don't have any problem with ME being their slave...just kidding...kindof). It's so easy to look back in history and see things so clearly. Right and wrong just seems so black and white, and yet in the present, there seems to be so much more gray. I don't think things are really that different. Right will always be right and wrong will always be wrong, but for whatever reason, the lens of the past and future are perfectly clear while the lens of the present seems to blur up so quickly. After this last weekend of General Conference, I feel like my lens has cleared up. I can see so much clearer the many things that I need to improve on and/or change. I'm so grateful for a prophet, a Seer, who can, and always will, see things as they really are and as they really will be.

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