Wednesday, January 10, 2018


While driving Claire home from dance class today, the combo of this girl plus topknot was killing me. 
 We were listening to Meghan Trainor’s “Better When I’m Dancin’”, a song we both like these days. There’s a lyric in the song that says “I don’t know about you, but I feel better when I’m dancin.” Frequently when Claire hears that line she’ll look at me and say, 

“I actually do, Mom.”

Mmm hmm. Me too.

True words, those.
I am loving watching her grow up.

Monday, January 08, 2018

These Boys & Me

Some of the happiest (for me, anyway) photos in my phone 
from the past couple of weeks come from New Year's Eve.
We'd eaten burgers
(hello pepper jelly, BBQ sauce, ketchup, mayo, mustard, pickles, avocado, broiled meat with salt and pepper, cheese -- just give me alllllllll the condiments),

 and Isaiah and I were sitting at the kitchen table putting together a 3-D puzzle of a German castle.
Benji was hanging out with us too, 
snapping photos, 
and making smack comments that made us laugh.
I love Isaiah's amused expression above (I don't know what I'm saying to him) and these two photos where he's laughing really hard.

We were working independently and together, and sometimes I called upon his brain to figure something out because I was lost.
As I've looked at these photos since, I've laughed out loud and smiled.
I love moments like these where things get goofy with my boys.
And that's all.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

At the End of the Year

It's December 31st and fireworks are going off outside as I write.
Just a week ago tonight, I was watching snow falling magically outside the front window, late on Christmas Eve. 
The kids were asleep and the house was peaceful. 
I went out after midnight and stood in it for a few minutes, just listening and watching.

I'd been awake early that morning making orange rolls.
Ralph brought me over almond extract and lemon juice before 8 a.m.
Mia and Isaiah came upstairs, the tree was aglow, and Russian tea (recipe here) was simmering on the stove.
It smelled like Christmas and we all listened, expectantly, for that first lone voice singing the first verse of
At that moment, Christmas begins at our house.
The Rudolphs came for breakfast, and Kurt, Heidi, Goldie, and Moses.
My brother Brian and I had Christmas fettuccine later for dinner.

The kitchen smelled festive on the 23rd as well.
Mia and I were rolling out gingerbread dough, cutting out the pieces for the kids' houses, and the 
house was tight and warm and filled with the smell of ginger and cinnamon and cloves. 
It made me happy.

Later in the afternoon we put them together before snuggling up to watch "The Family Stone".
That night, the decorating went down once Claire and the boys came home.

And on Christmas morning? 
The world was white outside and it was beautiful. The kids opened stockings and presents, we listened to carols,
I put on my new pajamas from my sister and made roll dough again and kept putting logs on the fire.
You could hear the sound of a snowblower and we looked outside to see our neighbor plowing the front walks and our driveway too. Bless him.
We gathered with my family later in the day, like we always do on Christmas: delicious food, the best company, cracking up and playing games and eating pie.
And then, in just a minute, it's all over and here we are:
it's the night before the new year.

In the morning I'll be taking the ornaments off the branches, putting stuff back up in the attic, and preparing New Year's dinner so we can start the year off with bubbly and sparklers.
In the last few minutes of this year, I'm going to savor the lights on my Christmas tree one more time and then have the kids get ready to run outside at twelve to bang on pots and pans and shout "Happy New Year!" into the dark sky.

2017 was good to us.
I hope she was good to you too.

Thursday, December 28, 2017


I'm quite enjoying these post-Christmas days.
I've been sleeping in until 10:30ish, eating Lucky Charms and chocolate. 
I've spent a lot of time snuggled in my covers.

It feels amazing...cuz, let me tell you:
December felt like a completely exhausting whirlwind.
Beautiful (which I'm going to post about), but I was bone-tired too.

In fact, here's something from a little ways into December, on a Saturday night when I was feeling completely worn out. I was on my bed and wrote out what I'd done over the previous two days: 

"Woke up on Friday. House was cold. Texted furnace guy friend. Made pancake birthday breakfast for Claire and Russian tea. Fed everybody. Did Mia’s hair. Made her a lunch. Dropped everybody off. Came home. Read to Claire. Cleaned up the kitchen. Furnace guy came. Got Claire ready. Dropped her off to school. Hurried home. Worked. Picked up Claire. Came home. Made birthday cake. Made her birthday dinner. Cleaned up. Showered and got ready. Plugged in to work again. Picked up the older kids. Came home. Made frosting. Frosted the cake. Made salad. Served dinner to everybody. Cleaned up (made the boys help this time). Served up cake and ice cream to everybody. Boys and Claire left with Scott. Cleaned up. Made sugar cookie dough for Claire’s friend party the next day. Found birthday bingo template cards for Claire’s party. Printed them off. Cut them out. Traced and cut out trees for the birthday bags. Got ornament gifts ready. Long talk with Mia. Went for a run with Mia. Came home, took a hot shower, read my scriptures, went to bed. 
Woke up. Headache, still from yesterday. Made toast and took medicine. Took a shower. Realized I was three hours behind on work. Worked. Got ready. Drove to IKEA to get one of Isaiah’s Christmas presents and pick up Grayson and Bella. Stopped at Walmart on the way home for small cookie cutters. Came home. Baked cookies. Cleaned everything up. Made frosting, two different colors. Managed a birthday party for seven girls: decorating cookies, serving up cake and ice cream, playing bingo. Cleaned everything up. Went to Walmart for Christmas wrapping paper and Christmas shopping. Stopped at Papa Murphy’s on the way home to get pizza for the kids and at the grocery store to get roast and potatoes for tomorrow (Sunday dinner). Came home and put pizza in the oven. Found lights out on the tree. Cleaned up again. Got dinner for everyone and turned on a movie. Unloaded the car. Hid purchases from Walmart. Got a text from the primary reminding me that Mia had a talk tomorrow. We’ve talked about it but it needs to be written down for her. Still have to work for a while and get 6 kids to bed and fix the lights on the tree. Totally exhausted."

I read that list after I wrote it down and thought, "No wonder I'm tired."

So yeah...that's kind of a peek into how December-until-Christmas felt. 

And you know what? I never fixed the lights. If you’ve been to my house at Christmas time, you know that I load my tree with lights…so, actually, when I moved some strands around, you really couldn’t see the small sections of a couple of strands that had gone out and I couldn’t bring myself to even dive into that project. Who gives?

So, the point is?
These lazy lazies are deliciously luxurious. 

At 12:30 yesterday, I was in my bed in my pajamas (gift from Becca), working. 
Isaiah was on the iPad next to my bed playing a game.
Benj was flying his lego Kylo Ren's Command Shuttle, one of the sets he got for Christmas (he is in love). 
The girls were quietly playing in their room with Christmas stuff. 
Sometime after 4:00, I changed out of my pajamas just long enough to go for a run in my new workout leggings Christa gave me for Christmas (love!). 
When I got home, I made taco soup and put my pajamas back on.
And I slipped my feet into these cozy slippers Becca knitted for me. (Love! They keep my feet so, so warm.)
We went downstairs with our food and watched 
"The Man from Snowy River." 
I haven't seen that movie in years, and I loved it again.
We read together afterward while the kids ate ice cream. At one point, I looked over and Benj had his rubber band gun in one hand, shooting at something far ahead in the distance, while galloping crazy fast and controlling the reins with his other hand (all at the front window, of course). 
("Man from Snowy River" must have brought it on.) 
(I love that he still goes away in his imagination like that.)

Today is shaping up to be similar.

Basically, if you need me in the next few days, I'll just be here.
In my pajamas.
(I'm not planning on changing.)

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Christmas Blessing

I'm going to blog about the holiday at our house, but haven't gotten that far yet.

Late last night, at the end of a full Christmas Day, I scooped up this little person from off the boys' floor (she'd fallen asleep there while we were reading The Penderwicks on Gardam Street). 

I carried her into my room and laid her down on my bed where she always sleeps. And then I got in bed, pulled that peacefully-sleeping-bundle into my arms, and just held her for a few minutes. 
It was quiet and I felt peace and gratitude. 
I had only been lying there a second or two when I thought, 

"This. This moment of the whole day." 

And my next thought flowed to God:

"Thank you. Thank you for this."


Monday, December 18, 2017

A Brave Woman

A couple of weeks ago at 1:12 a.m., I was sitting in my front room by the Christmas tree and sent a quick note to my mother who lives halfway around the world. 
I was thinking about what I've learned from her, mostly as I've watched how she has lived her life. 
My mom's a brave and strong woman, and she has been through a lot. 
 Dear Mom,

I meant to email you this morning and then things got going with my day and I didn't get to it. I'm emailing now, late, before I go to bed. All I have to say is this:
I love you.
And I appreciate you. 
Your life and example continue to shape how I look at the world, and I'm grateful for the ways that you inspire me:
To take steps into the dark,
to examine your questions, 
to be authentic, honest, and vulnerable, 
to do the hard thing, 
to not make fun of another's weakness,
to love learning, 
to live in simplicity while acknowledging, 
in the same breath, 
gratitude and abundance;
these things and more.



Saturday, October 28, 2017


Claire and I got home from dropping the kids off to school on Thursday morning. 
We ate oatmeal together at the kitchen table, and then went outside to retrieve a couple of onions and some carrots from the garden that is almost over.
Came inside, chopped them up with celery, garlic, and red bell pepper, and then threw it all in the crockpot with split peas, water, spices, and chicken bouillon.
I made artisan bread dough and stuck it on the table to rise, and then cleaned up the kitchen.

Then Little Miss and I went into another room and began sorting clothes, a project I HATE.
Let me say this: hate is a strong word, but I am totally intentional here.
When I think of tasks I don't like, this ranks right up there.
When you have to pull down clothes, decide what you're keeping, what you're discarding, what's going to DI, and then clean out drawers to make room for the next size/season of clothes, get them washed, put them away, etc.?

Excuse my French, but it's a pain in the butt.
Flat. out. tedious.
(Ugh and eye roll.) 

What's a girl to do, though?
It had to be done.

So, there we were. I'm dumping out bags and sorting, Claire is oohing and ahhing over various articles and trying stuff on.
At one point she put on a shirt, and I think it might have been made out of wool.

(And here's where I insert that they've clearly been discussing rhyming in preschool and Claire is absolutely taking it to heart. I heard about it one day after I'd picked her up and we were driving home, and another time she ran into the laundry room to inform me that sandwich and witch rhyme. Indeed.
So, clearly, it's on the brain. Hers, that is.
She's trying words on for size.
And now, back to sorting.)

She puts on a shirt.
And I hear her say, kind of muttering to herself, completely oblivious to the expletive: 

"Well this shirt is
itchy bitchy."

And you know what?
I started to quietly laugh and didn't say a word.
And I'm still laughing.

Childhood is beautiful.


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