Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Quick Quips: Road Trip Version

Some things my kids said on our drive to Minnesota this summer:

Little X: Those clouds looks like they catched on FIRE!

Hubba: The sky looks like an ocean out here. I'm totally serious. Look at it. It's like an ocean in the sky. Like a floating ocean. I'm serious! Is everyone seeing this?

Little X: I wish there is never ending tunnels in the earth so our car can go places a lot faster!

Little O: Those are the biggest pointy mountains I have ever saw.

Little X: (in North Dakota) Whoa! That is a LOT of grass!

Little X: (as we're trying to complete an animal scavenger hunt in Yellowstone) Hey! I sawed a deer!
Everyone: Really? Where?
Little X: On that sign back there!
*1 minute later*
Little X: Hey! I sawed a bear!
Everyone: You did? Where?
Little X: On this paper they gaved us! I WIN!

In one of the hotels we stopped at we watched the last 40 minutes or so of the movie Rudy. Curly sees the closing credits and the following conversation ensues.
Curly: His name is Rudy? That's a funny name for a boy. 
Me: You just now realized his name was Rudy? It's the name of the movie! What did you think they were all chanting in the stadium at the end?
Curly: I thought they were saying, "Fruity! Fruity!"
Me: That doesn't even make any sense.
Little X: I thought they were saying, "Little X! Little X!"

Thursday, September 3, 2015

So Much Change, So Little Time

I think I have mentioned before that I am not a fan of big changes. It's hard, because a lot of changes we've had this year are really, really great things that are happening in my family. But between July 23rd and September 23rd there have been/will be a series of huge changes, the kind that take my emotions all over the place. It's like life's roller coaster is traveling at top speed through a constant series of loop-de-loops without giving me a chance to recover from one before I'm riding into another.

In the beginning of July Allen (the elder) was asked to serve as bishop of our church congregation.

As his wife I can say that this is something he is perfect for. It's weird to say that, because it's not something anyone asks to do or really, even wants to do, but in my eyes he is a great bishop because he has such a natural ability to serve and love our neighbors and friends. He is overwhelmed at times, I think, and that is hard to watch as someone who loves him so much. People often ask me how I'm doing with his new calling and I tell them all the same thing - it's simple for me. I love this man beyond description and it is easy to support him in whatever he does. He is amazing. The difficult part for me is that I will soon be released from my assignment of working with the young women of our local church stake. Man, do I love being around the young women. Most especially at camp. Camp is my refuge, my annual week long vacation in the mountains with the girls. When I hear of people who aren't excited to attend young women's camp I just don't get it. For me it is a piece of heaven. Not perfect by any means, but perfect for me. I can't explain it. If you have been to a young women's camp and love it like I do then you will understand. Anyway, there's that. It's hard. It makes me emotional so I try not to think about it. But I'm excited to see where I'll get to serve next.

In the end of July my oldest daughter Elle returned home after serving a mission for our church for 18 months in Louisiana.

Man, was it great to get her home! We missed her so much, and seeing how her experiences there have shaped her into an even more fantastic human being (we didn't think that was possible) made it all worth it. We were at a family reunion in Minnesota so she got permission to fly in to the airport there and join us for the last day of the reunion. We then made the long road trip home as a complete family again, something we had not been able to enjoy for 3 years (since our oldest son Allen's mission overlapped with Elle's).
Now that she's home she's living normal life again, which means working, dating, and going back to school. And I'm not oblivious to the fact that I better enjoy this time while I have it, because life is going to happen really fast and before I know it she'll probably be off changing the world in her own way, just like we want her to do.
On August 22nd Allen and I celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary at our son Allen the Younger's wedding in Mesa, Arizona.

He and Kia are so well matched. We love Kia like we love each of our children. She is beautiful and smart and funny and talented and kind and helpful and a blast to be around. I love that Allen T.Y. picked someone who is such a perfect fit in our family. And her family is complete awesomesauce, too. How often does that happen? Man, are we ever blessed. As I was looking through hundreds of pictures of Allen T.Y.'s life and choosing which ones to include in a slideshow for their reception, I was brought to tears more than once. Because when in the world did my sweet baby boy grow from this:   
to this?:
And then I had to choose a song for a mother and son dance at the reception. I thought of many songs that had words that expressed my feelings and emotions but once again, I was tearing up as I listened to them and read the lyrics. "You'll Be in My Heart" by Phil Collins? "My Wish" by Rascal Flats? Perfect choices. But I couldn't do it. I didn't want to be crying out on the dance floor. I wanted to be smiling and laughing, because that's kind of how Allen TY and I are. So instead, after much searching for the perfect song, we danced to "A Biologist's Mother's Day Song".  

So what's next? Julia's leaving, that's what. She leaves at the end of September for her 18 month mission for our church. She is going to New England (5 states!) and she's going to be awesome.  But when I think of going 18 months with our only contact being weekly emails and 2 phone calls a year... wait for it... I get a teensy bit emotional.

Not because I'm sad that she's going. The truth is, I am SO PROUD of this young woman! And I know she will have life-changing experiences that will affect her and the people she serves with in such fantastically good ways. I'm just going to miss her, that's all.

So yeah, change is hard. Especially so much of it at once.

But also? It is awesome.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Conversation On Running


O: Can I run for miles tomorrow?

Me: What do you mean?

O: I want to run like, lots of miles.

Allen: Like, 50 miles?

O: Or 60.

Allen: So, just running all day tomorrow?

O: Sure. I can just wake up then run all day until it's night.

Me: What about school?

O: Can I skip it tomorrow?

Allen: I'll tell you what. We can get up really early and I'll run with you until you get tired.

O: So, all day? So I CAN skip school?

Allen: We'll see how much you want to run.

O: So, can we pack lunches and stuff and take them with us?

Me: You could probably swing by the house and take a little break at lunch time.

O: And then we can go run again?

Allen: If you're up for it.

O: So, does running mean running straight?

Me: Nope, you have to do cartwheels and somersaults while you run.

O: Okay.

Allen: And you can go up hills and around corners and back and forth and stuff.

O: Okay. What time will we leave?

Allen: Bright and early.

O: Okay.

UPDATED: The next morning Little O came upstairs with a piece of elastic on his head, like so:

because "This is what running people look like, right?" He was ready to run 100 miles (he upped his goal). Allen rode his bike beside him as he ran continuously for a solid 30 minutes. Then he came home, changed clothes, and went to school.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Everyone Is Awesome


I was having one of my typical trains of thought this morning. 'Typical' meaning that one random thought leads to another and then I'm thinking about something completely irrelevant and strange for the moment. It kind of went like this...

I need to make a call to get some things taken care of for the wedding luncheon in a couple of weeks.

I need to look again at the list of people coming to the wedding luncheon.

I need to find out for sure if Allen's brother and his wife are coming to the wedding.

One of my best friends from high school and her mom are flying in for the wedding.

I wonder how my friend's mom's health has been.

Her dad has bad health, too. I wonder how he's doing.

He has always been kind of a tough guy to live with. Well, not just kind of. He can be frustrating and even absolutely infuriating. But when he dies I will definitely want to go to his funeral.

(That last thought brought tears to my eyes.)

What is it about him that makes me emotional when I think of his eventual death?

What kind things would I say about him if I had to speak at his funeral? 

I would say that, on the surface, he can be pretty rough around the edges. But man, can he cook! And I always love being fed by him. He loves to cook and he loves to see people enjoying his food. Food is kind of his quiet love language and he speaks it well. He has always made me feel welcome in his home. He was even ok with me living there for a while. He is a lot of fun to play games with. Usually he wants to play card games, which I'm terrible at, but when we'd play Win, Lose or Draw or Pictionary... oh, man, I don't think I've ever laughed so hard! He loves his kids and is proud of the good things they accomplish. He can be generous and even kind and thoughtful, I've experienced all of these things myself. He can be quite intimidating, but when you get to know him he's really just a big teddy bear.

And once again I was reminded that there is good in everyone, despite what is seen on the surface.

You can find the awesomeness in everyone if you look for it.

Let's be good to each other.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Power of Words

In the last couple of weeks I have noticed quite a bit of graffiti showing up around our neighborhood. But nothing bothered me more than the offensive word spray painted on the overpass near our home. Every time I drove past I would see it and wonder when it would be painted over so I wouldn't have to see it any longer.

Today I was at the Dollar Store and saw some motivational posters and duct tape. I called the city to make sure it was OK to cover up the foul language with some more positive words and they gave me the thumbs up.

I kind of love the new look.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Random Thoughts

It's LESS THAN ONE MONTH before I get to see this smile in person again!

Every time I hear the opening for Ice Ice Baby on the radio I get super excited to sing along and it's always actually Under Pressure instead. That song is such a cruel trick. So I turn off the radio and just bust out Ice Ice Baby acapella. Take that, new-fangled mashup!

Lines of songs that move me every time I hear them:

-The players tried to take the field/The marching band refused to yield

-Something has changed within me/Something is not the same

-Scarce to be counted/Filling the darkness/With order and light/You are the sentinels/Silent and sure

-You say you'll give me eyes in a moon of blindness/A river in a time of dryness/A harbor in the tempest

-His hands/Tools of creation/Stronger than nations/Power without end. And yet through them/We find our truest friend

-Eviscerate your memory...I look at her and I see the beauty of the light of music

-An angel come to save me/Who didn't even know she gave me/Something to believe in

I don't know how to put into words what a good song can do for me when sung at full volume! Music is like therapy. When I feel like a connection is loose somewhere inside of me that needs to be fixed,  music is a means of repair. Music feels like breathing when life's held me underwater for too long. When I sing a song that's right in my range with words that flow together like poetry, expressing my thoughts in a way that words alone never can, it's like I've come up for a breath of fresh air. Pretty cheesy, I know. But man, does music soothe my soul.

I subscribe to emails from a store called Anthropologie, which sells clothes that I love. Long, flowy dresses in beautiful patterns and shades and blouses with lace details and floral pajama pants andandand. The likelihood that I will ever actually purchase something from there is slim to none because I can't justify paying $498 for a dress or $188 for a blouse and feel good about that, despite how gorgeous they are. But somehow seeing FREE SHIPPING in the subject line of an email from their store triggers some kind of happiness endorphin for a millisecond and I'll think, "Maybe there's something in the sale section I could afford! And the shipping is free!" But then I go look and no, the only thing I could afford in the sale section are dish towels that cost $19.95 a piece. I can't wear those.

I obviously need to go through and cancel some of my email subscriptions.

One day this week during dinner, Little X did something that made Julia laugh. She inhaled some rice as she started to laugh and then suddenly she was struggling to breathe. Time sort of froze as she spit out her food but was still choking. She ran to the sink, struggling for breath that wasn't coming. Somewhere in all of this my mom instincts took over and the next thing I know, I'm doing the Heimlich on her. Repeatedly, as she's trying to breathe. And then finally, I see a grain of rice come flying out of her mouth and I hear her suck in some air and the world starts turning again. I didn't realize how scared out of my mind I was until the moment passed.

Man, am I ever thankful for all those years of first aid training for Young Women's camp!

Also, I miss Young Women's camp. I am going through withdrawals. (I will write my annual camp post soon. Promise.)

Whenever Allen is out of town, the kids all sleep in my room. They climb into bed with me and pull out mattresses on my floor and I sleep better knowing they are all close to me and I can hear them breathing. And talking in their sleep (5 out of 6 kids that slept with me talked in their sleep), and grinding their teeth and... I actually kind of love it.

5 little monkeys sleeping in my bed... one rolled sideways and kicked me in the head, one kept me up with all the talking in his sleep ("This spaceman is mine", "Where the heck am I?", "I have FOUR!"), one wouldn't stay under the sheets, one kept asking for me to sing a song, one was grinding his teeth all night long.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Another Z Library!

A few months ago my friend Brenda asked me if I would like to have a second little branch of Z Library in Kenya. How could I say no to such a thing?! I went through all of the books we had on hand for Z Library and went and purchased some from local thrift stores as well. I asked for donations and had a few friends donate an impressive number of books. Brenda had some friends who donated books as well. Brenda traveled to Kenya earlier this month, along with a group of youth (with an organization called YouthLinc) and they brought the library with them in their luggage.
When Brenda sent me these pictures of Z Library all set up at Kathwana primary school I just straight-up cried. This makes me so, so happy.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Three Little Birds

For the first time this summer I have had two solid days where I have not heard one kid proclaim, "I'm bored!" How is this small miracle occurring, you ask? They've been busy looking out the front window.

All-a-boy, Allen the Younger and Hubba have all had to build birdhouses for scouts at some point. And that means the younger kids see them and they want to build one, too. Some fall apart after a few days and some last for years, but we currently have 3 birdhouses in our tree out front. Earlier, in the spring, we had some doves nesting up high in the tree. That was neat, but this is even better. Some birds finally decided to take up residence in one of our birdhouses!

They brought all sorts of leaves and pine needles and miscellaneous items to the house to build a nest. And then we saw 3 little eggs in the nest. And now? Three little birds. And a busy mama bird, bringing them worms and bugs and who knows what else, all day long.



Aren't they adorable? The kids love watching as they occasionally poke their little heads out of the birdhouse and call for their mother. We love to narrate what we think they're saying.

 But moooooooom! I'm still hungry!

 Hey lady. Stop taking pictures. I'm serious.

Mooooooooom! The human keeps taking our picture! 

Leave us alone! We're hungry! 

Where's our mom?


It's like having the nature channel on 24/7, but even better. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Kid Playlists

When asked to name their top 3 favorite songs right now ("Only three, Mom?"), here is what my kids said...

Little X:
Shake It Off (T-Swift)
Boots and Cats
Jesus Wants Us For A Sun-Bean

Little O:
Scripture Power
Happy (Pharell Williams)
Everything is Awesome (The Lego Movie)

Good Time (Owl City)
anything by Piano Guys
Seize The Day (Newsies)

anything by Owl City, but especially Fireflies
Final Countdown
Separate Ways (Journey)

L (They Might Be Giants)
Apologize (One Republic)
When Can I See You Again? (Owl City)

Happy (Pharell Williams)
Some Nights (fun.)
Fight Song (Rachel Platten)

Everything is Awesome (Lego Movie)
Emmett's Morning (Lego Movie)
What Does The Fox Say? (Ylvis)

Everything Is Awesome (Lego Movie)
Separate Ways (Journey)
The Scientist (Coldplay)

Elle (still on her mission in Louisiana):
Power of a Prayer (Matthew West)
It's Alright (Brandon Heath)
Arms That Hold the Universe (33Miles)

Allen TY:
Blank Space (Taylor Swift)
Time For Me to Fly (REO Speedwagon)
I Don't Want to Miss a Thing (Aerosmith)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Oh, Happy Day!

This was my birthday ice-cream-cake. Total awesomeness! 

Allen the Younger seemed to have something of a curse on him for a while there. Every time he would bring a girl to our house she would stop answering his calls and texts. We're not sure if we scared those girls off or what. But let me tell you - good... no, AWESOMELY FANTASTIC things come to those who wait! Because once Allen t.y started bringing this beauty around, we all fell in love with her. And when I say beauty I'm not just talking about looks. This girl has beauty coursing through every ounce of her and a light in her eyes that speaks volumes.

Meet Kia! Allen the Elder and I were ready for these two to be engaged before they were and I was really proud of us for not saying anything about it. But once Allen the Younger asked us what we thought, we were ready for him! A THOUSAND TIMES YES! Every time she comes over we love her more.

They were officially engaged the first week of June and will be married at the end of the summer. And to say that I'm happy about it would be putting it lightly.

This is all so crazy-happy to think about. I am excited beyond description and can not wait for Kia to officially be our daughter!

At Kia's brother's wedding

Monday, June 22, 2015



Back in April I was able to take a quick weekend trip to California to see Newsies again! (That show never gets old, you guys.) And since I was going to be in California anyway, I made plans to spend the time there with my almost-a-sister/friend Julie and her/pretty-much-my mom and her two cute girls. When I left the airport in Utah, we were in the middle of a snowstorm. 

This created a one-hour delay while they de-iced the planes and waited for the chance to get a spot on the runway.

I sat next to two really fun and interesting women on the flight there, which made the delay insignificant. When we landed in Los Angeles the skies were (mostly, please ignore the haze) clear and the weather was BEAUTIFUL.

I was able to get in a couple of trips to the ocean while I was there. Oh, man - I forget how much I love those salty breezes and the sound of crashing waves!



Newsies, as always, did not disappoint. In fact, I had no idea that the traveling production has an EXTRA SCENE AND SONG which helps tie in Crutchie's time at the refuge. I LOVED IT!!
Newsies is a real kick in the head. See what I did there? Ha!

There is no such thing as too many pictures when you go to see Newsies.

I was also excited to visit a couple of Little Free Libraries while I was in California. I found one on the map that was close to Julie's house in Orange County and another that was close to Julie's mom's house. I brought books from our Z Library to share and brought home a couple of books from the libraries I visited.


And since we were right by Redondo Beach, the beach where I pretty much lived every summer when I lived in California, I had to stop off there to watch the sunset.

As they say, time flies when you're having fun. So I had to say goodbye to these cuties and head home to my own.

I need to get to California more often. There are so many things about that place that speak to my heart in ways that nowhere else can.

However, despite its lack of ocean breezes, there is no place better than home with my family.