Friday, November 30, 2012

High Five for Friday

It's been an incredibly busy week.  Sandwiching a completely overscheduled week in between two trips is rough for me.  I'm kinda running on fumes, but in a good way.  But I did manage to squeeze in a few iPictures of the week so that I would have something to blog about today.  :)

1.  Christmas Music!  Don't you just love the day after Thanksgiving when Christmas music is officially everywhere?  I do.  I love hearing it in the stores and on the radio.  And I love having my favorites up there on my blog playlist.  You should listen to them.  They're great!  

2.  Allen Christmas Tree Lighting.  We had no idea this was going on, but happened to be having dinner right next to it, so we walked over to see the beautiful Christmas tree in the middle of downtown Allen.  

3.  Panda!  Because every now and then orange chicken is just what you need.

4.  Fluffy Bunnies.  I'll have to write a whole post on this one because it's complicated, but just know that these little guys made a lot of us happy this week.

5.  Fellowship Christian Center Church.  We had the incredible opportunity to listen to this amazing choir sing tonight.  They were the real thing.  Unihibited, amazing talent.  I could have listened to them all night.  They were the kind of choir that makes you want to jump up and sing with them...or jump up and do something!  I wanted to hug every one of them after they finished.  The Spirit is present in different kinds of music and different churches, for sure!  You could not listen to this choir and not feel that.  Their testimonies lit up the entire building. I wish we had more music like this.  

I'm grateful that the Christmas season has trickled into to the little spaces of the week that I haven't overbooked.  I'm grateful for a few quieter days ahead.  I'm grateful for all forms, and at every time of year, but especially in December.  I hope you had a great week and that the weekend reminds you of all the beautiful things that the Christmas season brings.  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


In 2011 when we made our first trek back to Utah after moving to Texas, the kids were mostly excited to reconnect with old friends, see their old house, and visit their old hang outs.  We had a few opportunities to spend time with family, but on a couple of those occasions, my kids chose to stay in Mendon with friends instead of being in Salt Lake with the cousins.  When we originally planned to go back to Utah for Thanksgiving this year, the universal theme among all of the kids was that they really wanted to spend time with their cousins.  I think in the year and a half since we last visited, they realized that things are changing.  We have missionaries out now (and about to go out) and new babies that have been born and new in-law cousins.  Our family is growing and changing rapidly.  So we made FAMILY time, specifically COUSIN time, a HUGE priority for this trip.  

The Babies...
We've added these adorable TWINS to the family since the last time we visitied.  (Well, I didn't add AMAZING sister-in-law did that.  Just watching the orchestration involved in transporting two babies around made me completely marvel at her awesomeness.  AND she made two desserts and a salad for Thanksgiving.  AND she looks like a million bucks...always!  The woman can seriously run circles around the rest of us.)
My other, equally amazing sister-in-law has this little cutie...AND one serving a mission in Cuernavaca, Mexico...AND two in between!

The Boys...
These boys are such great friends.  Mack is the oldest which is a strange feeling for him, but a nice change.  They fall right back into playing together and running around as if it's only been days that they've been apart instead of years.  

The Girls...
And then there are the girl cousins...the tweens and now teens.  These girls have been having sleep overs together since they were little, when they liked Barbies and stuffed animals.  (Apparently they relived their youth and dragged out all the Barbies again this time...just to reminisce.)  

The Olders...
Flowering Buttercup has been following these cool older cousins around since long before she actually fit into this group.  It's so much fun to see how the years don't matter as much after you can drive and date.  :)

And the very BEST thing about the Olders is that they don't mind being completely adored by the Youngers.  The older boys played games with the little boys.  They took the girls on a crazy joy ride on all the dirt roads in the Valley.  And they are all more than happy to help all the younger ones.  I love watching these Olders slip into the role of responsible (almost) adults.  

I love these kids...all of them...and I LOVE watching them bond even though miles separate them most of the time.  I LOVE the way they can reconnect instantly.  I LOVE the way they grow and change while they're apart, but it still works when they come back together.  I'm so grateful that we made the effort to drive to Utah last week to solidify those relationships and create lasting memories.  And I can't wait to do it all over again in July.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Flashback Tuesday

I hope you don't mind if I get a little lost in Cache Valley memories for the rest of this week.  Even though I'm so glad to be home, I'm having a hard time getting back into life here in Dallas after having such a great week in Utah.  

While the Scout Master and I were driving around on Thanksgiving morning, we stopped at Utah State University.  It's such a gorgeous campus that I found myself hoping that at least one of my kids would want to go to college there.  

When my kids were little and first starting school, we enrolled them at Edith Bowen Laboratory School at USU because we had heard such great things about it.  It was a bit of a sacrifice to drive them so far away each day, especially when June was only in half day Kindergarten, but it was so worth it.  We carpooled with a couple of other families and the Scout Master worked in North Logan, so that lightened the load a bit.  

This was the walkway from the carpool parking lot to the school.  Once, I made about 48 cupcakes with cute little skeletons on them for two of the girls' class Halloween parties.  At the time, Mack was little and still required a stroller, and because I didn't have any help, I tried to push his stroller while balancing two full sheet pans loaded with cupcakes on the top of it.  There's a slight incline down that sidewalk and a tiny little lift where two of the concrete sections don't quite meet.  The stroller hit that bump and both pans went flying.  I couldn't even hope to save any of the cupcakes because they landed face down on the sidewalk.  That happened early in our Edith Bowen experience, and I could never quite look at that sidewalk the same way again.  Nor did I attempt to be supermom after that. 

There was a tangible energy about that school that was unmistakable when you walked through the doors.  Every time I volunteered in those classrooms, I considered reactivating my teaching certificate and going back to work. The teachers were adventurous and passionate about teaching.  They all had Master's degrees or PhD's in education and they genuinely loved the kids and their jobs.   Those teachers laid the groundwork for my girls to love school and to seek after learning and I am so grateful that we all had the opportunity to experience that.

Flowering Buttercup - 5th grade graduation
Spell Girl - 4th grade
June's 1st and 2nd grade class
...and an occasional trip to Aggie Ice Cream made the distance from Mendon to USU much more bearable, too. 

I am so grateful for teachers who love what they do.  I'm grateful for memories that linger.  And I'm grateful for opportunities that are even better in hindsight than they were when we were right in the middle of them.  

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cache Valley

On Thanksgiving morning, the Scout Master and I took advantage of a kid-free morning (all the girls were in SLC having sleepovers with cousins and Mack was busy helping Grandpa.)  We took the car and my camera and decided to capture some of the things we love most about Cache Valley.  I would never have admitted this when we lived there, but holy cow! there really is no place as beautiful as this valley.  

I'm so grateful to have been able to spend an incredible, gorgeous, non-snowy Thanksgiving week in this amazing place.  

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Oh, I had such great plans for all the blogging I was going to do on the road last week.  Unfortunately, we were SO busy and I am SO not used to blogging without my MAC these days that every time I attempted to post something, I just gave up.  Instead, I have notes on my phone, and scribbles in my journal, and ideas still swimming around in my head for all those awesome posts I should have written.  I promise to fill in all the gaps from this trip as soon as I catch my breath and go to the grocery store and get kids back to school and do a million loads of laundry.  But until then, here's a little bit of our weekend drive home and a quote from the Conference talk we listened to this morning while the sun came up. 

I hope you had an amazing Thanksgiving and that you're also in your warm, comfortable home right now, surrounded by people who love you, and about to crawl into bed.  

"The gradual increase of light radiating from the rising sun is like receiving a message from God "line upon line, precept upon precept" (2 Ne 28:30).  Most frequently, revelation comes in small increments over time and is granted according to our desire, worthiness, and preparation.  Such communications from Heavenly Father gradually and gently "distil upon [our souls] as the dews from heaven" (D&C 121:45).   
"As you appropriately seek for and apply unto the spirit of revelation, I promise you will "walk in the light of the Lord"  (Isaiah 2:5).  Sometimes the spirit of revelation will operate immediately and intensely, other times subtly and gradually, and often so delicately you may not even consciously recognize it.  But regardless of the pattern whereby this blessing is received, the light it provides will illuminate and enlarge your soul, enlighten your understanding, and direct and protect your family."
David A. Bednar The Spirit of Revelation, April 2011

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

I LOVE this family and cannot think of any other people I'd rather spend Thanksgiving with or any other place I'd rather be.  (Well, except maybe with my family in Hawaii.)