Friday, December 26, 2008

Issue 31

Merry Christmas to All!

After 2 very simple and quiet Christmases overseas, we reveled this year in being surrounded by family. We spend Christmas Eve at my parents home and spent the night there with my sisters and their families. With Quinn home from his mission and us back from NZ, it was the perfect way to spend the holiday. I worried a little that it would be crazy chaos and hard to transfer Christmas for 7, but it all turned out beautifully. After a wonderful dinner we decorated stockings with the kids. After putting them to bed the adults laughed our way through the movie Elf and finished our Christmas preparations. What fun to have Santa come to Grandma's house for everyone! The kids trying to convince Grandpa it's time to open presents with some convincing foot and hand rubs.

Our traditional "waiting on the stairs while Dad (Grandpa) goes to see if Santa came" picture has sure grown over the years!

Santa always wraps his presents in red and green tissue at our house.

After opening our gifts at my parents we went to Steve's parents for Christmas dinner and celebrated Christmas #2. Yummy food, playing with cousins, and Kung Fu Panda were all on the menu. The men even went and found a Geocache nearby to break-in Grandpa's new GPS device.

Emily made these adorable Mrs. Claus aprons for all the women in the family!

Cousins exchanged gifts (each had drawn the name of one cousin and bought a special gift for them) and Mrs. Claus (Grandma) handed out her presents.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Issue 30

Christmas Greetings!

Merry Christmas from our home to yours! We wish you the very best for the coming year. Please drop us a line and let us know how you are doing this holiday season.


Here are a few pictures from Whitney’s choir concert last week at Temple Square, that I was too tired to upload last issue. They sang again last night at the school choir concert and they sound great!

The Merit Badge Haul

Merit Badges Steve L. earned this quarter:

Top row: Scholarship, Sculpture, Art

Bottom row: Theater, Personal Management, Personal Fitness

Steve L. just left for a winter scout camp and I forgot to have him tell you about his new merit badges. I am so proud of how hard he worked earning these merit badges. He really owned the process and saw all six of them tenaciously through to the end. I think the Personal Fitness and Personal Management – both required – are two of the hardest merit badges to earn. A big thanks to Grandpa Andy for helping Steve earn his Scholarship merit badge!

Here’s to 16 years!

This week Steve and I celebrated 16 wonderful years of marriage. I’m not sure where the time has gone, but we have 5 beautiful children to show for it. Steve had business trips to Georgia and Minnesota this week and is off to scout camp this weekend, but managed to be in town on our anniversary. (He doesn’t always travel so much, the trips just always seem to come back to back.) We went to Tucano’s Brazilian Grill at the Gateway for dinner (sooo good) and to the movies.

These pictures were taken last week before we went to Steve’s fancy work Christmas Party. I was feeling like I needed a pick me up from a rough week, so I had my hair done up for the first time. It was just the lift I needed.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Anatomy by Janey

I consider the creative projects and artwork my kids come up with, on their own, my salary for this full time mothering job of mine. I have found them to be especially inspired at bedtime and my requests for lights out are often met with begging for just a few more minutes to complete some project or other. Janey came up with this 4 page masterpiece while we were on a date the other night.

Create by Noreen

At the start of the new school year I found myself searching for the next thing to stretch myself and inspire my children. Steve suggested taking up painting (which he knows I have always wanted to do), but I dismissed it saying I needed something more academic right now. Then I attended the Women’s Session of General Conference at the end of September and President Uchtdorf spoke right to me. In his talk he said, "The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before. Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty. Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty. . . "

And so, my ever wise husband knew what I needed all along. By the first week of November I was enrolled in an oil painting class one night a week and it has been a joy to create. In a high school art class I did a black and white oil painting, but this is my first ever color oil. I hope to improve a lot over time, but it has been satisfying to finally start on this life long dream.

New Zealand

While staying at the Bay of Islands we took the kids on a boat tour out to "Hole in the Rock" and a dolphin watching cruise.

A view of The Bay of Islands
Hole in the rock. We saw (and could almost touch) dozens of playful dolphins on our way to the rock. We took lots of video, but didn't get any great dolphin pics.

A natural rock formation that looks just like a woman's profile.

To see a map of the places we traveled so far in this series, click on this link: <,172.875366&spn=8.067848,12.128906&z=6&msid=116765397961150020384.000451b63510a46db34d4>

Friday, December 12, 2008

Issue 29

Focus on the Founders by Steve L.

For Focus on the Founders we had a speech competition and a keynote speaker, Benjamin Franklin (impersonator), came a gave us a lot of information and did experiments with electricity.

I prepared a two minute speech on Benjamin Franklin and gave it in front of everyone there. The judges rated me and I came in 7th place out of 22 contestants. I didn't feel nervous when I gave my speech. It was fun.

Singing at Temple Square by Whitney

This week I was able to perform with my school choir at Temple Square! It was really neat. At my school there are three choirs, the concert choir that anyone can be in, The Madrigals (you have to try out to get into this one), and then Bel Conto (You have to try out for this one, and only girls are in it.) I'm in Bel Conto. When we were driving there, the parking was horrendous, because there was a Jazz game and a Tabernacle choir performance that night along with the lights. I actually hopped out of the car a block away because walking there would be much faster than driving! We performed twice that night and we all had an awesome time. The Bel Conto and the madrigals performed at temple square, and I can't wait until the next concert!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Issue 28

A Painful Week

Publishing this weekly blog newsletter helps our family reach many goals, one of these is to keep a consistent family history record. Because of this, I feel the need to record the painful and hard along with the fun and eventful.

This week was a painful one emotionally and physically as we experienced our first miscarriage. I was in a lot of pain over the weekend. Monday I contacted the doctor who wanted to see me right away. In the same afternoon I found out I was pregnant and that I couldn't keep the baby. The pregnancy was an ectopic or tubal pregnancy, meaning the baby was growing in my tube instead of my uterus. This is a serious condition because the tube will quickly rupture if it is not caught in time. My choices were invasive surgery and likely losing my fallopian tube or an injection of a low dose of a chemo drug, and the rare chance of losing my hair. I have to say it wasn't the funnest decision we've ever had to make. Because I have had 5 c-sections the surgery was an even higher risk for me, so we opted for the drug route. Steve was scheduled to leave out of town an hour before the procedure, and I thought I'd be brave and have him go anyway. My wise mother encouraged me to have him cancel his trip, and he let me know he would have anyway. I was so grateful to have him with me through the ordeal, and he was able to work from home the next two days to care for me. The procedure itself was pretty simple (two massive shots of a neon yellow liquid) but the experience was crushing. It is not very comforting to weep into a pillow that is covered with doctor's office crunchy tissue paper, but the nurses were sweet, the doctor caring and Steve held my hand through it all. With ultra sounds and doctors appointments it took the bulk of the day Tuesday and my mother graciously cared for the kids at our home. Wednesday was the worst of it, with nausea and cramping and generally feeling lousy from the drug injection. It also made my brain fuzzy and I couldn't sleep. As I lay wide awake in the early morning hours on Wednesday I thought of all the sweet children I know that have had to or are currently going through the chemo process. I wanted to hug Jacob and Serenity and Tyler to me and kiss them for being so brave. A huge thanks to my sister Bree and sister-in-law Becca and my Mom for caring for my children while I recovered. Wednesday I was at 100% yuck, Thursday 50%, but today, Friday, I'm feeling mostly myself again - about 10% left to full recovery. Tonight my gold wedding ring turned my finger green. Is that bad? We will have to wait awhile to try again because of the chemical in my system.

Thank you everyone for your kindness and prayers. I am so grateful we caught the problem early and that we have the medical technology to solve the problem (women have died from ectopic pregnancy's in the past.) We would love to have another baby and trust in the Lord's timing for our family.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Issue 27

Day at the Zoo with Dad

For my birthday present Steve gave me 24 hours off and I took him up on it on Friday. I spent the night at my parents and got caught up on a lot of projects that had been piling on the back burner (and that can get messy.) I had a lovely lunch out with my mom and sisters and the kids got to spend the day at the zoo with their Dad. Thanks Babe!

Our First Chess Tournament

The chess tournament was fun. We got there and signed in and then had to wait for everyone else to sign in, at that was kind of boring. But then they posted who we would play for the first game and then we would go to our assigned table and start playing chess. Parents were not allowed in the room during games. The pairing was by grade and once we had played the game we would go into the practice room and wait until they posted the pairing for the next round. There were 5 rounds total. Overall lost 2 games, won 2 games and tied one game. After all 5 rounds they gave out awards. I didn't win a first place through 5th place trophy, but I did win a medal! It was really fun.
(Note by Mom: Daniel also won two of his rounds and their coach said if they could win one or two games their first tournament they would be doing really well. Now that we have our first tournament behind us, we know what to expect and will be even better prepared next time. I'm proud of the boys for their good sportsmanship and tenacity.)

The Tail of Despereaux by Daniel

The Tail of Despereaux is a cool book about a mouse and he loves the Princess Pea. Miggory Sow is a servant and she has really beat up ears and there are lots of rats in the dungeon. One rat goes up into the castle and falls into the queen's soup and she dies of a heart attack. Despereaux gets sent to the dungeon because he talked to The Pea, which was illegal. The rat and Miggory Sow kidnap the princess and take her to the dungeon, but that is all I'm going to tell you, because I want you to read the book yourself. I like the book.

Liberty Girls by Janey

First we got together at Liberty Girls. Then we said the prayer and did the pledge of allegiance. Then we made pies. First you roll the dough out into a circle and put it in the pan. Then put the pie filling in. Then you make another circle with some more dough and put it on top of the pie. Before you do, you can cut shapes in the pie top with cookie cutters and then you set it on top of the pie and then you cook it. I made an apple pie.

Giving Thanks

We hope everyone (in the US anyway) enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday surrounded by family, great food, and hearts full of gratitude. I know we did!

Artwork by Janey age 6

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Issue 26

More Peter Pan

Participating in Peter Pan was such a memorable experience for the whole family. Steve L. worked on his theater merit badge during the process and he and his dad helped paint the pirate ship. The window seat boxes in the nursery were painted by yours truely.

Peter Pan's grand entrance.Wendy, Michael and John flying

Steve delivered all his lost boy lines perfectly and with great energy.

"I won't grow up!" (That's Daniel on the far right.)

Janey as the white tiger
We had the perfect Captain Hook for our play.Steve- My favorite part of being in the play was being out on stage and acting in front of everyone. My favorite part of the play is when Peter and the lost boys sing “I won’t grow up.” I can’t wait until I can be in other performances.

Daniel- Being in the play was a great experience. I loved being a lost boy. It was really fun meeting all of the people. My favorite part of the play was when they were in the nursery because there were funny parts.

Janey- My favorite part of being in the play was doing curtain call, because we got to come in first to bow. My favorite part of the play is when Michael is learning to fly and the only happy thought he can think of is candy.

Life after Neverland by Noreen

Life after Neverland –

After the curtain closed Monday on the final performance of Peter Pan, (yes, I dutifully watched my children in all 6 performances,) I had to “grow-up” and contemplate putting structure and order back in our lives. I officially declared Tuesday “recover from Peter Pan day.” I let everyone sleep in (after many late night performances) and then put them all to work. We cleaned and did laundry for 9 hours straight. Wednesday we woke to our wonderfully clean house and rebooted our familiar homeschool routine. (Now if I could just get the songs out of my head!) The play was a great experience and the kids are looking forward to doing another. I told them it could be an annual project, because I just don’t think I (or my house) could handle the intense play schedule more often than that.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Issue 25

Quinn’s Homecoming!!

My baby brother Quinn (sorry man - you'll always be my baby brother) return home on Friday from his two year LDS mission to Iowa. We have loved following his mission vicariously through e-mail and he has been such a wonderful example to our children. Several missionaries were coming home on the same flight and there was quite a crowd waiting for them to arrive at the airport. I had dreamed four times the night before that we had missed his flight coming in, so we were at the airport for a good hour before he finally emerged triumphant into the baggage claim area. A great cheer burst out from the whole crowd when we finally saw the first suit turn the corner. There were hugs and tears all around. Quinn, we are so proud of you and glad to have you back. And your looking GOOD!

Pilgrim Hats

Janey went to bed before I remembered to have her tell you about these adorable pilgrim hat cookies she made. Her Liberty Girls held a craft fair and all proceeds went to the Humanitarian Aid fund. They are clever and easy. You coat a marshmallow in melted chocolate and center on an upside down fudge striped cookie. Chill in the fridge and then make a buckle with yellow decorator frosting. They were a hit and she sold out for a good cause.