Blueberries and Resolutions 2013

This morning I had my favorite breakfast. The sun was shining through the windows, and I had just put in some bedding to wash.

IMG_1284In the last few days I have gotten my home more organized and my mind uncluttered. I have been thinking about dreams. Part of making new year’s resolutions is dreaming of improving, expanding, and changing, either yourself or your family or your commitments or focus. I looked at making resolutions this year as a reflection of what may be holding me back from really pursuing my passions and thriving. This year I have four main resolutions. A month into 2013, it is interesting to review my goals in detail. Interesting because this year I am really keeping them.

The first resolution is to start a blog and write six days a week. I have done this one just like I envisioned so far. It has been fun to write and take pictures and reflect on connections, relationships, and joy. The daily nature of writing helps me to see my everyday life with new eyes, noticing the happy moments and interactions as a part of a bigger picture — growing closer together as a family and also growing toward the person I want to be.

The next resolution is to take off the nagging extra weight that I have been carrying around for the last few years. I have had ups and downs and mostly remained steady for a few years. But I think having the extra weight gone will give me more energy and help me fulfill more of my dreams. This year my sisters and I have started a daily email support group to eat more carefully and take some weight off. A week into this program with them, the weight has started to drop off. It helps to set weekly goals and have accountability to someone who is going through the same process. We share our successes, tough spots in the day, and weigh in once a week. I actually have hope that this time this resolution may come to pass. So far so good.

One resolution I am still working to implement is being present with my kids and family in the afternoon hours by not having my iPhone ever present. At the Power of Moms retreat last weekend, we talked about how technology and distractions keep us from having balance. This may be one of the biggest issues of our day — how to have technology bless our lives instead of distracting our attention from the people in front of us.

The fourth resolution is to give specific weekly service to each member of my family. I take Erik lunch on Sunday when he is at church all day. I make a warm breakfast for Nicole after seminary and before school once a week. We had french toast this week, and it was yummy. Brandon and I have cereal chats one evening before bed; he eats cereal and we talk about whatever is on his mind. On Friday afternoons I make cookies for the three younger girls like I wrote about here. Each of these have been fun and uniting.

Speaking of fun, we have definitely tried to make January’s focus fun.

Birthday celebrations.


Power of Moms retreat in Los Angeles with some dear friends.

P1020088Dance parties.


California Adventure


Taking time to dream and dare.



Out of my comfort zone is where I find the most fulfillment and joy — leading discussions at the Power of Moms retreat, writing and sharing thoughts on this blog, and parenting. I am ready for February!


Roasted Vegetables

I have discovered in the last year or two that one of my favorite ways to eat vegetables is to roast them. I had an interesting combo tonight.


I cut up some mushrooms and zucchini and Dutch yellow potatoes. I added some olive oil, salt and pepper, and then cut some rosemary over the top. I set the oven at 450 degrees and roasted all of them together for 20-25 minutes.

IMG_1271The Dutch little potatoes are an especially good variety of potato with a mellow buttery taste. Everything is better with some mushrooms and zucchini.


We had pulled pork sandwiches and strawberries to go along with the veggies.

IMG_1276It was a delicous! Last week I roasted some cauliflower. I have never paid attention to cauliflower before, but roasted it was wonderful. Sweet potatoes and squash are also great roasted in the oven with some olive oil or butter and seasoning. Fun to find some new combinations of food that go so well together. Happy eating!



Laundry Party

On Tuesdays we fold our laundry together. Today was really a week and a half’s worth because I did a little extra at the end of last week. Plus, Brandon and Nicole did their laundry last night and joined in the fun.

The baskets were overflowing tonight.


But the piles were folded neatly and put away in the drawers and closets, and we had fun watching a few episodes of a fun comedy.


The kids start doing their laundry by themselves after they turn 12. Camille still needs to jump into that system. I do the rest of the laundry, and then we sit and fold together while we watch something funny together. It has worked well for many years.

I think I am in an organizing mood. I just bought a rolling cart to put all my projects plus have each child have a place for their odds and ends and projects also.


I am inspired to get my desk and paperwork and mind organized after a fantastic Power of Moms retreat in Los Angeles last weekend. You can read about the retreat here. This was written by a fabulous mother who helped take pictures and teach at the retreat on Saturday.

So I am determined to keep up with the laundry, have a new system for my projects and get on top of the papers on my desk, and make it a party if at all possible — with my family along for the ride.



Changing our ways

It is interesting how writing things down makes a change more likely. This goes for chores around the house, weight loss, even changing behavior. We have some sibling interactions that need tweaking around here. I am always good at talking to the kids about what needs to change, but we don’t always get around to making a game plan.

Today, after an incident between two of the kids, I had a talk with them, and had them own their responsibility in the disagreement. But it wasn’t really enough. More needed to happen. I was talking to one of them, and we came upon the idea of having a contract of behavior change with a reward at the end — a dog! It will require 60 straight days of the new behavior.


Here is a snippet of the contract that she crafted with her usual adorable sense of humor.

This will be very difficult to achieve. But she really does want a dog. And this could change our lives around here. We haven’t come up with the reward for the other one involved in the disputes. But we are working on it. Thinking outside the box sometimes is the only way to make a real change.

Change is beautiful. Especially when it brings us closer together. I already noticed both the girls involved in the contracts and changes were more generous to other members of the family tonight. I hope I can keep mothering creatively to help love grow and unity increase.


When I was tucking Robin into bed tonight, she said, “I didn’t want to go to my friend’s birthday party if you weren’t going to be there to pick me up.” I just flew in from southern California where I attended a Power of Moms retreat. I got home in time to hear about the day before everyone went to bed. I realize that my kids really need me at the crossroads of their life.

It is easier if I am the one to pick them up. They feel more secure if I am home when they walk in the door from school. Brandon needs to figure out how to get a physical from a doctor before baseball tryouts on Monday. He was asking to talk to me after family prayer to find out what to do about that need. Camille wants to get up in the morning to work on her talk for church with me. I feel blessed to be there most of the time at the crucial transition points. Indeed, there is security and power in being a mother who is present. It turns out there is no place I would rather be.

Robin is 7!

Robin turned seven today! She is full of joy and kindness. She loves to read and color. She has many close friends and cousins. Here are some pictures of her last weekend jumping for joy.

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We celebrated today with a fun birthday party with some of her best friends.  Camille and her cousin, Emma, ran the party and did a fabulous job.  Happy Birthday Robin!


Daily scriptures 2013

Before the new year we were all in Idaho for some Jacobsen family time. We went to church up there, and while I was in Sunday School we talked about the end of the Book of Mormon and Moroni’s writings. I had the inspiration to try something new for our family scripture study for the first half of 2013. It came out of a desire to help some of the middle kids read the Book of Mormon for the first time. I took an hour and outlined the Book of Mormon into daily segments of reading — 3 pages a day to finish the Book of Mormon in half a year.

Erik came up with a great spreadsheet for the seven of us to record our reading.


We read separately, in our own copies of the Book of Mormon, and then we discuss and share what we learned, questions we have, insights, favorite verses, or whatever we want related to that day’s reading. I think this is my favorite family scripture study we have ever done. I love the blend of personal study and sharing together after the personal reading.

Robin is the youngest, so I often read out loud with her in this book.


The helpful thing in this book for Robin are the definitions of hard words and the pictures to illustrate the storyline.


Tonight we learned about how Nephi built a temple like Solomon’s temple. IMG_1242

Here is part of the stack of scriptures. Some of the books are my old scriptures from seminary days or my mission. Some are well marked, others falling apart, all loved and cherished.These are some of the best ten or fifteen minutes of the day, sharing spiritual learning all together.


I have been writing and posting on this blog for three weeks now. I have often heard three weeks is the time frame for forming a habit. It feels like an automatic and natural thing to spend a few minutes writing down thoughts and posting pictures now. Hopefully it sticks. Already it is fun to look back at pictures and remember things more vividly about what I am thinking about and what we are doing in our life.

One thing that I have been thinking about is how ingrained habits are. For example, when I was in school it was a requirement to double space after each sentence in written papers. I continue to do that, even though now only a single space is required. In blogging, a double space can create an extra space at the front of a line that doesn’t look right. Old habits die hard.

I am reading a book called The Power of Habit that has fascinating case studies about how habits form many of our activities throughout the day. We can replace old habits with new and rewrite pathways in our brains. The double space habit is a hard one for me to break. But it isn’t life changing. There are other habits to break that may make a greater difference in my life.

Technology is one of those. I love having an iPhone to keep up on the flow of emails, and it is much easier to text with one. I feel more aware of details of weather and stock prices and directions to places. But it can also distract me from the deeper connections with the people in the room. Somehow that technological habit can keep my attention at times when I should just be present with my kids. I have been thinking of parking my phone from the hours of 2:30 to 9:30 so my best attention can be with the kids and their homework and needs. I have done it a couple of days, but need to have a routine to make it happen every day.

Three weeks to form a habit. It is crucial to decide which habits to make or break, and then be courageous enough to form or break the ones that will make our family stronger and more united.

A penny of joy

What can you do for just one penny these days? After swimming, I took Robin with me to get the car washed, inside and out. Always good to do after a road trip. At the car wash, there is an old horse to ride for one penny. The car wash even provides the pennies, in case you don’t have any.


Some of us have an easier time of finding the joy in life and embracing the fun. I learn a lot from my kids who do that. Robin just has a joyful spirit and enjoys having fun.

IMG_1237One ride wasn’t quite enough, so she grabbed another penny and rode again.


It is nice to grab a hold of fun moments along the way to keep us smiling. After that, she enjoyed free popcorn and lemonade. I saw a mother of one of Nicole’s best friends and had a great conversation about the end of high school and college coming up. For just a penny, we had some fun and connected with friends.


Late night driving

When I was twelve years old, my family moved from our long-time home in Los Angeles to Boise, Idaho.  I was the youngest growing up and maybe the least aware at the time of the huge change and impact of packing up a house full of belongings and moving our family. We finished later than we expected in closing up our home on the day of our departure. My parents had to be at a training meeting for new mission presidents the next morning, and we had a 10-12 hour drive ahead of us. This meant we were driving through the night.

I obviously couldn’t drive, but somehow felt a great responsibility to make sure whatever driver I was with stayed awake. So I stayed up through the night with different drivers. The last person I drove with was my sister, Lisa. We were in southern Utah in the early morning in her blue Chevy Chevette. I was getting tired — it was 6 am, and I drifted off to sleep.  I startled awake as I saw the car heading off the road, and made a little scream to wake Lisa up.  We were safe.  I didn’t neglect that duty the rest of the drive, and we somehow stayed awake until we arrived in Provo, Utah where I did sleep for the rest of that day.

Last night, we were driving home late from southern California back to our home in Palo Alto.  We left late, 8 pm.  We had a 5+ hour drive ahead of us. I have been battling a sinus infection for the last few days and a cold for the ten days before that. So Erik generously said he would drive the whole way. I got a chance for a good chat with Nicole, passed out dinner (bagels and clementines, carrots and string cheese) to the family, and then snuggled up with Camille, Maren and Robin to watch a movie and read scriptures.


I knew when we left, that at midnight, we might regret the decision to be on the road. And sure enough, at midnight when we stopped for gas, Erik said he was tired.


He took a short five minute rest, and then geared up for the last hour and a half on the road. I was pretty sure I wasn’t up for taking over —cough, cough, sneeze, blow my nose. The four girls were asleep. But last night, I didn’t have to be the one to keep the driver company and help him stay awake. Brandon was up in the front seat with Erik. They had a good chat, played some alphabet games, talked about whatever they wanted. I dozed a little, and when I would wake up, Brandon and Erik were talking and alert for the final push home.  I am grateful someone else had the instinct to help the driver in the late night so I could rest and know that we would arrive safely.