Maren is 10!

An amazing thing happened today. Yesterday Maren said she wanted to invite 15 of her friends to go to a nearby bouncy house arena for her birthday. So I sent out a last minute email to all those friends, and every one of them could come except one. It took some last minute scrambling to find a third driver to accommodate the 19 kids we ended up taking. The girls were very energetic and busy running up and down the slide and climbing walls and playing games and bouncing around. It was nice to celebrate on Maren’s day. She said she loved every part of it.

DSC_5283Maren is energetic and bright. She has a smile on her face and is enthusiastic to try new things. She easily makes friends. Maren cares for young children in a uniquely attentive way. She has a brilliant mind for math. She has been loving The Little House on the Prairie books this year. She is orderly and neat. She has nice penmanship. She is a loving daughter and sister. I love her!

Here are some pictures from the grand event.

Erik and Maren


Three generationsDSC_5215 DSC_5199DSC_5198

Blurry, but fun expressions, love holding hands with Robin.DSC_5158 DSC_5157 DSC_5092 DSC_5194 DSC_5193 DSC_5183 DSC_5090 DSC_5195DSC_5269 DSC_5264 DSC_5262 DSC_5248 DSC_5214 DSC_5211 DSC_5210 DSC_5209 DSC_5202 DSC_5201DSC_5205

Great girls and friends. Fun for Erik and me to join in the fun. Thanks to Heather for loaning her car, and to Erik’s dad for joining us on the adventure.


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!


Better When We’re Together

We drove down to southern California last night. Today was spent at California Adventure at Disneyland. Here we are at Cars Land.

IMG_1217We had a fun day all together. Definitely my favorite moments were when we were all seven together going on rides. Luigi’s Flying Tires, Radiator Spring Racers, Silly Symphony Swings, Toy Story Midway Mania, Soarin’ Over California. Most of the day, we stuck together as a group and enjoyed the rides as a family.

We did separate a couple of times. Brandon and I experienced Tower of Terror.



I got this sticker for braving the ride since it was my first time. It was a doozy, dropping many floors and shooting back up to the top, and plummeting down again, over and over. Brandon and I were glad we went on the ride and glad when it was over.

We bought some sourdough bread as a parting gift. It was in the shape of Mater from Cars.



It was a yummy end of the day with soup that we picked up on the way back to the Palmers. I am glad that we spent the day together having fun and thrills.