Swimming on a chilly day

Robin has a weekly swimming class. She and all her first grade swimming buddies are starting to swim laps in backstroke, freestyle, and learning the butterfly. I love the choice of footwear today since it was chilly outside: boots and a swimming suit —becoming one with the activity and the weather.IMG_1485IMG_1488IMG_1489

Stake Musical

In honor of Dr. Seuss and the youth theme of the year, the teenagers in our stake put on a fun musical. The narrators were characters from Dr. Seuss’ books, the Cat in the Hat, Sam-I-Am, Thing 1, 2, 3, fish, Horton, and more. It was entitled Oh, the Places you will Stand, stand in holy places. I love how these youth stand for honesty, integrity, modesty, righteousness. I learn from them each day.IMG_1471Camille and MadelineIMG_1472 Having funIMG_1473Cute girlsIMG_1474The Three MusketeersIMG_1475Sinclaire, Miko and NicoleIMG_1476CousinsIMG_1477More cousinsIMG_1478Kyra and Robin, more cousinsIMG_1481Jeslyn and meIMG_1447 Sinclaire, Lena and Nicole narratingIMG_1451 Hannah and AubreyIMG_1459Brandon waiting to go on stage for StompIMG_1463 StompIMG_1466 CamilleIMG_1467Brandon and all the boysIMG_1482Time for fun afterwards

A show is a great way to bond and unite in a different way than just at school or church. I am glad they had the time to Stand together.




Picking up sticks

Robin gave a great lesson on choices and accountability in Family Night tonight. The fun part was the final activity where Robin took two sticks. She gave us two choices, and then we had to choose what stick to pick up. Each choice had different outcomes —better or worse consequences. It was interesting to reflect on how sometimes there are clear choices and harder choices between two good things.

Here are Brandon and Erik playing a rhythmic stick game after choosing.


Robin did a great job preparing and sharing music and scriptures and games with us. She definitely shone during the game part. She is fun-loving. I have lots of choices to make right now. I hope I can figure out what is the best or better choice that will bring more happiness and help the most people, in my family or community.


Parenting is always on my mind. I took a survey this morning, and the person asked the question, “What kind of parent are you?” I was a little shocked by the question somehow because the survey was about vaccinations. But I slowly answered, “Deliberate. Loving. Strict. Careful.” I don’t know that did my parenting style justice. But I definitely think deliberate is how I strive to live; loving might be the most important quality as a mother.

I was reading another mom’s blog where she talked about the best behavior modification program happens as we spend time playing with our children. I am often with my kids, but not always engaged in their play. I made a goal this week to spend 30 minutes a day just playing with one of my kids. So tonight, Robin and I colored. We have been working on coloring this story book for awhile, and we spent time chatting and coloring.


We weren’t rushed, and it was relaxing and fun to just work side by side. I am not particularly concerned about Robin’s behavior, but more love and time together has to be good. It felt good for me, and I loved that one-on-one half hour together. More importantly I love Robin.


Friendship Bracelets

I am not naturally drawn to crafts. But yesterday, Robin came and found me when I was alone and feeling kind of down. She wanted help getting started on a friendship bracelet. It took a bit of studying the instructions and even watching a demonstration video to understand the mechanics of putting the bracelets together. But ever since that first bracelet, we have all been spending time working with our hands and making friendship bracelets.

This is all that is needed, some string, scissors, and the frame.


Here is the wheel with the embroidery floss to get started.


The threads go across the wheel, and you weave them back and forth in a pattern.


The bracelet is starting to form.


Robin was so excited about it, she brought her buddy from next door over to teach her how to make one.


Robin is becoming a good teacher.


Camille made this beautiful one while she was home sick today.


Maren joined in the fun last night and made this one with a diamond pattern and wore it on her ankle.


It was therapeutic to work with my hands yesterday and help Robin get started. It also helped me to have a focus and project to take my mind off my worries. Now the bracelets are becoming a project to work on with sisters and friends — learning new skills and creating something beautiful. Creating with my hands can help heal a hurting heart.

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!


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.


Always someone reading a book….

I stayed in bed a good part of the day, but I do feel like maybe I have turned a corner on my sickness.  So rest makes a difference.

IMG_1154I have noticed that we enjoy reading around here. If I don’t know where Camille is, she is usually on her bed with a book. Today, she stayed home sick and was up on her bed quite a bit. This is one of the things she is reading right now.


I have never read those books, but I want to some day. Maren has been loving The Little House on the Prairie series. She is reading this one right now.


After she reads every night, she writes in a reading log for school. I found her later reading one of the American Girl books about Felicity, the doll she has. Robin, our book loving first grader, is reading everything she can, but tonight, she was reading a Rainbow Fairy book.


Earlier she was reading the Book of Mormon reader after we did our family scripture reading.


She loves to read!

Sure enough, Brandon was in his room reading before bed. Before Christmas all he wanted was a select group of books and clothes. He got a little more than just that, but he has been enjoying all the books he received, including The Mistborn series.


There are a lot of authors out there with the first name of Brandon these days.

Not only does Nicole study French, but she saw this play in San Francisco a few months ago. And she also loved the movie. She is a definite lover of literature. It has been so fun to talk about the books she is reading, being an old English major and lover of books myself. Some of my favorites that she has read recently — To Kill A Mockingbird, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Help, Jane Eyre, and now Les Misérables. It is the long version; she is enjoying a good, long read.


Erik gave me a few books for Christmas, one being this memoir called One Hundred Names for Love, about a man who is a writer and suffers a stroke including the center for language formation. Good writing so far.


Erik is reading a book I gave him for Christmas that I can’t wait to get a chance to read.


Reading on a slow day helps the time pass more enjoyably.  And I know it helps us think, create, escape, and learn.  There is nothing like a good book.  It is great to have a house full of books and readers.

Small Acts of Kindness

Robin just fell asleep.  Most nights one of us sits by her bed until she falls asleep.  She gets more sleep that way.  So we take the 10 or 15 extra minutes and sit with her.  Tonight she reached out and patted me on the head.  A small moment of kindness.  She wasn’t falling asleep quickly, so I reached out and put my hand on her forehead and told her I loved her. Her act of loving kindness helped me do the same for her.

Today was a sick day for Maren and me.  I stayed in bed late with a sore throat and head cold.  She woke up with the same and threw up a few times.  Erik was very kind to both of us.  He just took an extra few minutes away from work to make sure we were cared for. Over the course of the day he made both of these smoothies for me.IMG_1093I have been wanting to try both of them, got the special ingredients needed — flax seeds, ginger root, rice milk, frozen raspberries, spinach, parsley, etc. — and he took the time to actually make them for me and deliver them to me.  A special kindness on a day when I didn’t feel great.

When all the kids came home, they each seemed to need extra love and attention.  I think Brandon may be getting the cold we have.  He needed to use his calculator and was all spread out on the couch doing homework and asked if I would get it for him out of his backpack.  I really wasn’t feeling well, but I knew he wasn’t either.  So I got up and found it for him. Nicole needed a listening ear.  Erik was home to give it to her.  After trying to give her many solutions for her dilemmas, I started to try and listen more and just receive what she had to say.  She was kind to me and kept me company while I made dinner.  Camille always gives great hugs just when I need them.

Even though I didn’t have much to give, I somehow knew I needed some homemade chicken noodle soup.  That was my offering to the fragile crew we all were today.

IMG_1091Maren started to have some more energy and helped me get the table set.

IMG_1090The seven of us made it to the dinner table.  And the chicken soup and warm bread was just what the doctor ordered.  I usually make dinner with a crew of kids.  Then Erik cleans up.  I was listening to a podcast here about how kindness inspires kindness – 40 random acts of kindness someone did on her 40th birthday.  I was so tired, and my head was aching.  Erik was getting Robin ready for bed, and the dishes weren’t done.  I knew how tired Erik was after caring for all of us today and going to work on top of it all.  Maren was feeling a bit better, and so we went and put all the soup dishes away and wiped up the counters and scrubbed the pots and pans while listening to that inspiring podcast.

IMG_1092It is always more energizing to do the work together, and easy to help the one who has shown such love and service to you earlier in the day.

Kindness does inspire kindness.  Love begets love.  Service inspires service.  All those kindnesses help us connect and unite.  It was a sick day, but one filled with love and service and kindness all around.