Saturday, January 31, 2015

Winter Hike

Our friend Mark says there is no such thing as bad weather only bad gear. With that in mind we decided to brave the 26° morning and head out for a winter hike. We were well prepared and the only weather related complaints we heard was that the girls got too hot in their many layers.
We did three hikes, earned our animal habitat badge, had campfire time, ate lunch and had a lot of fun. 

Standing: Grace, Katie, Reagan.
Sitting: Ava, Grace, Fiona, Samantha.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

New Beginnings Season

Dixie, Erin, Chrissy, Caitlin and me greeting each other at the beginning of the meeting.  Dixie and her cute family (of which Erin and Caitlin are two of) moved to our ward and our neighborhood this summer. They've been a fun addition. We are VT companions and we visit Chrissy.  Anyway, whatever the relationships or how frequently or seldom we see each other it's always a happy occasion to get together with the saints.

Last night was our ward's New Beginnings. It was also WP1 and Bayside so we had to split the presidency in order to visit them all.  On Tuesday Jamie and I went to LP's NB. It's a fun time of the year.  We love to visit the wards, to see the girls and the leaders and to enjoy the wonderful evenings they plan.  This year our mutual theme is: O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day” (D&C 4:2).  I love this theme, it's recipe for doing what the Lord asks of us and the promise that if we do we will be clean before Him when we leave this life is amazingly awesome.   Besides being a wonderful theme it has also lent itself to lots of fun embarking ideas for New Beginnings. Hannah made the darling sailboat cookies that we had for refreshments. I have loved the nautical decorations and the powerful messages that have come with the power word embark.  

The rest of the day was nice as well.  I spent the morning with Jodie helping a sister in our ward clean.  Then after the kids were in bed I ran across the frosty grass to Darlainas (right next door!) and we watched Downton Abbey.

Kid news: Grace had lots of homework.  She's reading a book about George Washington at school and that's taking a lot of time.  She enjoyed A-days and is really looking forward to a service project that they planned last night.
Ethan has much less homework than her.  He's looking forward to the Superbowl and continues to pleasantly allow us to push him along in scouting.  He's almost as tall as me now.  Crazy! Sometimes I think about how short a time we have left until his mission (5 years).  It's too fast.  He's been helping with the laundry a lot more.  Trying to teach all the important life skills to that boy.
Hannah is now rehearsing for Sweeny Todd.  She is working on personal progress, working had at school and culinary.  Her grades are okay I wish they were a little better but she's a good girl and living a balanced life and has a lot of demands on her time.  She is also serving as the Mia Maid president and is really enthusiastic and engaged in that.
Jenna and Clayton are living with a lot of snow.  They often have friends over or go to friends and are happy.  Jenna is teaching primary and is the A-days leader in her ward.  Clayton is the ward mission leader.
Sierra just moved apartments and likes her new roomies.  They are Hawaiian and she's having a lot of fun with them.  She's graduating in April! and is planning for the next step.  Next week, I think, she's headed to AZ to spend some time with Andrea and Yoho.  Yoho has started his last round of chemo, things seem to be going very well.  He'll have 21 days and then hopefully he'll be done!  Go Yo!!!!
Dani is ready for Marshall to arrive.  The nursery is so cute, I have a ticket to go help, and he's big enough that any time is okay although he's not due for another few weeks. She and Greg are awesome parents.  I love to see them with the girls.  They are both serving with the youth and I think they're busy busy with babies, and Rosie, and callings and jobs.

What a wonderful blessing to have everyone doing well.  There are always ebbs and flows in families, challenges come and go and people have growing pains, disagreements and heartaches but for the most part we are enjoying a season of peace and success and I am very grateful for that tremendous blessing.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

snow day (-) any snow

snow day = baking day

snow day = video game day

snow day = friends to play

Monday, January 26, 2015

fish lamp

We came home from school to find a box on the porch.  Always a fun surprise.  It had Grace's name on it, which made her day.  There was no note so we don't know who the giver of this beautiful fish lamp is but she LOVED it!  She's a little fisher woman.

We watched a good movie tonight after FHE, it was called Blast 23. Unfortunately we all got wrapped up in it and forgot to put the children to bed on time.  Crossing my fingers that the fore casted snow comes and we have a delayed start time tomorrow!

Sunday, January 25, 2015


We enjoyed a very nice weekend.  Everyone had friends to play with which is always fun.  Saar invited Ethan and a bunch of boys from school over on Saturday afternoon.    They played football.  It wasn't warm out but it wasn't wet and when they were running around they were fine.  A little fresh air is always a good thing for a boy.  Grace played with Arden and got to go to Target with me.  She had saved her Christmas gift cards until her birthday hoping to combine them and although she said it was very hard she managed to wait.  She bought a camera and has many plans on when she would like to use it.   Hannah went to a cast party after the play, they played charades.  Saturday she went to Holly's to do her hair and then both girls went to Gwen's birthday.  Time to play is welcome.
Meanwhile it was also stake conference.  Rob had to go early to the leadership meetings and drove up with Wade then Jodie and I drove together later.  That way we could each drive home with our respective husbands.  Conference was really nice.  Saturday night is always my favorite.  It's adults only and it's wonderful to see friends from around the stake, to hear the inspiring council and to sit with Rob and to have no one little complaining.  The talks were so awesome.  One of my favorites was from Bro. Folsom from the Anacostia Ward.  He's a sweet man from somewhere in Africa. He talked so plainly about our responsibility to love one another and help one another.  How Jesus Christ is the most important and how we must follow Him.  He said when he first moved to the US he couldn't drive and a member drove him to church each week.  He talked about the great love and gratitude he felt and how they became the dearest of friends.  He prayed that he could have the ability to drive and the means to have a car and it wasn't too long before he was blessed.  Then it was his turn to drive many people to church and to talk with them and help them.  Now he is the seminary teacher, of the 6 students in his class only 1 has a parent that can drive, so he gets up early and drives to their homes and picks them up.  He talked about how much he loves to talk with the youth on the drive and to get to know them.  He asks them "What do you love about Jesus?"  He was so powerful and humble and sweet.
My dear dear friends Tara and Jodie both spoke and did as good a job as anyone could do.  The mission president's wife bore a sweet testimony and Bishop Cottle shared about the joy of serving in the vineyard.  It was uplifting and joyful.  The music and other talks were also wonderful.
Saturday hair
Today is Sunday and we went to conference as a family.  Again I enjoyed the talks so much.  It was a lot about temple worship, the important role of the family, and forgiveness.  Kitty, who I love and admire, spoke brilliantly about what  to do when life doesn't seem fair.  I love gathering together and strengthening one another.  What a treat.

When we came home we watched "The Good Lie", which I liked.  Now we are making chicken and waffles for dinner and getting ready for a new week.  The children are hoping for snow. I am hoping not ;)
kitchen help

Friday, January 23, 2015

Friends and Clutter

Tonight was one acts.  Hannah has been rehearsing for months.  She kept telling me how terrible she was and between that and last years one acts, where I didn't think she was terrible but I didn't enjoy the performances, I had quite low expectations. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.  She was not terrible, in fact she did a good job.  The play was clever.  It followed a group of 2nd graders through their lives, sort of.  It explored themes of disappointment and mistakes made in life but was funny at times and sweet at times.
This week has been a strange one.  We feel the loss of Millie . It's strange to be home without her here or to come home without her bounding to the door.  She had a lot of important jobs in our family.  She walked Grace to the car at night when she would finally go get her homework, it's a dangerous walk those 4 steps between the front porch and the car parked in the driveway.  She barked when any thing was amiss outside, like a deer eating too near our grass or a pedestrian walking on the front sidewalk.  She cleaned up spills left on the floor and made sure I vacuumed every day by leaving reminder hairs in the corners and under the tables (and every where else).  She picked up trash and laid on our feet and drooled on the window sills.  It's amazing how big a void her absence makes.
Ethan went on a field trip to the Smithsonian.
We went to a good-bye dinner for Wheels (Rob's boss) who is moving back to Fort Worth.
I subbed two days and we had girl scouts and soccer.
Z went to the puppy spa.
I cleaned the fridge.
Grace played with Arden.
Eric came over for the evening tonight (Friday).

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Grace Anne, oh my goodness she was a sweet little peanut! We were very happy to welcome her to our family. Dad begged and begged me to try one more time. We had 4 miscarriages and that was hard even with 5 lovely children to take care of and enjoy. We were very blessed but wanted another. Our prayers were answered and we got our little Gracie Lu.
Ten things about Grace:
1. She loves loves loves animals.
2. She is good at math and puzzles and logic.
3. She loves science and wants to be a vet or an inventor.
4. She is musical.
5. She loves to play on the computer.
6. She loves babies and toddlers.
7. She is a good girl scout and a good activity day  girl.
8. Grace is funny.
9 . She loves STEM and crafts and writing.
10. Grace is a good swimmer.
Happy 10th Birthday Grace!!!!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Ups and downs

Crazy day. The temple has been closed for a couple weeks for maintanance and today was the first day it was back open. It was packed. We made the 9am session and there was barely an empty seat. We saw several people we knew which is always fun. After we stopped at the visitors center to see the new models they have of the temple and Solomons Trmple and Moses' day tabernacle and the Kirtland Trmple.
Today we took Millie to the vet to be put to sleep. She's been suffering from declining health for a couple of years. She had colitis, and arthritis, she had many tumors and fell down the stairs a lot and lost control of her back legs from time to time and had a stroke and... We had wanted to put her down while she still had good days, I'm worried we waited too long but still it was terribly hard. We cried. She was a great dog.
After we got home from that we needed a diversion so we drove to a nearby new state park that was so awesome. We had a great time....

Until Hannah jumped out of a tree and hurt her ankle. In fact she's at the ER now with Rob. Hopefully it's not broken:(

UPDATE: not broken

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Camp report

It was fine.
That was the glowing report I got. It was 24 degrees in the night and the boys shivered through bravely. I asked Ethan if he used his gear and he said no. Not sure there is much more I can do than help him pack adequately. Rob did make him wear a jacket, not all the boys did. 12 year old boys aren't much for coats...or for using their brains. 
It's good though. Having some clue outdoors is an important life skill.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Birthday field trip

Grace is turning 10 next Tuesday. I can hardly believe my little caboose isn't so little any more.  Instead of a party she picked a friend and we went on a day trip.
We went to Baltimore to the science center and it was so much fun! None of us had ever been and we stayed until they shut the lights off on us and still didn't see it all.
There was so many hands on, interesting things to do. The girls had a great time.
We saw a 3d iMax movie about penguins. Learned about dinosaurs and space,  our bodies and tornados, we did experiments and built things and solved things and saw things blown up.

We stopped at Golden Corral on the way home. It was gross but they girls enjoyed the cotton candy, gummy bears and rolls. Awesome dinner.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday night

Tonight the manly men went camping.
In the cold. Our friend Mark says there is no such thing as bad weather only bad gear. The boys have pretty good gear. For the camping merit badge you have to have 20 nights of camping. Ethan has about 9 or 10 now so he should finish that up this year. I don't think either Rob or Ethan love to camp but I am glad they go. 
Meanwhile we did girl stuff. We went to Target and to Olive Garden and then dyed Hannah's hair:) Next we'll cozy up in bed and watch a movie. Hannah says its wrong to stereotype "boy" stuff and "girl" stuff but I say "pishaw!" I celebrate the differences. One is not better than the other and certainly either gender can enjoy either activity but men and women are different. They have different responsibilities and different roles and I am glad.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Snow Day

This is what passes as a snow day in southern Maryland. None the less there were shouts of glee and children's laughter in the streets and on the green. Grace spent a lot of the day outside playing and a lot of the day spilling hot chocolate on the counter and tracking snow and winter wear thru the house.
Unfortunately Ethan was, and still is, sick. He spent the day in bed.
Hannah slept all day. Didn't feel great but did go to school today. She missed seminary though. Ethan stayed home today. He still has a fever. So is Grace, she was up a lot of the night with a stomach ache.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Inside out and backwards

It's been so chilly. I subbed today and had bus duty. It just about froze my face off:(
All the kids are hoping for snow and consequently no school. Grace is wearing her pajamas inside out and backwards to insure a sufficient snow fall.
We shall see. I am always grateful for a lovely home that keeps us warm and safe and dry.

update:  It worked!!! We woke up to snow and no school!

Monday, January 12, 2015


Three generations of men in our family are Ohio State alumni. They are proud Buckeyes and tonight was a red letter day. Ohio won the national championship 42 to 20 against Oregon. We had some friends, and some snacks, over to watch and I stayed up and attentive to the game:) It was a lot of fun and very exciting. 


Saturday: Rob patched holes in the walls.  We want to paint and some prep work was needed.
We went to Costco, always a good time.
The missionaries came over for dinner. Dinner was adequate but not stellar.  I felt a little bad about that.
I waited up until midnight to go pick up Hannah, and then waited in the cold parking lot for another hour.  Brr.

Her trip was a lot of fun.  They took lots of workshops on acting and saw some plays and hung out in the hotel lobby and generally had a wonderful time.

Sunday: went to church.  The talks were good.
Stayed after church for a long time since Hannah had BYC.  She came out pretty excited about some cool activities they planned.
David Duke came over for dinner.  We always enjoy his company.  I made garlic & brown sugar chicken which I thought turned out really well, mashed potatoes, brussel spouts and a peach cobbler.

This morning, 5:15 am, we got the welcome phone call, two hour delay in school start times! Yes! Our mornings are so much nicer when kids leave the house at 8  instead of 6.   Every day should start after the sun rises as a general rule.
I don't know why today we have a delay, there isn't any snow and it's warmer than last week's 9 degree morning.  There's no rhyme or reason I suppose but I'll still gladly take it.

Friday, January 9, 2015

strange day

We woke up this morning earlier than usual.  4:45.  Hannah had to be at the school at 5:15.  She went on an over night field trip to the MD thespian festival.  They are performing their one act and also watching others and going to workshops and other fun acting things.  I am disappointed because all the plays that the high school does seem to have very dark themes; mental illness, alcohol, cannibalism, adultery. I don't understand why.  What's wrong with Enchanted??

Anyway I got back just in time to get Ethan up and then Grace.  I was going to sub today but when I got back I was greeted by Ziva throwing up.  What?  We don't know what was wrong with her but she threw up about 4-5 times as well as problems out the other end.  I spent several fun filled hours cleaning carpet.  She was sick as a dog, and then got better.  Weird.

So it's been freezing.  Really freezing.  Yesterday it was like 9 degrees.  This morning it was 24 when I took the last kid to school.  Sadly that last kid had a field trip Elm's Beach.  Outdoor classroom.  Who plans that for January?  I sent her in her big jacket, and a sweatshirt and a long sleeve shirt and boots and two pairs of gloves and her baklava and a hat and a hood and with a sack lunch.  It was pretty funny at the bus stop you could tell exactly who was going on the field trip as they looked very much like the little brother in a Christmas Story.

She did say that they had a good time and were warm enough.  So good. 

Tonight was Ethan's first indoor soccer game of the season.  It is always exiting.  Today's game especially so.  You'd have thought we were at a pro game with the shouting and clapping from the sidelines.  It was fast paced and tons of fun.  We did lose 7-6 but it was still so much fun!

Weirdest thing of all, I suggested to Rob and we take the kids out to dinner before the game.  Not too long ago a pho restaurant opened up in our little town and we have actually gone there once.  The food was good but the service was so slow it was painful.  Since then I've heard it got better so I wanted to try again. While we were talking about it on the phone he said fine but Grace would hate it.  To which I replied yes.    She's a picky eater and really only likes pizza, fried carbs, sugar and Subway sandwiches.  Normally everything else is met with complaints. 
So we go.  And she can't even read the menu but is willing so she tells me to order chicken, which I do.  Then the food arrived and she loved it.  She tried mine and loved it.  She ate it all and talked pleasantly and talked about how good everything was and maybe if she goes on a mission to "Mongolia" she will first check if they have "normal food" like Subway and then if not she could eat this.  I did tell her it wasn't Mongolian but Vietnamese and she accepted that and continued to eat.  She also said that she since she was good at selling girl scout cookies door to door she figures being a missionary will be a piece of cake. "Mom if they say no I just say thanks and try the next door...same thing."

So it's odd to have Han gone tonight.  It's always strange to have a chickie not in the nest when it's time to go to bed.  

Farewell dinner: take 2

Tonight we braved the cold and met at Olive Garden for dinner. Tara is moving to Missouri next month and we will miss her. I have been so blessed to work with and get to know such amazing, brave, valiant, steadfast women. Love them.  Really there aren't words but these women are truely sisters in Zion.
Becky, Kelly, Carol, Jamie, Jodie, me, Tara, Jacque and Jocelyn.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

frost bite on my ankles

BRRR! It is cold outside.  Right now it's 19 degrees with winds of 21mph.  Grace and I just walked the dogs and it was brutal.

Friday Grace has an elm's beach field trip.  Outside.  I need to get her some warmer footwear tomorrow.  It's insanely freezy out.  Tonight she had on her pink fluffy coat, and her black tundra jacket, and her hat and two hoods and a pair of gloves and she said it was okay except her legs.

I had my long coat but had on tennis shoes and the wind blew up my pants and froze my ankles.  Brr!!

Tonight Ethan and Hannah are at church.  Ethan is passing off 3 more merit badges.  Sports, citizenship in the community and personal finance.

After school today John came over to play games and Arden came over to make bracelets.  Hannah has been staying after school until 5 or 5:30 every day with play practice. They perform at festival this weekend and then again at the end of the month for her one act.  Then it should lighten up because she will only be in one performance instead of two.

Yesterday I subbed and we had girl scouts.  The girls finished their Amuse journey.

Monday, January 5, 2015

FHE : and inspired program

Sometimes FHE is really fun, sometimes we have wonderful lessons, occasionally we forget and every once in a while we have a disaster. 

Tonight was, you guessed it, one of the later. We started at the table because R was gone late and was eating dinner and I wanted to go next door to watch Downton Abbey after the kids went to bed. I wasn't really in a hurry but did want to start. Hannah wanted to practice scripture mastery and Grace wanted to play monopoly. Neither were too excited about stories from the New Era and songs. Ethan's foot touched Grace's chair and so rudely stayed there. Hannah made apple crumble but then announced she wanted to take it to school to share with her friends. The boys wanted to eat it.

Tears, off key singing of songs we didn't all know, a talk on the dangers of pornography and a few indignant eye rolls plus some huffy breathes and we managed to make it through. Then I prayed a prayer that was "lacking brevity", tucked Lu in bed and met Darlaina for some English manor romance and intrigue. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015


The alarm went off at 7am. Our ward start time is 9 this year. I am embarrassed to say how hard it was to get up. Tomorrow is going to be brutal! 

Church was good, the children all at reverently.

We got home and just hung out. Hannah and Chelsea made dinner. We made sure everyone's homework was done and ready. Boys played soccer. R napped. 
This little cutie is a brand new sunbeam. It's been fun having her this weekend;)
Another picture from the dance.
Tonight all the big kids and R and Asa from next door are watching x-men, one last hurrah before school starts.