March 17, 2015

When You Have A Collector . . .


My RedDog is a collector. I use that term in place of  hoarder because it makes me feel better. He loves to hold on to things, some meaningful, others complete junk. Periodically he and I will go through his room and root out the trash, separating it from the things that have meaning. It think it’s important to help a kid who likes to collect stuff realize what is worth holding on to because the reality is that you just can’t keep everything.

One thing that RedDog collects that I can appreciate is rocks. For the longest time his collection sat in a box in his closet gathering dust, only to be opened when a new special rock was added to the numbers.  Then when he was a Cub Scout he had the opportunity to really organize the collection, including finding a way to display it.

He thought an egg carton would be a great display case. I vetoed that idea since I don’t consider styrofoam to be aesthetically pleasing. I knew my mom had an old printing tray in her basement that she wasn’t using, so we leaned it up on his bookshelf and each slot got a rock.

 printers tray

We put the most special rocks – some geodes, crystals, a gigantic fake diamond and fool’s gold – front and center and added shells from our trips to the beach as a final touch.


RedDog loves his rock collection. I love that it is on display. I don’t love helping him dust it, but that’s okay because I want him to know that his collection is important to me. I want him to feel that I love what he loves.

map wall

Except for the twenty-nine silly band bracelets I threw away last week. Seriously. J-U-N-K.

March 10, 2015

A Farewell To Winter . . .


Here is my small Owlie on the precipice of the biggest hill in our neighborhood, ready to take the plunge. Last week we had a wonderful snowstorm that cancelled school for two days. On the second day (our twelfth day of cancelled school since Christmas) I was desperately in need of a break from my children, so I sent all four of them, including two reluctant teenagers, off to the big hill to sled.

I’m so happy I did! Chris took his camera with him, intending to only photograph the others, but the kid in him won out and he took multiple trips down the hill and Hannah caught him in the act. All of these pictures are precious to me.


RedDog has a fierce sledding face!


And then there is Hannah. Out of twelve pictures, she had this same face going down the hill every single time. She cracks me up!


If you want an idea of what the pecking order is like in our home, I give you exhibit A. Poor Ollie. He has no idea that a giant snowball is about to land on his head. And Chris and Hannah sat up on the hill watching the whole thing play out while taking pictures of it. I have succeeded as a mother.


The baby recovered and made the best of the sunny afternoon. It was actually a big deal. He made it up that hill, walking in the snow, over thirty times. Slept like a rock that night, too!


Probably my favorite pictures from the day involve my bookends. I am aware that they don’t have that much time left together. They have a mutual admiration and love for each other that is really sweet. Brothers forever.



After almost two hours of sledding the kids came home exhausted, sunburned (bad mom) and happy while I was able to workout, take a shower and get some laundry done by myself. We are all officially filled to the brim with snow love and snow days and can say a hearty farewell to Winter while hoping beyond hope that Spring is quickly coming.

(Photo credits to Chris & Hannah || Budding Photographers)

March 3, 2015

At Five Point Five . . .


I am about to admit something really difficult.

He’s a boy, not a baby.

But I’m not going to tell him that because I need him to stay little forever.  At five and a half, here are some things I’ve been wanting to remember about my Owlie right now:

  • He has a fantastic imagination! Sometimes he’ll come and ask me what he can do that is fun. I usually tell him I don’t know, but I think he can come up with something. Next, I’ll find him in his room or the basement imagining up some sort of fun in outer space or with puppies.
  • He is known to dislike just about anything that is dinnerish (mixed foods, casseroles, etc) or green vegetables. Whenever he’s told he has to eat them, he blurts out, “I can’t. I’m fasting”.
  • He thinks giving people zerberts is hilarious. He has also been known to spank the Elders (missionaries) in the bum, despite us telling him not to repeatedly.
  • He sleeps with at least three stuffed puppies each night.
  • He just finished listening to me read him the first Harry Potter book, so I let him watch the movie with me. Now he is afraid to be alone. I don’t mind it, except when I’m trying to use the bathroom.
  • He can do the following jobs perfectly: make his bed, separate his laundry, put his laundry away, put the silverware away, empty the shoe basket, clean up toys, dust. He cannot, however, do any of them without WHINING.
  • He loves Legos. He really, really loves Legos.

He’s still my best bud. We are together an awful lot. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like when he’s gone to Kindergarten next year. I love him so much!

February 26, 2015

Peace Of Mind …


Every once and a while my kids do something I know nothing about and when it eventually  gets back to me I think (with serious relief) that we might actually be doing something right as parents and they are going to turn out okay.

I’ve been meaning to record this story about Hannah on the blog for a few months, but didn’t know how to write it. Instead, I am going to post an excerpt from a talk that a member of our Stake Presidency (leadership over ten congregations in our area) gave to the adult church members in which he recounted the story through the eyes of one of Hannah’s friends:

“On Wednesday, December 10, a student entered Loudoun County High School shortly after 8 a.m. A security specialist monitoring the surveillance cameras saw a flash of metal that looked as if it could be a gun. She called police. Within minutes, a message was broadcast over loudspeakers telling students and staff at the Leesburg school to lock doors and move into interior rooms. Leesburg police arrived with tactical teams to sweep the campus and traced the young man’s path through the school with the same cameras.

Three Mia Maids (14 and 15 year old girls) from the Leesburg Ward (Ellie Brinton, Hannah Lee, and Trina Cummings) were early because they came directly to school from early morning seminary. They were in their classroom in the school before most of their classmates when the announcement came over the loudspeaker. They immediately sheltered in place under their desks as instructed, remaining silent.

I’d like share what happened during the next hour in Ellie’s words, “As we were waiting there, I wondered- what was going on of course- but also if we would be okay. I texted "I love you" messages to my sister who was in the school as well and also my parents. After around 20 minutes, we started hearing sirens. After another short time, we heard crashes outside our door. Then pounding footsteps, and walkie-talkies. I remember hearing someone yell, "POLICE!"

It was then that Hannah turned to Trina and I, and gestured with her hands- 6 fingers, 3 fingers, and then 6 again. I realized she was trying to say, "D&C 6:36" We knew this well because it is a scripture mastery verse which reads "Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not". Over time the noise died down. While I waited in a corner with 6 other kids, I felt my Heavenly Father was keeping us safe. He made sure we were okay. I knew He was there, with me, my friends and my teachers. I knew we were not alone.”

There are so many things about this story that make me happy as a mom. First, the supposed gunman ended up being a student with a pair of collapsible headphones shoved awkwardly into his pocket, so our children were and are completely safe. Second, the school and town worked together to handle what was a very intense and stressful situation in such a great way that it is being studied by other schools and towns.

But most importantly, both of my kids were in the school at the time of the lockdown and had the immediate reaction to turn to the Lord in silent prayer and both felt everything was going to be okay. Hannah sensed that her friend was starting to get a little panicked in the situation and my girl had the peace of mind to recall a scripture that would calm her friend’s nerves!

And that brings me a peace of mind like nothing else.

February 25, 2015

So Lovely It Hurts …


When you have a birthday that is six days before Valentine’s Day, you usually get flowers midway between birthday and Love Day to count for both. I’m not complaining because I love flowers. I have encouraged The Hubby to think outside the flower box by avoiding roses. They’re not my favorite – too cliché. This year I received a nice bouquet of white lilies from my sweetie.

They were all closed when I first received them so I was a little bit like, “Meh”. Then they began to open and I fell in love with them, moving them all over the house during the day so I could enjoy them and even picking the leftovers apart to put in an arrangement with tulips for our Valentine’s Day dinner table.

Before that I snuck them upstairs for an impromptu photo shoot. I often go to my room or bathroom for pictures because that is where the best light in the house is. It’s not unusual to find me standing in my tub photographing things. I’m weird, but natural light is so good. I just knew these flowers would look so gorgeous against my bedroom paint – a moody blue/gray/green (Glidden’s Oyster Bay) – and I was right!

lillies side

Sometimes when I take photographs like these that are close up and nature inspired, I feel such an awe and reverence for the creations God saw fit to give us. A few of these lilies had the faintest blush of pink on their edges. They were so dainty and feminine.

I sat in my room staring at them, photographing them and just being grateful. The beauty of it almost hurt it was so great. I wish I could always remember to be grateful like that. I wish I could always see the beauty and not get caught up in the ugly and negative.

I wish I had flowers like this to remind me all the time!

  lillies front

February 23, 2015

Love Day Dinner …

vday dinner

I’m being super untrendy by not writing about Valentine’s Day until a week and a half after the fact. I like to blaze my own trail like that!

As usual, we had a Valentine’s Day dinner with our kids and parents on February 14th. I don’t want to be out and about with the throngs of people on Valentine’s Day, so The Hubby took me out to dinner the night before. We went shoe shopping (happy place for both of us) and stayed the night at a hotel. When we came home in the morning, our kids were all alive and well. Sadly, I slept horribly on the hotel mattress which was  too hard for my Princess and the Pea body.

I spent the rest of Saturday (after eating cronuts) getting ready for our family dinner. I finished up some handmade Valentine cards, I set the table with some new additions this year courtesy of Pinterest (doily table runner and cupid arrows) and got to cooking.

vday arrows

We had chicken parmesan served over pasta, a green salad, and fresh strawberries. I added some paper straws to bottles for pink Italian soda and everyone got a box of conversation hearts. Is it just me or are they yucky tasting now?

vday drinks

I attempted a delicious dessert and it was a win! My friend Michelle made me molten lava cake with a salted caramel center for my birthday and I made it again for our Love Day Dinner.

My Valentine got another punny gift this year which is now hanging in our kitchen:

spooning since

I made it using things I already hand on hand in the house, inlcuding these little antique silver spoons. I love my Hubby! He’s a good spooner.

I hope you had a fantastic Valentine’s Day with someone you love. For me, it’s not a commercial day as much as it is a day to show extra love to the people in my life who mean the most to me.