Monday, December 29, 2014

Snow Day

*A little note before my post.  One of my goals for this coming year is to use my camera more.  My actual camera.  Not one attached to some sort of amazing device.  I love that I can use my phone to capture fun, important moments that I may have otherwise missed, but I miss the quality of my camera photos.  So. If I am going to the trouble of lugging my little camera around I may as well go to the extra trouble of posting about it. ;)

This winter has been fabulous.  Warm and green.  Until Christmas.  It got cold and snowy.  I am learning I am not a huge fan of the snow.  This morning I got up early to meet Cami at the gym and the heavens were dumping little fluffy flakes all over.  Ugh.

Farewell warm weather and green grass.  I will miss you.  See you in a few months! Sniff...

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Week of Christmas

Christmas came crazy fast this year.  Maybe it had something to do with working 20 hours a week now.  Maybe it's that the kids are growing up too quickly and are all involved in their own activities.  We dropped a lot of things that we liked to do and went into what (at least to me) felt like Christmas survival mode.  We did good, though.  There was an abundance of Christmas spirit and we squeezed in Christmas activities where we could.  I will admit that it was really hard to let go of decorating my "nice" tree exactly how I wanted to.  I don't think I even hung an ornament on that tree until about a week before Christmas.  I managed to get a few things on there but it was in no way decked out the way I wanted it to be. Eventually I made myself remove the decoration box from the living room.  It helped remove a lot of the stress and disappointment.

We took off to Price on the Saturday before Christmas to spend time with Jeff's family.  I got to love on this sweet nephew of mine.  Aren't his rolls perfect?!

Chloe and Sophie had so much fun being with cousins.  We enjoyed the 2nd annual white elephant-style gift exchange.  Nothing compared to the moment we were surprised by someone receiving a box of Grandma Maynes clothes.  No one was more surprised than Grandma, though, who wanted to know why Grandpa was giving her clothes away.  It was hilarious and we all had a good laugh.

I had to work Christmas Eve.  Thankfully it was in the morning so I could spend the day with the family.  My friend, Emily, and I decided last minute to wear ugly Christmas sweaters.  I really hate this picture of me, but my BFF says that it is all the sweater's fault and I have to believe her.

My favorite thing about Christmas is the love between siblings.  They seem to set aside their differences and are lovey.  It melts my mother heart.  We started a gifted exchange between the kids years ago and it is so fun to watch them really try to pick out the perfect gift for their assigned sibling.  Also PJ's are a big tradition.  I nearly had McKay and Sophie convinced that I did not remember ever doing this.  (Mostly because I was tired and annoyed that they expected it) They were happy to see I was only pulling their leg.

Each year we do a Mary and Joseph dinner on Christmas Eve.  This year we decided to add to it a bit.  Jeff and I dressed up as Mary and Joseph and taught the kids from the scriptures about the life of Jesus as we served them.  We eat by candle light and use paper plates and only our fingers for utensils.  It's always a special event.

Christmas morning we had so much fun opening gifts.  I think we did a great job and Santa came through on his end as well.

Chloe, Jeff and I all snuck in a much needed Christmas nap before heading out to the Marchant party.  In the snow. Ugh.  White Christmas's are only beautiful if you stay home.  We met at a church and enjoyed visiting and food and more presents.

The 26th is my family's Christmas celebrations.  The hit gift this year was the bean bag chairs for the kids.  I can't wait for family movie nights now!  I can finally sit on the couch again!!

Jeff and I ditched the kids today in favor of a movie and dinner.  Unbroken was inspiring. A little long but still good.  And have you tried Pie in Five??? Yum!  Pizza in 5 minutes.  They all come in personal sizes so you get the pizza you want.  :) We topped it off with a cupcake from One Sweet Slice.

It's been a great week.  I must be getting old though because instead of feeling let down I feel more refreshed and ready to take on the new year, new challenges, and hopefully reach some new successes.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Four Years

This kid. She is sunshine and spunk and a little stubborn all rolled into one. Mostly she makes us laugh and melts our hearts with her perfect snuggles.

She was so excited to celebrate her birthday. We invited her friends over for a Frozen themed birthday party. (Can I say I'm so happy this is the last 4 yr old party I will throw?) we painted snowflake ornaments, played freeze dance, threw "snowballs" at a tower toilet paper, and had a blast playing Don't Eat Olaf. 

We had a little family party on Sunday. We ate Chloe's favorite- chicken nuggets and fries for dinner with a gorgeous Frozen cake and ice cream for dessert. After presents we watched Maleficent. 

Little Miss was in heaven. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

First Day

Ok.  We are well past the time that is acceptable to post your kids first day of school photos.  But.  I'm going to do it anyway.

7th Grade (not sure how or when this happened)

5th Grade (Gets asked all the time if he is the oldest)

3rd Grade (Finally baptized! More on that later)

Preschool (We have finally grown out of the Joy School stage!!)

Here's to a fantastic school year filled with hard work, good grades and lots of learning!!!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Family Weekend

In rare alignment of all the right planets and stars, Jeff's entire family got together over the 24th of July weekend.  7 kids in 4 different states (one coming clear from Buffalo, NY) is no easy feat.  It was so great to see everyone.  We played, participated in a bike parade, attended a children's fair, swam, did makeup (I think girls are always 12 years old at heart :), learned crochet, made bracelets for the children's hospital, played some more, ate lots of yummy food, laughed a lot, and made so many great memories.  I'm so grateful we got to be together for a few days!

We may not have the cabin anymore, but we still have the cannon.  BOOM!!

Cousins really do make the best friends.  Wish Bry lived a bit closer.  At least it's really easy to keep in touch with so many fun devices. :)

Sisters-in-law also make the best of friends

See?  Who else could convince me to do rub on tattoos? Ha!

Bottle rockets with Grandpa

The lineup.  Love these kids.  You would not believe the mess these little angels can make. 

Birthday bubbles!  Grandma wanted to celebrate everyone's birthdays at once.  What better way than with bubbles and cookies? 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Spring Piano Recital

**This is an older post that's been sitting in my drafts for almost 2 months.  I thought it would be fun to share still. :)**

It's been a rough piano year for us.  (Three different teachers in less than 6 months.  'Nuff said.) But.  We have found a fantastic piano teacher we are ALL loving.  She is kind and patient and easy to work with. McKay and Sophie adore her and Lyndsi doesn't complain.  Definitely a winning situation.

Friday the kids had their first recital with this new teacher.  McKay missed out, opting to go to the Father's and Sons campout with his dad and Grandpa Ard. The girls did great.  Here are their performances:



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Girls Camp 2014

It's done.  It's over.  Hallelujah.  It's not my favorite thing to talk about right now, but such a huge part of my life merits a little post at least.

In January I was called to be the Assistant Camp Director.  A few weeks later they called me back in and switched me to the official Camp Director and the previous one would be my assistant.  Great.  Then the next 6 months ensued.  We worked hard.  We made rules.  We tried to plan.  Camp came.  The girls had fun.  We had awesome Star Wars themed t-shirts.  Darth Vader came to camp several times, each with an envelope relating parts of the movies to the gospel (think board game action cards).  The girls thought this was hilarious and very "Bachelor" like and started calling them date cards.  We had rain.  We trained to be Jedi's. We crafted.  We kayaked.  We roasted (literally and figuratively). We prayed.  We sang.  The stake visited.  We ate.  A lot.  We slept.  Not much.  No bears.  (Thankfully.) No major incidents.  No pranks (much to the dismay of a loud few.) We had fun.

I still feel overwhelmed when I think about it.  If you ask me about it, I will probably only say the girls had a lot of fun.  They did.  They loved each other.  They laughed.  They played. I didn't see anyone being excluded.  The older girls took these cute new Beehives and absorbed them into their groups and loved them. That was honestly my favorite part.  I am biased having my own daughter be there for the first time.  I could not have asked for a better experience for her.

Rhodes Rolls.  Totally worked.  Took some practice, but they were yummy!

I was reminded often at camp how much Heavenly Father loves me.  How often he watches out for me and how he uses others as his angels.  I was reminded once again that my no pranking rule was very important. One small prank was allowed- the snipe hunt.  I, however, was quite worried about it because of the extremes it has been taken to in the past years.  Every evening that we tried to do it, it rained.  I am positive it was not a coincidence and the Lord was sustaining me and the decision I had made.  I felt love for these beautiful girls like I love my own kids.  I hugged a few of them and had to keep myself from handing out kisses and "I love you's." :)

There have been a lot of compliments on camp.  Some criticisms.  My assistant assures me the critics are nit-picking.  Yesterday, though, I got a letter from the Stake Young Women presidency.  It warmed my heart and gave me what I needed so that I could know I did do a good job and that I reached my goals even if others thought that my rules and ideas were a little (lot?) silly.
See?!  How do you not say "I love you" to these cute girls?!!

Next year is Stake girls camp.  As a teen, I would have groaned.  As the camp director all I can say is, "WAHOO!"

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Some Saturdays are pure perfection. I woke up this morning, lounging in bed enjoying a near perfect temperature in my room. Perfect for lounging. I did convince myself to not linger long though. The kids pitched in to clean the house and did great. Chloe was crabby but after a little cuddle time she fell asleep. Jeff's off reading a book. The kids are outside playing. I managed to sneak a few minutes and paint my toes. These are the things I wanted when I dreamed of being at this stage of motherhood. Loving the peaceful moments today. 

Monday, June 2, 2014


I've wanted a lush, productive garden since we had our own yard to put one in.  Sadly, my former attempts at gardening have been pathetic.  I do really well at first but seem to lose steam as the summer progresses. Thankfully, as my babies have gotten a little bit older and more self-reliant, I've been able to do more in my garden.  I'm learning as I go and each year the ol' garden gets better and better.  I still hold to my thought that gardening is a very expensive education.  ;)

A couple of years ago we decided to jump on the square foot gardening band wagon and it really has made a huge difference for us.  Here are this years boxes and some non-boxes:

Last year we planted green beans and almost as soon as they sprouted leaves, they were eaten by bugs.  I learned my lesson and sprayed them early, though some still were nibbled on.  Our tomatoes are growing like weeds. I started with 6 plants and have since added 3 more with plans to do at least 1 or 2 more.  We had excellent luck with the jalapenos last year, so I planted one again.  I also got brave and tried a banana pepper.  Not a huge pepper fan, but willing to try new things. ;)  We have the usual pumpkins, zucchini (a novice gardener favorite because it requires no work hehe), cucumber, yellow squash, spaghetti squash, cantaloupe and even some watermelon.  I have a couple of boxes that are empty.  I may try some more things or more of something we've already planted.  Oh!  Last year I bought some strawberry bulbs on clearance.  They did ok but not fabulous.  I left them alone and now they're doing great!  I think in the next year or two a good portion of that box will be strawberry plants.

Jeff and I also really would like to cultivate some good fruit trees.  Our yard came with a peach and a cherry tree.  Last year I got my first bowl full of cherries.  Surprisingly worm free and very yummy!  The peach tree has always produced delicious peaches, but they're cling peaches. :(  Not much good for canning.  This year we planted a second peach tree that is a free stone.  It's just a baby, but came with a lady bug.  That's definitely a good omen, right?  We also have a couple of apple trees we're trying to learn about.

Besides the new peach tree, we added a berry box this year.

I got some starts from a friend.  A little sad looking now, but we'll see how they do.  She promised me more in the fall when it's a better time to transplant them.  Hooray!

Monday, May 26, 2014


After a week away from normal life, constant emails, Instagram and Pinterest, and the craziness that comes from being the mother of 4, wife to 1, I feel like I have been reset.  Refreshed.  Restored.

Jeff and I made a last minute decision (well, as last minute as a week away can be) to take the kids to the Oregon coast for a family vacation.  We headquartered just outside of Tillamook in a charming little house a short drive up the canyon.  I seriously think this was the kids favorite part of our trip.  Living in a little home, just for us, with room to play, to spread out, to cook regular food, to NOT have to share a room with 5 other people.  (Ok.  That may have been my favorite part.)

We spent hours at the beach every day, playing in the sand, teasing the waves.  Sometimes we won.  Sometimes the waves won.  Our first beach (Rockaway), the kids acted as if they were greeting an old, long lost, very special friend.  There was no warming up.  They picked up right where we left off, nearly 5 years ago.  Chloe was a little shy of the water, but adored the sand and all the pretty rocks and seashells and drift wood.

One of the days we decided to drive the hour and 45 minutes south to Newport to visit the Yaquina lighthouse and a few other favorites.  We passed through some of the most beautiful farm country I've seen.  Every time we saw a for sale sign, we dreamed of what it might be like owning a little place on the coast.  The country, the mountains, and the beach.  How much better could life get?!

The light house was a definite highlight as we were able to watch a seal playing in a beautiful little cove.  Later, hiking down to the beach on the opposite side we were privileged to see a mama seal and her pup lounging in the sun.

We hit up Mo's in the historic bay front area of Newport for some famous clam chowder (which was REALLY good)  followed by a walk to the waterfront to see the sea lions.  Chloe thought all their barking and bachelor antics were hilarious.  Definitely her favorite part of the trip.  The most amazing thing is you are only 5 vertical feet (give or take a little) from these beautiful creatures.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium was next on our Newport agenda.  I remembered it being really cool last time but was a little disappointed.  Still, there are always wonderful things to see when it comes to God's creations.  We watched a little program with the sea birds.  Chloe was thrilled to be splashed by a tufted puffin.  ("Griddled puffin?  On a Friday?" name that movie and we can be best friends. ;) Not a trained bird, just a silly one. :)  McKay spotted a snake slithering across the nature trail.  You can bet your life we took a picture and sent it to my mom.  Haha.

McKay's favorite was the Tillamook Air Museum.  It's small but awe-inspiring.  There were two naval air hangars built in Tillamook during World War II to house blimps and other naval aircraft.  The larger of the two burned down 20 years ago, but the second one is still standing.  They house over 30 different airplanes and tons of memorabilia.  I thought a lot about my Grandpa Marchant and his years as an airplane mechanic in the war.

We couldn't stay in Tillamook without a visit (or two) to the famous Tillamook Cheese factory.  We feasted twice on their heavenly ice cream and felt no guilt.  ;)

I was surprised at how many churches were in such a small town.  I got curious about my own church so we looked up the closest LDS meeting house. Surprise! There was one right in town.  We drove by and watched a cub scout den having their den meeting and the activity day group having theirs.  I think it was good for the kids to see the church is essentially the same everywhere and kids their age doing the same things they do.

One other place we visited was out on Cape Meares.  They have a cool light house and we were able to take the kids in this one (without a prearranged tour time!).  When you are up by the light (called a Fresnel) it is hot.  We were starting to sweat within a matter of seconds.  Still.  It's so cool to be up in the light.  What these light keepers had to do is incredible and it involved their whole families.  I can barely manage to keep my bathroom mirrors clean, let alone hot, high-up, life-saving glass!

We also walked to a tree in the same area called the Octopus tree.  Very cool.

This was such an amazing trip.  Our kids have become fantastic road trips.  I was shocked at the lack of arguing and fighting in the car.  They got along.  They never complained about being bored and rarely complained about being carsick.  For me, I came home refreshed and like my internal ... something... was reset.  Habits that I'd had a hard time breaking before haven't been nearly the same struggle and good habits are coming easier.  I feel more relaxed and ready to live than I have in a long time.  I've noticed a difference in my kids, too.  They've been kinder to one another and have complained less and procrastinated less when it comes to chores and responsibilities.

Jeff and I have talked about this before and I feel even more strongly now, vacations are essential to a healthy family.  They don't have to be expensive for long or far away.  Just time with mom, dad, and kids minus the rest of the world and technology.  But if you can get to the beach...