Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas!

It's 8:20 on Christmas Eve, and all of the kids are asleep (magic!) Sometime in the last few years, we started a tradition of a guest room sleepover party on the night before Christmas. Last year I added Christmas lights and a table of decorations and the guest room became "The Christmas Eve Room". 

This afternoon, Ellie and Owen helped me make up the beds and hang lights and they made snowflakes, big and small, to add to the decorations. 

This evening we celebrated Christmas with Jen and Jeremiah's family with dinner and a nativity program. (Ellie helped make the plans and was most excited to include a few great cello songs which I loved too.) We sang and played a few Christmas songs and read the story of the Savior's birth and acted out the Nativity with costumes and all :) (With a baby Aubrey even and the cutest little Alex and Isaac angels!) 

Through the evening the kids were asking off and on "Can I go to the Christmas Eve room now?" And when the answer was finally yes, they were so super excited! And amazingly, sometime on their own after reading Christmas stories together (plus magic treehouse for Porter to listen to, and favorite books for Ellie and Landon that they were in the middle of)  they even turned off the lights (Christmas string included) and fell asleep!

Merry Christmas tomorrow!

And a few little favorite Christmas things I've loved the last while --

a favorite song by Debra Fotheringham
an instagram post that has stuck with me
and a sweet Christmas story from my favorite recipe pro

Friday, December 21, 2018

Christmas Break!

Christmastime 1988-ish 
It's officially Christmas Break at our house! Owen turned down a playday for the afternoon because he was READY to have an afternoon to do just be home and do whatever he wants to do. He and Porter may have already been banished to the basement while Isaac naps after some intense (and loud) 'do whatever they want to do' time :)

Coming up: cleaning organizing all the things (?) (I was starting to feel kind of on top of things at home, but the last couple weeks have me wishing for some time to just get all the things straightened out again!),  playing games (kids), working (Jordan), wrapping presents (happily me!), lots more Christmas music, arranging a trombone/cello/piano Jingle Bells for the kids by their request, UPS dropoffs and a DI dropoff and returns,  (to-be-late) Christmas cards?,  watching Christmas movies (or at least Muppet Christmas Carol), painting rocks with Porter (and all the other 'maybe later' kinds of things of the past week or two!), lego robotics planning and prep...

and just some happy Christmas break time.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Sub for Santa

image here
Last night I went with the youth in our ward to pick out Christmas gifts for a family who could use a little help right now. Every year, our ward uses donations for this Santa Project to help a family or two at Christmastime who is struggling. And it is a highlight for the kids involved and I know a great blessing to these families too.

I hadn't realized till I was walking around Walmart with a few of the young women looking for 'girl size 10 winter clothes'  how...weird? mixed-up? much? I was also feeling about the whole thing.

Going to sleep last night, I had all these childhood memories and thoughts buzzing around in my head --

Of coming home on a late December afternoon and finding a red envelope full of cash on our doorstep. (Or was it hand-delivered? I think it was hand-delivered...) And how Jen and I went to Walmart and picked out some necessities we knew Mom would appreciate (but probably not buy) before we surprised her with the rest of the money and our gifts.

Of opening our front door on a late December evening and seeing our porch full of packages and feeling so loved and so blessed. Who would be so kind to think of us and know we needed a little help?

Of opening our front door on another year's late December evening and again seeing our porch full of packages and feeling so ashamed. Who thinks we need a little help? (we do) What if my friends found out? (what if these gifts are from them?)

Of watching the door on another late December night, listening for a knock, hoping, wishing.

And also,

Of sorting through boxes and bins at the Sub for Santa warehouse, filling orders for other families - a book, a doll, a dump truck, let's add something extra just to make it feel a little special for them...

Of walking through Walmart (there's a theme here :) with church friends and filling our cart with surprises for another family. Look at these darling baby clothes! 

Of one Christmas Eve, driving far from home to find a little trailer - one light shining above the door. And stepping inside with my Dad - his Sub for Santa sack filling his arms, and seeing the tears of a mother who had set out all she had - a few small stockings - across their foldup couch.  Who was still trying to figure out what she'd say to her children the next day when they woke to see - this is it. And how full of gratitude she was for that very last minute delivery, and how I saw maybe I was one of the lucky ones.

And then,

I should be doing something! Followed by all those other thoughts about is this really the best way?

Like how it's important to help people in a way that they have ownership in working through the hard times. Or serving in ways that build up the recipient and gifting in a way that preserves dignity.

Or how maybe we are giving a great gift, but what about the mother who spent all Christmas season just wishing she could go and pick out a few things for her children, and so she is grateful for these generous gifts but also ashamed that a stranger  - someone who doesn't know how her child would light up to see that certain special thing - chose those gifts instead of her.

Or how the next year when things are a little better and that family is in a better place,  but then Christmas comes again and the memories are close of those piles of packages filling the space under the tree, with overflowing generosity,  and now there's just that one special toy, and the warm socks and the brand new boots. Which feels like everything because of all the other things that money could have been used for, but then on Christmas morning it also feels like this is it?

I feel like now's the spot where I wrap this up with the lesson I've learned and the new insight I've found...



I have a rule for myself and this little blog of mine. After I put Isaac down for a nap, I come and write my blog. And then I get to go have lunch. (Which means lunch is waiting right now... :)


I struggle to know what the 'right thing' to do is sometimes with all these complicated thoughts swirling around in my head.  I am so very grateful for a lifetime of kindness from others - for all the good things -  little and great -  that have been done for me, for my family. And maybe sometimes the good we try to do will be the just perfect thing at the just perfect time. And maybe sometimes not. But it's still right. Yes?

I wrote this yesterday, but decided to let it sit for a while so I could think a bit more (since my lunchtime deadline had already passed :)

So here’s what I think today, which I think is mostly the same but I feel more certain than yesterday. It’s always going to be the right thing to help and love and serve. Sometimes it’s going to be messy and complicated and awkward and maybe even just a little mixed up or weird — just like everything else we do - (we’re all just doing the best we can y’all.) 

Always, but especially at Christmastime when every day you hear another way you could give or serve... I kind of tend to just say no because I'm overwhelmed with all the things, all the needs. But after sitting with this for a day or so, this morning I hurried to get through our morning jobs so I'd have a little extra time.  And I sent that email to offer a little help - even though I felt embarrassed about how long it took me to just do it. 

I still have all those thoughts swirling in my head - and especially the “is this really the best way?” Probably not, but it's something!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018


It was so great to celebrate Nathan and Rachel's wedding this weekend! They had a beautiful reception at the Springville Art Museum, and they had these sweet little favors with a note attached that said mostly "Yay!!!" So fun to see these two so-happy people! :) And it was fun to see a few great Livermore friends of the Brough's and to meet some of Rachel's sweet family too. 

They were married in the Provo temple, and afterwards a family friend was visiting with Jordan and me and said something like this that just touched my heart  - "You know, we have some hard and discouraging things in life, but this! This is just pure celebration!"

Monday, December 17, 2018

Home again! (+ a day in bed)

hotel room duck-duck-goose with cousins!

We had a great, full few days in Provo spending time with family and celebrating Nathan and Rachel's wedding! (more later, maybe :)

We got back late Saturday and jumped back in to regular life with Sunday morning church (including Jordan filling in with a Christmas primary lesson), a fun Young Women's brunch and presidency meeting, Landon's setting apart in the Deacon's quorum presidency, ward choir... a happy, full Sunday.

Except... halfway through choir (hooray for Christmas music!), I wasn't feeling so great and I finally realized I needed to just go home and climb back into bed -- I hurried across the snowy field and managed to make it home before I got really sick. Blegh.

But, I felt so loved when Jordan gathered all the kids together in the front room for a family meeting, and I listened from bed, hearing little bits and pieces of 'Mom's sick, and I have a really big week ahead, and we're going to need some help...' Fortunately it seems to be a short bug, since I'm feeling better today than yesterday,  and I'm finishing up (well, starting + hopefully finishing!) Christmas shopping from bed today :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Christmas pic

10 things I love about this  picture:

1. That cute angel on top! And how for some reason she's sitting sideways...

2. That little "The Children Sing" book on top of the bookshelf. Jordan got that (I think) from his Grandma Brough. And a few times someone (always over 60) has glanced in and seen it there from the front door and immediately brightened "I remember that!"

3. The ukulele in the corner -- Jordan brought that home from Brazil ( I think :) and I set it on top of a little white bookshelf in our first little Provo house and loved it. And I've since left it out as a decoration and it has fallen from that little spot on the shelf so many times, the strings are lose or broken from many years of little fingers... still somehow it makes me happy just to see it!

4. The great mishmash of ornaments -- treasures from when Jordan was little, paper creations by the kids, art projects I've helped with, the little angel I bought at the Eldred Center Christmas Holiday Market when our middle school choir sang there...

5. That wedding photo on the top shelf, and how I'm looking up at Jordan with such a smile, and how my step-brother Parker took that (and other) great pictures and I was so grateful!

6. That funny Santa up on top - I think this must have been a wedding gift? I really can't remember except that we've always had it and I love pulling it out of our Christmas boxes each year because we've just always had it :)

7. The sparkly Christmas tree behind it from Jordan's Grandma Johnston made with necklaces, earrings, and other treasures, even a gold "Maxine" in the middle

8. The picture up on top of the baby Jesus by an artist that I love.

9. Ha! Those trophies on the second shelf. We brought them home with us from our trip to Livermore for Fall break (they're are from Jordan's elementary school-ish days :) and they have just floated around on that bookshelf for the last few months!

10. All those favorite books!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018


My morning walks have been rare these days (Porter and Isaac aren't so excited about bundling up in the mornings, and I've found that my energy to get myself out the door isn't quite enough to cover all 3 of us. But it is beautiful, isn't it?

But really I wanted to write about friends today. I've just had a few sweet little things this past week that have made me really grateful for good friends.

+ We had our 9th annual ladies night Christmas party that a few ladies from our neighborhood host - and it's always just so fun. And I felt so happy just looking around and seeing all of these good women who I feel so lucky to know!

+ Last week for Young Women's we went caroling to a few neighbors. When I pulled up at the church (thinking, where do I park? where do we meet? this is all new...!)  I was happy to see other's arriving at the same time, and when I got out, one of the girls called out "Hi Debbie!" and I just felt so loved :)

+ Yesterday at lunch, I got a call from the school (one of the few phone calls I'll actually always answer - Hillcrest during school hours!) and the secretary asked if I could make it to a district meeting that afternoon.  I almost called back to say I had a busy afternoon and have you tried calling  so-and-so or so-and-so... (great friends that I know are so willing to help out whenever they can!) But Jordan was happy to help, so he brought his meeting inside to the kitchen table and I left Isaac napping to run over, and then was so happy to see those great friends show up too. It made the meeting fun, and also I just feel so glad to know that these friends would change their afternoon plans for me too if I needed them to (and they have!)

+ And of course there are all the little and big things every day too!

Also, as I was getting ready to go over to that meeting yesterday, I was struck by how wonderful Jordan was to make it work for me. It wasn't any kind of emergency, but I wanted to go and he was happy to adjust his already really overwhelming work day to make it work for me. I kept thinking through the afternoon "remember this!" (So, I'm writing it down! :)

Monday, December 10, 2018

Weekend fun

Saturday night, we got to go to the temple with Landon for the first time and it was just a great experience! And so neat to share this with our Landon!

Also this weekend... 

Ellie's orchestra concert! I thought it would be just her school again, but it was all the Logan elementary school orchestra programs and it was so fun to see everything come together with such a big group. The boys were antsy, but Jordan helped with the wiggle-iest and I really enjoyed the concert :)

A youth fireside for Landon. I was planning to go to this with him, but when something came up at the same time I realized it would probably be better anyway for him to go on his own.  (It was all about not getting hooked on tech/social media. We've had many conversations over the last couple of years about why his watch phone was sufficient and why we wouldn't be getting him a real phone any time/year/lifetime soon ;) so I thought maybe having the same info shared in a fun way without Mom right there might be better anyway :) When he came home so excited about not having a smart phone and suggesting I should delete instagram, I knew the evening was a success! :)

Also, hide and seek and board games with friends for the kiddos, games and sunday dinner with friends, a friends' birthday party for Owen, a Christmas shopping outing with Porter, a clean garage and cleared sidewalks by Jordan... a happy December weekend!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Cello update

getting ready for the performance (and fuzzy from a back-of-the-lunchroom taken pic)
Yesterday I got to go to my first Hillcrest orchestra performance!

Ellie has been loving the cello. She'll practice most days without being reminded (usually piano too! though that occasionally/often includes 'why do we have to do piano??') And she's making great progress.

Last week, Ellie was wanting something new to work on so I just scribbled down the notes for 'Jolly Old St. Nicholas'. A few days later she was ready to perform for me. She played it, but then explained it was so tricky because of a certain hand position/change. I suggested maybe she could try it in another key (thinking I could write down all the notes for her again). But, as soon as I told her the first note, she played the whole song in the new key with an excited "that was easier!"

Whenever I sit with Ellie to practice, she lets me practice my song too (that she taught me), and I'm getting better and better at Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star!

Ellie went to a cell performance last weekend with a friend, and I was sure that she would be ready to leave by intermission. I was surprised to get a text at intermission saying 'the girls are having a great time, so we'll stay till the end." And she did have a great time!

I'm excited for this great new growing talent for Ellie!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Muir Woods

When Jordan and I were dating, we took a quick trip out to California to meet his family and such (that sounds much more official than it was, or at least that's what I thought at the time :) and while we were there we went to see the Redwoods at Muir Woods (on the left above). When we were in California for Fall break this year, we visited again with Winslow and Nathan & Rachel and the kids (I think we'd been before with a couple of them...) and it was a fun little adventure!

{Actually, that is all true. But also, I was being kind of quite grumpy on this visit. We had brought the stroller for Isaac and I was imagining a serene little walk through the gorgeous forest... but Isaac was just thrilled to be running and walking and exploring and playing... and that wasn't my plan so I didn't take the chance to enjoy it. Instead I was kind of quite mad at Jordan for letting him run so happily around. I wish I'd just enjoyed the beautiful place and Isaac's sweet excitement and Jordan's good call to let him enjoy it too! Next time, I'll know (and do) better!}

But! Just look at those smiling kids up there!  And really it is such a beautiful place. My favorite part was Porter finding a few little spots and asking, "can we take a picture of each person right here?" 

They have a big slice of a trunk on display with world events marked on the tree rings, and it is amazing to think of how much history these trees have lived through! I guess even a bit of Brough family history, though that would all be the tiniest fraction in the life of these trees!

Ah-ha! We had been once more with the kids. Even if I can't really remember it, I know it happened :) Hooray for this blog holding on to these memories for me!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

school days

Here's a little story problem from our family - There are 4 children who come home from school feeling happy at the end of the day.  1 child leaves happily out the door to catch the bus at his friend's house in the morning + 3 children are happy as soon as their feet hit the ground, out of the van and on the way in to school. 4 children are doing great in their classes. But 1 child feels many mornings through the getting-ready-for-school routines like there is nothing good in life if school has to be a part of it!!  What should the mom of this dear child do?

How about a brainstorming session here...

I'm thinking as I write this down that maybe it's the getting-ready-for-school routines that are the problem maybe? I know there are good things happening at school -- we drove past this morning and happened to see this 1 school-dreading child out running and playing with friends and building a snowman... 

Here's what I think I can try (I'll report back tomorrow, maybe :)

1. get this kiddo to bed on time tonight
2. help get a lunch made tonight
3. set out clothes, backpack, boots, all the things tonight.
4. play a game before school? Will this make them feel like the morning's not so bad, or like they just want to stay home and keep playing games and oh! school is the worst thing in the world, why do I have to go?! hmmm...
5. pray for help
6. get everything out tonight for an easy breakfast
7. talk through the morning about what interesting things are happening during the day (with all the kids)
8. what else?

We'll see how tomorrow morning goes! :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Morning fun

We had a little friend over this morning, Isaac's age. And it was so fun to watch Porter taking charge and leading them in happy fun around the house. They played trucks and trains and (above) some kind of great make-believe including falling asleep and waking up to see what kinds of play food Santa-Porter had brought. I love so much that perfect kind of play where the kids are in their own little world of pretend. I used to love to stand just outside the door during quiet times for the older kids when they were younger and listen to their voices leading them on great adventures. Cute kiddos!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Welcome December!

My friend Rami always decorates this tree out on the round-a-bout  -- I saw her a week or so heading over with a box and was just so happy and excited to see this happy little spot - I love this cheerful tradition!

This weekend felt like a little mini Christmas vacation. We had snow, sledding, Christmas music, game playing, cleaning, church basketball (maybe that was last week?) and even the start of pizzelle making!

Also this weekend -- 
+ Jordan taught primary for the first time (and for the only time with a full-length lesson!) and the little tips and tricks he'd thought through to help his kiddos were a success!

+ Isaac said his first "Isaac" instead of his regular "I-zgik" (Owen had been working on teaching him, but as soon as he said it, I knew we'd sure miss that I-zgik! I remember spending time teaching 2-year-old Landon and practicing with him "L, L, L, Landon..." but then as soon as he said Landon instead of Yandon, I thought what have I done? :)

Friday, November 30, 2018


It's not so obvious in this picture, but if you look closely you can see Owen still has his backpack on -- he was straight from the van to the backyard to build these giant snowballs after school yesterday! (5 giant snowballs still waiting for some stronger arms to lift them into snowmen!) Then he came inside and got to try a new version of Ellie and Porter's snow ice cream too!

As soon as Landon came home, he was right out the door to the snow and Owen was happy to join him. I was leaving on a quick errand and found them out front playing snowball baseball - like my favorite winter time picture book. 
image and book

(Video Below)

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Ice Cream Shop

Ellie stayed home sick today -- but again it has been one of those sick days where she was sick enough to stay home (with an earache last night), but not so sick that she was she and Porter (and Isaac too) had a happy calm morning playing together.

At lunch, they made an ice cream shop! (Menu and all) They mixed together snow (snow at last ! :) and whip cream, then added flavors and toppings to order (which turned into chocolate mint with bananas for everyone) They were great little workers figuring things out all on their own, and it was actually a pretty fun little treat!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

A happy birthday!

I still have that cute birthday plate!
A few things I loved on my birthday yesterday --

I loved the taste of

A made-by-Landon breakfast of oatmeal and toast.
Boston cream pie cupcakes, plus finger swipes of cake batter after mixing it together with Isaac and Porter.
A regular lunch made special with fun chips (and pumpkin pie on the side!)
Takeout for dinner from our favorite Indian restaurant.

I loved the sight of

A pinata! Jordan took a quick work break in the morning to run to the store with the little boys for birthday decorations - and came home with a pinata! (So fun and silly! Later it was filled with any candy that could be found in the storage room, most of which returned to the storage room after the pinata party fun :)
Streamers and balloons and curly ribbons filling our kitchen with happiness!
Our beautiful neighborhood on my morning walk.
All the kiddos eating their cupcakes and feeling so happy for a mostly regular day made extra happy with birthday celebration.
Our art of the month thankful trees project

I loved the smell of

Cupcakes baking!

I loved the feel of

A clean tidy upstairs! I spent a few minutes in the morning tidying up (gathering all the books/toys/paper/etc. into a box :) and enjoyed the tidiness all through the day till the kids returned after school.
Love from my family and friends!

I loved the sound of

My favorite Christmas music mix all morning (Peter Breinholt, Lower Lights, Celine Dion, Michael W. Smith, Mindy Gledhill)
A present from Porter "shake it! guess!" (Colored pencils to mark my scriptures! Such a sweet thoughtful, noticing gift!)
Happy Birthday texts and calls from friends and family that made me feel so loved.
Isaac singing along with "Happy Birthday to you!"
Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday (birthday!) to you (to you!) Happy Birthday (birthday!) dear Mommy (Dear Mommy!!) Happy Birthday to you (birthday to you!!)

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

These colors!

Ellie Anne Fall 2011
Jordan's brother Nathan is getting married in a few weeks (hooray!), and for the last little while I've been looking for clothes for our family for the wedding.  Nathan sent us some color samples a few weeks ago, and I've been searching for a good mix of greens, browns, ivory, and grey. And because I have had those colors all in my head, I have been just absolutely loving seeing them everywhere I go here in Logan -- the mountains, the trees, the fading grass, the last crispy crunchy leaves... all so beautiful!

I'm not sure, but I feel like we've been pretty late to have snow this year (the kids will say that is a fact! :) I've always loved our beautiful falls with the bright reds and oranges and yellows, but I don't think I've ever noticed this second round of gorgeous, softer colors. (And maybe because our trees are often covered with snow by this point!) Whether it's the later snow, or those wedding colors in my mind, I have sure loved this beautiful November!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Thanksgiving Break

Jordan and the older kids played with the new expansion set for Carcassonne while Porter made creations out of all the spare parts :)

Jordan said last night about our Thanksgiving break something like "I don't know if I've ever played so many board games!" He and the kids played several games of Risk, Carcassonne, Coup... and we also had some King of Tokyo, and Agricola... and I'm sure there were probably several more in there too. 

Besides board games, (which we did have a lot of! :) we had Thanksgiving dinner with Jordan's Brough cousins, and we got to visit with Kel&Josh's family, Jen&Jeremiah's family, and my Dad and Shauna. (Plus more board games, and a Brazilian dinner, a pizza party, and hotel swimming too!)

Also this long weekend: Christmas decorating, a van battery replacement, sweet carrot muffin making, chocolate chip cookie making by Landon for his class at church, Jordan's first week in primary with Owen, Lego playing, house cleaning, guest room prepping, and the final family cold recovering (all are well for now, hooray!) 

We thought there would be a big snow storm and we'd go sledding and everything, but it has still just been quite lovely! We did have a little snow, but again today it is still such a beautiful Fall day. I'm really loving these clear November days.  The kids are sure anxious for some fun snow, but I'm happy to enjoy these soft fall colors as long as they last!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Thanksgiving 2017

We're getting ready for  Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow with Jordan's cousins and company this weekend to celebrate Thanksgiving (minus the meal... ) so I thought I'd write down a bit about last year's celebration :)

We got together at Kel and Josh's and had a fun intro to pickleball (on a beautiful warm day!) and the kids got to play at a really great park near Kel & Josh's. We played Captain Sonar (above) which Jordan was super excited to share and some other games too. And we had our Thanksgiving meal at Chuck-a-rama! (Which, surprisingly had quite the line - I never knew people did this!)

Before we came home, we visited Temple Square with my Mom and enjoyed the just-turned-on Christmas lights and displays (along with a lot of other people!)

And on the drive home, we stopped at See's chocolates where the kids each got to pick out their own box of chocolates (a gift from Jordan's friend Alex who had come to visit earlier that month)!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Service Scavenger Hunt

For the last few years, we've joined our friends in their service scavenger hunt activity the weekend before Thanksgiving.  (Everyone chooses some just-for-fun activities and as many little service ideas as they can complete in two  hours.) This year Jordan was home with sick boys, so it was just me and Landon and Ellie running around. I let them take the lead in what to do and it was fun to see their picks. 

We started out sliding at the park (Landon agreed to go down first so I wouldn't get all wet with the new snow :) and then played charades and cleaned out our coat closet. We left dollars for a treat at the gas station for a couple people, quarters at the laundromat (Along with a note transcribed by Ellie - It's lucky laundry day!), texted cousins, answered 'freerice' questions, gave out candy canes at the dollar store, delivered a fancy cupcake to Ellie's just released activity day leader, and took some Landon-made brownies to our neighbors.  Then we got to meet up for lunch with everyone else and hear some of their fun stories too.  Landon and Ellie were great cheerful kiddos and it was a fun afternoon activity!

Monday, November 19, 2018

weekend report

The kids all slept in this morning (even Isaac, woohoo! even Landon, amazing!) till almost 7:00, and it was so refreshing! Also,  a few of the kids had been sick through the weekend. So instead of a Monday morning back-to-school rush,  while Landon was off to school the rest of us had a calm morning with lots of resting, paper boat making plus other sink or float experiments, reading, soup making (though Isaac did get in a bit of trouble when his water + clementine bit soup ended up all over the kitchen floor...), and movie time. 

It was really such a great feeling to wake up late and then know we didn't need to rush -- I think we're all feeling ready for Thanksgiving Break this week! Also, the kids are all just about the perfect level of sick today where they need to stay home from school, but they are not miserable any more so we can just take it easy. Phewph! 

Also this weekend: 

+ Haircuts for all the boys
+ A Service Scavenger Hunt with friends
+ Saturday jobs
+ A Pizza movie party watching Incredibles 2
+ Dinner with new friends (from Owen's class at school)

Ellie was still not feeling well when we were leaving for dinner last night, so Landon stayed home to take care of her. We were crossing our fingers they'd be okay (she was that kind of sick where she was pretty miserable but there also wasn't really anything we could do for her...) And Landon just took sweet care of her, so it was a successful experiment and a good chance for great big-brothering. 

Friday, November 16, 2018

on the other side

Landon and Ellie meeting baby Owen

Earlier this week, I got to watch my little nephews and take them to the hospital to visit and meet their new baby sister! They were very excited, and it was just a fun and different experience stopping in for a visit instead of being the one welcoming the visitors!

I sure loved all those first few days with our babies - such sweet, tender times!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

on toys & messes

A few weeks ago, the kids were feeling frustrated about cleaning their assigned rooms (otherwise known as AR to one child because "Don't say the words!!") Somehow in our discussion, I ended up telling them about when Landon was a baby/toddler and we lived in our little duplex. And when it was time to clean up all the toys in the house, they fit neatly into one little basket under the piano. 

When Ellie and Owen heard that, their response was something like "Let's do that!" 

When we talked about them not having much to play with, Owen quickly responded, "That's okay! We can just play with our family and like with our hands and arms and stuff! Like that slap hands game...!"

I loved this :) And we're thinking we'll try out putting everything/most things away and pulling out a bin or two at a time and keeping everything else in the storage room or guest room or something. We'll see. 

Really, the two things most played with (and most mess-making) at our house are magnatiles and paper. (If I walked around the house right now, I suspect I could find at least one magnatile in every room...And no matter how recently we've vacuumed, there are pretty much always paper scraps surrounding the kids craft table in the reading room.) But I'm happy enough with all the good playing from those things that I'd vote to keep them out even if they are messy. (A few kids might disagree though!)

Last weekend, I borrowed a friends Roomba to test it out. Before I ran it in the reading room, I cut up a bunch of paper to scatter all around for it to pick up. Owen was watching me and said "I hope this works because this is my assigned room!"

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Tech News

Our Provo duplex Spring 2016
When I was pregnant with Landon, Jordan was finishing school and working for a little startup in Provo. After the school year ended for me and I had some extra free time for a couple months,  I'd sometimes walk (or scooter? though maybe that was just Jordan?) with him up to work, just up the hill from our little duplex. I have this sweet tender memory of walking back down that Grandview hill with my hands on my growing belly feeling those amazing kicks and stretches, so new and wonderful!

They worked in the basement of the company founder's home, around the corner from my high school friends' homes, "Just walk through that side gate and down those stairs in the back...try not to block the neighbor's driveway if you're parking..." with a closet full of snacks and folding tables squeezed in for the handful of employees.

Those walks are still a pretty sweet memory for me, but the actual job turned out to be not so great. And in the Fall when they gave  Jordan an (also not-so-great) offer to stay on, we chose another option.

Today, in the news I read about that little basement-office company being acquired for $8 billion!  

Jordan has had a really wonderful and interesting career so far and I always love to see what's happening with the companies he's worked for or nearly worked for in the past, so it was fun to see that news.

I also had a mix of other feelings - like, how it can be hard to celebrate their success when we had kind of a harder experience with them... though somehow just saying that out loud helped me realize those aren't really the feelings I want to hold on to (though I still feel them for now, but hopefully not forever!)  And of course, we had a moment's discussion of "what if?!"

But mostly, as I was thinking about all this and remembering those days, even bigger than those other feelings is how grateful I feel for all of the really wonderful work and life opportunities that have come to us in the other paths we chose!

In that same time of our lives as our family was just beginning, Jordan worked with another startup in Provo (Collabratus).  It ended up closing down about a year and half after Jordan joined, but we sure have some happy memories of his time working there (like the great big windows of his office, the funny story of someone hoping to pay off their invoice with a truck,  and that courtyard full of daffodils where I brought toddler Landon down for lunch break picnics...). And we still have happy feelings of his very kind boss Harold (like the little company BBQ he held at his home, or when Jordan went to interview with Microsoft,  and Harold sent a gift with him on his way - a box of chocolates picked out by his wife and a homemade t-shirt with this message -  "I'm a Collabratus Man!" :)

And besides those happy memories, the end of that job also led to the beginning of his work for Animoto which then led to many more great opportunities at Bonobos, LostMyName/Wonderbly, and now TPT (with many more interesting connections made in between all those as he's worked with and interviewed at many other companies too!)

In other news, Jordan heard this last month from some friends in Victoria who he had considered working with in his latest job change. They were also recently acquired in a different sort of way that wouldn't have exactly been a perfect fit for us -- this is from their website in reference to their acquisition -- "We are thrilled about our ability to help JUUL Labs improve the lives of a billion adult smokers..." (you never know!)  Also, a year or so after Jordan left Bonobos, they were acquired by WalMart -- which made us think maybe we should have followed through with our stock options ;)

It's so fun and funny to see just a little bit where those paths we've deliberated about over the years might have taken us. And so nice to feel happy with the paths we've picked!

Welcome Home Jordan!

If that sounds familiar, it is! It was only a few weeks ago that we were welcoming Jordan home from a week in NYC, and yesterday he returned from a week in Montana! April is moving into her new home, and also just had foot surgery so Jordan spent a week up there working and also helping pack things up, carry things downstairs, and otherwise help April stay off her recovering foot :)

We had such a busy and full day yesterday and Jordan just jumped right into it so seamlessly that early in the afternoon as we were in the front room together Owen said "Oh! I forgot you were gone and back!!" 

Jordan was working while he traveled home through the morning, and he walked in about 10:00, continuing a meeting he'd been having while on the shuttle, and headed to his office till we left for Lego Robotics.  (So Owen first saw him at Lego Robotics... like he always would on a Tuesday afternoon so it just felt very much like normal!) Then we had a rush of pick ups/after school jobs/dinner/young women's/bedtimes... (Plus a quick turn of shoulder angels earlier in the day for Porter and Isaac!)

It still feels so strange/amazing to me that Jordan could wake up early and start his work day from the airport in Montana, and then just continue on working away as he traveled over 500 miles back home via airplane & shuttle, and finish the work day from his own little backyard office!

We're sure happy to have him back home! 

Monday, November 12, 2018

Weekend Report

Sunday Afternoon reading

+ Friday night Landon had a fun scout camp + swimming activity at some hot springs.

+ Saturday we worked our way through our jobs and errands etc. with lots of down time mixed in too.  (I am not a great with-kids errand runner. I think we had 3 stops, but I was spent!)  Oh, and a trip to the library with a stack of books for Landon about as high as he could balance in his arms!

+ Saturday night as everyone was getting to bed, Isaac and Landon were playing next to the bed and Isaac tripped over Landon, falling forward and hitting his eye on the metal edge of our bed frame (!!) Jordan was gone, so I left the kids with Landon and took poor little Isaac to the Instacare. I couldn't see inside his eye, and it was cut right up across the inside edge so I was very worried.  Fortunately, once they got it clean (which took me and two nurses, so I never would have been able to do this on my own!) everything looked okay. He woke up yesterday morning with an even puffier eye, but honestly didn't seem to be bothered much! After nap time I asked how his eye was doing and he answered (Oh, I love his new putting-words-together in his sweet little voice!) "Not hurting any more!" Poor kiddo, but I'm so glad the black eye is the most lasting problem.

+ While we were gone, the kids were pretty worried and they so sweetly looked all around the house for Isaac's favorite things. They surprised him when he got home with a great little collection all set out so carefully on the kitchen counter (soccer ball, blanket, a favorite book, a card, etc.)

+ Once I got the kids to bed (late!), I was prepping my lesson for primary on service. The lesson suggested having the kids help with some kind of service as part of the activity, so I had them color a big card for Isaac. The kids loved making it (I suggested they could draw things they love or things they thought he'd love, and the big theme became "candy!") Isaac set it out at home and was loving it "Is it?" (What is it) he asked again and again as pointed to each little picture (oreo cookies! lollipops! candy! a train! a heart balloon!)

+ Jordan and I both have new callings! Jordan was expecting a change since he was released from Young Mens a few weeks ago, but I was surprised! Jordan is going to be teaching Owen's primary class, and I'm going to be joining the Young Women as 2nd counselor. Except for one year with Relief Society activities and some time in Webelos scouts, I've been in primary since we've been married, so this will be very new for me!

+ I made it to ward choir at last (the reminder of upcoming Christmas music was enough to get me to remember the midafternoon time!)

+ The boys all had a sleepover party in my room -- I sure love all these boys! :)

+ And then back to school this morning, with one kiddo very much looking forward to Thanksgiving Break (next week! how did that happen?)

Friday, November 9, 2018

"We're all just doing the best we can, y'all"

(I read that little comment yesterday and felt grateful for how it stuck in my brain on replay this morning while we recovered from this little ordeal :)

I sure love these little matching buddy boys. And I've thought every day this week how much I love our mornings together, and how much I'm loving these two and the ages and stages they are in right now.

Still, every once in a while...!

I was pretty frustrated/disappointed/mad this morning about missing book group - one of my favorite things each month - because of a giant melt down ("I'M NOT COMING!") that I couldn't find any way to resolve. (Though we were discussing a parenting book this month, so we could have just gone kicking/yelling & all and been a great case study...)

Eventually, we got to "You can choose to calm down and come to book group, or we can walk back home and we can clean the garage." We didn't make much progress before kindergarten. Cooling down (for both of us), then warming up (the garage was pretty cold!),  then a garage floor lunch picnic of muffins and pear slices and swiss cheese, keeping close to the electric heater. (So, no progress on the garage, but progress in all those other ways.)

(And I would explain how we managed to get through round 2 of "I'm not going!" (the school version) but just like I don't know why nothing I tried worked for round 1, or what even brought about the great melt down,  I really don't know why something did work the next time!)

I'm actually not dreading an afternoon of cleaning the garage together after school though. He's a pretty great working buddy. And maybe I'll catch something from him along the way to help me a little better next time. And, I'm ready to be done scraping frost from our van in the driveway each morning.  And I want this little boy I love to feel I love him and want to help him (even if I was pretty mad).

We're all just doing the best we can, y'all

Thursday, November 8, 2018

wild places

Something that I love about Logan is that there are these little patches that are still a little wild. A week or so ago we walked this way - down the Lee's hill on a long walk to dinner out for a Friday night. There has been a developer's sign up here since early summer "Coming Soon!" I know we'll appreciate the sidewalk that will come with those townhomes, but we'll miss this little trail too!  

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Peanut Butter Cookies

When we were shopping earlier this week, we saw a big picture of peanut butter kiss cookies on display with the Hershey's kisses and Porter said "We should make those!!" So we bought a bag of kisses and this morning he asked "After our walk, or after reading time, or maybe after movie time/shower time, could we make those cookies?" And we did and it was just a delight. I sure love these little boys!

Also, we have this Relief Society service auction activity coming up. I have really loved this in the past - it has just been a really fun night, and so great to see what everyone has made or done to share. And it's been so fun for me to make some cute thing to share too. A short time after we moved in we had this activity and I made some little hair clippies. And for years, I'd see these two sweet sisters every once in a while wearing one on Sunday and it was just so happy to see - I made that and they love it enough to wear it! Another year I made a little tote bag and a few years later noticed that it was somebody's weekly primary bag - again, so fun.

But this week, every time I've thought of something I could make or do, I've kind of thought 'but then I'd have to actually make or do that thing..." (I'm not sure what to think of this, but I think the best is to not overthink it and know that sometimes I feel like making and doing extra little things and sometimes not!)

And since we don't particularly need all of these delicious little peanut butter cookies, I'm thinking this is going to be the already-made-treat to share time instead of a think-of-something-so-cute-to-share time and I can be done brainstorming and vetoing my more labor intensive ideas :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2018


+ A teenager in our neighborhood came over yesterday after school to wash windows for us (earning money for band camp :) I had woken up with lots of energy yesterday so I took some time before he came to wash all the upstairs insides of the windows (it had been a while for some of them!) Jordan also likes to take the screens out in the Winter when we won't be opening the windows anyway, so we have bright clear views out our windows (like above, out our reading room window!)

+ We had some drama this past week over a certain child's frustration with not being able to find matching socks when it was time to go to school...This morning, Owen had the job of matching 10 pairs, and said "But we just matched them all a couple days ago!" 

When I told him I'd just done the week's laundry that day, he answered, "Let's see, what's 7x7?"   49 pairs of socks to match every week? I'd never considered this, but no wonder we have this sock-finding trouble!

+ We've had little snow flurries this morning and the kids were so excited! We usually get snow a few times in October, but it has just been a warm and beautiful Fall!

+ Porter saw an idea on his morning show to make pumpkin's out of clementines (a peeled clementine with a celery stem :), and was so excited to surprise the kids with them after school- "Clemen-pumpkins!"

+Yesterday while we were checking out at the store, Porter was practicing reading all the candy bars (the familiar ones were easy, the less common like "Zero" bars were trickier!) So today, I wrote out a bunch of candy bar names and Porter practiced sounding them out and it was just a fun little after-Halloween activity. 

+ It's voting day!

+ We had time yesterday for piano lessons for all three kids -- this school year we haven't found a set day and time and it means lessons are much further apart than they normally have been.  But practicing has been happening regularly at least so something's still working :)

+ And now, we're leaving for Lego Robotics in just over an hour so it's about time to go get some plans made!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Shoulder Angels/Sunday

Last night Jordan was watching some Studio C Shoulder Angel clips with the kids and they all wanted to try it out. Porter was by far the most expert Shoulder Angel of all - with Jordan kneeling or standing. And I can say since I tried, this was much harder than you'd think!

On the way to school today we were talking about an upcoming trip for Jordan, and Porter said "I hope he'll be back by that Sunday so we can do more Shoulder Angels!" (He just might be happily surprised to find out Shoulder Angels don't necessarily have to be a Sunday evening activity :)

We had Stake Conference yesterday (Jordan helped with the broadcast at the Stake Center, and I played with/wrestled with/wandered with Isaac till we found a quite room and then I listened while he reorganized all the chairs in the primary room (and helped clean up when we were done too). 

One of my favorite thoughts was just a little side story about a grandma's fun silly idea to get her grandkids involved in family night, and the speaker said somewhat jokingly "It must have been revelation!" But, really I think that's true. I've had times when some little idea for a game or activity or chart or system really made a difference for my kids or my primary class, etc. And I think that really is revelation. I know I've felt Heavenly Father's love for my children sometimes as I've had the thought to try some little idea and seen them love and learn from it. 

I'm thinking now of the beginning of the school year when our morning's were feeling really rough. I prayerfully thought about what I could do to make things better, and had the thought to leave the little boys home with Landon while I take the other kids to school. It was such a simple little change, but it immediately made our mornings calmer and happier and smoother. To me that felt like revelation, and I feel really grateful for little things like this that have helped me and our family too.  

With General Conference, conference while we visited in California, Regional Conference, and now Stake Conference, we've had a full month of lessons and reminders and instructions for next year's new home centered gospel learning. I'm excited to see how this is going to work in our family! 

Friday, November 2, 2018

Pumpkins + Life this week

I stepped outside this morning to take a picture of our jack-o-lanterns, and Porter came right out and started arranging things just right for the picture - "Isaac you sit right here next to yours, and I'll hold mine right here..." 

(Also, notice Ellie's pumpkin name tag 'Cacklin Jaqueline', and Isaac's excellent footwear!)

When Jordan headed to the store with all of the kids and plans to let them each pick out a pumpkin to carve, I was sure we'd have 5 mostly un-carved pumpkins before the kids were ready to be done. But, here they are! Landon, Ellie, Owen and Porter all stuck with it (with some help) and Isaac's (scooped then forgotten) we cooked today to use for pumpkin muffins :)

Also this week -- 

+ I've been sick with a cold - nothing terrible, but I just haven't felt good. I'm finally feeling better today though so I'm also feeling more cheerful/hopeful/capable in general :) 

+Work has been intense for Jordan and likely will be till the end of the year... we sat down and made a list of the non-negotiables: Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve/Day, dinner together, help at bedtimes, etc. He'd been looking forward to a calm holiday season this year, but hopefully things will go smoothly still even if it's not the calm time we had planned on. It did make me feel excited to see all the happy things we have coming up in the next two months -- and maybe this will all help us prioritize the most important things with the time/energy we do have? 

I felt pretty hopeful going into this first week of crunch time, but being sick at the same time has felt a little rough (His longest day so far fit two full work days in - I know people do this regularly, but man!)  Still, we've had a lot of happy times this week with festivities and everyday life... we'll see how we do!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

And the day after Halloween...

Imagine instead one happy energetic child, two tired-as-can-be children, and two extra sad in tears children...
Some time in the last few years, I realized it's not worth it to get kids to school on time the day after Halloween. I let them know they could sleep in as long as they wanted and move slowly in the morning. Everyone was up by 7:00 still - Landon almost finished with all his morning jobs, the other kids half-asleep and ready to rest all morning, feeling like wouldn't make it to school by lunch! We had a much slower pace and some tired tears from a few, but everyone made it through the after Halloween crash :)

Also, I so want to remember this sweetness. Owen and Ellie and Porter spent hours on Sunday making "Happy Halloween" letters for Owen to deliver. And it was just so fun. He'd hand them the envelope and they'd thank him with a confused look, "It's for me?" And then recognize "Oh! You're the postman and you're delivering the mail!" And so many people were just so delighted with it - it was so sweet to watch. And Owen was so quietly happy about sharing this little bit of happiness - it was all just the highlight of the night for me.

Oh! And I had a costume this year for the first time since Landon was a toddler. I  I just wore black pants & shirt with a bunch of silver star stickers and a round white sticker for the moon - the night sky :) (It wasn't much, but Ellie was thrilled to see me show up to her class in costume!)

Happy Halloween

I sure love these kids! This mailman, bat, tiger, pigicorn, and Uncle Sam :)

My neighbor and friend texted the night before to say "I know Halloween can be such a busy day with a family, what can I do to take away a little stress of the day?" along with lots of specific ideas too! It turned out that Jordan had a day full of meetings, so she came over while Isaac napped so she could be here when he woke while I helped with Ellie's class party.

It's always so fun to help with the class parties. (Well, not always actually. It's so fun to help with the class parties when I'm not in charge!) The kids are so excited and thrilled with whatever big or little thing you bring. My favorite was one of Landon's 1st grade classmates about their Halloween party "I'm going to remember you forever! I'm going to remember this day forever!" (Probably not, but I still think of this any time I see him!)

I made up a little math game based on a game Ellie and Owen really like to play. It wasn't donuts-on-a-string but it was very fun and I was relieved the kids all seemed to have fun playing (and munching on candy corn too!)

After school we went to the Lee's Halloween activity (the line is always stretched out past the door, and the kids have memorized all the treats that they'll give out... but they are always so excited still, so we go :)

Then broccoli cheese soup + pumpkin soup bowls, last minute costume fixes, bundling up with layers, and trick-or-treating. We had 4 rounds of trick-or-treating this year -- Landon headed out with friends while I took the other kids to the three houses up the street, then Isaac stayed home with Jordan. Porter made it around a neighborhood loop, then went home. Landon joined up with Ellie and Owen and me after his friends finished up early, then I took Landon to 2 last houses he wanted to see after Ellie and Owen were ready to be done :) Then candy sorting and swapping and handing out for a few late straggler trick-or-treaters, and a late night to bed.

Halloween has never been a favorite of mine. But the other day, as we'd finished some Halloween prep, Owen was praying for dinner and included so sincerely "Thank you for all the holidays!" (He also slept in/tried to sleep in his Halloween costume every day from when we got it ready till Halloween!)  It is so fun to make even a non-favorite holiday feel magical for these kiddos I love so much!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Crazy hair day

Trying not to smile!

We got back from Fall break a few days into the school week and jumped in right during red ribbon week. We were driving to school that morning, and we saw Ellie's friend Aria waiting for the bus -- after a second look back one of the kids was asking "Why is Aria's hair green?" We got to school and saw everyone hopping out of their cars with wild hair styles.

Owen was sad to miss out on the chance to make his hair into a dozen volcanos.  Ellie said, "It's fine mom! I'll just put my hair in a ponytail and put some tissues in it! Really, Mom!" I knew it was silly of me, but I kind of wanted to drive her home and help her do her hair into some super-cute elaborate something like what I was seeing as other girls ran into school. But she was super excited about her plan, so off she went. She came home from school with this style instead, complete with colorful twisty pipe cleaners, and told me her teacher did it for her!  I'm still not sure what the story was or how it came to be but I think Ellie will happily remember this crazy hair day!