Friday, August 31, 2018

Listening Lately

This summer, I started listening to a few podcasts on my walks some mornings, and this little bit from a conversation with Yo-Yo Ma on OnBeing has stuck with me. The interviewer (Krista Tippett) mentioned the joy that audiences felt from him in his performances, and he explained it as wanting to be a gracious host, and then this - 
Krista - "But you don't have to be joyful, right?...You can be gracious without being joyful..."
Yo-Yo Ma - "Well, maybe the joyfulness could be the hope of joy."
I think this is just so beautiful. It has stayed in my mind, and it's still sifting around a bit. I love the choice of it - you don't have to be joyful, right? And also the explanation, maybe what others see isn't even necessarily joy he feels in that moment (though maybe it is), maybe it's just the hope of that -whether the joy is there yet or not... I'm still sorting it out, but I loved this.
(And I've really enjoyed most of the other OnBeing podcasts I've listened to so far too)

Thursday, August 30, 2018

On a Wednesday (little thoughts from yesterday)

a new spot for a quiet time walk  (Porter reminded me of this path on one of our morning walks lately -- he's up there in the picture, a tiny spot of red riding up ahead on his bike!)
Poor Isaac is sick today -- nose dripping, eyes wet, easily sad... He sat at lunch sniffing and wiping his nose on his sweatshirt sleeve (Momma will get you a tissue!) and saying every once in a while to Porter "so sick!"

We're pulling out all the warm gear for the morning bike rides to school -- I had two jackets, ear muffs, and gloves today and was still thinking I could use another layer!

Jordan rode bikes with Landon and his friends to middle school today for their late start day. I wasn't sure how the return (uphill) trip would go, but Landon called me as soon as he got home to tell me he made it back up the hill, even with his old bike plus a flat tire.

We've had a fun new dinner a few times lately -- Thanksgiving sandwiches. (Based on our favorite grilled cheese sandwich place in Pleasant Grove and a fun restaurant we've visited in Park City) It sounds either super weird... or like what every other person already does with Thanksgiving leftovers probably... but it's been a fun new thing for us to try. (Open faced and eaten with a fork: garlic toast + mashed potatoes, turkey & gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce (and every thing in that list I've made the easiest way possible -- no actual Thanksgiving prep involved here)

I sure love Lee's grocery delivery. I went once with all the kids at the beginning of the summer to buy groceries for the week... and after that just ordered the main things we'd need every other week or so (you can just add your last order to your cart and adjust as needed) and then when I did need to go it was only a 10 minute trip,  not a whole shopping ordeal with all the kiddos!

Ellie asked if we could go to the park to pick some plums, so we took a little trip over there after school and piano practice yesterday.  And just as we were about to head back home to meet Jordan and Landon, Jordan rode over on his scooter and surprised us with an ice cream cone party!

This quiet time thing is feeling all very new again to me! If I stopped to think about it, I knew I kind of missed having some time to myself in the middle of the day, but I'd forgotten just how really great it is! I sat out in the sun yesterday and read a magazine (!)  and went on an extra walk in a new spot I hadn't walked on my own before. It is feeling like such a treat!

Thank you notes

A grandmotherly woman walked by our house a few weeks ago, slowing down as she looked over at our yard. I was heading out on a walk with Isaac, and kind of cringing inside as I wondered what had caught her attention -- the plates and cups from a forgotten picnic snack, the remnants of paper airplanes, the scooters, bikes & rollerblades scattered across the lawn...

Then she said something like this, "I just love seeing that dirt under your swings! You know that grass will grow back someday, but your children will just keep growing! "

Thank you sweet woman for taking a minute on your morning walk to look closely and see the beauty in those little patches of dirt, and for telling me about it too!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Reading Lately

so many books...
image here
Here's my longest yet 'reading lately' post --  It has been a year since I recorded all the books I've been reading, so I probably won't even remember what a few of these books were! But it's time to clear my little cupboard door space of all these little notes with titles scribbled on that I've taped up and start fresh again.

How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind - I read this last year, just a short time after the woman who had been cleaning for us the past few years retired, so it was great timing!  It was silly and a little over-the-top but I think it is probably one of my favorite cleaning/organizing books I've read. I still think about little bits of it, like her very basic discovery - ''people who have clean dishes wash the dishes' (Meaning,  there is no secret trick to it, you just have to do the work)  I think I especially liked it because I'd just finished a completely opposite book that made me feel like I was a pretty terrible housekeeper, and this made me feel like 'I'm doing fine, and I can do better' which is always a happier feel.

A Week in the Woods - An Andrew Clements book that we had on our shelf, and I can't remember any details a year later :)

Lost and Found - Same as above!

Higher Power of Lucky - Ha, I read the little goodreads description to remind myself what this was, and it was barely familiar!

Simply Clean - I'm pretty sure this was the 'completely opposite' book :) I'm sure there may be another season of life when I'd enjoy a book like this more.

Countdown - This one's just barely familiar with help from the book description, I think it took place during the cold war...

The Screwtape Letters - We read this for book group and I really enjoyed it. Lots of little bits stuck with me. Right now I'm thinking of a bit about the effort to make people think that all the frivolous distracting things in life are real life so that they miss what actually matters.

The One Who Took the Really Long Nap - I think these fairy tale's by Wendy Mass are just pretty fun. Very light and silly.

Hold Fast - These Blue Balliett books are really different, but I always do enjoy them. This one is a bit fuzzy, but I think I really liked it -- here's one bit: “People get distracted by worries and sadness, and have to struggle to see anything else. They have to work hard to hold on to beauty, to hold fast to dreams and words”

Bluffton - Ha. Almost every one of these I'm having to look up to remember what it even was!  This one looks familiar, but I'd have to read it again to remember anything I think.

Night - Another book group pick, this one about the Holocaust.  And all the time I was reading it I had it confused with another I'd read years and years ago. And so I kept waiting for the positive spin and the 'seeing the good' in a terrible situation perspective that I remembered, but it didn't come (And then I finally went and found the book I was confusing it with!)

Moo - I really love Sharon Creech, so even this book all about a cow I actually enjoyed. :)

13 Gifts - Another fun, light Wendy Mass book.

The Girl who Drank the Moon -- I loved this. I'll have to read it again soon, but it was really great. And Landon read it at the same time so it was fun to enjoy it along with him. So many interesting things to think about from it.

QB: My life behind the spiral - I still think it is funny that I even read this book. It's an autobiography by Steve Young, and actually I skipped over all of the football parts (ha!) and really enjoyed the book! I think he's just an interesting person, and I really enjoyed his stories.

All the Answers -  This was a cute idea with a magical pencil that could answer any question you wrote... i remember liking the idea, but I can't remember beyond that (hmm... I'm seeing a pattern here...)

Brown Girl Dreaming - Should I just skip the books I have to look up to remember?

The One and Only Ivan - I've read this twice now, and I think I liked it a little better the second time.

Okay For Now - I love this book so much. I think this second time I read it with Jordan which is even better than reading alone.

Understanding Poverty - I don't remember too much (surprise) but I do remember feeling like this was interesting and helpful to read, and stopping throughout to tell Jordan about little bits and pieces I was reading.

Victoria with Kids - Ha! The travel guide for last summer's vacation :)

Ramona and her mother - I read this with Ellie last summer for our summer school time. It was really fun to just read one-on-one with each of the kids and get to spend that focused few minutes with each of them each day.

Wonder - This was Landon's summer book last year, and I enjoyed it even more reading it with Landon than on my own.

Walk 2 Moons - I listened to this on a few longer car rides, and it was fun to hear this favorite.

At Home In the World - I've followed Tsh's blog for a long time, and this was a fun record about her families 9 month's of life traveling the world. I listened to her podcast recently and she mentioned again how the highlights of their trip for her kids were those times when they kind of put down roots for a bit and stayed in one place/lived regular life for a little while. I loved this. I loved our New York trips where I went for the week with Jordan and we'd sight see on the weekend and then all week he would work and I'd just live life with the kiddos with just a bit of extra exploring. But things like taking walks, visiting the library, grocery shopping... Those are really sweet memories for me.

The Danish Way of Parenting - This looks like a great pick from the cover (and only vaguely familiar. I guess at least I have another list of books here to read again since I remember so little about them!)

French Kids Eat Everything - Books like this kind of stress me out. I'd feel better if it was called "Some/Most/Lots of French Kids Eat Everything but you're probably still a great parent even if you try all these tips and they don't seem to work..."

Ella Enchanted - We listened to this with the kids on a few car rides, another fun one to listen to since it was already a favorite.

Goodness. A year of books is too much to write about all at once...

The Boy who Harnessed the Wind - I loved this. We read it for book group and I thought it was fabulous. I watched his Ted talks and was just super impressed and inspired.

12 Finally - Another fun Wendy Mass

Nothing but the Truth - I remember really liking this as a kid, so I re-read it and it was fine but not so fabulous. I felt much more like I sympathized with the adults of the story more than I remember feeling before :)

Talented Clementine - I love Clementine, and Ellie has now read all of these too which makes me happy!

A Long Way Home - This was a crazy true story of a boy lost in India who was adopted and raised by an Australian family and who later went back and found his home and his mother. Amazing, right?

Capital Gaines - I can't remember the details, but I know I liked this. I can remember reading it on the little bench while the kids were in swim lessons :)

Clementine and the Family Meeting - Hooray for sweet books like this!

Keepers of the School Series - This is a cute Andrew Clements series, I'm still waiting to catch the last book at the library to see how it turns out. I really liked these.

The Vanderbeekers on 141st Street - very cute story. And I read it soon after we went to New York and stayed in a Brooklyn brownstone, so it made the story come alive as I could really imagine where they were living! I'm hoping for more stories about this cute family.

Danger Box - Another fun Blue Balliett story, which I can't remember at all but I'm sure was probably interesting...

Mr. Lemoncellos' library - One of Landon's books that I borrowed, he loved all the book references, and I thought those were fun too. I'm happy to see this one because it reminds me I was going to read the sequels!

For the Love - This was a fun collection of essays by Jen Hatmaker.

The Man who Invented Christmas - I was really excited to read this one, but it was actually pretty slow for me. But still fun to get some back story and history about the famous author. (I also tried watching this on a flight, but again didn't love it)

Esccape from Aleppo - The thing that struck me most about this was that it was happening almost just right now. Usually a book like this would be a history book about something long ago, but this was just a few years ago!

Hope in the Holler - I can't remember the details, but I know I liked this one.

The More of Less - An interesting book about minimalism. I like his blog with stories and such about minimalism too.  I have to be careful about not reading too much like this or I start to feel discontent with our home full of the treasures of 7 different people :) For example, he tells a story of a Saturday garage clean-out and how it led him to minimalism, so every time we clean out the garage, I wonder 'are we doing this wrong?' even though I know in this case all these bikes and trailers and scooters really do bring our family a lot of happiness...

It's like this cat -- This was a newberry I hadn't read so I tried it out, and I didn't really like it so well.

The Littles - I read this with Owen this summer, and he liked it so much, so I really enjoyed it too!

Boxcar Children - This was Ellie's book this summer, and it was fun to share it with her. I loved how sweetly grateful the kids were with every tiny little thing!


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

August 2018

We were ready for a change from our summer school routine by August, so we made some new plans and it was a great summer ending.  Our big thing was swimming. The timing for swim lessons didn't quite fit for us, so we got a short term membership at the gym and just went on our own. We'd finish up morning jobs and piano practice, then go swim till lunch time. The kids all took turns having a mini lesson with me (though Landon, and even Owen really just practiced and showed off for me, since they're mostly beyond what I could teach them!) and we all took turns watching and playing with Isaac.  It was such a wonderful way to end our summer, it made me feel just all filled up. One of our last days we'd finished our lesson time and we were just playing -- running races across the shallow end and playing tag till my legs were like jello -- and I'd just stop and laugh while Landon or Ellie came to tag me because I could hardly move any further... just so fun.
(And a side: Porter usually swam for about 15 minutes, and then he was ready to get out and he'd bundle up in his towel on the side and watch from a chair in the sun. The second week we were there, we swam one morning in the therapy pool (with WARM water!) and he swam and swam, just perfectly happy till everyone else was ready to go!

Other August Fun:

+  We went ice skating a few times on their 'hot chocolate club' Wednesdays, and I skated with the kids (while pushing Isaac in the stroller for some extra balance!) and again had so much fun. I still want to find a way to wear ice skates without it hurting so much (For both my sake and the kids!) But despite sore ankles, it was just a great happy time, and nice to cool down on these hot summer days.

+ I took the kids to the Jump Zone one morning, and they all thought it was pretty fabulous :)

+ We visited my friend Laura and her family in Lehi. I sure love her and loved seeing her cute family.

+ Landon went to Scout Camp! I've kind of dreaded that since he was born... but he came back safe and happy and he had a really great time. Jordan also got to join him for  the last few days too. Landon was super tough and did the long 18 mile hike and the mile swim (in freezing cold water!) He's a strong kid! I sure missed him, though it also was kind of fun to have those days to just focus on the other kids and do some special summer things with them.

+ My Dad and Shauna came to visit, and the kids were super happy to have some game playing buddies for a few days (They reminded us of a fun card game Wizard, and Owen kept them playing it again and again in any spare moments!)

+ I took a few of the kids to the Farmers Market one Saturday, and they were all delighted at all the fun things we found -- apricots, peaches, plums, and gingersnaps too! (also some fun squashes and sunflower sprouts for me and Jordan :)

+ We had a birthday party and celebration for five-year-old Porter!

+ We went on a short Bear Lake campout! We decided about 2:00 on the last Friday before school, and by 4:00 we were packed and on the way. Amazingly, we found one open campsite, and had a fun evening setting up camp, getting dinner in Garden City, making s'mores, etc. I was not so prepared for how cold it would be and was awake cold most of the night, so the next day was a bit rough for me (And made me wonder how I ever survived so many years of sleepless nights with little ones!) Still, we had a fun camping breakfast, played games and explored, had another fun meal in Garden City + raspberry shakes, and even spent a little time at the lake before a storm came through.

+ And back to school time!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Back to School Report

First day of school for these Elementary kids!
+ Landon was really happy to see he had friends and familiar faces in all of his classes for 7th grade. He was also excited to switch in to Honors math right before school started. The sad news was that he won't be able to continue both band and Portuguese this year. (I'm still feeling so sad about this!) He's sticking with Portuguese, and we're still figuring out what to do about trombone for the rest of Middle School. With no zero hour this year, he's happy for a little extra time in the morning + a bus ride to and from school.

+ Ellie was very anxious for class lists this year, and happy to find out she'd have some of her good friends in her class. She was happy to see her teachers note at back-to-school night that it would be low-homework year. (Me too!) And she's super excited to bike to school whenever we're able. I'm excited for her (and Landon) to study Utah History this year -- for some reason that's one of the subjects I remember most and most fondly from Elementary and Middle School.

+ On the first day of school, Owen felt like he'd already been in school a long time -- so I think he's just feeling like a pro now :) He's excited to have lots of his buddies in his class again this year. And he's hoping to learn some fun interesting math this year.

+ On the first day of school, I asked for something happy, sad, surprising... Porter was surprised at how boring kindergarten was! And sad about how boring kindergarten was! The next day, when I asked, it was "The Second Best Day Ever!!" (He wasn't sure what the first-best-day ever was, but he was pretty sure he'd had a better day sometime before, though this one was pretty great :)  He has a fabulous teacher (who also taught Landon, Ellie & Owen), so I think he is set for a really great year. It has been so fun to hear  little bits and pieces of his day (like his pirate ship playing at recess, where he was the captain and all the other kids had to go collect so many fish!)

+ And this is how little Isaac feels about all the other kids going to school without him! A few minutes ago, when we took Porter to kindergarten he was still asking "Me? Me kids-garden??"

Friday, August 24, 2018

Happy Friday

Making soup, and bacon & eggs, and muffins at the kitchen floor restaurant this morning
I am so grateful that I get to spend my days with these kiddos. With the start of school and all these new transitions, I've started looking ahead more at what's next as this season of caring for my little ones full-time winds down in the next few years. (And it reminds me very much of my last few years of high school where I would pore over the BYU course catalog, knowing I could choose from so many different wonderful options! I'd pick one and try it out in my mind for a little while till I was ready to move on to something else... really I'm pretty sure I always planned to be a teacher and hoped to be a mother, but the many choices were also just so fun to imagine!) I'm so happy that I chose to spend these years in this role though.

Isaac and I went to kindergarten with Porter today for a little while to read a story in celebration of Porter's birthday. With some last minute changes, it turned out to be a little longer than Isaac could manage, but he was sure happy most of the time trying to do all the things the kindergarteners were doing! And it was so fun to see all these little kindergarteners and look forward to getting to know them and watch them growing up (like all of Landon's kindergarten friends who are now middle-schoolers!)

Side note:
It has been a long time since I've written regularly here, and even though I'm sitting down in my same favorite spot and in this same mid-afternoon quiet space,  I feel pretty out of practice... So along with  the fact that I really want to remember these days and that means I need to write things down, here's a favorite  little post that has stuck with me --

"You're doing it wrong." 
But at least you're doing it. 
Once you're doing it, you have a chance to do it better.
Waiting for perfect means not starting.

(Seth Godin)

Happy Friday!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Morning Walks

I sure love these boys, and our lovely neighborhood too!
This morning Porter joined me and Isaac on our morning walk - a new routine for the new school year.  One of the best things I did this summer was getting back to my morning walks. With Jordan working in his office, I'd leave the kids to finish up their jobs and walk my little loop with Isaac then get back to (usually) finished up jobs and just-fine kids. (Though sometimes 1/2/3/4 children would be watching for me and race to be the first to let me know about the trouble that happened while I was away...) Our summer was really low-key as far as events, but with these five kiddos at home most of the time, it was also kind of intense for me. So I sure loved these few minutes of mostly-alone time!

Porter spent the first block this morning riding in and out of Isaac's view with lots of nonsense words and funny faces that had Isaac laughing and laughing like he only does for Porter's particular kind of silly.

I wasn't quite sure how walks would fit in with our new morning routines, so I'm excited it has been such an easy transition. Jordan also got Landon up early this morning to go for a bike ride, and they're both ready to be back to their early-morning routine again too. We'll enjoy these beautiful Fall days!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018


I read this cute book - "The Quiet Book" at the airport this summer, waiting to pick up Landon from his flight home. And it's full of all sorts of quiet -- 'First look at your new hairstyle quiet. Lollipop quiet. Sleeping sister quiet.' And the illustrations are just wonderful and add to the feel of each little description.

And right now, I have "All the big kids back to school, and the littlest one sleeping quiet." And it has been a really long time since our house has had this kind of quiet! (I'm thinking probably the Fall/Winter before Isaac was born, when Porter still napped!)

We had a great cool Fall morning, including a last minute search for a sweatshirt on the way out to school.  Then a short but lovely thunderstorm - Porter and Isaac opened the kitchen windows and squeezed onto a chair right up close to watch and listen. It will be a summer day again by the afternoon when the kids come home, but this is definitely a new season (of weather, of life)!

We had a bit of a rocky start this morning (though I think we probably always do for a bit when school starts.)  There was excitement and nervousness and routine and arguments and  apologies and wondering and some crying too. (Oh, I will be more patient tomorrow!)  Then a regular kind of morning with the little boys - a morning walk, cleaning the kitchen, ordering a backpack for Porter (some things I forgot!), and a quick trip to the Library before kindergarten drop off.

And now this quiet time for me! Which is wonderful, and also...quiet. I'm looking forward to all the possibilities ahead this year, and also feeling just a little loss at all these little ones growing up and these new seasons ahead for me to grow into. And also hopeful for more time to write again, so I can remember all the sweet times of these days!