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? :)