{ Scott’s Golden Birthday }

I don’t think that even the most meticulous planning could have worked out to have two golden birthdays in one year, so by luck I guess, we got to have not only Brianna’s golden birthday, but also Scott’s this year. Our little boy turned two, and is becoming not so little anymore. It seems like over night he suddenly started becoming this little boy, instead of the toddler that used to walk around our house.

Scott with cake blog

Our theme for his golden birthday became an “Old-west-gold-mining-with-trains-and-lots of gold-nugget-chocolate-fun” kind of theme. It seemed perfect since Granddad Starbuck was visiting and works in a mine. With his birthday so close to Christmas we had a hard time choosing what to get him for his birthday. I had already picked out last year that I wanted to get him the Cars Geotrax train track set for Christmas. When we went to Toys ‘R Us they had it on sale, we got it…then sat looking at each other blankly as to what to get him for his birthday just a few weeks away. We wandered around every aisle, turning down one idea after the next. A kind associate asked if he could help, and he set out to fill our plea as to what to get a two year old boy…oh, and by the way, he is kid number six, and we have every imaginably toy already. Tall order I know. The associate’s ideas weren't any better than our own. Everything he suggested we either already had, or wasn’t that great. My imagines of this cute little train set up by the tree on Christmas morning soon went by the wayside, and we decided to just go with the whole western gold mining idea and give him the train set for his birthday. And I am so glad we did, it was so fun!

This cute train cake took center stage for our little boy. I remember one of my brothers having a train cake growing up, and I always wanted to do that for one of my kids. I managed to pull it together while Aaron took the kids out for a little bit. Many talents I have…cake decorating never is one of them. Every cake I have ever made I think has been lopsided, poorly frosted, never a beautifully decorated scene for sure. Luckily, my kids thought it was absolutely awesome, and it tasted great-that’s all that really matters anyway right? It was a white cake, and soooo moist. The best cake we have had in a while.

Scott cake blog 

Complete with chocolate chip “dirt” on every surface, Oreo wheels…

Scott cake engine blog

cars full of chocolate gold nuggets…

Scott cake gold car blog

and gold gum bags for everyone.

Cake gum blog

Add a little more Oreo dirt and some Oreo logs on the caboose we were good to go.

 Scott cake caboose blog

It was so cute to watch Scott being the center of attention. He is definitely not used to having all the attention, he kept looking around curious about what to do next. He had been practicing the happy birthday song since Erika’s birthday, and listened intently while everyone sang to him.

Scott cake 2 blog

Time for blowing out candles!

Scott cake 3 blog

One candle…

Scott blowing out candles blog

.. then two.

Scott blowing out candles 2 blog

And a high five to big brother to complete the birthday wish!

High five with Austin blog

It’s amazing how one year can make a huge difference in the present opening ability. Erika was fully prepared to step in and assist at any moment, but our big two year old managed to open his presents all by himself.

Scott opening puzzle 1 blog

Scott opening puzzle 2 blog

He got this cute wooden puzzle that has latches and buckles on it to undo and redo again and again. He is really good at puzzles, so we thought this one would be a good challenge for him.

             Scott with puzzle blog       Scott puzzle 2 blog

The big present of the night didn’t come without some major excitement building. We had pumped all the kids up for his gift, and then promptly set them on the couch to stay put until he opened it all by himself. It was pure agony for them, but so much fun for everyone when they all finally saw what he got.

Scott present kids on couch blog

He was totally preoccupied with his new toy, and was not about to take his eyes off of it for a second to take a picture. He kept telling me about his “cars”, and then tried his hardest to get them out.

present 2 blogpresent blogscott opening box blog

 Scott geotrax looking blog

While Aaron put together the track for him, he snuck away for a few golden treats, and for my favorite picture of the day too. Truly a golden moment with a loving sister. Happy Birthday Scott! _DSC8062 blog


{Ryan’s Baby Blessing}

ryan blessing blog

Dear Ryan,

What better weekend than one that celebrates gratitude, to have your baby blessing and celebrate our thanks for you in our family. Both sets of grandparents were able to come and be part of this special day for you-Grandma and Grandpa Austin came from Iowa, and Granddad and Grandma Starbuck from Nevada. You were given a name and a blessing by daddy, and were such a good little man during the whole blessing.

You are such a special boy, and we are so blessed to have you in our home and our family. I love to hear special blessings from our Father in Heaven about each of my children, and to hear what special talents you have and how special to are to Him was such a memorable experience. You have such a wonderful life ahead of you, with much happiness in store. We love you so much! We hope you will be able to feel each day how much we love you and how loved you are by our Heavenly Father.


                                                                                                               Mommy and Daddy

Abby and grandpa and ryan blog                                                    Ryan with Abby and Grandpa Don

Ryan and grandpa don blog

 ryan with mom and dad blog

family with ryan blog

  ryan with starbuck grandparents blog

Ryan with Granddad and Grandma Starbuck

ryan with austin grandparents blog  Ryan with Grandpa and Grandma Austin


{Sleepy Baby}

Ryan 1 month blog
Ryan is one month old, and growing like a weed. His cute little pants are getting too short for him, and he is already wearing onesies that Scott wore at three months old. This bouncy seat is where we find him most of the time when he is sleeping. He doesn’t care for his bed right now, so the bouncy seat has become his little napping area. He is just like a few of our other kids in that when he sleeps he holds the back of his hair. Sometimes I think he just grabs it and can’t figure out how to let go, but either way it’s super cute. He has about the same amount of hair that Scott did when he was born, so we will see if it stays or if he will end up pulling it all out.=)

Ryan 1 month close up blog


{ Thanksgiving Day Recap }

  • Sleep in
  • Take our time making lunch
  • Turkey breasts, mashed potatoes (always from a box), gravy, soft bread, black olives, stuffing (also always from a box), sweet potatoes with brown sugar and marshmallows on top, eggnog to drink.
  • Brooke and Abby help me make a cherry pie with criss cross top crust
  • Enjoy long naps
  • Wait anxiously for Grandparents to arrive
  • Enjoy pumpkin, apple, and cherry pies
  • Go for a walk
  • Play games
  • Reading books
Brianna with Ryan in bjourn blog


{ Day 12-Thankful For Freedom}

With a husband in the military, it goes without saying that we are reminded on a daily basis what the cost of freedom is. With one deployment behind us, we know first hand the toll it can take on a family, but there are times when I wonder do we truly know the cost? My mind is brought back hundreds of years to a time and place where events unfolded to make a day we now celebrate.

How joyful that first Thanksgiving must have been. With nothing more than true faith, families left on boats they hoped would be able to carry them to a place they had only heard of. The destination may have been somewhat vague, but their purpose was not. The freedom they longed for, was within reach, and I imagine each day as they prayed that desire burned more brightly within each of them. Freedom from oppression, and freedom to pray and worship to a God they knew was hearing their prayers.

How hard that must have been, to travel in unknown territory, leaving the only place they had ever known as home, in search of a better. They knew about cost. The travel was treacherous, the food meager, accommodations anything but luxurious-yet in faith and hope they pressed on. I can only imagine the joy that must have filled their hearts when someone from up deck yelled the words they had waited months to hear. Land..We see land!!

I am sure the excitement soon passed in the coming weeks as the harsh reality of daily life set in. Would a life be able to be made? That same God that had so graciously led them to freedom, would surely not forsake them now. Hard work and valuable friendships with natives proved to be only the beginning.

As they bowed their heads with the utmost reverence that first Thanksgiving, I am sure they knew what the cost was. I am sure their prayers were more than merely trite recitings of their blessings..”Thanks for our home, our family, all our many blessings..” They had felt in their hearts the blessings poured out upon them through the hardest of times. They had felt the blessings of being able to build a new life..a free life. How blessed we are to celebrate that too.

Thanksgiving banner blog


{ Day 11-Thankful For My One Month Old }

ryan in color blog

Things have been a little picture lacking lately, so a cute picture of this little guy is definitely in order. It seems a bit biased to say I am thankful for just my one month old, but since the other kids got their time yesterday to say what they were thankful for, we will give Ryan his time in the spotlight too.

I love to watch him as he is growing up. He already had his first smile the other day, and it is so cute! By one month we are feeling like he has just always been here. It’s hard to imagine a time when he wasn’t. I love that I am feeling better, and we are starting to get into a routine of sorts with all seven of the kids. We have managed two Sundays at church all together, an out to eat adventure for my birthday, and even a trip to Target with all of us. Two carts and seven kids running up and down all the aisles trying to convince us of all the things they “needed”. It was quite a site to see.

I am so thankful that Ryan is healthy and strong. We have all had the flu, and he was lucky that it passed him by. Such a blessing. At his two week appointment he was already 9lb. 5 oz. I need to weigh him to see how much he has grown since then. He still has his chubby little cheeks, and his body is just so cute with all his little rolls to cuddle with.

He is a good sleeper for us, and most nights will give me at least a four hour stretch of time to rest. He prefers to sleep in his bouncy seat or our bed instead of his little crib. He is eating about every 2-3 hours, and doesn’t spit up much! Most of our kids have been big spitter-uppers, so this is a pleasant change. He doesn’t love his binky, but will humor us at times and take it. He loves to be in the Baby Bjorn or just held. He has already grown out of most of his newborn clothes, which makes me a bit sad, and is wearing mostly 0-3 months size now.

I love to see him grow up and do new things, but there is definitely a little bit of sadness that he is. With only one more baby to go until our little group is complete, it’s sad to think this could be my last boy baby. It makes me too sad to even think about it now, so I won’t.=) Instead, I just try to imprint in my mind every little thing he does-those cute little grins, how he arches his back when he stretches, his little bottom lip quiver (the kids love this one), how he looks at us with that serious little man look,…I hope those memories won’t fade too fast, but when they do I know I can look at him and be able to see all the new things he does that brings us joy.


{ Day 10-Thankful Things From The Kids }

Tonight for Family Home Evening we all wrote in our journals about things that we are thankful for. Here are a few things that each of the kids said that they were thankful for. It was fun to hear all the things that they thought of all on their own.


“I am Thankful for… (we sat Scott on the computer desk and asked him what he was thankful for. He was getting lots of encouraging ideas from the other kids, and here’s how the conversation went-)

“Scott what are you thankful for?”

“Ry, Ry” (Ryan)

“What else are you thankful for?”

“Esus (Jesus)” as he points to a picture of Jesus on the desk

“What else?” “For Austin?”(Austin’s suggestion)


“For diapers?”(Austin’s suggestion)


“For cookies”

Pause…”No” “for BUBBA!”(Bubba is Scott’s nickname)


“I am Thankful for…

  • my family
  • Ryan, because he’s little
  • that Scott and Ryan will grow up
  • that Grandma is coming to our house
  • Ryan because he’s tiny and cute
  • that it’s almost going to be Valentine’s Day (she didn’t mean Thanksgiving or Christmas, really Valentine’s Day. I guess almost is all relative)
  • that Scott’s almost going to be two
  • Scott because he has a lot of toys in his closet
  • you (mommy) because you are pretty (I didn’t even have to give her a cookie to say this one)
  • someone gave Ryan a new blanket (Thank you Evan’s family)
  • my new bed blanket
  • Jesus is nice
  • a house because if we didn’t we would get wet


I am Thankful for…

  • my family because I love they are pretty and handsome.
  • my Grandma and Grandpa because they give me money for my birthday.
  • my books because I am learning how to read.
  • Ryan Starbuck because he is cute.
  • my family because every time I get hurt they will take care of me.


“I am Thankful for…

  • my house.
  • my car to drive to places.
  • school because than we wouldn’t know anything
  • my family.
  • my parents so than we wouldn’t be here.
  • my church to go to to learn about Jesus Christ.
  • my bed so I wouldn’t have to sleep on the floor.
  • my shoes and my clothes so I would stay warm.
  • my Heavenly Father so he can guide me from wrong and right.
  • the earth so we can live on it.


I am Thankful for…

  • a house to live in because if we didn’t have a house to live in than we would get all wet and stuff from the rain.
  • the outdoors because if I didn’t than I couldn’t have anywhere to run.
  • my mistakes because if we didn’t make mistakes than we couldn’t learn anything.
  • I am also extra, extra thankful for my parents because if I didn’t have my parents I wouldn’t be here.


I am Thankful for…

  • friends at church. They know our standards and they respect us for them. They always make sure I’m ok and they don’t leave anyone out.
  • school. I love school. I love being able to learn about things in the real world and the teachers want to teach me. Some of them only care about the money, even though they don’t get paid a lot, but I know some of them actually care about me.
  • my parents. They care for me and my safety. They punish me so that I can learn. They teach me about the gospel.
  • the earth. It provides food, air, shelter, and water for us to live. It was given to use to be able to see if we are responsible, to have a body, and so we can return to live with our Father again.
  • the Atonement. If Jesus did not die for us we could not repent for our sins. There would be no reason to be baptized and we won’t be able to live in heaven again.
  • my body. I am able to do all the things that people in heaven a long time ago who chose to follow satan and did not get a body. I am able to do things they would never be able to do.
  • Becky. She is always there when I need her. She cares about me, helps me, loves me, and is a great cook. When I see her my day turned from black to white. She is an aunt from another grandma!=)


{ Day 9-Thankful For Feeling Loved }

I have noticed that the times that little Ryan is the happiest is when he is cuddled up warm in a blanket and held tight and safe in our arms. The last two Sunday’s Ryan has been so good as he was passed from person to person all during sacrament meeting, and then slept all through the rest of church in my arms.  He hasn’t woke up to eat the whole three hours, he just lays peacefully in my arms and rests.

I was thinking of times in my life when I have felt the most peacefully and safe. The times my parents have encouraged and unconditionally loved me. Reminiscing and talking with siblings. The patient loving moments my husband and I have shared together. The one on one times with my children. The fun laughter with friends. At times when I feel the most alone or sad, are the times I think that my priorities have somehow gotten off coarse and I have strayed from those relationships that help me feel the most loved.

There will be times when Ryan is sad and we will give him his pacifier to calm him. It may work for a while, but if his needs aren’t being met, it won’t last long. He will continue to spit it out until he gets fed or his diaper changed or just gets held close. I wonder if there are times when I try to be pacified with things that really won’t meet my needs. They may work for a while, but in the end, it’s those close relationships with our Heavenly Father, our family, and our friends that help us feel safe and loved. I am so thankful for those who show me that love and help me to feel that calm peace in my life.

{ Self Portrait Sunday }

Okay, so I am NOT really starting a self-portrait Sunday, but that is the only day lately that I seem to actually be in something more than sweat pants and flip flops. I was looking through the pictures since we went digital three years ago, and of the thousands of pictures we’ve taken, there are less than a dozen of me! How sad is that? I am usually behind the camera, and my automatic reaction when someone points the camera at me it to turn away.

On one of the shelves above our couch I have a picture of my mom holding Erika on the swing when she was younger. It’s one of my favorite pictures, and even though it’s five years old, I don’t think it will ever be one of the ones I will replace. I treasure the pictures I have of my own mother, and it makes me a little sad that my own kids have so few of me. I’ve decided to let my kids take more pictures of me, and enjoy what I look like in my 30’s. I’m sure when I am 90 and a little more wrinkly, I’ll wish I had more pictures when I was younger.=)

So for now, just humor me, and know these are for posterity sake. And aren’t you proud of me, no one else in the picture with me-I’m trying to shed my fear-of-picture-aloneness. That and Scott had fallen asleep in the car on the way home from church and there was really no other willing soul.

Monae sunday 11 21 blogmonae sunday 11 21 close up blog


{ Day 8-Thankful For Date Nights }

I love our date nights! We haven’t always been consistent with our date nights, but since Aaron got called as the bishop we have made sure we get one in at least a couple times a month. There were times when I have thought I might need to sign up for a few tithing settlement slots just so I can see him during the week.

A couple weeks before Ryan was born, we decided to spend our date night going out to eat at Houlihans, and then to a movie. We haven’t been to a movie just the two of us in years. We went to see the movie Secretariat. I’m not one for recommending movies, but it was great!

image image

When we walked in there were only a dozen people there, including us, and I think we were the only ones under the age of 50. Kind of funny, but a sign to me it must be a great family movie. I would definitely take my kids to see it. There wasn’t any curse words in the whole thing, and it was a sweet little story.


{ Day 6-Thankful For The Small And Simple Things }

I am beginning to feel like all of my thankful things are “small and simple” things, but as I was thinking about my item of gratitude today I realized why that is. As I was reading my scriptures this morning I came across one of my favorite versus, and in it was the phrase, “..by small and simple things are great things brought to pass..” As I looked in the dictionary under the word simple and in the index of the Book of Mormon, I made a connection I hadn’t before.

In the dictionary one of the first definitions says: Not complex: easy <a simple task>. In the index one of the words listed after simple that could be used for further study said: Ease. I thought of just the events from yesterday, and thought of all the “small and simple things” that had been done for me by our Heavenly Father.

I had enough time that morning to pick up all the toys, laundry, etc., before the cleaning ladies came (which is a miracle Brooke said because our house is a disaster), we were able to leave early to take Brooke to the doctor (we are usually late every where), I had time to feed Ryan before the appointment ( a blessing since I didn’t know how long we would end up being at the hospital), Brooke’s arm wasn’t hurting her too bad, Aaron was able to come to the hospital to help take her to get an x-ray,(they wouldn’t let me take all the kids back to get her x-rayed. Aaron has had to be at work by 5am every morning this week and has been crazy busy as they are instituting a new model in one of their clinics. I would have surely have had to wait another hour if he hadn’t been able to come), Aaron came home early so I didn’t have to take everyone to Brianna’s piano lesson,..The more I thought about it, there seemed to be a hundred simple things that happened, all of which were EASY, or a SIMPLE TASK for the creator of all the universe to do. Yet, all of them were done for the sole purpose of making my life one of more EASE. Would I have survived without those things happening?, sure. But a loving Heavenly Father being so mindful of me, performed those small and simple things and “brought to pass great things”, like changes in my heart and to my faith.

I think many times we feel that it’s those large monumental things that happen in our lives that are sure to help us know He answers our prayers and is aware of our needs. But I think the truth is that it is us being aware that He knows even those small details in our lives and cares about those things just as much that makes all of the difference. I have been known to think, “If only our house sold, THEN I would surely know He has heard my prayers.” The reality I am seeing is that, “Yes, I KNOW He hears my prayers because those silent pleas that I offered up in stressful moments throughout the day were answered through “small and simple means”.  Recognizing that, has made me have complete confidence that all those other big things will come with time and all work out. What a blessing to be able to see that now.

As if I hadn’t already been spiritually fed enough, I read further in the Doctrine and Covenants, and the verse with the phrase, “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.” caught my eye. How many times a day do I often feel weary in well-doing? Raising seven small children can see like a Herculean task at times. I sometimes feel more weary than that I am doing any great work. Before I had time to throw a pity party for myself right in the middle of my scripture time, I read a cross reference to Doctrine and Covenants 123:16. It talks about how a large ship uses a very small helm to guide it in a storm. The last part is what I hadn’t noticed before. It says, “..by being kept workways with the wind and the waves.” It didn’t say that the small helm benefitted the large ship by trying to fight against the wind and waves during a storm, but by working with them. How often do I feel weary because I am trying to fight against the trials and adversity and daily life that are there to teach me, instead of working with it. How much more could I benefit my our spiritual ship if I did? How often am I focusing so much on the weary instead of seeing all the great work.

When I look into the eyes of those small seven children, I can see that they are the great work. All the small and simple things I can do for them each day is laying a foundation of strength and love for them far greater than I will ever know. No thing is too small or too simple that our Heavenly Father doesn't notice it. How grateful I am for all those small things. What a strength to my faith to recognize that the simple things in our life are really the great things.


{ New Look to My Monae’s Monet’s }

I finally posted some new stuff over at Monae’s Monet’s, and updated the look a little bit. I would love to know what you think. I think I still need a touch of pink in the header, but have yet to find the right bit of somthing. You can click on the link under the All Things Creative tab to get there. Enjoy!

{ Day 5- Thankful for Practicality }

A couple of weeks ago I bought a fun new home decorating item. A cool old wooden trencher. I have admired them for the last couple of years, but couldn’t commit to finding one I liked.  I finally worked some ebay magic and found one that I liked the color, size, and shape. Since I am a bit picky with the accessories in my home, I was a bit worried I may not like it, but since I had my eye on them for so long and still liked the look of them, I knew that it would be a keeper. I love the idea of an old well worn piece mixed with the new. When it arrived I loved it! It was money well spent, and my mind was swirling with ideas of what to put in it-Indian corn and small pumpkins for the fall; oversized ornaments, fake snow, and berries in the winter; bunches of spring flowers in the spring and summer. Old magazines or books anytime of the year. I was giddy with excitement. It sat peacefully on the console table by my front door until I had time to fill it with just the right fall items. As I was picking up the front room for the night, I passed by it and found this:

toys in bowl blog

My perfectly available new wood trencher filled to the brim with race cars, a tangles slinky, toy guns, a watch, and a host of other “boy toys” that Scott and Austin had put in it.

No need to fret about decorating at our house. The practical solution seems to be best.

Empty bowl equals a free space for toys.

Decorating accomplished.


{ Day 4-Thankful For Big Brothers }

Austin holding ryan on chest black and white blog

Austin holding ryan on chest 2 b and w blog  ryan on chest blog

Austin 10 years old and Ryan 3 days old


{ Day 3- Thankful For Persistence }

There is a wide open field not to far from my house. I pass it almost anytime we go anywhere. There is a large wooden sign that stands at the corner of the lot and reads in large letters, “Future home of the Second Baptist Church”. What’s so great about that? That sign has been there since we moved here SEVEN years ago. A couple times a year they have a spring carnival or fall festival there, to raise money I am sure to build there future church home. Seven years! Maybe that’s just how long it takes to build a church, but my thoughts turned another direction when I passed it the other day. What persistence! With the state of the economy, I am sure dreams that were thought out seven years ago when all was great, might have been rethought, even cancelled, or at least put on the back burner until better times come along. And really for all I know,  maybe they are. But for now, that sign is a constant reminder to me to keep moving forward, proudly keeping with your dreams. Even if it takes seven years.

I was thinking of putting my own big sign on “our” lot that said, “Future home of STARBUCKS”, but I have a feeling there may be some confusion in the neighborhood.

{ Random Thoughts }

Just some random catch up things.

#1 Colette, I am so glad you left a comment. I lost your crafty blog address when I switched from my Explorer to Firefox browser. I love to keep up with old friends. I am so glad you stop by and read our blog when you can. Don’t you just love technology!=)

#2 Picture of me from my first day back at church. Not that that is a super special event, and I will probably move it to my 33 year old post a few days back, I just wanted to post it here because I really never post pictures of myself. I grabbed the nearest kid to snap a picture, and another willing soul to be in it with me. I sometimes have solo-picture-fear. I don’t know why, I just don’t like to be in pictures alone. Weird, I know. But, this little guy is too cute, he just needed his picture taken too.monae snd scott blog

#3 Erika said the other day, “I think Ryan is really going to like us when he grows up!” So cute! I think so too.

#4 I am editing some pictures I took of Ryan, so hopefully I will post them on my Monae’s Monet’s blog soon. I have neglected that blog for too long, and am currently trying to figure out how to better configure it, so hopefully I can get that worked out soon.

#5 I am tired, and need to go to bed. The end.


{ Day 2- Thankful For The Reminders }

If you came to my house today…
You would be greeted by many tiny handprints on the back door window, welcoming you to our home.
You would see milk stains on the scratched up dinner table, and know we have fully enjoyed many family meals together.
You would see the sink full of dishes, and be assured that we are blessed to never have to go without food.
You would see the cookie sheets on the oven, bowls in the sink, empty pumpkin can and cake mix boxes, and know we have enjoyed some treats of the season.
You would see dozens of shoes scattered on the floor, and know we are blessed with children who are healthy and are able to run and play.
You would see many large Sam’s club quantity toilet paper, paper towels, and laundry soap boxes that didn’t quite make it to their destinations yet, and know that we are now in the two cart club when we go to the store.
You would see the tie left by the television, and know that someone here lovingly serves at church meetings throughout the week, yet can still get distracted by Toy Story 3 when he comes back home after another meeting on a Friday night.
You would see the papers, crayons, markers, colored pencils, coloring books, and tape littering the playroom floor, and know that the creative juices flow freely here.
You would see bottles of soap and hand sanitizer at every sink, and know we are SO done with people having the flu here.
You would see an ironing board still set up, and know that a ten year boy has proudly ironed his own shirt for church today.
You would see a hair straightener, blow dryer, makeup case, brushes, ribbons, and two different skirts out for try on, and know I made it to church today for the first time after having Ryan.
You would see well worn strips of paper scattered about for four people, practicing their parts for the Primary program, and know why I went to church today.
You would see toys scattered everywhere and know that imagination and the magic of childhood is alive and well here.
You would see dozens of  piano books surrounding the piano, and know we value the sweet melodies of music in our home.
You would see diapers and wipes in every room, and know that everyone, even down to the littlest ones needs are being met.
You would see candy wrappers tucked under coffee tables, and left on counters, and know that the Halloween festivities didn’t pass us by.
You would see at least ten cups on the counter by the refrigerator, and know that water is our drink of choice.
You would see empty dishes on the counter waiting to be returned to church members, and know how loved we are by those who sacrificed to bring dinner to us.
You would see toy cars in the bathroom, and brushes in the kitchen, and know there must be a little boy who loves to follow around his mommy all day long.
You would see homemade birthday cards on the counter, and dying flowers in a vase, and know that someone here felt very loved recently.
If you came to my house to day, you would see a very grateful mother who is thankful for all the little reminders of what our life is right now. Reminders that our home is well loved and well lived in, and that’s what makes it a home, not just a house.


{ Day 1- Thankful for the Seasons… In Our Life }

As Thanksgiving fast approaches, I am often thinking of all the blessings that I have been so graciously provided by the Lord. We truly have so much to be grateful for, many things which are often overlooked on a daily basis. In trying to be more grateful, I am going to dedicate 12 days to being grateful for at least one specific thing. Hopefully, by Thanksgiving I will have more gratitude in my heart and in my home.

As I was mowing the lawn yesterday, I enjoyed the instant gratification of having all the fallen lives picked up and my half green lawn beneath showing it’s happy face again. No sooner had those happy feelings appeared, than the wind started to blow and dozens more leaves came tumbling to the ground. I looked up to the high canopy of trees overhead, and wondered to myself why on earth I was even doing this. Within days or mere hours, the ground would once again be filled with leaves. It kind of irritated me, in my “want-everything-always-neat” attitude, that these falling leaves were looking rather messy in my yard, and I wondered why some things in nature were so “messy” at times. I was almost instantly reminded of how orderly nature really is. How there are seasons for everything. Everything has a time and a season, including my trees full of leaves. Nothing is forgotten. Nothing is out of place. Everything has it’s place and time to come forth and show it’s beauty and purpose.

I thought of how we too have the seasons of our life, a time and purpose for everything we do and are. Six  years ago, I was talking with a good friend about how I wished I could go to the temple more. I was beating myself up about not being there as often as some. She reminded me that I also had a husband in his medical internship working 80-100 hrs. a week, 4 young children-one being a young baby, a big calling a church,…the list went on and on. She said, “There are times and seasons in our life to do those things more. One day you will have the time to go much more often, for now, it’s okay to go when you can.”

Those words of wisdom have carried me through some very difficult times in the last few years. I have come to see that there are seasons in our life. There are times when we bloom and grow at a quick springtime pace. Times when we work hard and play hard in the summer days of our life. Times when we feel purified, whole, and at peace like the sweet white winters. And yes, times of autumn when we may feel a  little dormant, but are given the blessing of a chance to rest and renew ourselves after a long hard working summer. What a tender mercy this is to have a chance to rest and regain strength for the springtime's ahead that will give way to more needed growth and blooming in all aspects of our lives.

I now peer out my window with a new love for my yard that floweth over with a batch of newly fallen leaves. Leaves that have worked hard to shade our picnics, provided strength for the trees whose limbs my children climb upon, and leaves who now enjoy the rest as their lives change color and they too move into a new season. What beauty and joy they bring even in their time of “rest” as their vibrant colors paint the treetops.

How grateful I am for the simple reminder of the season of life I am in right now. I think instead of wanting to move ahead and work and grow in the busyness that can so easily surround me, I will enjoy a time to rest and renew. I will enjoy a time to hold my new baby while he is in this short season of his life. I will not worry about having my house perfect, only peaceful. Not being everything to everyone, just being my best to the ones that matter most. And most of all, taking the time to look back at the seasons gone by, remembering how far we’ve come, and thank those who have made it so.


{ Fall Decorations }

Though there are very few signs that fall has arrived in our neck of the woods, it didn’t stop me from getting out all of our fall decorations a good 6 weeks ago. I love my “new” decorations this year. Mostly just a new arrangement of the old, and a few new things to spice things up a bit.  I am loving all the bright colors, and the more natural theme-lots of berries, grapevines, and wheat stalks. I love it! Much to my kids dismay, there were very few “Halloween” decorations. Erika kept asking when we are going to decorate for Halloween. I told her we already had, didn’t she see everything I put up? She was unimpressed.

 glass vases blog

My favorite vases.

wall blog

Austin informed me that “we really need to update those pictures on the wall.” I know, I know. Ordering new pictures should have been on my to do list, but I think it still would have had a “not done” mark next to it. I have uploaded them, now I just can’t decide what sizes I want. I don’t know why I stress over little things like that. Until then, enjoy the old pictures of my kids. That baby at the bottom is Erika, just for some reference on how old these pictures are. 

wreaths blog

whole wall blog

I love these little wreaths. I found them at Michaels for $.79 and the roll of ribbon for $1.50, so for under $5, I made all of them. I love how simply they are, but how nicely they add to the pictures already on the wall. They are great space fillers. I am sure for Christmas I might just be switching out the ribbon, lots of options.

Grapevine wreath blog

    I love my wall vases! I usually keep fresh flowers in them from spring throughout the fall, but I was getting a bit spent on changing the dying flowers so often. I have yet to find some fake ones that look as good as real flowers, so until then I tried another fake arrangement this year. I started with the berries I found at Target, and some random fuzzy looking things at Michael’s. It still looked kind of bare so I added the raffia tied around some, then finally I added some grapevine “ribbon” inside the vases. It’s amazing what things you can find if you wander around a craft store long enough. Who knew they made, grapevine ribbon.vase with berry blog

My mantel was mostly a mix of last years things, just reworked. I normally put these things on the table by our front door, but I really liked them up here this year, and they were out of reach from Scott. The few days I had them on the table he had already pulled a ton of berries off.

Mantel with pumpkins 2 blog

 Mantel close up blog  whole mantel blog

Mantel blog

whole mantel 2 blog

I had some wheat stalks from last year that were looking pretty sorry after being in the hot attic all summer, so I was super excited to find these at TJMaxx. When I got them, they were in these ugly looking clay pots, so I replaced the pots with these from JoAnne fabrics (50% off, yeah!) and then filled in the gaps with some mossy stuff. I love how they look. I put these on my front table instead. I must say I was feeling a bit crafty after I did these. Ha, Ha. I love to be creative, but not so much crafty lately.

          wheat stalks blog        wheat stalks close up blog

I am really enjoying my festive fall things this year. I love the orange. I wish I could find some cute orange fabric to make some throw pillows for the couch, but I haven’t found any I like. I may have to look on etsy for something fun.