{ Baking Pies }

I consider myself much more of a “baker” than a “chef”. I enjoy making cookies, cakes, treats, and now pies with my kids. My mom taught me how to make this kind of lattice top pie as a child. I am sure she made her pie crust from scratch, but a premade Pillsbury one is just fine for me. Add come canned cherry pie filling and it is delicious enough to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Making pie blog

making pie 2 blog


{ Austin’s itouch…and Santa’s Present that Flew Away }

These pictures for sure do not show how excited Austin was to get an itouch for Christmas. He has been asking for one for the last two years, and it has fallen on deaf years. We couldn’t justify it for a 8 years old two years ago, but after we Aaron lost his present from Santa, we were feeling some parental guilt and Austin ended up getting an itouch anyways.

On Christmas morning, Austin woke up to find a brand new remote control airplane nestled under the tree. Completely surprised, but totally excited by it, Aaron and him promptly broke out the instructional video and learned how to fly it. They did practice runs, read some more instructions, practiced some more, and then finally headed out that afternoon to fly it. It wasn’t 30 minutes later they returned, the nose of it already broken. I guess that’s what happens when it’s made out of Styrofoam! Aaron felt bad because he was the one who was piloting when it happened. That didn’t stop these two though, they immediately turned to the most trusted sources they could find-utube videos on how to repair it. Luckily, our own personal Santa's workshop was still set up in our room, and soon was filled with one very large airplane who had been admitted to the Santa’s workshop hospital.

They were diligent in letting it dry for a few extra days, and then on the day that someone came to look at our house, we all headed to the soccer complex to try it out again. Austin had been practicing flying it, and was nervous but excited to give it a go. He did great for a few seconds and then it crashed into the fence. No broken pieces to report, so Aaron gave it a go. They got it up flying great and all the kids cheered and watched in awe as it circled higher and higher. They we all watched in awe as it continued to be BLOWN higher and higher…and higher and higher. Before we knew it our plane was out of view and gone. We piled in the van and drove to a nearby neighborhood in the direction it had gone. We were hoping it had just crashed in someone’s backyard or on their roof. No such luck. Unfortunately, we went home empty handed that day. Poor Austin, he had gotten a new zip line we hadn’t put up yet, and now no present from Santa. He was such a good sport, and later confessed that even though the plane was fun..it was a bit of a high stress toy. We would have to agree.

Austin pleaded one more time for an itouch, and this time we gave in..with strict limitations that is. Austin was so thrilled he didn’t care what limitations there was. Luckily, Brianna took some pictures of him with his new toy (I think I was packing at that point).


He and Aaron when to Graphicom and picked out a new itouch with a blue case. He was grinning from ear to ear. He has been so generous in sharing it with the girls, and has been super responsible to follow our rules. Here are some of the rules we have established:

  • The itouch has to be checked in at night and put on the mantel
  • No internet use of it in his room-only public places
  • 1-2 hours of gaming time on it a day (1-2 depending on how nice I am feeling that day)
  • Unlimited use of it for educational purposes-reading books, educational sites/games, etc.
  • Permission before any apps are downloaded
  • Limited number of downloads a day
  • No taking it to church on Sundays
  • Permission to take it places, so it doesn’t get lost
  • Be kindhearted about sharing it to show us your gratitude for getting it

Austin has had fun finding apps from the app store, downloading some songs, and reading his scriptures on it. He and Aaron are able to share some of their apps with each other, and combine their music. Merry Christmas Austin, you got your Christmas wish after all.


{ Winter Ice Storm }

The longer we live here in the south, the wimpier I become when it comes to the cold. Growing up in the Midwest, cold and snow were common place. We bundled up, drove through snow and ice every winter for months on end, and enjoyed the beauty that a new fallen snow brought. That last part is the part a sometimes miss. I good snow on Christmas morning every year would be perfect. This year we traded a pretty Christmas morning snow instead for a mid-January ice storm. Everything was covered with a layer of ice. It was a mess to shovel off the driveway, and even worse to drive in, but very beautiful to see from the warmth of my house. Aaron got sent home from work early that day, so it was a day of fun for the kids and him.

Our kids had fun with the other neighborhood kids trying to sled down the front hill, and slip and slide everywhere on the street. Soon, they were cold too, and joined me inside for some hot chocolate and movies. I ventured outside briefly to help our elderly neighbors across the street shovel their driveway and snap a few pictures of our yard. I love ice storms because it always  looks like the water got stuck in time, as if time stood still for a moment or two. I love it. If only I could figure out how to do that with my kids-they are growing up too fast. I may need to talk to old Mother Nature about that time-standing-still recipe-it would be nice.


winter tree blog

frozen berries blog


frozen front tree blog


frozen stick blog


house tree blog


winter wagon blog


winter bush blog


{ A New Year’s Miracle }

I suppose every one might have their own definition of a miracle-for some it may be help from a divine being, for other’s maybe a turn of events that was hoped for, but not expected to happen, and still for many an instance when they experience something they couldn’t have done themselves alone.

I often think of miracles as something that saves lives-where people are healed or tragedy spared, making those who suffer to be lifted up. On the scale of miracles, my “little” miracle hardly seems to compare-but as far as miracles go it is only little in terms of my want and not because of the Doer of the miracle. For miracles big and small it makes no difference to Him. The only difference it makes is that it makes a difference in us.

For our family, I guess all definitions might apply-but regardless of what one might say a miracle is-the effect it can have can be life changing. And not necessarily life changing from the miracle in and of itself, but more from the faith and assurance it brings to those who have the privilege or standing on the sidelines and watching it unfold.

For our family, our own little miracle  helped us to ring in the new year-making it one full of hope, overflowing with gratitude, and one which we will keep tender feelings in our hearts for many years to come. Selling a house hardly seems miracle material to many I am sure-but to us it is the dozens of little things we have watched unfold that helps us to know without a doubt that we are important to our Heavenly Father. He cares about all parts of our lives, and wants us to grow and learn in the most loving way. There are times I wished I could have just learned those lessons another way, maybe secretly wishing I was just a better person that didn’t have to learn some lessons at all. Such is our journey in life-one of change and learning, and then seeing those blessings when we finally “get it” sometimes. That is a life to enjoy. And one I have learned to love-a life full of growth and possibilities-not to be read as “a life full of ease and opportunity”, but full heart wrenching growth and personal spiritual possibilities.

Our true miracle started almost exactly 18 months ago when we first put our house up for sale-there were instances almost weekly that helped us to see we were doing what we were suppose to, and we were being blessed for it. Not in the typically “my house has sold” blessings I was looking for at first, but the true behind the scenes blessings that come only with time, a watchful heart, and spiritual eyes. I absolutely marvel as I reflect on some very personal instances that happened even those first 6 months.

Under contract sign blog

Fast forward to a couple weeks before Christmas when we were finally able to be humble enough to have our little miracle happen. At this point, we had exhausted almost all of the options we had as far as selling houses go. We had listed it by owner, by owner with publications in a local magazine, online listings, by owner with MLS listings, with an agent at a competitive price, and finally with an agent at a price below competitive but realistic at this point. We had decided to drop our price a few weeks before with no response. We are pretty used to the “no response” at this point of the game, so we were happy to just get through Christmas, assuming no one really shops for a house at Christmas time anyways.

On the 15th of December I had my ladies come and clean my house (it was a birthday present from last year I am happy I got and kept. There is no way I could have kept my house spotless for almost two years alone with 7 kids. I’m just saying. I wouldn’t even mention it, but I feel it really is part of the miracle in all of this.) Anyways, on Wednesday my house was spotless, that night someone calls to come see the house the next morning. Awesome! SO grateful my house was clean. We make ourselves scarce the next day so they can come see it, and then are happily surprised when someone different calls to see it the next morning. We again make ourselves gone, and when we return someone ELSE calls to see the house that night. We happily and a bit dumbfounded find something to do to keep ourselves busy why they come and look. We suddenly are having more people come look at the house in a matter of days, than we have had in the last 6 months+. When the Lord works, HE works.

Saturday we talk to our realtor and she says there are some individuals that really like our house. I have already talked to the other realtor and am aware-happy, but trying to be realistic (okay, my lack of faith is really showing now) I was happy, but totally doubting this was happening. Meanwhile, we have our little Santa’s workshop all set up in my bedroom, working night and day to finish up Christmas presents, and show the house. This is where my cleaning ladies were such a miracle. They cleaned the house, and then the Lord knew if he could just keep one family after another coming to look at our house, we could keep it clean. It’s the only way we could possible have kept it clean. Anyone with any number of kids know what a miracle that is in and of itself.

The family that liked our house really wanted to come back and see it again on Sunday. Problem #1. We promised ourselves and the Lord we wouldn’t show the house on the Sabbath. It was just our way of trying to keep the Sabbath Day holy. I am sure others may think different-it’s just what we thought worked for us. I will admit, my faith waivered and I was so close to just letting them come while we were at church, then I finally got brave and told the realtor no, and explained we didn’t do any business on Sundays, and the realtor seemed “okay with it”. I thought for sure we had “blown it” (of course it’s never blowing it when we do what’s right), but in the world’s sense-blowing it. They ended up coming back Monday morning to see the house again. All seemed to go well. When I talked to the realtor later, I found out the situation that the couple was in-they were military moving here from out of town, they were in a hotel, they wanted to find a place, but it would be weeks before the final financing could go through-he wondered if we would consider a sale that had an early move in clause. (a deal we learned later was more of the realtors idea I think than the customers). We were desperate, and said yes we would consider. The move in date they wanted was December 31. This is December 20th at this point. Yes, just 11 days away, oh and Christmas is in there too. I look back now and wonder what in the world we were thinking.

The next day our realtor called and said they had reconsidered. We were okay, took a deep breathe, a bit relieved we didn’t have to move so quick and decided we would just focus on Christmas. That night as we were going about our Christmas preparations, Brianna came inside and asked what kind of car the people who like the house had? I told her some car I thought they had, and she said, “Well, there is this blue cool looking car that keeps driving by our house real slow. It’s already drove by 3 times!”. Now to some that may just spell creepy all over it, but to those trying to sell a house, that doesn’t freak us out too bad. Not ten minutes later, our realtor calls and says someone just called her and wants to see the house-like now in about 10 minutes. Great. Aaron’s at bishop meetings, 7 kids, newborn, no problem I say with a smile. Then hang up the phone and go into “crazy women needs to sell the house” mode. Kids load up the car, I hurry pick up a few toys, make beds, tidy up our Santa’s workshop but leave it all set up, sweep crumbs off of floor, put dirty dishes from sink into the back of the van because the dishwasher had clean dishes in it and I don’t have time to unload it and I can’t possible leave dishes in the sink (crazy women remember folks-pure craziness). We load up and pull out right when they are pulling in. Of course they say, we don’t have to leave, they don’t want to impose…After all the effort to load up my kids, please just let me leave. We go pick up the mitten for Abby’s present, stop by McDonald’s for about the fourth time in the last week, and then go drive and look for Christmas lights. This is the time we find the awesome Christmas light display. They stay there for over an  hour! And it was dark out, they couldn’t really even see the back yard.

Our realtor texts us that she is done and they LOVE the house and want to come back the next night with their dad for his approval. We are so excited! They come the next night and stay again for another hour. That’s a lot of Christmas light looking at! We were getting quite comfortable in our van by this point. A full week of constant rush to the van leaving. When they were done all the realtor texted was that they were done. What?! They stay for an hour and that’s it? It’s 3 days before Christmas and we decided we were just going to focus on our family. We prayed no one else would call to see the house, and kind of decided we wouldn’t show it anyways until at least Monday.

We enjoy our Christmas, relax, mess our house up, and just generally enjoy not being in the showing-the-house mode. On Tuesday the 28th we get a call that they want to see it again! It is between our house and another. I am scrambling to get ready to leave for Birmingham to go to the temple, grab all the kids, and Aaron meets us at the soccer fields on his way home from work. I put my makeup on in the car while the kids play with the remote control airplane Austin got from Santa (which later flies away with the wind). They finish up looking, and I am able to still make it to the temple in plenty of time. Little miracles all along the way. I still marvel at all of them.

We don’t hear anything for days, and I am sure they have picked the other house. Oh faithless me. I wonder how the Lord puts up with me sometimes. After Aaron is to the point of exhaustion I am sure of hearing my bemoaning about it, he suggest that maybe we should pray about it and let the Lord know a time table for us to have an answer by. What?Give the Lord an ultimatum? Okay, not really. His idea was more along the lines of when we pray about missionary work and we set a date to find a family to teach by. We had scheduled a meeting with our financial advisor for a yearly overview on Monday January 4th, so we thought by noon on that day would be good. One reason is that we had previously decided that if by the first part of the year the house hadn’t sold we were going to stop for awhile. We were really just burnt out. 18months is a long time to keep going at the pace we were. It was hard having half our house packed up, having it perfectly clean, and being able to leave at a moments notice-if it didn’t sell we needed to seriously pray about what to do and move forward.

The other reason was way more selfish. Aaron and I decided not to buy presents for each other this year for Christmas. None. We called it our Christmas truce. We really just wanted to keep saving all our money for the new house (“…that may never happen” I would often say under my breath. Faithless. Ugh. Sometimes I feel like I will never learn. You are seeing why it may have taken 18months for the Lord to work miracles inside me. He had some hard material to work with). Well, now that Christmas was over, our computer was on the fritz and we wanted to buy a new Mac. Saving bonus after bonus after bonus for two years, we were feeling a little like saying heck to it all and spending some money. We went to our financial meeting that morning, talked about some goals, and then on the way home Aaron says, “Okay it’s almost noon-call the realtor. Either a deal or lets go shopping for a new Mac. “ I timidly call her, and am in shock as she tells me that they are coming in the next night to write up a deal. I get off the phone and we can both hardly believe it. Aaron of course is reminding me of his wisdom is selecting a specific time for the Lord to answer our prayer, and I am sure I kind of rolled my eyes as I proudly admit defeat.

The truth is that over the next week, our house goes under contract, and as of February 24, our home will have a new family to love it. Our miracle is complete. The tiniest of details timed just right by the Lord. Years of prayers answered. My faith restored once again-mostly in the fact that I feel like feelings I had that we should move were real. And we were seeing it all play out. I am in awe that the Lord is so concerned about a small a thing as a house..and more in awe that He is so patient as He shows His concern over a bigger thing like our hearts. Our souls. Our testimonies. Our family. Our happiness. I am amazed at the love our Heavenly Father has for us-that is the real miracle. The fact that He loves us, as completely flawed as we are-He just keeps loving us, and hoping that our faith in Him will not fail. Not ever.

Lesson learned. With help from a Divine Being.

Faith enhanced. A turn of events that was hoped for, but not expected to happen.

Hearts changed. An instance we experienced we couldn’t have done ourselves alone.

Yes, a miracle indeed-by definition alone.