{ Our Nashville Trip Day 2-Men’s Soccer Olympic Qualifying Game }

I can’t believe I forgot to write about this funny thing that happened on our way out of town. We had set our GPS for the stadium in Nashville, and started driving out of Atlanta going North. We were busy talking and looking around at the beautiful houses and scenery in this part of Atlanta we hardly ever get to see, and only partly paying attention to where we were going. We kept seeing signs for the interstate, but then the GPS would take us a different way. We thought, “Well, GPS knows best”, and kept chatting away, After about the 4th or 5th time of this happening we were beginning to not trust our sorely outdated/nonupdated GPS. We finally just turned at the next chance we saw the interstate and decided if our English accented lady wanted to “recalculate us” she could. After getting on the interstate, Aaron suddenly had a brainstorm and starts flicking all kinds of buttons on the GPS. He had been using it in on his trip in Las Vegas, but on PEDESTRIAN mode! What?! So if we ever wanted to walk for about 4 days to get to Nashville…we totally know the way! It was so funny!

As we were coming into Nashville we kept skirting around some dark and nasty looking clouds. We had been avoiding rain the whole trip, but just about 10 minutes out of town it started pouring! I mean, cats and dogs pouring! We were a bit early for the game, so we decided we should maybe stop by the stadium and see what the plan was for the game-rescheduled?,cancelled? We weren’t exactly sure what protocol is for a big soccer event like this. As we pull into the parking lot we see a lot of other people paying for parking and heading into the stadium. We try to ask a couple different parking assistants, but they all had no idea. We paid for parking, parked the car, and just looking at each other and started laughing. It was going to totally be an adventure for sure. Luckily, I had grabbed an umbrella on my way out the door from home, and Aaron had a bunch of extra clothes and an extra jacket for me to wear. We bundled up, and tried to take a few pictures under the umbrella.

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We get to the gate, and this guy says, sorry no umbrellas and no bags. What? It was pouring out! We kind of look at each other, shrug and head back to the car. We ditch the umbrella, and sadly leave my camera behind. Without my camera bag, I wasn’t about to take it out in the pouring rain. An iPhone camera will have to do. I seriously have the worst luck with taking pictures when Aaron and I go out. I either forget my camera, it gets lost, it’s raining. As we head back to the gate, he kindly tells us no water bottles either. Of course. We should have known. We ditch the water, to try to save ourselves some time out in the pouring rain.

Inside this nice lady offered to take some pictures of the both of us with Aaron’s phone.

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The field was SO green. I couldn’t believe it. We hung out under the eaves until it was time for the first game to start-El Salvador vs. Cuba. Aaron was smart enough to sneak in his garment hanging bag that we could sit on because everything was soaked. By the time the game was about to start the rain had stopped for the most part. We loaded up with a huge thing of popcorn and some Gatorade-I only mention this because of the funny thing that happened with the Gatorade. We go to the concession stand and the lady hands us the Gatorade after she opens it and takes off the cap. We think, this is kind of odd. Maybe they want to show that you really bought it here?.., but that didn’t really make sense either. We question the lady about it and she says that the official soccer rules are that all caps must be taken off so that the spectators don’t throw the caps at the players. My third “WHAT?” for the day. So crazy-people really throw caps at the players? Evidently so.

The first game was great. El Salvador was running circles around Cuba and ended up winning 4-0. The Cuba players were so much taller than the short El Salvador players, it was kind of comical when they played. Aaron thinks that those Central and South American players are just born with quick feet. After watching this game I had to agree-it was such a fun game to watch.Nashville Soccer game blog-1

The second game was the one that we were really excited to see because we got to watch the US Men’s team play Canada. By then the sun was out and the clouds were gone. It went from cold to hot, and I wished I had my camera. We went to see if we could go out and use our ticket to get back in, but no we couldn’t. We, and a whole slue of others, were bummed we couldn’t go out. So more iPhone pictures instead.

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The teams were warming up before the game and it was so fun to watch them do all these tricks. It was suppose to be “our” weekend, but we were constantly saying how much the kids would have loved to see this or that. Aaron tried to video a few of them doing their tricks. When both teams came out to sing their National anthems and show their flags, I almost cried, I do every time I hear our National anthem. Love it.



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This game was so much more evenly matched than the first, and so intense. It was great to see the sportsmanship that both teams had for each other, but by the end of the game emotions were high. We were seeing the wisdom in the “no cap” rule. I felt kind of bad for the players, they really were just trying their best. Every time someone would get hurt, they spectators were brutal with their “faker” comments. The score was back and forth, but the US ended losing to Canada 0-2.

We headed out to a late dinner, which our GPS did us wrong again and we drove around for over an hour looking for a place. We finally settled on Longhorn Steakhouse, and I had the most amazing chicken. I think I need to take a cooking class, because my chicken NEVER tastes like that. We told the waiter and he brought the chef out for us to tell that to. It was a really nice thing to do, and he really deserved the compliment. It was great. We called and checked in on the kids after Austin texted us about one of the neighbors alarms going off-there have been robberies in the neighborhood next to ours. We freaked out a bit, and made sure the kids knew how to set the alarm. They all ended up having their soccer games that day too-Brianna’s team lost, and Austin’s won, and Erika’s game..well that one didn’t get made too. We dread 9am games, and with soundly sleeping kids, I so don’t blame our babysitter for letting them sleep and skipping it. I totally would have done the same thing.

It was great to check in and hear their voices, but nice to have one more day together too. Our weekend wasn’t quite done-I got to have one Sunday to actually sit with Aaron at church in the pew, not with him up front, and without any crying kids. I can’t wait.


{ Nashville Trip to Watch Soccer-Just the Two of Us-Day 1 }

Last weekend Aaron and I got away for our monthly date-one that I had planned for his Christmas presents, just the two of us. I had looked online for anything I could that was some sort of Pro Soccer anything. I got so lucky and found that the Men’s under 23 Olympic teams were having playoffs this spring to see who would qualify to go to the Olympics this summer in London. They were playing in LA, Kansas City, and Nashville. Nashville is only 5 1/2 hours away-so doable for a drive and weekend get away for us.

Aaron had been gone all week at a Family Medicine Conference in Las Vegas, and by the time Friday came I was so ready for some us time. He was to fly back into town on Friday, and the plan was to pick him up from the airport in Atlanta after a quick trip for me to IKEA, and then we would head on up the 3 1/2 more hours to Nashville. We would go to the Nashville temple the next morning, and then see the two soccer games that afternoon and evening.

That was plan A, but Plan B was what we ended up with. We were on the “be flexible timetable”-which when it’s just the two of you is so much more doable than when there are 7 other little people with you, all of which each have their own agenda. His flight didn’t end up getting in until 8:40pm, so I was going to just go up to Atlanta early and do some shopping, and then head to the temple and then pick him up from the airport. We would stay in Atlanta that night, and then drive the next morning to Nashville.

I had everything packed (totally last minute ), the kids schedule ready for the babysitter, soccer uniforms washed and laid out (though rain seemed eminent for Saturday), Sunday clothes washed and laid out, the house pretty much cleaned, Brianna and Austin’s track meet coordinated (as much as we could), the van’s oil changed, sheets washed, towels washed, and was ready for some much needed rest. As I was getting ready I couldn’t find the GPS, and after texting Aaron discovered he had taken it with him to Las Vegas. It looked like my trip to IKEA was going to get postponed. I could have looked up the directions on MapQuest, but decided to just go to the temple instead, and then I could always shop at the mall around the temple afterwards while I waited for Aaron.

I was so grateful to have some time to just relax in the temple. Our temple Presidency has encouraged us to do more than one session when we come to the temple-they say it almost takes one session just to unwind from all the outside distractions of the temple, and then the real blessings come. Most times Aaron and I have a babysitter at home, and two sessions isn’t always an option. After the first session, my heart was full, and I was so grateful to have the time to stay as long as I needed to. It amazes me how much clearer things look within the walls of the temple. My fears are calmed, my heart is healed, and I feel like I can press forward with whatever the Lord asks of me. It was much needed for sure-though beforehand I couldn’t really see that. One of those tender mercies again. I love those.

After picking Aaron up from the airport we headed to the hotel to drop off our stuff, and then grabbed a bite to eat at The Cheesecake Factory. All those huge pieces of cheesecake lined up under the bakery glass were SO tempting, but I am still trying to accomplish my March goals-so we passed. I was glad they had a low calorie enchilada instead. It was okay, but the vegetables they brought were AMAZING! They were all out of something that was suppose to be the side, I don’t really even remember what it was now, but the chef came out and asked if this carrot, green peas, and zucchini blend would be okay. AMAZING! Did I mention that already? I am pretty sure they were not part of the low cal option-they had to be smothered in butter. But man were they great. I probably could have opted out of the enchilada altogether and had a whole plate of those if I knew how good they were. Definite idea for next time.

The next morning Aaron was able to get up early and go to the temple, and I stayed back at the hotel and exercised in their workout room. Okay, two observations from that:

1. I need to get a gym membership I think. We had an old, broken down treadmill we got rid of when we moved, and Aaron has suggested more than once about getting a new and improved better one. I didn’t really like the idea of having one take up space, and was afraid we wouldn’t use it. After using this fancy treadmill with built in TV, iPod connection, multi level workout system machine-yeah, well that was REALLY nice. I still don’t think I want to have one taking up space in my house-partly because I can imagine myself wanting to workout only to have to get two small toddlers off of it every 5 seconds while I tried to walk on it. A gym membership with a daycare center=nice equipment, uninterrupted workout time, and 3 happy people.

2. I need to practice more with high-tech exercise equipment before I go get that membership. There were two ladies in there exercising that I am pretty sure think I am about the dumbest workout gal there is. It must have been quite comical to watch me. I jump on the treadmill, and try to get my small personal TV part on, which I can’t figure out after walking for 5 minutes. At that point the one lady (the daughter) leaves and so I hop on her treadmill that already had the TV turned on. I take forever to get just the right workout I want, and then finally start walking when I try to use the remote that was with the treadmill to change the channel. No luck, and then I drop it and the back breaks off and lands somewhere under the machine out of sight, both batteries fall out, and the treadmill is making them fly everywhere. I stop and try to nonchalantly pick everything up, and then start again.

What you’ve never done this kind of workout before? It’s called the walk, drop and do squats while picking up remote, and then walk more workout. A little ways into my workout I notice that the heart rate light is blinking. I see this button that I thought I had to put my fingers on (that’s how our other treadmill was), for it to check my heart rate. That doesn’t do anything, so I move it, and the whole treadmill stops. Yeah, that would be the treadmill key. So..after the third time, I start again-and that other lady was out of there. I am pretty sure she didn’t want to get pegged with a flying battery.  Gym Equipment use for Dummies-is there a book like that?

Our drive up to Nashville was so enjoyable. Aaron drive for the first bit and we had so much fun talking. I forgot how much I missed uninterrupted talking with him. We planned out vacations, new jobs for the kids, updated him on the lessons I got to give in Relief Society, caught up on things from this last week, and everything in between. The jet lag was catching up with Aaron from the flight and the 3 hour time change, so I happily agreed to drive-my best thinking time. No fruit snacks to worry about passing back, no refereeing fights from the back seat, or making thing fair with who got to watch the last movie-just some time with me and my thoughts.

I was so glad I had gone to the temple the night before, it gave me some good food for thought. I thought about some of the last few lessons I have got to teach in Relief Society (I am the fourth Sunday teacher now),-they were so on target for my life. I love teaching! I am sure I will write a whole post about that sometime-it really is the best calling for me right now. I love finding those connections in my life-it makes all the difference for me.

As I sat and drove and thought, I was in awe in how the Lord works in my life. At Christmas, Brooke had asked for a Kindle for a present. She hounded us about it everyday, and was so hoping she would get it. I honestly told her that I didn’t buy her one-but what I didn’t tell her was that her secret Santa Brianna had used her own money she was saving for an ipad and bought her one. She was pretty sure that Santa would fulfill her request if her parents wouldn’t. When she opened her present on Christmas morning, she saw the cute little purse Brianna sewed for her (to carry her kindle in-but she didn’t know that). She was happy, and thought it was so cute. Brianna wanted to totally shock her, so she put the kindle inside the purse. When Brooke felt that there was something inside, she opened up the purse-I think expecting to find some little writing notebook ( she loves little writing books with pens). She pulled out the Kindle with the look of shock and joy and nonunderstanding written on her face. It was like she couldn’t figure out what was happening. She had it all figured out about how it would go-but this wasn’t what she had ever imagined. I thought she was going to cry out of pure joy, and partly for the realization that Brianna had done it all on her own. A camera didn’t need to capture it, I know I will never forget the expression on her face. Humble and sincere gratitude. For someone who is a little harder to get to reflect emotion about a subject at just that moment-it was a gift to me. It helped me see those two sisters hearts, and the love they have for each other.

My time thinking about how some parts of my life have unfolding in the last decade made me think specifically about this incident. I think I have everything figured out, and then the Lord lets me make connections and see a little more clearly the plan, and I feel like I stand there in awe. Totally and completely blessed beyond what I thought, and not quite understanding what’s happening. I think I have it all figured out, and then He surprises me, blesses me, and helps me see hundreds of little pieces of my life fall into place. Things I thought of as small and simple things, become all part of this grand plan, that I feel so small and unqualified to be a part of. I hope Heavenly Father can see my heart with that same expression on it’s face. Sincere gratitude. Gratitude for things I know I don’t deserve, and gratitude for the overwhelming amount of love He has for me. Blessing me with opportunities to grow, with this intense amount of faith in me that I can actually do it.

Sincere Gratitude. My heart was overflowing with it.


{ Funny Scottisms” }

  • The other day I was making lunch and asking everyone if they wanted a grilled cheese sandwich. I got to Scott and he politely said, “No, I want a boy sandwich instead.”
  • Lately whenever we ask him to do something or he is being teased by someone, he explodes and in this funny half exasperated voice says, “I’m just a boy!”  Lots of pressure being 3.
  • Here was our lunchtime conversation a couple weeks ago:

“I need a new belly button.”

“Why? What’s wrong with the one you have?”

“It’s a little floppy, see?” He sucks his stomach in and out in a wave motion.

“Yeah, you might need a new one.”

  • In the mornings he likes to pretend that he is sick. He pretends to gag, and asks for a bowl like he’s going to lose it any second. He plays it up for a little while and then laughs, “I’m just kidding.” I think he has seen Abby playing “sick” one too many times.
  • He has this favorite pair of jeans shorts that used to be Austin’s (they were his favorite too) that he wants to wear every day. He insists they aren’t dirty, and quite frankly for around the house it’s really not a fight I want to win. They have tons of pockets in them, that’s why he likes them so much. They must have been at least semi-clean the other day because he was wearing them out in public to my brother-in-laws military Officer graduation. The boys were so loud we ended up spending the graduation in the hall where Scott was proudly announcing to anyone who would listen that his pants had lots of pockets in them. A lady asked if he had any money in his pockets. He explained that he lost his wallet so he would have to get some more money, but he did have this-and he pulls out his sister’s diary keys on a pink ribbon. I think the lady was impressed.
  • At naptime he likes to read his new truck book from Valentine’s Day. It has little flap like windows that slide open and closed. After we read each page he says EVERYTIME, “I’ll shut them because it’s my book!” Every page. Every time. Every day.
  • Whenever Ryan grabs the phone off of the table or the counter and is trying to push the buttons, Scott screams, “Mom, Ryan’s calling China!”
  • I was telling Scott later in the day how Erika had gotten up and was eating breakfast with Aaron at eight o’clock. He looked at me with a confused look on his face and said “Daddy ate a clock?”


{ The Tale of Two Turtles }

Once upon a time there were some playful children who decided to go on a walk with their cousins and aunt. After walking for some time, they came upon a cute little baby turtle. They oohed and ahhed at him, and even though he was shy, he came out of his shell to meet them.

The happy children ran home to show their mom, and then proceeded to play with him, and talk to him, and hold him lovingly. Some of the children were patiently waiting their turn to spend some time with their new friend, when they came upon another baby turtle. He was just as cute as the first, but much shyer. They called him “Scaredy” because he would hardly ever come out of his shell.

The children thought it only fair to give one turtle to the cousins, and keep one turtle for themselves. What could be better that two turtle friends, and 11 happy children showering them with attention. As time went on, the children thought what fun it would be to race these two small turtles, and see who was the fastest.

The race track was drawn, and the turtles were helped to the starting line.

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As turtle #2 was set at the starting line, and shouts of “GO!” filled the air, Scaredy decided to come out of his shell! Off they raced towards the finish line.

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One little foot in front of the other, they slowly moved along. The children cheered their little turtle on. They were sure he would win the race.

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But as the finish line came into view, Scaredy wasn’t so scared anymore, and off he ran with all his little turtle might to win the race. The cousins cheered and shouted praise to their little baby turtle Scaredy.

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The children held him close to let him know they loved him still as they whispered encouraging words in his little baby turtle ears, “You will get him next time!”

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He was a winner in their minds, and would win the next race.

As evening time neared, the cousins took their fast racing turtle and bid a tearful farewell to the children until tomorrow. The children took their sweet turtle and made him feel like a king in his own backyard. They decked out the wagon with mud, and some fruit, and a little bucket home for him to have sweet dreams in all night.

There was a night and a day, and as the next night was coming upon the children, one of them noticed that something was not right. Turtle race blog-5

This house is far too small, and not quite right for such a wonderful little turtle as they had found. Perhaps it needs a little more mud and some pine straw to soften his bed she thought to herself. So off she went to work in preparing his home to be much more to his, and her, liking. Only the best would do for that little baby turtle-the finest red clay, and softest pine straw were picked out. A bright yellow dish and plate were crafted out of gold so as to serve him his food and water in style.

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Hand cut grapes and the finest of lettuce were placed on his plate for him to enjoy. He delighted much in the golden bowl that was placed in his new home, and took a nice swim before dinner to cool off and refresh his little turtle legs, and clean his shell.

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And though the little turtle loved all the attention he was getting, there were times he wished he were back home. He tried with all his might to climb out of his new home, but to no avail. He was stuck. How would he let his new friends know how much he missed his family?

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The only thing to do was what every brave little turtle would do. Refuse to eat until the children would have no choice but to return him to his real home in the woods. It was hard. Those juicy grapes and crunchy lettuce leaves were calling his name. But firm he stayed. One day passed. Then two. He could hear the worry in the children’s voices and they surveyed what he had eaten. He knew he was mere hours away from freedom.

Finally, one of the long haired children took him out of his red metal home, and announced to the others she was returning him to the woods. There were tears, and shrieks of sadness from the others. The turtle smiled inside realizing how much he was loved. The tears turned to calm talks of love and care for their sweet baby turtle from the children’s mother.

The children walked him slowly to the edge of the woods, and set him down. They said their good byes and wished the baby turtle well on his journey home. Promises of a safe place to stay if he ever needed were uttered from their lips, and off he went to find his family. He turned only once to see the children again, but then trudged onward in hopes of living happily ever after.

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{ For The Love of Tulips }

Tulips are by far my favorite flower. Last November we had bought two large packs of tulips bulbs at Sam’s Club in hopes of getting out and planting them with the kids sometime over Thanksgiving Break. The weather never seemed to cooperate for us, so in the garage they sat. When my parents came to visit us over Christmas, they gave me one of the best birthday/Christmas gifts I could ask for. They planted almost 100 tulip bulbs for me in the front area of our house. We have had such a mild winter-with the exception of the two days that they were trying to plant them. It was probably the coldest it had been all winter. But the outdoorsy troopers that they are, they bundled up and were determined to plant all of them.

The kids helped them dig up some better soil from the back woods, and Austin passed off some service hours for Boy Scouts, and together they planted them all. Since, it hadn’t been very cold this winter we wondered if they would even come up and bloom. As the first part of March came the kids would give me daily updates of the little green buds poking up out of the pine straw.

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They didn’t all come up, but the ones that did were so beautiful. Hopefully by next year they will have had some extra time to grow and will surprise us with a front yard full of tulips. Thank you mom and dad, they are so beautiful!

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{ Our Goals Revisited-Goals VS.Plans }

At the beginning of the year we set our family goals that we wanted to work on. When we set our goals, we just set them for the month of January –hoping they would be more attainable, but as the end of January rolled around we evaluated what we had accomplished and unfortunately it wasn’t much.

At about the same time I was finishing reading a book I got from a friend for Christmas called The Entitlement Trap by Richard and Linda Eyre. I love reading books that have great ideas for parenting/organizing/homemaking/decorating/loving that have a main goal or theme that is already along the lines of what we are doing and what feels right for our family. This book fit the bill perfectly. The first half of the book was about helping your children (and ourselves really) earn and budget money through a variety of methods. I loved that many of the ideas were ones that we were doing or had done in the past, but it had that boost of motivation we needed and a few great ideas to add to ours to make it a success. The second half of the book talks about helping kids own the choices they make, values, taking care of their body through their choices, etc.

There was a part during the last half of the book that caught my eye as I was having a hard time trying to figure out why our goal setting strategy wasn’t really working for us. It talks about the difference between goals and plans. I realized when I looked back on many of our goals that they were more of plans than goals. At the beginning of March for FHE, we talked about the difference with the kids and Aaron helped us know the difference with a method he had read about at work called SMART. The goals need to have all of these things:




R-It is suppose to be Realistic, but we thought that was very close to achievable, so we changed ours to Recordable. We wanted them to be able to record down their progress.

T-Time Framed

A lot of the goals we had set before were great, just a bit too vague. Mine was too lose weight, but I had written it as exercise 3 times a week. What did I ultimately want to accomplish? To lose weight. Aaron’s was a list of things to be healthier, but really he wanted to max out his PT test in April. When we saw our real goals, it was a lot easier to come up with the plans.

We decided that just focusing on one goal for right now would really help us know this system well, and be able to accomplish it. I typed up papers for us that had two columns. One for our goal, and the other column for our plan. I numbered that column from 1-5, because I wanted us each to think of quite a few ideas to help us achieve our goal. I also made each person a paper with a large circle on it. In the book they talk about having something like a pie chart to show your progress. I loved the idea to be able to visually see when we had accomplished even a little bit of our goal. I know that I feel so much better and stay motivated when I can see that all my hard work is paying off.

We helped each of the kids come up with their own goals. Whatever the goal was we they helped them divide their circle into that many pieces that they could mark off as they accomplished that part. I loved seeing all of our papers hung up on the wall in our family room, with our pie charts ready to be filled in. It was exciting for us all. Some of the kids took a little longer thinking of goals and are still working on deciding exactly what they want to focus on. That’s okay. It’s a process.

Most of us took one of our goals that we had previously written down at the beginning of the year, and fine tuned it to make sure it was a goal not a plan. Here are a few that we chose.

Scott-be able to go potty by himself. For his we just used his circle to put stickers in each time he was able to go by himself. Before this, his usual routine is-hop up and down to tell me he has to use the restroom, ask me to help him (which really only involved me coming into the bathroom until he got on the toilet, then he would say,”okay, now get out”.), yelling at me to come back in and get toilet paper of the roll for him, then insisting he wanted to do the rest. He was so close already.

Abby-To pass off a word list a week until the end of school. She had already passed off one, so we divided her paper into 10 more sections (there are 11 total). Her plan had three parts:

  1. To read my list with mommy each day.
  2. To write my words 3 times each week.
  3. To circle the words in a magazine.

She was so happy when she passed off a word list to be able to color in one of her pieces of the pie.

Erika-To be able to run 1 mile without stopping in one month. Her pie chart was the cutest. Where we live there is a big circle that circles around our neighborhood. From our house all around the circle is one mile. Aaron helped her to draw a map of the neighborhood in the shape of the circle. He divided it into four parts (one for each week) that she could color her line in on the map road as she accomplished running a little farther around without stopping. It was so clever. Her plans were set up as a daily and weekly schedule.

Erika's Goal Map

  1. Week 1-Be able to run 2.5 minutes (or about 1/4 mile) without stopping. Monday-run around out side while mommy times you for 2.5 minutes. Tuesday-go to soccer practice (run there) Wednesday and Thursday-run like on Monday. Friday-go to soccer practice. Saturday-go with daddy and try to run the mile around the neighborhood. Try to run at least the first 1/4 mile part without stopping, but finish the whole mile either walking or running.
  2. Week 2-The same routine except try to do the run for 5 minutes and run for 1/2 mile on Saturday.
  3. Week 3-The same routine except try to do the run for 7.5 minutes and run for 3/4 mile on Saturday.
  4. Week4-The same routine except try to do the run for 10 minutes and run the whole mile on Saturday.

Brooke-still nailing down her exact goal.

Austin-To be able to run a mile in 5 minutes 45 seconds. His plan was set up kind of like Erika’s with daily and weekly plans.

  1. I am going to run 2 miles 3x a week.
  2. I am going to run 1 mile and record 3x times a week.

Monday-Run 2 miles in the evening 9pm

Tuesday-Run 1 mile in the morning before school 6:15am

Wednesday-Run 2 miles in the morning 6:10am

Thursday-Run 1 mile in the morning 6:10am

Friday-Run 2 miles in the morning 6:10am

Saturday-Run 1 mile in the morning 9:30am

Brianna-To be able to run a mile under 7 minutes 30 seconds in a month. Her plan was like Austin’s.

  1. Run 2 miles at least once a week. Run 1 mile at least 3x a week.
  2. Record results.
  3. Get enough sleep (10 hrs).
  4. Drink at least 5 full glasses of water a day.

Monday-Run 1 mile at night after FHE.

Tuesday-Run 1 mile after school.

Wednesday-Stretch day.

Thursday-Soccer practice.

Friday-Run 1 mile after school.

Saturday-Run 2 miles.

Monae-To lose 20lbs by our anniversary trip to Puerto Rico in April. I divided mine into 20 pieces of the pie. I liked being able to mark off even the littlest accomplishment. My plan was this:

  1. Record food I eat on myfitnesspal.com Limit calorie intake to 1240 per day.
  2. Exercise at least 3x a week for 30 minutes and record on myfitnesspal.com.
  3. Weigh in only once a week-Monday mornings.
  4. Limit treats to 2x a week.
  5. Drink more water. Try for at least 5 cups a day. Record on myfitnesspal.com

I also made smaller rewards for myself at each 5lb mark. After 5 pounds I would get to buy some new itunes songs. At 10 pounds I would get to buy new workout pants. At 15 pounds I would get to buy a new swimsuit (for our trip). And at 20lbs I would get to buy a new pair of jeans. We talked with the kids about rewarding ourselves with things that would help us with our goals. If I rewarded myself with a big candy bar, that would kind of defeat the purpose.

Aaron-To be able to max out the PT test at work. His plans were basically the same as what he had listed for his goals before. Eating healthier, excising certain days, and lifting weights/pushups and sit ups other days. He was so busy helping the other kids he didn’t get a chance to write his out. He is doing great working on his though. It totally motivates me to see him get up early before work to exercise. I love that he also has joined me on recording his calories on myfitnesspal.com-his is to gain weight though so he gets a ton more calories than me. The thing is with his super high metabolism he probably needs more than that. A problem I totally wish I had. His goal is a little hard to write in pie chart form until the actual test, unless he does his own practice tests.

It feels so good as we are closing out the month to see all that we are accomplishing. Our pie charts are filling in, and we are becoming better at those things we want to do. I love that we are able to see our plans becoming reality-such a boost for us as a family. Austin and Brianna both made the track team, so they have been doing a lot more running than they had planned. They are both really close to their goals. Tonight is their first track meet, so it will be fun to see their times that they each run the 1 mile in.

A quote from the talk by President Monson about Living an Abundant Life that we put on our goal charts to reminder us to not give up:

Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, “I’ll try again tomorrow.”


{ My New Year’s Words to Live By }

I taught a lesson in Relief Society on Sunday and in it I used my quote for the year to help explain a point. I realized that I had never officially written it down anywhere, so it hopes of making it a little more real for myself I wanted to jot down a few thoughts I am having.


I have never really picked a word or quote for the year. Goals-but not words. As the end of the year approached, I was thinking a lot about what I wanted out of this next year. A lot had changed since that time last year. I felt like I had a lot of new things going for me, and a lot of new opportunities to grow and learn. Lots of new makes me feel optimistic-like there’s a clean slate of sorts in front of me. I felt like the time for me to do things was now.

I don’t know if you have even felt like this-but as a parent I would often tell myself when I wasn’t being the best parent I could, “Okay, that was not the best response. Maybe my kids are too young they won’t remember this. Maybe there is still time to be a “great” parent, and they will remember that instead of this.” I discovered that those years are past. My window of opportunity is past-for most of my kids that is. Let’s see… my earliest memory in life is about age 4 or 5..okay, yes almost all of my kids. My dreams of being that great mom have to be NOW (hopefully they have already been a little).

It’s not that I think I will always choose the right words to say to my kids, or always respond in the most patient loving way-I’m striving to but I’m not there for sure. I guess I just wondered in 10 or 15 years from now, when my kids would be asked what their mom was like what they would say. I’ve heard other’s describe their moms, and I could tell pretty quickly from their tone what kind of mom they remembered.

She was a yeller.

She was always serving.

She was always there to talk.

She was adventurous.

She was an athlete.

She was so impatient.

She was a dreamer.

Those comments from others about their moms really stood out to me. I wondered what thoughts my own kids had about me. I worried that the things that would stand out in their minds would be:

My mom is always pregnant.

My mom is always tired.

My mom always has to have a nap.

My mom never cooks good meals we like.

Okay, I am seeing a theme here. I am always tired, pregnant, and need naps. (And no I am not now-well maybe the nap part) Kind of funny when I actually write it down. I was just so worried that the occasional life circumstances-like bearing children and all those tired times would place me in the bummer list of moms. I can’t tell you how many times my kids asked to go swimming at the pool or have friends over and I was just too tired or sick from being pregnant or just having a baby. I didn’t want my kids to feel like they were missing out on things because “We all have to sacrifice because mom doesn’t feel good” . My words, not theirs. Which sacrifice is not a bad thing for sure, they need enough of it to stay humble.

Luckily, I feel like I have been blessed with children who rise above myself, and are able to worry about and focus on less petty things than I. I know it because I hear their excitement when they remember something fun we did together as a family, or when they talk to me about things that are important to them. I know that they see the joy in families I have always wanted them to see when they notice someone at church or in town with a new little baby and ALL my kids look at me and coo and say how cute that baby is. They all get it. They don’t focus on how tired mom is ( I DO LOVE MY NAPTIME), or things they may miss out on. They just focus on us. They focus on the little everyday things that bring kids joy. They fill their days with playing, and having fun, and being a kid. I am all about responsibility (our new work system post to come), but I am about my kids being kids too. Life often comes to much, too fast, and we look back wondering where those precious years of childhood went. I want their life brimming with joy, that it carries over into the times that those life experiences and challenges will come.

This is where my quote comes in. I wondered to myself-more like pondered many day, weeks, months about what my role was in this. Was I being the mom I wanted? Was I being the mom they wanted? Was I being the mom my Father in Heaven wanted? And in striving to do this, was I really living MY life or was I living the way I thought I should be. Not the “way I should be” in a good way like how we should always strive to be better, but the “way I should be” because that’s how someone should –based on the world’s views. It sounds a lot more confusing on paper than in my mind. I wanted to make sure that I was being the best person for myself, and my husband, and my kids because that’s what I wanted, and we wanted, and that’s what would make me be better-not because I was trying to keep up with the Jones’ so to say.

I felt like this was a year to really reflect on the way I wanted to mother. I have often felt guilt for not volunteering enough at the kids school, or not writing little notes everyday in their lunches, or planning and taking the best vacations, or waking up cheerful everyday so my kids could start the day with a happy attitude. The list could surely go on and on. The truth is all that precious energy was spent worrying instead of DOING.

My quote was meant to be a reminder to me-one that I could say to myself everyday:

“Monae, today life YOUR life. Not the neighbors, not your best friends, not the lady at schools’, not so and so from church. Just yours.”

My mind and heart are so full of things I want for my own family. Experiences I want them to have (the theme from my Sunday lesson that this quote reinforced-I’ll have to write down sometime soon). Feelings of love they can securely feel within the walls of this home. Activities and family fun that bring such joyful memories that will overshadow the less meaningful “tired mom” ones. I am confident as I live MY life for them and with them that as they grow older their memories of me will be something like this:

My mom gave the best hugs.

My mom is so creative. She planned the funnest activities for us.

My mom served us.

My mom was funny. She laughed with us.

My mom was a dreamer. Not always a doer-but she loved to dream up great things.

My mom was tough. She worked so hard.

My mom wrote me notes sometimes and put them in my lunchbox. I saved them in the top zipper because they meant so much.

My mom supported me at my games.

My mom let us always have Family Home Evening.

My mom loved taking pictures.

My mom loved us.

My list of things to do this year have some of the same things as in years past, but they also have some new ones too. Ones that will hopefully bring a little more me into the equation. Ones that will show my kids who I am, and by so doing will show them who they are. I hope that my old self and all it’s time spent worrying will be put to the doing. Doing things to better


Note to self: As I was just reading over this proofreading, Erika came up to me and said,”Mom, you have to come take a picture of this! We made the coolest thing”. I grabbed my camera and smiled inside that taking a picture was her first response. I took a picture of their fort they made by the front door out of umbrellas and blankets. Their bookfair books and stuffed animals were lined up by their pillows, ready for some fun.

Then Scott comes to me and announces that he will be going to the restroom, and Abby comments, “Good job! You can put a sticker on your goal chart when you’re done”.

They get it. Fancy foyers are for play in this home. We support each other in worthwhile goals, no matter how small they may seem. Cameras are for preserving memories of fun and important things. Living MY life seems pretty good right now.


{ Paper Play }

The other day when I was unpacking all my “UNPACK ME NOW” boxes, the kids had fun playing in all of the paper that was wrapped around the pictures.

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They took turns burying each other in it, and then jumping out of it like a monster waking up. I think this was one of Abby’s “Day off” days, hence the pajamas. I think it was a sore neck that day if I remember right. Pretty sure that paper jumping helps to cure that.

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{ St. Patrick’s Day Brunch }

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Top O’ the morning! I loved waking up to a beautiful clear day, with the whole backyard covered in GREEN for St. Patrick’s day. With all the rain we’ve had this spring, it seems like everything is in bloom earlier than in years past. It was so fun to see all of our new trees that were planted last fall, have leaves budding on them, and the grass seemed to turn GREEN almost overnight. It was a very picturesque scene to see out our back windows as we enjoyed a St. Patty’s Day brunch.

With St. Patrick’s day falling on a Saturday this year, we switched our usually “GREEN” dinner to a morning brunch instead. For weeks I had been scouring the internet for cute ideas to celebrate our GREEN day. We are about as non-Irish as they come, but the kids love to have little Leprechauns come visit who turn everything GREEN, and leave little bits of chocolate gold scattered about.

The idea I finally decided on I found here and some of the artwork I printed out to display was from here.

With a soccer game at nine, and another one at noon, we opted for a brunch in between the two instead of trying to get everyone up before Austin’s game. I set up everything the night before, and had all the food prepared and in the refrigerator, except for the waffles which I made that morning.

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The little Leprechauns that visited left everyone bags of gold at their place setting, and helped turn some of our food GREEN to add to our St. Patrick’s day fun. Our brunch was a waffle bar, with all kinds of festive toppings to choose from, as well as some fruit, or Lucky charms if that’s what they wanted instead.

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Cute story about Scott and the pinch-proof potion. Brianna also had a soccer game today at 3pm, and while we were there, Scott was sitting next to Brent Clarke who we know from church. Aaron had already left earlier that afternoon to go to a Family Medicine conference, so he let Scott sit on his lap and was keeping him entertained for me. He started tickling Scott, and Scott said, “You can’t do that because I drank the potion!” only we couldn’t really understand the word potion very well. We kept asking him what? until Abby finally interpreted for us and we understood that he was saying “Potion”. We laughed and explained that tickling and pinching weren’t the same thing, but he sternly insisted that he was free from both since he had drank the special green potion that morning.

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Aaron took Austin to his game that morning at nine, while I stayed behind with everyone else who was still asleep. I finished up the waffles, and greeted our tired bunch as they slowly climbed out of bed. Erika and Scott were my first two up, and were super excited with all the St. Patrick’s day goodies. Erika had been reminding me for the last week about St. Patrick’s day, and everyday she would say, “Have you gone to the store yet? Have you got anything for Saturday?” She was really worried that I would forget. I asked her if it was worth the wait, and she grinned sleepily and said, “YES!”.

As they helped me make waffles in our new waffle maker, I was explaining to Scott what St. Patrick’s day was. Not the real version I guess, just that little Leprechauns live in Ireland where it’s really GREEN, and they like to go look at the end of rainbows for a pot of gold. They sometimes cause mischief and turn everything around them GREEN. If you aren’t wearing GREEN on that day you will get pinched, but if you are you will get kissed. He quickly went to find a GREEN shirt he could wear. Both of his GREEN ones were dirty, but he cried until I let him put on the less dirty of the two. After that he was happy to point out everything he could that was GREEN. He found:

  • Towels in the kitchen
  • Ryan’s highchair seat
  • Special water that was turned green
  • Our cup holder on the counter
  • Bowls in the cupboard
  • The bowl I was mixing the waffle mix in
  • All of our shirts
  • The plates on the table
  • Flowers on the island

We let everyone wake up (and helped a few tired girls who had been up late watching movies-AKA Brianna and Brooke), and we gathered around while we waited for Aaron and Austin to return. Ryan went straight for the table, and the chocolate on the table.

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He was happy to discover that he too had a bag of chocolate waiting for him on his highchair tray. He was happy to let us put him in there once he saw that. He sipped his milk, spilled his milk, played with his fork, and grunted for his chocolate to be opened.

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We were all trying so hard to wait patiently, but we were hungry! I tried to distract the kids by coming up with games they could play with their bags of gold-like hold onto the string and roll them like you were bowling, but they just ended up breaking and Reese's were all over the floor, and they were running trying to retrieve their own. I finally just let the kids break into their chocolates and have a few while we waited for the boys.

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Ryan saw everyone else eating yummy chocolate and wasn’t about to be left out. He grunted until I gave in and let him have one (or two..or five) too. I think this is the first time he has ever had a Reese's Peanut Butter cup, but he knows what chocolate is, so it didn’t take long for him to be convinced it was something good.

First you taste a small bit…

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..nibble the edges…

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…evaluate what part to eat next…

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..try licking the top..

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…try eating only the top section…

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…and finally just biting the whole top right off.

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Scott just dug right in his once he got the okay from me-eating as many as he could get away with, but the girls were trying to ration theirs out for the rest of the day. They kept themselves busy by building Reese's towers..

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..and we played math games with Brooke to help her get the concept of division with remainders. (Grandma Bonnie would be so proud) Finally, the boys got home so we could let the feasting begin. We insisted that everyone start with a little fruit first before having treat waffles. After the chocolate they had just downed I’m not sure it really mattered much, but we tried since we knew the rest of the day would be treats.

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They had their Rainbow on a stick with whip cream “Clouds in a bottle” to dip their fruit in, and then we let them each make their own waffle masterpiece.

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Austin-Chocolate O’Hershey syrup, magic clover dust, shamrock syrup, and lucky Leprechaun teeth.

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Brooke-Chocolate O’Hershey syrup, magic clover dust, and lucky Leprechaun teeth.

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Scott-Chocolate O’Hershey syrup, magic clover dust, lucky Leprechaun teeth, and some green sprinkles.

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Brianna-Chocolate O’Hershey syrup, magic clover dust, lucky Leprechaun teeth, shamrock syrup, and some green sprinkles.

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Erika and Aaron-Chocolate O’Hershey syrup, magic clover dust, lucky Leprechaun teeth, shamrock syrup, and some green sprinkles.

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Abby-Chocolate O’Hershey syrup, magic clover dust, lucky Leprechaun teeth, and shamrock syrup.

Me-Chocolate O’Hershey syrup, magic clover dust, and shamrock syrup.

When we were done eating I remembered while I love brunch so much-you stay full almost all day it seems! When the kids got hungry again, I kindly led them to the Lucky Charms and milk.

Low cooking day-now it seems that it’s my LUCKY day!