{ Homecoming Dance 2014 }

I can’t believe how grown up these two are. My two oldest are 16 and 14! A Junior and Freshman in high school! Where did the time go? I read a quote today that said the days are long, but the years are so short. It couldn’t be truer. While I ache a little for those days gone by, I am in love with watching my kids grow into the most amazing people. While these teen years can be challenging, they are so fun as well. I love getting excited with them over getting asked to dances, participating in school functions, and enjoying the fun parts of high school.

Brianna was extra excited this year to go to homecoming because she is finally old enough to date and go with someone to the dance. For the past two years she has just gone with a bunch of her girl friends and they have had fun, but this just took it to the next level of excitement for her.

Austin is old enough to go to dances, but not date so he ended up just going and hanging out with his friends and dancing. He had a soccer game right up to when the dance started, so he missed getting to see Brianna off and take pictures together. They were nice to humor me the next day with some pictures of the two of them. I love these two good looking kids of mine!

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Brianna got ready with two of her friends that afternoon-Ashleigh was going with another group and her other friend,Talia, was doubling with Brianna and her date. They were so cute as they rushed around trying to make everything just perfect-nails, hair, makeup, shoes. They looked beautiful of course!

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The boys brought them flowers and were good sports as I snapped picture after picture. They all just looked so great!

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The boys had planned a dinner at one of their homes before the dance. Brianna said when she walked in she almost cried. It was so nice. They had candles, and the table set all fancy with French music playing. The boys had made homemade noodles for Fettuccini Alfredo. They grilled chicken, had breadsticks and salad, and a homemade Strawberry Shortcake dessert. They were definitely wowed by the boys sweet manners. They would constantly be asking if they needed more water or anything else to eat. After that they headed to the dance and then back to their house for a movie that they laughed hysterically at. She walked in the door that night just beaming! SO fun to see her have fun with good friends!


{ Fall Is Here }

I have been trying to hold onto summer for as long as I can here. Most years I am happy to see fall roll in-the cool air, the changing of the seasons, reasons for hot chocolate, and all the holiday fun. But this year I just couldn’t give up summer. I don’t know what it was, but I just kept wanting to wake up to my warm days and carefree attitude that summer brings, even though in all reality we had given that up months ago when school started.

Today Ryan brought me in the most beautiful leaf that he had found in the back yard. I finally decided that fall was here-like it or not, and that I better get with the program. I love that his first response after showing it to me was to have me take a picture of him with it. I love those little sparkling eyes of his, they kind of make me love that leaf all the more.

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{ Austin Austin }

I took some Senior pictures for a friend’s son, and I had Austin come along to be my “assistant”. He keeps mentioning that I should takes some pictures of him. He has gone from being a little camera shy-maybe not “shy” just too busy moving around to sit still for me to take pictures, to wanting to make sure he makes his mark in our family journal.

He is much taller than me now, has taken to caring about what he wears, loves to have that beautiful hair of his just perfect, and completely unrelatedly- still loves soccer. I need to be better about whipping out my camera during his games and when he is tooling around in the back yard doing all of his soccer tricks.

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This one is my favorite. I’m a little partial to that dimple though.

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He let his hair grow out a little now and has started brushing it straight back instead of spiking it up. It has this cute wave to it, that reminds me so much of my dad’s hair. My dad would always brush his hair straight back too. I couldn’t’ get it out of my mind, and then I remembered some pictures of my Grandpa Austin-my dad’s dad. I couldn’t believe the similarities. My dad likes to joke with Austin that if he lived at his house he would be called Austin Austin. Well, Austin Austin it is. I am sure my Grandpa is smiling down from heaven, happy to see this handsome boy carrying on his name.

 Grandpa Udyne Shockley Austin with sister JeanGrandpa Udyne Shockley Austin teenager Grandpa Udyne Shockley Austin courtshipGrandpa Udyne Shockley Austin courtship with shirley


{ Ryan at 3 }

Some say that kids can be handful. I’d have to say that Ryan would be an armful. And not just in the busy body kind of way, but also in that jump into your arms and squeeze a giant hug out of you kind of way. I think this kid was only born with one switch and mode-on and intense!

The other day I was giving him a big hug at breakfast. I scooped him up and sat him on my lap. I put his little face in my hands and looked him in the eyes and said, “Ryan I haven’t had my 10 hugs today yet.” (It’s a little deal we worked out.  I just need at least 10 hugs from him each day!) He smiled and grabbed me around the neck to give me a big bear hug and then I said, “Ryan, you are just so big! I thought you told me you weren’t going to grow up on me.” He looked at me with those sweet little eyes and said, “Mom, I have to grow up. I need to be a missionary!” It was a good mom moment. I had to fight back the tears a little because it suddenly put all of that intensity into perspective. I just hugged him even tighter. He then pulled away and asked, “Mom, can girls be missionaries too? Because you could be a missionary!” I just love this kid more than words can say.

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There are days when I wonder if his little body can contain that big spirit of his-we’ve even considered changing our Family Mission Statement to “Big Spirits-Little Bodies”.  It describes Ryan to a T. He is almost always 5 steps ahead of us-literally and figuratively. He bounces around at the head of our outings and is always thinking ahead to what his next move will be. It usually involves him plotting how to get up early so he can climb up the shelves in the pantry and steal the Oreos and eat quite a few before we get up or how he can climb out of his car seat while we are driving without being noticed. He definitely keeps us on our toes.

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And this kid is quick as a whip. He picks up on things so fast. I was asking Scott some questions the other night that had to do with him matching some of his words from school, and Ryan would be the one picking out the words. This kid is so smart! He loves to show me all of the things that he has learned at Preschool-his letters, his shapes, his numbers, and telling me useful information about eggs and other things they have studied. He will quiz me about shapes-Does it have three sides? Does is look like this-and he will make a shape with his hands. One day after Preschool he took a pen and drew a rectangle on one of our dining room cloth chair backs. I wanted to scream. Actually…I think I did. I felt really bad after that. And then felt worse when he turned to me and said, “ I just wanted to make you proud of me”. Ouch! I have learned that Ryan is a lot like our dog Simon who likes to scratch and chew on our back door when he wants our attention or to be with us inside. He really just does whatever it takes to make us notice. At times it drives me crazy! (The dog that is). Other times I just feel bad that he is kind of ignored-it’s those times I see how he is really reminding me of a sweet little three year old that needs my attention too.

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The other night after prayer time we were all exhausted-prayer time has become almost a full contact sport around here- Ryan being the main offensive player. Lots of spirit there I tell you! Lots.Of.Spirit. So much that his little body just can’t quite keep up long enough to sit still. After the prayer I said, “Ryan, I think I know why you’re acting this way. You are just like Simon. When you don’t get to go on a walk each day you get a little wild and crazy just like Si Si, and you just want to be hugged and pet like him. He looked and me and then ran to give me a big hug. The type that doesn’t stop right away. He knew I knew he needed more of me some days. I have to remind myself of that when he gets to be a little too antsy. It’s usually those times I remind him about our daily 10 hugs, and I pull him near for a hug.

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It’s funny to me just how observant he is too. At dinner time I will ask one of the other kids to go tell one of their siblings that it is dinnertime. They will try and go to the stairs and yell for them. I remind them that I could have done that, but I needed them to go up the stairs and tell them. Now whenever I ask Ryan to tell someone it’s dinner time he gets this sly little look on his face, makes sure that I am watching and then yells from the stairs. Then waits for my reaction. And then laughs and runs away. Little stinker. He usually is all about the reaction-maybe he would be a good comedian. He has a great way of setting up the plot and then..wait for it…seeing the reaction. I asked him once why he did something and he openly admitted to doing it so “they would laugh at me”. He has a way of saying just the right thing that is a perfect mix of sincere and still making us laugh. At dinner he tries to beat Aaron in thanking me for dinner. He will say “Thank you for dinner honey-poo!” It’s so funny because Aaron never calls me that-he just felt the need to add that little honey-poo part to spice things up. Sometimes he will say “it’s yum yum yummy  in my tum tum tummy” So cute.

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Way back in January for Aaron’s birthday we got him an Apple TV. A few days later Ryan informed me that,” You don’t really eat apples when you watch it. And anyways you can’t eat apples upstairs because they are slimy. And giant squids are slimy too.”

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When we were driving a few weeks ago Ryan asked me why I like driving? I’m sure I was confused and started to mutter something about having to or because we were going to preschool. He interrupted me and said, “Because it’s your true potential?” He loves Lego Ninjago! Anytime we can fit that true potential thing in, he cracks up!

Another time he asked me if I was sleeping while I was driving. Good thing for us both I wasn’t at the time.

And then he asked if we were at Preschool yet. I said no, but mentioned that I could tell him when we get there. He just sighed and acted tired and then said, “Just tell yourself when we’re there.”

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One morning, way back at the beginning of the year I was changing his diaper and I pulled off his jammie bottoms and noticed that they were Scott’s. I asked why he had on Scott’s jammies and he said “Because I am just SO long!”

At naptime one day I was wearing a necklace that was making some jingling sounds as I was trying to get comfortable. He turned to me as we were falling asleep he said, “Take off your necklace it’s too sounding”

I think my favorite line I heard from him was when we were out shopping. Some ladies were passing by us on the sidewalk and Ryan turned to me and asked, “Is that a Granny? (He loves the word Granny for some reason-we don’t even call our parents that, but he loves it none the less.)  No Ryan it's just a lady” “Oh, good I LOVE ladies!”


{ Some thoughts on General Conference }

I can say without reservation that General Conference around our house is one of my favorite times-even though things don’t go as smooth and bicker-free as I would like, there is this immensely peaceful spirit that just takes over the whole house. I look around at my kids furiously taking notes, happily coloring pictures, or just thoughtfully taking in the spirit they feel, and my heart almost bursts with joy. It makes all those other really hard mothering times SO worth it.

This last weekend was General Conference again, and last week working up to it was quite a doozy. From Sunday on, it felt like everything was going wrong, insanely busy, or just downright ripping apart at the seems. By Day 2 of the week, we knelt down for family prayer, and I announced that I had figured out our problem. I’m sure my kids did a half eye roll at that one-positive that I would mention how they were fighting too much, or on devices for far too many hours in the day, or maybe how they should all help out a little more. I wish they were wrong at all those thoughts-because at one time or another I certainly have thought of those. But that night was different.

I was positive that our problem wasn’t really a problem at all, but just a clear sign that this weekend’s conference was about to be amazing. The one person (Satan) that didn’t want us to hear true words of wisdom from up above, delivered so eloquently by our beloved Prophet and Apostles was trying to do everything in his power to make us be tired, grumpy, fighting, annoyed, weary and just plain frustrated that we would want to do anything but sit for 8 hours and feel of the Spirit. Luckily, my family agreed, and the rest of the week went worse than the beginning, but each time we just looked at each other and said, “This weekend is going to be AMAZING!” And amazing it was.

As each talk was so beautifully delivered we would look over at each other and say, “That was awesome!” It was just the things we needed to hear. When conference was over we felt so uplifted and more importantly energized to make changes. Though to some the changes seemed little, it was just the reminder to get back to basics and do a lot better at doing those basics to the best of our ability. Sunday night we had a great family council and talked for a couple hours about how we were going to make our family scripture time and personal prayer and scripture times happen more effectively. If we were going through all the effort to just be “going through the motions” we felt like that was a bit of wasting our time. We all wanted to make that time count towards strengthening our testimonies. We decided that morning prayer can be the hardest-we discussed some of the talks that had addressed that. Brianna had a great idea to all meet up in the playroom at 5:45am before family scripture time. By all meeting there and waking up a little we could then go off to our own quiet places and prayer and then meet downstairs for scripture time. There is something about being accountable to someone else that makes it work. I was so grateful for Brianna’s insight and wisdom in coming up with that.

We also used the time to discuss how our jobs around here were kind of suffering. We brainstormed ideas about how we could do it differently, and I had mentioned switching to zones rather than having smaller individual jobs. I know other families do that and it seems to work okay. Austin ran with it and suggested that they have zones and each have a “team” to do them with. They were happy to be divided up by our “Straight, Curly, and Mediums” groups and felt actually excited to do jobs again. I would be kidding myself to say that they were done perfect and everyday now, but they sure are doing amazing compared to how we were doing before. I am so proud of them!

They love their little teams, and encourage each other to get the stuff done. Brianna and Abby are in our “Curly group”. They decided that after school they are both so tired, so they were going to work on their zone then while listening to music to get them awake more. So far it has worked great!

Austin, Erika, and Ryan are in our “Medium” group. They are just the two to encourage Ryan and make sure that he feels important by helping out. He is my super dishwasher unstacker, and loves to help with the laundry. It has been nice to have them encourage him to sit more quietly during prayer time and at dinner. It makes a difference to have one of the siblings ask instead of mom and dad.

Our “Straights” are Brooke and Scott. They are doing great, but Scott is having a little harder time getting motivated. Money isn’t very motivating to him these days. I know it will at some point, but for now all I can do is help Brooke encourage him and help him see what an important part he plays in our home.

We used our Conference board again and then I just printed out packets and had them stapled inside cute file folders. We had bags with snacks like we usually do, but other than that we were all just excited to listen, especially after the week we had had. In all of our intense listening this conference I really didn’t take any pictures. This one from the General Women’s Conference the week before is all I have. So fun to have all of my girls now old enough to go with me to it.

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The little girls took notes on packets they had gotten from their Activity Day Girls leader and Brianna took notes on her iPad. I was happy to just sit and listen, especially since Aaron got home at the last minute and was able to keep Ethan home with him. It was a nice “All girls” night out. We ended out the night with our usual IHOP and Longhorn Steakhouse chocolate stampede dessert run. I was happy to donate mine to my babysitters so I could go and be with my girls and fully listen. Such a fun couple weeks of Conference. It feels so good to be motivated again.