Monday, November 23, 2009


So, um, usually I shy away from shameless bragging about my accomplishments. Or at least I try to. But I just had to post and say that as of this morning, we are all DONE shopping for Christmas! It's a great feeling. I've mentioned in the past that we tend to keep things simple, and that certainly helps.

And I know I'm going to be accused of being a Thanksgiving-Scrooge, but guess what we did this weekend? (It's the first time we've ever put it up BEFORE that other holiday -- what's it called again?)

For the record, I love Thanksgiving just as much as the next person. What's not to like about thankfulness and lots of good food?

But still, there's just something wonderful and special about Christmas, and I'm glad I'm done with the shopping so the focus can be on giving, sharing, and remembering the greatest gift of all, the Son of God, born in a stable and come to save us all.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Q&A: My kids' names

from Rachel:
I love hearing how people go about picking their children's names. Are any you've chosen ones you've liked since you were young?

Some girls have lots of dreams about their future families, writing down potential names for their kids, dreaming of fancy dresses or sports games. I never really did, I guess preferring to handle life as it comes. Even after having kids, though I'll occasionally look at a baby name book, I don't keep lists of names I hope to use someday. Each of my children has come with a unique personality and purpose, and we've tried to choose names that will fit them.

All of the names we have for our children have special meaning for one reason or another:

Lillian is named for three of her two great-grandmothers. DH's Grandma Lillian Izola Bartholomew died last year, but she was a wonderful woman.
Lillian's middle name is after my own grandma, who I admired greatly. She died of cancer before I got married, after wearing out her life in service. She has a rather unique and unpopular name (think Zelma or Olga) and once commented that she knew no one would name any of their kids after her. Well, unusual or not, Lillian got her name and I know she also carries on my grandma's tradition of service and love. Of all of our kids, Lillian is the one who always instinctively knows how to serve and help, and I feel that she was aptly named.

Joseph is one that just came with his name. We just knew he was to be named Joseph. It's honestly not my favorite name in the world, but it honors many great men in history and in our family's line, and it just felt right that he should carry it on. His middle name is after his dad.

Michael's name came to me in an unusual way. After Lillian and Joey were born, 18 months apart, I had a really tough time as I suffered through what I later learned was post-partum depression. Soon after I was diagnosed and working towards recovery, I was serving in the temple when I felt the Spirit whisper to me that we would have a son named Michael. In the next few months, because of how difficult life was for me, it took a great amount of my faith and effort to pray for this child to come to our family. But I did so, and I'm so grateful he arrived when he did. He's always kept us entertained.

His middle name reminds him of his role as a loyal friend and companion to his brother close in age. I knew they would be good friends long before they were born (One thing I didn't anticipate, though, was how different they'd be!). It's interesting that while I knew their friendship would be important, I didn't realize that after Michael, at least 8 years would pass before another son would be born, making their relationship as brothers that much more important.

Because we had twins, it was sometimes a question before they were born as to which child would bear which name we'd chosen, but once they were born, it just felt right that each received the name they did.
Allison is about the only child I have whose name was chosen simply because I liked it. It means "noble," which fits well with her twin's name meaning "princess." Her middle name is more meaningful, as she is named after me. It was with some trepidation that I did that, because I wondered as I did why it should be that this child should have my name when none of the others do, including her twin. But the first four years have borne out our decision in a multitude of ways. She, more than all of my children, shares my strong, determined, and sometimes obstinate personality. I was my mother's toughest toddler, and Allison has been mine (and I love her for it!).

Sarah was named both for her ancestors who bore that name, but also for the meaning of the names. Sarah means "princess," and her middle name means "God is gracious." From the moment I found out I was expecting twins, I knew I needed some way to honor the Giver of this special privilege and I found it in Sarah's middle name. God was gracious in blessing us with these two unique souls who came down together for purposes known to Him. A healthy pregnancy and their birth at 38 weeks, small and perfect, were blessings we acknowledge humbly, knowing that not all twins begin life so smoothly.

Eliza Joy was named soon after we found out she was a girl. Eliza was a name we quickly agreed on, and it honors some ancestors. But the middle name was a question for a few weeks. One evening as I attended a Church meeting, I was really struggling. I was exhausted because of the pregnancy, but we were also trying to pack up one household, build a house, and deal with two very trying toddlers. In the midst of my prayers for strength and help, I found myself feeling a surety that Eliza's middle name was to be Joy, and that would be part of her role in our family, to lift us up. That brought me hope in a tough time, and three years later, I thank God often for Eliza's bright, obedient, kind, loving, and joyful personality. She has been my easiest toddler, and I've often said that if I ever needed proof that God loved me, it's right there in that He sent Eliza to me right after the twins. Their personalities are strong and intense and wonderful to watch, but also very trying as a mother to deal with, particularly during their toddler years. Eliza's sweet disposition has brought us great joy and we all adore her.

Harmony was named a year before she was born. I had a feeling one summer night that in a year's time, we would have a baby girl named Harmony. The name has meaning for me more for its peaceful definition, but I've mentioned before that its musical implications made me hope that Harmony would at least respond and enjoy music. She does.
As for #8, I had a profound experience last April where I knew we would have a son named Benjamin. I'm pretty sure this one is he, but should it be a girl, we'll have to start looking through those baby name books and plan on waiting a while for our Benjamin. I'm nearly 16 weeks now, so I should have that exciting ultrasound sometime in the next month.

What made you choose your own children's names? Anyone love or hate their own name or have strong feelings about it?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I've got my Christmas music going and I'm searching out the bargains, and now I've got another great addition to the Christmas Spirit -- ElfYourself.

With my five girls:
Send your own ElfYourself eCards

With the rest of us (plus Harmony again because who can resist a dancing baby?)
Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Wednesday, I turned 32 years old. It's been a good year that's challenged me and brought us growth. I thought about writing something like I did last year, about my life in general, but I'm just not feeling in a writing mood right now.

So instead, can I just tell you how excited I am about my combination birthday and Christmas present? It's an awesome digital SLR with two lenses, a nifty case, and tons of cool features I haven't figured out how to work yet. I have had a few moments to play with it, however, and I love that even basic snapshots are turning out SO much better.

It does great in low light situations, where my old camera's flash would ruin the picture:

It does great outdoors:

It takes pictures right away with no lag time, so I can capture fun moments like this:

I'm so excited to learn more about it!

(edited to add: This evening, it even helped me take some pictures of our elusive neighbors:)

Fall Pictures (Wordless Wednesday)

Last week, we had our talented photographer friend come to take pictures of the kids for a Christmas card photo. Harmony screamed most of the time and except for one picture, another of my children scowled the whole time. But despite the grumpy kids, we still got a few keepers!

With Sarah -- notice the nice gap in her teeth. She's so proud that she can stick her tongue through it!

Despite what it looks like, the cat actually DOES like us.

I was hoping for at least one fabulous, posed picture where everyone was well behaved and looked nice. But I guess I'll settle for this one -- wouldn't you rather see a representation of our real lives anyway?

Monday, November 09, 2009

"A Mother's Role"

Yesterday was our ward's Primary Program, the day the children ages 3 to 11 speak and sing in sacrament meeting. As always, it was beautiful, inspiring and amusing. Five of my children performed in it and except for a slight miscalculation in seating Allison and Sarah next to each other, things went well. The first ten minutes the two girls spent poking and teasing each other and putting their feet up on the chairs in front of them. Finally, it got so disruptive that I decided to go up and sit next to them (My husband and I team-teach their class but the other teachers were sitting with them for the program). Things improved from that point on. To my surprise, they even said their parts clearly into the microphone! During practice, they had both yelled them very loud.

The theme was families and most of the teachers helped their students write their parts themselves. Michael's part described my role: "A mother's role is to do chores and answer questions. She takes us to Church and helps the dad."

So, I guess that about sums it up right there, doesn't it? Does chores and answers questions. Because it's been a while since I've updated this blog, I think I'll use Michael's headings to give you a heads-up on our lives:

"Do Chores"
I've been starting to feel a bit more energy and I've even had a few days where I haven't felt rotten, so I think I'm moving into the second trimester! The Zofran, by the way, seemed to take the edge off the nausea but did nothing for me on several awful, horrible days. I've decided it might not be a miracle drug after all.

But since I'm starting to come out of my pregnancy-induced stupor, I've started to look around and notice all the chores that have piled up for me in my hiatus. There's lots. I started by sorting through all the kids' shoes in the house. I moved them out of our basement storage and into the mudroom cabinets, organized and labeled by size. Since we keep all the kids' current shoes in there (no one has any in their bedrooms), this should help us rotate them better as their feet grow.

I've also tried to get more motivated to keep the house in better order. We had a fun family home evening lesson last week where I demonstrated the chaos that can quickly happen when people don't clean up after themselves. I grabbed a coat, shoes and backpack and headed out the front door. As I walked in, I pretended to be one of the kids getting home from school and dropping their stuff everywhere instead of in the mudroom where it goes. After I dropped the first set of things, I asked the kids if it looked very messy. "Nope," they replied. So I went back out and did it two more times. The kids were cracking up at my impressions of them, and the message got across. With three coats, three pairs of shoes, and three backpacks strewn around, they agreed it looked pretty messy. Next, we took turns timing each child to see how long it took them to put things away. Twenty-two seconds was the longest it took.

Among other chores, I'm doing the following:

A neighbor brought us a box of apples and I've got a bunch of slices drying in the dehydrator.

I helped Lillian and Joey make top-secret Christmas presents for their dad.

I'm working on stripping my computer so we can reformat my main hard drive and start over. I had major computer problems a month ago that required me to re-install Windows. It still needs a major overhaul, though, and somehow, I've got to find the disks that originally came with it. Wish me luck.

We went through all the Halloween and dress-up costumes, gave some to DI and sorted out what to keep out and what to put away until next year.

I cut back our rose bushes for the winter. We have about twenty right now and many were still in bloom even a few weeks ago. I also started to clean out the garden.

"Answer Questions"
This does take a bit of my time. We've had some interesting ones lately, such as Joey's: "How much would it cost to buy a signed copy of Harry Potter?" "What books do you think I would like to read?" or (calling from school) "I need to have $3 so I can go on the field trip. Can you bring it to school today?"

The funniest question lately, though, was Sarah's: "But WHY can't we keep him?"

Last week, we caught an enormous spider on our back porch. The twins were so excited about it and wanted to bring it to school the next day, but after they went to bed we did some research and though we didn't make a positive identification, it was fairly likely the spider was a brown recluse and therefore poisonous. DH did the honors of smashing it, and I got to tell the twins the next morning. After the part about "poisonous," but before I could say "smashed it," they were already making plans, "OK, so we won't EVER open the cage. We'll just keep him inside all the time." They were both disappointed when I told them we had to kill it. "Why, why did you do it?" I told them it's not good to have a pet that can kill you. Allison accepted that -- she's usually very good about letting her bugs and critters go after a day or so -- but Sarah asked me at least three more times that day about why we couldn't just keep it inside the cage.
(this picture is not the best, but you get the idea of how huge this guy was.)


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