Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Things I'm loving right now . . .

Enduring It Well

One of my favorite parts of the day is after the kids get off to school, when I tackle the kitchen, straighten up, and start the laundry (on Mondays and Thursdays).  I love listening to uplifting, inspiring, and interesting stories while I work.  One of the series I listen to is called, "Enduring it Well," and it includes interviews with people who have survived and thrived in the midst of various hardships.  Some are on-going and challenging, such as handicaps or blindness.  Others come on suddenly, such as death or natural disasters. 

A few I've loved recently and highly recommend:


 If you've ever used Dropbox, you, like me, have probably been annoyed by how often you reach their measly storage limit.  I use Dropbox mainly to easily and automatically transfer the pictures and videos from my phone to my computer.  Good news is, I can do that just as easily with Copy.com AND I get 15 Gigs to start with.  With that much storage space, I now use Copy.com to easily transfer photo files to clients and share documents and other files with my husband.  It's awesome!

Plus, if you sign up through a referral link, like mine below, you get an extra 5 Gigs to start

Sign Up Here for 20 Free Gigs 

Christmas Mood Lifters

Thanks to Andrya, I was clued into this beautiful song, which finally has lyrics to match the Hallelujah.

Here it is with a music video:

And with just the lyrics:

I also loved this video:

And if that isn't enough to get you in the spirit of Christmas, how about this beautiful song?

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 02, 2013

My Kids

The longer I go without blogging and the more I get out of the habit, the more I think I need to having something profound and amazing to say the next time I write.  Because, hey, if I'm only going to post once a month, it would be nice to console myself by saying at least I've got quality!

But really, I would like to get back in the habit of writing about my life and my family, sharing tips (Like remember my duct-tape in the shoes idea?  Well, it worked so well we've now used it to identify toothbrushes too) and more.

So, here we go.

My Kids
I'm so blessed to have such great kids.

Lillian loves to cook, play the piano and violin, and learn.  She suggests everyone should read the book "Salt, Sugar, Fat."  It will change your life, she says.  I haven't yet read it (because as long as I haven't, I'm not responsible for its contents, right?), but I'm sure I will at some point.  I've mentioned it before, but I love having a daughter who loves to cook.  We were planning on feeding about 20 for Thanksgiving and she and my husband chose the menu, made shopping lists, and Lillian even tested out a couple of new recipes in advance to see if they are worthy of Thanksgiving.  By Wednesday of last week, they had all the shopping done and the cooking started.  We had an enormous spread of delicious food, including homemade stuffing, two kinds of rolls, salad, and apple pie, all courtesy of Lillian's culinary talents.  My husband and my in-laws provided the rest.  I did no cooking, but I did do quite a bit of cleaning up afterwards.

Joey turned 13 last month, making me officially a mom of teenagers, plural.  He's a great kid with lots of interests.  We heat our home in the winter partly with our fireplace, and he's already taken charge of getting the fire going in the morning and keeping it fed throughout the day.  He's got his eye on a fly fishing rod he's been saving up for and is the sweetest big brother, especially to Cami.  He and Michael took turns taking care of her at the pool last week and she adores him. 

Michael is 11 and loves Legos.  Anything and everything Legos.  We finished our upstairs early in the summer and his favorite place is his Lego closet -- really a room-size closet with sloping ceilings where he can create to his heart's content.  He is developing other interests this year, however, and we're happy about that.  He's reading a ton, especially fantasy, and he loves the STEM science program he has at school.

Allison is 9 and is reading more lately as well.  She loves art and adventure and is constantly exuberant.  She went with her dad to Hobby Lobby last week and wanted everything she saw.  She has a big heart.  We have the kids draw one name each year to get a "Secret Buddy" gift for.  She went searching on Amazon for the perfect gift for her Secret Buddy and kept wanting things that cost all of her money -- $50 or $60 items.  We finally talked her into a $25 item, but she keeps thinking of more things her secret buddy will love.

(love how Michael's photo-bombing this one)

Sarah, Allison's twin, is thriving at her new school this year and loves her independence (I found it telling when her teacher told me at conferences earlier this month, "Oh, I'd forgotten she was a twin.").  She has lots of friends and loves the beauty of the world around her.  She desperately wants a camera for Christmas (Allison wants one too, but I think mostly because Sarah wants one).  She's one of my favorite assistants on a photo shoot (Joey's another who is awesome at it, really intuitive about what I need where and when).

Eliza is 7 and loves having a best friend named Grace.  She is just wonderful.  She's always grateful for what we do for her.  She's also picking up reading at a pretty fast clip.  At the first of the year, she had to sound out most words and was pretty halting in her reading.  Now, she's fluent except for bigger or unfamiliar words.

Harmony, 5, lives life at a fast and full pace.  She gets excited about everything and writes me the sweetest "I love you" notes.  She loves to draw, page after page, and all the time.  Last week, as we attended the Sacred Gifts exhibit at the BYU art museum, she whispered to me, "If there aren't any artists in Utah, I'll be the first one!"

Katie, 3, is my most challenging child right now.  She's on the cusp of independence and maturity but falls often into whining and tantrums.  She has always been a poor sleeper and has a hard time going to sleep without me or my husband lying down by her.  For a long time, we've had her fall asleep on our bed so that Harmony can go to sleep.  We move her to her own bed, but she wakes up in the middle of the night and crawls right back into our bed.  It's a habit we're trying to break.  The funny thing is that she doesn't care about being in our bed so much as being right next to me.  I've slept on our main floor a few times because she's been in my spot asleep and I haven't felt like moving her and she'll still wake up and come find me.

Cami, 21 months, is delightful, sweet, and the cutest thing.  Michael asked me the other day when we will have another baby.  I asked him if he wanted another one (yeah, I'm good at deflecting questions like that).  He said, "If she's as cute as Cami!"  The whole family adores Cami and she knows it.  She smiles all the time, except when she's put in a new situation.  She likes routine and order.  For a while, she was screaming at me when I put on clothes she hadn't worn before.  I moved her crib into a different room in early October and she cried with anger for a few days every time I put her down.  We've since had to move it again since she was able to use the windowsill ledge to climb out and she got mad again.  The one thing she can't handle is being left somewhere without mom.  Even though she's been eligible to go to nursery for 3.5 months now, we've only gotten her to go one and a half times in all that time.  We even start to move towards the door and she'll cry and cry.  Yesterday, we left her there in hopes she would calm down after a little while, but after 45 minutes of choking back tears, we gave up.  I think we'll just keep her with us for the time being.  (We do worry about how she'll hold up later this month when my husband and I head to Hawaii for a week and Grandma stays here.  She does like Grandma and hopefully, having her siblings and being at her own home with her own routines will help.).

The Little Things
It's always amazing to me how much the little things my kids do bring me joy.  Like watching Cami run back to my husband over and over again to have her turn to be tickled.  Or watching old home videos of Joey and Michael singing crazy songs while Cami dances around them (I'd post, but Joey would kill me).  Or enjoying the wide eyes on the kids as they get to choose their Thanksgiving meal.  Or watching one of them be kind to another or offer to do more than they are asked.  I love it.

Like when Sarah had Eliza and Harmony grab onto the rocket and started dragging them across the floor.
Or one day last week, when I heard giggling and cackling and found Harmony, Katie and Cami had turned Cami's crib into a playground.  They'd filled it full of blankets and pillows and were jumping into it, wrestling each other, and laughing together.  Even Cami was having a blast.

Or when Joey decided on Friday to give Cami the stroller ride of her life, going up, down, and around a dozen things while she laughed and shrieked.

Life is good.


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