Monday, July 25, 2016


sometimes liam walks around the house with his headphones in his ears and a melancholy expression on his face.

it's a little alarming.

it doesn't make me too nervous for the teenage years, though. if he's going to be moody-broody i know he'll come out of it okay. the kid has an amazing heart.
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the whole house is littered with his paper creations. finger-puppet star wars characters, mostly.

he's already read the hunger games books, the beyonders series, endor's game, and several other stand-alone stories this summer, so i think he's put himself on a little library hiatus. his siblings are the beneficiaries of his break (a darth vader and yoda for each, and other characters made-to-order).
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i can't really explain how i know he has a good heart. he's a rather quiet guy most of the time, so he doesn't go on about his altruistic views. he's really no talk, all action.

he just helps people. he reads his scriptures. he's nice to everyone. stuff like that.

at least once he thought, "i hate you" towards me when i was lecturing him or bossing him. he felt bad enough about thinking it that he told me later and apologized. i'm pretty sure it's not the last time we'll have those moments.
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i can project liam's strengths and weaknesses into the future and i get a little glimpse of what we'll face.

i think he might be the one who is too cool for us.

i think he might struggle with wanting the nicest stuff and a bigger house and better clothes, maybe. (did you catch that on the other end of those ear-buds is an old phone case that he pretends is the real deal?) i'm especially concerned since we decided to transfer schools this year. the new school happens to have a different demographic in a more wealthy neighborhood. where once my boys were average to fancy i think they'll be the scruffy ones there.

matt and i decided that they'll need to pay for their own phones and plans, which means they'll probably be juniors or seniors in high school before they have one. i might as well make a blog label "kids and phones" because this is sure to be a regular topic in our family forum.

but then again, let's project strengths here. liam is incredibly obedient, willing, helpful, kind, creative, responsible, reasonable, respectful, compassionate, and habitually good.

i am honestly amazed that he's our kid.

maybe he is too cool for us!

Sunday, July 24, 2016


i've said before that the little stuff is the big stuff.

so, it's decided. i must dedicate a whole post to evy's fairy garden.
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right now we are reading the little prince (i'm so embarrassed to admit that this is the first time i've ever read the book). we just finished the fox chapter. we had to read it twice.

so, evy loves her fairy garden because she wastes time on it, as the book says.
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the little spot of earth is better for her love and care.
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evy is very clearly a nurturer.

today i had a bad morning. i was cranky with ossi because he was cranky with me and on and on. so on our bike ride to church evy was sitting in the seat on the back of my bike and we veered away from the family to chart our own course for a while.
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i said, "i'm sorry i have been so cranky today. i'm glad you are with me, though. i like it when you're here."

she said, "if you are in a bad mood tomorrow i will never leave your side."
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touched i replied, "that's so nice, darling girl, but i will try my very best to be nice tomorrow."

here's the best part.

"i know how you can do that," she counseled. "tonight at bedtime, after you give us hugs and kisses you should go downstairs and go right to sleep. that way you won't be stuck to your bed tomorrow morning."

Monday, July 11, 2016

the state of my heart.

last night i had a dream that matthew had a secret gambling problem and i found out that he'd just blown ten thousand dollars.

this morning i remember stirring to the sound of him getting ready to go lift weights at the gym. i remember curling up into a little ball in bed and turning my back to him, so mad at him for losing all of our money.
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it wasn't until he was gone that i actually awoke and realized that it had only been a dream.

i also realized that it is his birthday today.
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i'm scolding myself for building walls, even if only in my sleep.

"If there are barriers, it is because we ourselves have created them." -Bonnie L. Oscarson
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the reality is that matthew has a sneaky side. he doesn't mean to be secretive, but it's in him. he's faced some immense issues and he's typically kept them under wraps. those memories have faded for me and in my waking, thoughtful state i can trust him. but the intense emotion that accompanied the discovery of his secrets, the feeling of total shock like having the wind knocked out of me, that must still linger inside of me.

i have a vague memory of an object lesson about an orange representing a heart. over time and through pain the sweet openness can become covered in a bitter peal. or something like that.
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"All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently,... purifies our hearts... and makes us more tender and charitable,... and it is through... toil and tribulation, that we gain the education." -Orson F. Whitney

when it comes to my pain which will it be? will the trial cause me to build a bitter peal, or will it lead to a pure, tender heart? and what causes the distinction?
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i don't exactly have an answer, but i'm working on a three-step process to address my personal issues and questions.

1. act in faith
2. compare and contrast a worldly perspective and an eternal view
3. acquire information from credible sources
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i know that Christ can heal all wounds. to act in faith will mean trusting that even the deep fears that plague my dreams can be taken from me through the Atonement. it will involve moving forward in our marriage, doing things that make us stronger and more united.

thankfully we're so-stinking-in-love. we've been married ten years, which is insane, and we've had so many adventures together. whatever condition my heart is in, i know to whom it belongs.

marrying matty has really been like striking oil. game-changing. and messy.

for our anniversary in april we went to ifly in portland and LOVED it. we spent the night near the temple and worked their together, remembering the covenants we've made to one another. someone anonymously paid for our olive-garden dinner. we saw a coyote and a bunny in the heart of the city. and on the way home we were traveling by chance along the highway in a funeral procession for a fallen soldier. the world came alive for us, as so often happens when we're together. we find beauty, that's what we do.

Saturday, June 25, 2016


have you ever tried to tell someone later about an experience that involves incredible emotion for you?

like telling someone later about laughing until you cry.

or trying to explain how good something felt or how much you loved meeting a person.

the look in their eyes says, "i'm happy that you are happy, but i don't see why that's so funny" or "that's really nice, now let's move on with our lives."
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i'm feeling incredibly thankful that matthew was there with me. he was laughing, too. so, so hard. he knows what it feels like, all of it. and he loves them like i love them.

we were "ma" and "pa" in a pioneer adventure. hundreds of youth (ages 14-18) rode 10 hours on a school bus, dressed in pioneer clothes, brought only 10-11 pounds worth of belongings each, and pushed/pulled a 500+ pound handcart for nearly 15 miles through a hilly desert and we were right there with them.

how do you describe the initial awkwardness of being assigned to families you've never met? these teens walk out of a bus and are told that they'll be with you for the next four days and you have no clue what they're thinking. you know nothing of their personality, perspective, problems, and you know they have no idea how crazy you are but they're about to find out.

we jumped right in on the crazy and never looked back. because the Lord is merciful and good and kind, and because He knows His children, we came to know and love each other and to see His hand in the assignment.
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amallelie (pictured right) taught me courage and strength. her petite frame was totally misleading. she pushed so hard through the entire trek, you'd think she was burly and brute-like. her physical contribution was incredible and her spiritual input in the family was so valuable. though shy, she led the entire camp as a youth-committee co-chair. she conducted meetings and reached out to many of her peers in kindness and concern. she was subtly hilarious and quietly generous. and she will forever be the ninja in our family photo.

"that's really nice," you say.

i could tell you that goldbond is a 10 out of 10 and i would laugh really hard. you'd look at me like, "what's so funny," but amallelie would chuckle in her meek way and her hand would come up to cover her beautiful smile while she laughed.
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nathan reminded me that boys can be spontaneously men and then turn right back into boys. he made me think of my boys, and peter pan's lost boys, and the goonies, and all boys. he was fierce and fast on that handcart, taking giant strides over whole shrubs. he set our fast pace and pulled his weight and more. he was a man. then in camp he was a boy again. he laughed and played merry music. he wrestled his friends and broke stuff by accident. then he was a man again and tried to fix stuff on purpose. he volunteered in the kitchen and set up camp and packed camp up. then he was a boy again, climbing hills and telling THE BEST jokes.

i wish you knew him. if you knew him you'd love him like i love him. and if he woke you up at 6am by playing his recorder you would smile and lay there and listen.
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how can i even explain hailey? in one word, "good." goodness was all over her. in her, around her. as we sat around in our family devotionals to talk about the day's highs and lows, usually her highs were the hard parts and she didn't have any lows. in a lot of ways i think that hailey is my polar opposite. it's not so much that she's good and i'm bad, but that goodness, meekness, humility and patience are her default and i have to work really hard to exhibit those traits. in an alternate reality i'd like to be her child, i think. she'll be such a tender mother someday. she carries an intense, quiet power. her hands were always on the cart and i know she got us up those hills.

for a small, steep stretch in the path we were without our brothers and pa. matt and the boys were called off on "a mission," leaving the women to pull on their own. the exercise helped the women to dig deep and reach heavenward for strength and allowed the boys to witness the consequences of their absence. hailey let that quiet power crescendo, pushing with all of her might and then running back down the hill to help others who were struggling.

if i try to tell you what it was like to witness her self-discovery, to see herself in that new light, to know she was more powerful than she'd always thought she was... if i try to tell you i'll fail to give the moment justice. but i can see her face in my mind and that small memory is a priceless pearl to me.
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kayla reminded me of the heavy weight on a teenager's shoulders. she helped me to have empathy and to draw from my own life experiences to try to understand. there are things about being a young woman that i swear i've blocked out because they brought me heartache and pain, and being with kayla brought me back a bit.  i wished i could dump wisdom on her like a bucket of water because she is walking a path i've walked, but i know it doesn't work like that. now that i think of it she was a woman, then she was a girl, then a woman, just the way nathan changed back and forth from boy to man. i saw the woman when she helped pen a verse for a song; "today we can share the gospel, keep the spirit near, always keep our standards high to be a pioneer."

a woman of God and a woman of the world are two entirely different creatures, and i've been both. as kayla spoke of high standards i thought of her identity as a daughter of God. i felt sure that if she could grasp on to her true beauty and not get caught in the world's view of what makes a woman beautiful she would become a fiery force for righteousness.

you should have seen her lead our wagon. if you saw that you could never believe that she was "just a pretty face." you would look right through that stuff into her very soul and you'd feel flaring faith and burning hot hope.
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my kids keep asking me to tell anakin stories. they want to hear the one about the rice krispy treats in his pockets. the plastic bag balloon on the bus and the disappearing act. actually they like all the disappearing act stories (there are dozens). my favorite anakin stories are more sweet and sacred. telling them at all almost ruins them, so i won't. he was so silently exceptional that i could hardly believe he was for-reals. he doesn't want anyone to know how thoughtful and kind he is when he thinks no one is watching.

i'm not even sure i heard him right, it was so quick, but i think he said that he didn't miss home so bad because of the way our trek family was. it was like that for me, too. he actually felt a lot like my real child for the week. which i can't explain to anyone.
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erica was supposed to be in our family, of that i am absolutely certain. she reminded me that Heavenly Father knows what He is doing and she strengthened my testimony that i belong to a true and living church. the Spirit of God is real and as people organized the trek with the Holy Ghost as their guide they were doing His work. erica was a gift and a blessing in our family as she worked to overcome physical, mental, and emotional trials. matt and i have peculiar talents, in large part gained as we've worked with ossi, that were perfectly suited to match her particular needs. i was proud of erica. i saw her do things that she didn't think she could do. i know she needs time to process all that she's seen and i hope she will make some connections between the trek and her home life.

strangely, my favorite moments with erica were probably her least favorite moments of the journey. i liked taking care of her when she was hurt. i liked seeing our whole family come together and sacrifice for her wellbeing. i liked using some parenting strategies i've learned and seeing that they work for other kids besides ossi. and i liked seeing erica press forward and eventually come out of those bad moments.
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lastly, nickolas. he co-chaired the youth leadership committee along with amallelie and so led. he taught me about character and desire to be valiant. i'm drawing on days and days of good deeds and dignity here. we're talking chivalry, courtesy, diligence, and a steady stream of service. wow. just wow. a couple of months before the adventure matt felt a prompting to start weight training. he'd been searching for a way to be more healthy and decided to follow a program for lifting. this prepared him to relate better with nickolas and have more in common. though, they already have so much in common as men of God. and as boys-at-heart (where priesthood and poop-jokes bring men together).

how did we get so lucky? in the mornings and evenings, when i was in my tent, i just prayed and prayed about my gratitude and love and a feeling of getting more than we ever deserved. i remember waking up the first morning and peering through the tent zipper to see that our boys had taken down their tent, packed their belongings, and that they were sitting at the top of a tall hill together watching the sun come up while the moon was still bright in the sky. the image is still with me and it lingers over me in the early morning hours. three boys on a hill.
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i could tell you stories all day. stories of neighborhood friends who came to play with our kids. stories of hiding under tents. eating cooler meals in the hot sun. taking our shoes off to let our socks dry out. bruises and blisters, trophies of our bravery.  i could try and retell the jokes and walk you through humorous moments when i thought my chapped lips would crack off of my face because i was laughing so hard. adam's hidden bucket. the nasty sandwich (eat it and you're cool). ben's winning spree. michael's giant crush.  i could tell you how much i loved green grass after miles of dirt and weeds and how much more i loved seeing clean, joyful, bare-footed teenagers running around that grass like they'de never been to a park in their life. i could string words into the image of young eyes looking for spiritual guidance and finding it.

but you'd smile and say, "i'm happy that you are happy."
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so i'll just share what i got in pictures (not much, really) when my camera wasn't packed away.
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