passing the torch

Thanksgiving growing up was mainly about two things, ROLLS and PIES. Up until high school I didn't realize that people buy rolls and buy pies to eat. Doesn't everyone make them? I started making pies my sophomore year of college. I remember the very first time I attempted granny's pie crust recipe, I labored and labored mixing it, (cutting it with knives), only to realize I didn't have a rolling pin. And living in an all male condo complex meant, no one really had a pie pin around me, this is before my cousin Joe moved in next door and informed me on all things cuisine, I always think of him every time I add dill to my tuna sandwiches. I digress, I ended up using a can of beans to roll the crust! Of course it was heavy, but I was still proud of my ingenuity. 

And now, I love baking pies with my own kids. I love teaching them what I have learned from my mother, and my granny and so on and so forth. I love talking crusts and recipes with my cousins and sisters. 

This year I attempted, for the first time, to quadruple Aunt Lynne's roll recipe. My mom quadruples it every Thanksgiving, but I've only doubled it. I planned and prepared and might have read the recipe four times the night before just to be even more ready. Ty was on back-up plan to buy Hawaiian rolls at the store and pass them off as mine in case of a worst case scenario. 

No need because the Leavitt household had complete success! I'm not ashamed to say they were the best darn rolls this side of Overton. Rodney loved helping to shape them into circles. The girls loved "testing" them out of the oven "just to make sure" they were ok.

So here you go mom, you've done good. 

I'm working on hiding my gums when I smile, but I think it just makes me look mad and/or constipated. So I guess full on gummy pictures are here to stay.
And speaking of passing on torches, little miss Phoebe has learned how to start, drive, park and turn off the little four-wheeler. I might have a mini heart attack watching her ride it around, but Ty is pretty proud of her. She's a quick learner and has the muscle memory like something else. I snapped this yesterday morning in-between rolls rising. ;)

thoughts on gratitude

Yesterday Rodney popped out of bed way too early, again, (it's time to get him a clock just like we did the girls). He immediately told me, "it's Thanksgiving!" and "Can we eat the pies now?". 

After he had some oatmeal and settled in with transformers I snuck out for a run. I've had the tradition of a Thanksgiving run for a long time, I think the first time was the Thanksgiving after we first married. So going on 12 years now, barring pregnancies or sick kids. It's one of my favorite traditions. And no, it' not so I can overstuff my face during the day, which I actually don't do half as much anymore, it really sets my mood for the rest of the holiday.

Auggie the dog of course was overjoyed with the prospect of a run, so we took off just as the sun was rising above the Mesa. It was a perfect morning. Quiet, beautiful, and lots of time to think while my legs slowly moved my body along and Auggie darted up and down every hill we encountered, always pausing at the top to make sure I can see how amazing he is. Men. haha.

As I ran down the hill to the house, I realized it's been a very long year, but a very good one too. I was overwhelmed with the problems we have faced this year, but not because they were difficult, but because of all the blessings that have come with them. My cup overfloweth.


delicious november

We made it. We survived the relentless heat that continued on clear through October. Ugh Ugh Ugh.  And we barely survived hunting season. And birthdays are over until January. Exhale.

I love November. We have had a fire glowing from the fireplace almost every night, coats, mittens, pomegranates and thanks to my pruning and fertilizing,

my roses are gloriously happy.

Ty took me to the Balanchine Celebration performance at the Smith Center for my birthday. Nevada Ballet Theatre impressed and inspired. It was absolutely beautiful. Considering two of the ballets were choreographed in the 1930's and yet look effortllessly timeless, you can visually see and feel that man was a genius. A total scallywag, but a genius nonetheless. ;)

We finally, finally, finally! Took family pictures. I find this a good gauge of where my mental health barometer is, because I haven't wanted to, had the desire, motivation, or energy to take family pictures for THREE YEARS. The last time we took the pictures Rodney wasn't even one. Face palm. Our good friend and neighbor took them and I just love them. This is the only one I have seen so far, and I have no words. I can't believe this is my family.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, I love food and spending time with my family. I love reflecting on the past year and all of the many blessings I've witnessed. God is good.


The guinea pig I feel guilty about

As a child, I LOVE pets. As an adult, or more importantly a parent, I despise them. Not the dog of course, we've established that. But another mouth to feed? And another butt that poops? And another place of residence to clean? WEEKLY? Shoot me now.

This is Rhino, we thought it was a boy, and then we thought it was a girl for a year, and then a boy for another year, and finally, he is a boy.

But let me tell you something, if you wish every day for an animal to disappear, and then...it does. Well just get ready for a mt. everest amount of guilt. Karma is a nasty thing.

Rhino died, at the end of Ty's hunt so he was NOT home and I had to bury it. And the ground was rock solid and I didn't bury it enough because apparently our amazing dog or coyotes got to him and thank goodness I saw his hairy, mutilated corpse before the kids did. I wouldn't go pick pomegranates at our house anytime soon.

What's up with random pet updates? I don't know, but Rhino needed to be remembered in all his metrosexual glory.


the dog with a guilt complex

I called to give him back. I called a week after having a tiny, furry terrorizing puppy in our home to give him back. He was nipping at the kids all day long, he was hyper (I thought he was mellow when bringing him home). It was just too much work, and I did not have an ounce of extra energy or attention for anything else. My plate was full.

Luckily we didn't give him back. It's been 18 months and our dog has turned into a great dog. And I can't believe I'm saying this, I even like him now. He's definitely not perfect, **be forewarned, he still humps everyone, we are working on this**.  But besides the humping, and always flashing us his unit, ahem, he is essential to our house now. He watches over the kids, all.day.long. If they are outside, he is right there. He keeps constant property control, he knows who belongs at our house, and who is a stranger. He knows what time the girls come home from school and what time is too late to be in our driveway. This is priceless to me.   He also is really scary when he's mad at someone on our property late at night.  He waits at the bus stop with Phoebe, he goes on my runs with me, he even enjoys Ty's humongous hikes he goes on. He follows grandpa on his 4-wheeler and the girls on their bikes. He endures Rodney's constant poking,  prodding, wrestling and body slams.

Most importantly he has outgrown barking at strange objects at 2am. For his first year if something was misplaced on the yard and he stumbled upon it he would turn into an ambulance siren. Alert! Alert! Something is in the yard!

One night it was a toddler bike.

Another night it was a work ladder and bucket ty had placed next to his truck.

Once we come out in our pajamas, and show him that no, it is not a ravenous coyote out to kill him or a criminal coming to butcher us, he calms down.

I'm so glad this doesn't happen anymore.

He loves grandma and grandpa. I think he might even have a greater love for them, as they spoil him just like grandparents do their grandkids. ha! They give him the best food and attention. He basically splits his time between the households like someone with joint custody.

And...he's religious. I say this because he has the greatest guilt complex I have ever seen an animal possess. If he has done something even remotely wrong you will know it. He cowers to the ground, he covers his eyes, he will army crawl 100ft to me when he knows he is supposed to heel but is in trouble.  One time he was displaying all of his remorseful behaviors.  I could tell he felt awful and even more guilty because he knew I hadn't yet seen the crime scene. An hour or so later I walked out to the trash and saw the dirty deed, he had opened a trash bag and pulled out probably 5-6 containers.  But he had stopped there! I can only imagine the guilty thoughts going through his head as he played with the trash. "Mom is going to kill me. Mom is going to kill me." It's actually laughable when you think about it.

So if you are coming over to our house, we would love to see you! But look out for our humping and guilty complex ridden dog.


jealous much?

The new season of Daniel Tiger is on Netflix. This is a big deal in our house. I love that show, and find myself singing the songs all the time in the midst of a terrible tantrum or chaotic battle over dinner. "You've got to try new foods 'cuz they might taste gooooood!". And, "If you get so mad that you want to roar, take a deep breath...and count to 4!" I'll admit I might have tried to use some of these on Ty. Bah!

A few things about this new season:

1. daniel tiger gets a new baby sister. cue lots of questions like "why don't I have a baby sister or brother?" And "I want a baby!". Stupid Daniel tiger.

2.The episode on jealousy. It's good, it really explains it simply to kids. Everyone gets jealous, and when you get jealous you usually get mad and even act mean around that person.  "If you feel jealous, talk about it!" Thanks Daniel Tiger's mom! 

The jealous monster is always around me. But the more we have been talking about it the more I'm recognizing it. I am jealous of mom's that look put together all the time. I'm jealous of mom's that make healthy lunches and dinners and homeschool their kids, that lead the PTO, that teach and raise a family of great kids, that snap back into their body after popping out 8 babies, that are patient and kind and organic, vegan, understanding all the time and do everything all the time for their husband, and friends, and neighbors and....c'mon.

That lady just doesn't exist. 

When I stop the comparison game, I'm fine. I'm happy for other moms, I'm happy for those newlyweds that still have a dream of well behaved children and clean baseboards. I'm happy for the families that get to go on awesome vacations! They should do fun things! So I'm definitely working on stopping the comparison game right away, and that's by keeping busy myself. I'm reading about a book a week, and doing little projects around the house I've been putting off. And guess what? When I'm busy I don't really think about other people as much! ha! 

I know I talk about social media a lot on here, but it puts the comparison game front and center, with perfectly poised pictures to boot!
 It really is. 

But on a funnier note, this cartoonist became a new parent and made the FUNNIEST cartoons about parenthood. Enjoy!


happy birthday, we are mid-30s now

Happy Birthday to my favorite man. He is as kind and generous as he is handsome and patient. I love that he chose to spend his life with me, and gave me awesome kids to boot. Ps- We have been together for 17 years, and are in the middle of our 30s now. Mind-blown.


5 benefits of living without a smart phone

I will admit, the first month  without my iPhone was tough, tough, tough. I second guessed my choice several times, I mourned, I was angry, I bargained, I was in denial. All of it.

After a month things started to get better and better, and they just haven't stopped. I knew I had a lot of addictive behaviors when it came to my phone, namely INSTAGRAM, pinterest and TEXTING. But I never realized that life was moving faster than I could keep up. Which kept me in a constant flustered state. Like a camera that can never focus until you slow down, that was my daily life.

I've had some time to reflect and I would say the top 5 bonuses of not having a smart phone are these:

1. BETTER MEMORY. my memory is getting better. appointments, phone numbers, dates. no joke, after several weeks the digital cobwebs are clearing and i feel more present every day. my brain clouded with social media in my pocket all the time and my face in my phone. now i feel the temperature of the room differently, the sunset, my children's faces, people's voices, my clothes, even reading is different.

2. SLEEP. I sleep  sounder. I wake up more alert. I am less cranky. What's not to love about that?

3. TIME. I have SO MUCH FLIPPING TIME ON MY HANDS. I'm not even joking. Laundry? Yes, I have time to fold and put away. Talk on the phone with a good friend? Yup, I have time for that and can fold the laundry at the same time. Manage emails, write on the blog? Yes and yes. I would say without my smart phone I have at least 1-2 extra hours a day. Yikes. I'm reading about a book a week holla! That makes my heart so happy.
some of my favorite reads lately, obviously in a self help phase.

4. FREEDOM. I am not a slave to technology. I can run errands, drive on vacation, watch a movie with my kids, take a walk, go on a dinner date without thinking about posting it, or thinking about what other people are doing. Is that a cute photo? I hardly ever think that anymore.  Selfies? No more my friends. Just doesn't work with a nikon lol. But guess what? More people died this year from SELFIES than from SHARK ATTACKS. When will we wake up? Sharks, that eat small dolphins for snacks are SAFER THAN SELFIES. What the hell is happening to our society?

5. Real Relationships, Real Conversations. I am a better mom without my iPhone. I am a more present companion to my husband. I would say 99% of the people reading this have a smart phone, but I have to be honest. Who I care about talking to and spending my time with has decreased dramatically. And in all full disclosure honesty, most of my friends' social media accounts I want to drown in diesel gasoline. They irritate me, I feel insecure, unhappy with what I have, unhappy with my daughter's hair, unhappy with my couch throw pillows, or lack thereof. But those same friends in real life? I LOVE talking to. I love hearing about their REAL lives and their kids and homes. I value every one on one conversation i have with them.   Now I am happy if I bump into someone, I'm happy to catch up with them (because I truly don't know what's going on with them). No judging someone because I know where they've been (or what or what they haven't been) doing.

* Today I actually  had my first non-smart phone downfall today, I couldn't download a coupon at a store I wasn't planning on going to. Boo-hoo. I think I'll live. And this music video my beautiful cousin posted on Facebook (yes, I still visit social media when I have time to) is stuck in my head. It is so scary what digital social media relationships are doing to us, and now to our children. Likes, follows, comments, all wrapped up into one strange and lonely virtual world. http://youtu.be/UKftOH54iNU


song lyrics and unripe nectarines

these were the fluffiest marshmallow clouds against a pure blue sky,
a pure maynard dixon painting

a few weeks ago i was rushing through walmart (ugh) and as i ran past the produce i saw an entire crate full of nectarines.  walmart produce has yet to impress me over the last decade, but during summer i can not, will not, pass up peaches or nectarines. the fruit of the gods i tell you what. none of them smelled or felt ripe at all, but our kitchen warms up quite nicely in the summer and is the perfect fruit ripener if you know what i mean. i brought home a bag bursting full of them. in the next few days most were gobbled up, one by one, leaving trails of yellowy orange sticky juice around the tables and chairs and countertops.

after the best ones were devoured, one of the little ones would bring me the same rock hard nectarine and ask if it was ripe. day after day the same answer, "nope, not yet". the funny thing is, it never ripened. after an entire week had passed, which was ample enough time on our fruit platter to turn a green peach into the juiciest one you have ever eaten, this nectarine still felt like a baseball. i let a few more days go past, and a small outer layer, almost 1/4 inch thick softened. but the insides? bedrock. 

i imagined this to be much like life. sometimes we jump the gun, we rush towards what we want and how we want it. instead of waiting and ripening our talents, knowledge, mind and heart, we let circumstances pluck us off weeks, months, years too early. we never use the god-like attribute of patience, i hardly know if any children even know what patience means now. we rush, run, collide, drop and push to what we want and when we want it. and when that happens, the fruit of our labor never quite ripens. it doesn't make that sweet heavenly aroma, it doesn't slightly give when you squeeze it, it isn't full of the most perfect potential. it doesn't burst with delicious fruity flesh juice as you devour it. it gets a little ripe, but the center of it, the real meat of it, is hard and stale and worthless and inedible.

on the other hand, for the majority of the time we don't wait long enough for a project or undertaking to fully ripen. we bail because it is just taking too long and seems like it will never work out. we quit because, heaven forbid, it is too hard. we want the easy route. we want to fit in, we don't want to stick out holding on and working on to something that is different, undesirable by the masses or doesn't even look like fruit at all.

 i might be the only person alive who understands this analogy, but it is truth for many things in my life over the years. i'm thinking a lot more about patience today and developing my spirit, mind, body and heart, and letting time ripen everything till it is right. even if i don't enjoy being patient.

in other random news, i sat in church yesterday and thought a lot about songs that i love now that i absolutely hated as a child. the slow songs in the musical that i would just skip right over. yawnfest, every single one of them. you know what the funny part is? I will tell you. now those are all of my favorite songs. so of course, i made a little mental note of a few so i could remember:

climb every mountain- sound of music 
sunrise, sunset- fiddler on the roof 

There's a place for us, 
Somewhere a place for us. 
Peace and quiet and open air 
Wait for us 

There's a time for us, 
Some day a time for us, 
Time together with time spare, 
Time to learn, time to care, 
Some day! 

We'll find a new way of living, 
We'll find a way of forgiving 
Somewhere . . . 

There's a place for us, 
A time and place for us. 
Hold my hand and we're halfway there. 
Hold my hand and I'll take you there 
Some day, 


leavitt camping trip 2015

 For a weekend in August we went with all of Ty's immediate family camping by Pony Springs Nevada. Last year it was cool and even a little rainy, this year it was...hot. Annie no likey hot and sweaty camping.

It was still a great trip for the kids. I didn't get any good photos of the camping spot or going to Cave lake (which was sweltering by the way) or their off road trip, but the highlight for our kids and what they can't stop talking about was riding on the steam engine train in Ely, Nevada (again...HOT). We meandered throughout the HOT museum and then rode the train for a little over an hour. The kids loved it, especially the open air car with benches. Ty's favorite part was the 2 bucks they saw, I think that was Grandpa Rod's favorite part too. Here are some photos I snapped along the way:

 One of the train worker's sons saw Ty and Rodney ogling the engine and invited them up inside! Ty said it was really cool to watch them stoke the furnace and work the machinery, oh and it was HOT. I don't think they will ever forget being able to do that.


 It is strange getting used to getting out the camera and waiting a few seconds for it to turn on, unlike my swift iPhone. But as I sat on the train ride and watched a mom absolutely gluuuued to her phone, I had no regrets. I'm not joking, she probably looked up and talked to her kids/husband three times the entire trip. Obviously I am much more attentive now without my phone around all the time. And I am trying to be positive, but it was such a sad, sad sight.

I thought Ely was fascinating. I had only visited before for high school soccer games, seeing the older parts of town and the train row houses was fun. We even spied a few brothels (go nevada!). The train passes by many old mines (Ely was a mining town) and one where it collapsed and around 100 chinese migrant workers were lost and never found. Apparently Stephen King was doing a cross country Nevada motorcycle trip and was fascinated so much that he filmed and based his book "Desperation" on. Interesting factoids like that totally excited me. Thanks mom.


first day of school 2015

We have 3 little crazy monkeys attending school this year.

No morning of photos because I couldn't find the camera. haha, thanks dumb phone!

it was a rough wait for afternoon kindergarten to begin. we love Mrs. H and Phoebe had a perfect day.
 no complaining from brother that everyone was out of the house. hmm.
 cousin lyla was all smiles too.
 front of the line. nobody puts my baby in a corner.
 i let her pick her own outfit. it was painful.

 3rd grade, Kindergarten and 5th grade

 obligatory awkward mom photo, i'm officially a taxi now and raising real children.
mind boggling.
i love summer with my kids. but this summer was a little more rough, the heat always gets to me by July and I want to run away in August. the first day of school here in town is absolutely crazy. i drove to the school 3 times today. i never really get emotional but i know i will when the last one goes, that will be kind of crazy.

 but we are excited for order and routine and to start ballet next WEEK. gahhhh.


Guatemala Dental Mission news

*Here is a letter my mom had made to show the LDS dental convention this summer. I think it's a great summary of what they do and why.

Serving in the Guatemala Dental Clinic as a Senior Missionary has been a rare privilege.  It is the best of times and also provides many growing experiences.
  We have the opportunity to provide needed dental care to Future Missionaries, who travel by bus or car for their care.  Some come in groups, others alone.  Some have travelled as long as ten hours to receive treatment.
We also provide oral exams to native missionaries who arrive at the CCM every other week.  Generally, 25-40% of these missionaries will need care.  Last week, 17 wisdom teeth were extracted on ten missionaries.  We provide the following procedures: wisdom teeth and other extractions, fillings, cleanings and root canal therapy. We occasionally provide retainers, night guards and partials.  The goal is to have them dentally healthy for their term of missionary service. 
We also provide dental care for missionaries currently serving in the Guatemala area.  This includes  senior missionaries.  Last year, as their Christmas present, we provided cleanings for all of the senior missionaries, which also included our temple missionaries.
In addition, we are blessed to serve eight orphanages in Guatemala City.  The childrens ages range from 2 to 23.  You will never work on more grateful or more happy children.  Their dental needs are endless.
The days might be longer than you planned.  They might include challenges but the opportunity to serve all of these choice young people leaves one with such a feeling of satisfaction.  One feels grateful for such an opportunity to care for the Lords children.    Daily, you witness the Lords watchful  hand over  this program.
The weather is truly “eternal spring”.  The other senior missionaries become dear friends.  The opportunity to contribute to others lives leaves one with a very softened heart.
Jim and Carol Curtis

My mom has always been an office manager if she is at Dad's office, so it's fun seeing her assist.

Future Missionaries. They travelled 10 hours from Belize for their dental exams.
These orphans all had extractions but were brave  little patients.
We do onsite dental exams in some of the orphanages and schools

These future missionaries travelled together from Quetzaltenango

These are CCM missionaries who just received needed dental care before they leave for their assignments
Providing oral dental exams at the CCM for newly arrived native missionaries
*I'm very proud of my parents for their sacrifices and dedication to serve the Lord where they were needed. I know it has not been easy for me (or them) to be so far away and hard to contact. I know we are blessed because of their selflessness.

this photo makes me cry every.time.

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