I saw this quote this week and it has been on my mind all day:

The first thing that came to my mind was all of the parenting techniques I've tried to do, and learn. Almost always the hard way and the painful way (for me) was the best way. And when we stuck to it it worked. And I'm proud of myself for being uncomfortable for a while for the reward when it was done. It definitely is not an easy task to sit at the dinner table for an hour waiting for a 3 year old to take one bite of spinach. *he loved it in the end

After a nice little pat on the back was the next question, "what are my comforts today that keep me from achieving my goals?"
-my electrical blanket. Oh that sweet cloud of warm goodness, it's disaster to my alarm every morning.
-gossip. I know it doesn't sound like a "comfort" but it is. It gives me a false sense of esteem and accomplishment when I can talk about other's failings. Judge away, I know I'm not the only one here in this.
-nighttime, by the time we have done our nighttime routine ty and I are just flat out toast. But there is always a little voice that wants a book read or to show me a picture or or or or, and I just want to curl up one the couch and relax. Lately I've been saying "no" and just vegging out watching Frasier or reading. 
-tv, it's a comfort. It keeps me from accomplishing EVERYTHING
-food. Food. food. Enough said.
-time for myself. It's easy and comfortable to whine and complain about how little I get to do things or go places instead of making time and effort to plan, save and actually do things. Or buy a pair of pants that fit 



I think that's the word I could use to describe motherhood. It is swift. They are born, they grow and grow and whoosh! Everything is different! Good different and difficult different. Last week I desperately needed a costco run, and I thought, "Hey! the two littles kids are getting so much bigger, I bet this will be easy." Disclaimer: I loathe shopping, and trekking an hour drive into town and running errands with two toddlers is like, an inner ring of hell in my opinion.
So we drove in, and they were awesome! And I thought, "Geez annie! Why don't you do this more often? It's not that bad at all!" and then, about 3/4 of the way through the costco list I could hear the fizzle going out in my head. I.can.not.do.anymore. We quickly made it a race to find the last few things, bought some slices of pizza, fought 800 senior citizens for a spot to eat and LOST. So i let the kids sit on a rock and eat pizza while I loaded the car. Two spilt drinks, and one dropped slice of pizza, lots of tears, and exasperated whines from me and we got  back into the car. I had two more stores to go to. We didn't. We filled up on gas, bought 3 things from walmart, washed the car and headed home. I felt like I was hit by a mac truck. WHY? WHY? WHY? did i do that?

Oh well, that's how you learn. I am not someone that can shop a lot with my kids (or alone), and that's  ok. Luckily I took this short video of the total adorable cuteness that is Rodney and Phoebe right now in this stage of life. I'm going to miss it dearly. (ps: this is R's first time not crying in the car wash, and he loves Star Wars if you caught the Han Solo  part)


Church isn't for good people

love being with the women in our ward who share their struggles and trials and lift me up.


weekend thoughts

things are busy, and are not busy over here at the Leavitt house. last week the girls were all in the Missoula Children's Theatre play "Rapunzel". Oh, it was too much! Just the cutest little thing you ever saw, and it had everything to do with my kids being in it. haha. It also made last week just crazy hectic. This week has been nice and relaxed.

It is spring here and the weather is not disappointing. I have gotten absolutely nothing done around the house because the little kids and I are spending most of the time outside. I have been working out in the mid mornings while they play and ride bikes. The older girls have finished their "big" projects and reading goals so the tension is a little more relaxed around that too.

Here are some pictures of the play. Swoon!


motherhood done right

A few weeks ago I popped onto Facebook after about a week hiatus. The first thing I saw was an article about sleep training your children. I groggily clicked onto the article and read a blog post by a woman (who is not a mother) that used some studies to say that because i sleep trained my children i had ruined their lives. it should be noted that the horrendous examples they gave in the article were nothing like what we used for our sleep training but it still sent me into a complete tailspin. {it should also be noted that my period started approximately 3 hours after reading the article hahahaha}

anyways, ty came home from work while the 5 year old and almost 4 year old were in hour 3 of their naps. i told him, "well, i read something that said I ruined the kids." he just laughed and laughed, "Yup, it's over" he chuckled and walked away. i was able to look back and laugh at the situation, i had slipped into being 25 all over again. i was POSITIVE that because someone said something or some "study" reported a statistic i was either a good mom/bad mom. ugh, i do not miss those days.

once i surfed down from the crimson tide i realized that i absolutely LOATHE articles that bash motherhood choices. you know what i'm talking about, either it's one that tells you you are doing it right and everyone else is wrong or vice versa, they are all just garbage. because guess what?

you are a great mom. yes, you dear reader. whether you are a friend, family member, stranger or one of my own daughters reading this, you are an amazing mother. you that had a natural home birth with enya, you that has scheduled c-sections, that breastfed/formula, binkie/no binkie/thumb sucking, blanky/no blanky, co-sleeping/sleep training, homeschooling, boarding school, special needs kids, soccer mom, working mom, introvert mom, loud mom, crafty mom, fitness mom, artist mom, teacher mom, cooking mom, non-cooking mom, all natural, organic garden mom or chef-boyardee ravioli mom: You are the BEST mom to your kids.

that's it. there is no magic formula. God sent you your  kids because they needed you and you needed them. only you know what is best for them and how to figure that out. no one else. nada. zilch. zero other people.

don't let an article or book make you feel like you are failing. don't let other families successes mean anything about you, because they don't. don't let your failures mean anything either. failing means you are trying, it's much more scary to never try and never fail. don't let some remarks from other moms or family members get you down.

i can't tell you how hard it was to sleep train my children, it was excruciatingly difficult with each one (except abigail, who is an amazing sleeping unicorn sent straight from heaven). it was not easy, but i knew it was important. there were many times when people and family questioned my methods and pointed out that i was crazy. there were also many times when friends and family wanted their kids to sleep like mine, but couldn't do it the way we did and got defensive. but here's the thing, i knew it was the way that my kids needed and what i needed and that is all that matters. i'm very happy that i listened to my gut and followed through, because it did turn out to be exactly what our family needed. that doesn't mean that's what other families need either or that they should do what we did.

in my 20's i would run all over the place trying to convince everyone that my way is the best way (said like the Queen of Hearts) and you should be doing it too! but now? oh, i couldn't give a flying fart as to how you train your kids, or don't train them. i don't care! have a cotton candy disco party on the trampoline at midnight and eat pot brownies in the morning if that's what you think is right. More power to ya!

i'm happy i don't fall into the comparison trap as much anymore, but it goes to show that i still can fall prey to it pretty easily (note to self, don't get on social media the week of your period). i imagine it will get better and better as the years go by. my mom said that just about when that goes away, is when your body starts to fall apart. OH JOY!!!!!

here is a short clip of the daily dinner time struggles we have here with hot rod (turn your volume down):



it's march. can you believe it? The year is just taking off like a rocket around here. on hard days i find myself reminiscing on our trip after Christmas. i haven't blogged about it yet, but we found dirt cheap flights and last minute surprised the kids with a trip to Kentucky to see their Curtis cousins there. It had been 3 years since they had seen them and we were long overdue for a visit. Aunt Sarah lives there now too so it was a two for one as far as family trips go.

it was such  fantastic trip. the kids played perfect all week long it was just great to be with my siblings. soon i will write more about it, but for now i will let you know a secret. we passed this grandiose horse farm on our way home from lunch one day and it is on my mind all of the time. Elmendorf farm in Lexington, Kentucky. just look at it!

all of the horse farms (miles and miles and miles of them) were just breathtaking and unbelievable, but this one was so stunning we immediately googled it (thank you smart phones) before we forgot the name. could you even imagine raising your kids in a mansion like this? i can and it's dreamy.

have a happy week!


zumba: the good, the bad, the ugly

I certified to teach zumba in 2010. I had just moved to our small hometown where there was NO gym and my husband's schedule limited when i could go and run. We had 3 small children and only a double stroller. haha, how do you do that?

anyways, I grew up dancing ballet and almost finished my major in it (i switched to english last minute) at Brigham Young University where I was on the Ballet Showcase company my sophomore year. I have a deep LOVE LOVE LOVE for dancing. it's a large part of who i am.  zumba was a perfect fit for me, i had to exercise and i loved dancing. boom! done! also, i love helping people live healthy lives so that filled a large cup for me too.

i met so many amazing women over the next 4 years. i can't imagine my life without knowing all of them. every walk of life you could think of, we all had a blast just dancing away together. just writing about it makes me miss it! ah crap. i miss them.

dancing for exercise is still my favorite form of cardio, just amazingness all around. so much flipping fun. i also got in the best cardiovascular shape of my life (read: pant size)when i was teaching 3-4 times a week and had my regulars that were getting in awesome shape as well. super amazing to watch their dedication and smiles every day.

i think my most favorite part also was teaching the kids. SO MUCH FUN. it was awesome to see how fast they picked things up and the fun clean songs were my favorite. did i mention it was FUN? i'd love to teach another kids camp every year, but not zumba. annie's own dance factory or something fun like that. ha!

i had a neighbor that taught zumba when we lived in provo. she still does, she is amazing and super dedicated to a lot of forms of fitness. anyway, one day i saw her walking to go teach her class in the funniest outfit i and ever seen. oh! the neon! the tassels! the baggy pants with one leg scrunched up! what?! just silliness all around. "I will never be caught dead wearing something like that" i said. good gracious, it was brainwashing at it's highest form.

guess what? 

just a mere year into zumba i had bought all of those clothes. and i loved them! i fit in! i looked cute! who cares the tank tops were 30 DOLLARS. sheesh. i was a sheep and i was following the flock, the scantily clad flock. i didn't realize how sleazy the clothes were getting until i went  to a convention with Beto! The founder! and holy nudity, i couldn't count the amount of early 40's women wearing as little clothes as possible. eek!

the music: when i first started receiving my cd's (you get one a month as an instructor) there were 1-2 spicy songs on them. they labeled them with chili peppers...cuuute right? so you knew and you could look up the lyrics and know what they were saying. my spanish is muy mal so i would just skip the spicy ones altogether. by the time i quit teaching in 2014 about 4-5 out of 10 songs would be spicy every single month. I hadn't even realized how different the music and clothes had become just over 4 short years. it was all about being sexy, looking sexy, dancing sexy. ugh, i get sick just thinking about it. here i was paying them money every month to get this. I started more and more just relying on my own songs and choreography to make up classes and that was working. but overtime, listening to those songs 24/7 (I have to memorize them) just wore me down. i had had enough. i didn't want to listen to all of that anymore. i missed the days of just npr, classical music and a little beatles after dinner to do the dishes. i am so high strung as it is, i don't need music pushing me over the top also. plus, my kids were listening to it all in the car and at home. the videos? i had to watch in my room from the beginning, i wouldn't let my kids see those girls bouncing around half naked.

ok, here is the ugly truth. do you know what it takes to become certified? all you have to do is pay $$$ and show up for 8 hours. that's it. no test, no certification, no anything. just sign a paper. DONE. ugh, do you have any idea how many insanely under qualified and just crap zumba teachers there are out there? that is just scary. scary. scary. when i went and "certified" to teach "toning zumba" in san diego, California, the instructor, who was awesome, just straight up said, "You guys, if you want to be buff so people will want to come to your class, you have to LIFT HEAVY WEIGHTS."  i couldn't believe it, i just paid $$$ to have someone tell me i'm selling other people a crap class and i just bought one too. sure it would break a sweat, but it couldn't give real results to anyone. ugh.

I couldn't keep paying a company money that i didn't agree with their moral values and goals at all. i know i am unique and not many people share my personal morals and values, but they are mine and part of who i am. if i'm going to pay to be a part of something, it has to align with my beliefs also.

i also knew that lifting weights is essential to getting strong and lifelong health and knew i couldn't teach that in zumba. yes, i got into great shape, but at a great cost also. spiritually and mentally i was at an all time low. all i cared about was being "small" and being "sexy" and i'm positive i don't have a body just to have that be my life long goal. and even though i was "small" i wasn't strong at all.

and so, here i am a little heavier, a lot stronger and on my way to reach my goals. all of them: mental, spiritual, and physical.

i don't want to be "small" or "sexy" anymore. i want to be...me. the best and strongest version of just me. and i am getting there by listening to church talks while i workout and johnny cash. my kids can watch me work out and i'm not embarrassed. i'm helping other moms find out how to lift weights and get strong. do i miss zumba? yes, i always will. do i wish someone who wants to teach cardio will teach here? YES! I'd love to pop into class for fun every now and then, but i couldn't have it a permanent part of my life anymore.

right now i'm focusing on my growth and my family's needs. yes, it has been hard to not have the extra money that i made that i would spend on myself (read: clothes and makeup!). but right now i'm spending more time on my house, husband, kids (not in that order) and really digging down deep to change my life. lifting heavy 3-4 times a week makes me so happy, trying to get cardio in (yuck!) is a necessity and figuring out food in a mentally healthy way also.

being healthy has always been important to me, and it always will. having an active lifestyle used to be just about "looks" for me, but it's about so much more than that. it makes me happy, it makes me whole. and zumba wasn't doing that for me.

 the end.


licking lab rats

in honor of joshlyn, who just had her 4th lab rat
For the past two years I have been praying to know if we are supposed to have another baby. For the past two years I have been struggling a lot, mentally and spiritually. It's like a WWF wrestling fight going on inside my frizzy head on a daily basis. And I mean, a full blown lights, camera action, spandex WWF fight. Somedays after an epic dinnertime battle with the 3 year old I would tell Ty, I don't think we are supposed to, and he would quietly agree. And then I'd see a cute baby, that was probably sleeping, and say maybe we should! Blast those cute sleeping babies. This is when he calmly tells me he doesn't feel like we are supposed to have one right now, and then he quietly lists all the medical reasons why he is afraid of me having another (besides that I battle post partum depression for 2 years after each one).

When we found out we were pregnant last Thanksgiving I thought, "Of course! This is it, I was meant to have another baby". I wasn't happy about it the initial few weeks, but at least my question was answered right? And then when I finally got excited about the baby we found out we were losing it. drum roll please.

Here I was again, very confused as to what the plan was for me. I know that 4 is a butt-load of kids for most people, but I am the youngest of 7 and I've always wanted to be a great mom. Growing up for me, having kids and being a great mom went hand in hand. Hence, my internal dilemma.

A few months ago Ty ended up having to work on our Saturday temple day. I was mad at him for some reason or other so I still went by myself, I really needed a few hours of quiet and sanity. It was just what I needed and I felt very peaceful that there isn't a need to have another baby right now. Believe it or not, I never thought that NO could be an answer to the baby question. But it was. As I drove home I tuned to NPR because Ty wasn't in the car (hehehe)

Yes, I'm a closet nerd. The program was a biology study all about these mother lab rats and what makes a "good" mother rat and what makes a not good mother rat. Of course I laughed at the similarity of the topic on air and the WWF fight in my head. Anyway, they studied a large group of mother rats and their babies. They noticed that the good moms licked their babies more than the crappy moms. In fact they licked them a lot more. A ratio that was large enough to easily measure and quantify. The licking stimulates the babies' (and this is where it got nerdy) brains and hormones and made neurological connections that permanently affected their DNA. This in turn made their female babies turn into good mothers that would lick their babies a lot and so on and so on. And so the chain of good mother rats continues for all humans to enjoy.

At this point in the program I'm bawling driving home. I DON'T LICK MY RAT BABIES ENOUGH! You can imagine how happy Ty was after work to have a hysterical wife explaining that we aren't supposed to have any more lab rats. Somedays I think he deserves an award for patience and sanity. Heaven knows God gave him enough of both for us to share.

So here is where I am today, the WWF fight has calmed down a lot in my head. It is now more like a quiet talk show between two old ladies. Super boring and you fall asleep most of the time listening to them. The annoying one with purple hair whose name is Comparison says things like, "All of your friends are having babies, what's wrong with you?". Or, "Look, that mom has 5 kids and she's doing a great job, you could do that if you worked harder, were thinner, ate better, were more patient etc. etc. etc." I think it's time to set her hair on fire and kick her out. The other one's name is Envy, she says stupid stuff like "Look how in love those parents are! It's because they have 12 kids!".  Envy is delusional and off her meds.

Despite these crazy brain ramblings, in all honesty even though i am peaceful about my answers, it's painful for me to be not having kids. And I don't think the pain of seeing pregnant women will go away anytime soon, and that's ok.  I know this ache that comes when being done is natural, and every woman experiences it. Whether they have zero children or 40. It's just not your time to be having babies, and that doesn't mean there is anything wrong with it. It is normal that it hurts, and it is a process. It also doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with moms who are having more kids and who have lots of them.

I do know this, I have four beautiful lab rat babies. And most of the time I've tried to lick them as much as I can. I'm realizing how many licks I have in me, how many I missed out on, and how many I can muster up for the rest of their lives and their children's lives. And I'm going to be happy about my gorgeous kids and the peaceful answers I've received (and the funny ones). My Heavenly Father knows my sense of humor,  knows what my children need and knows how much my husband can handle. We've always known when it was time to have another baby, and I'm going to keep trusting myself today and try and turn off the tv show in my head.


phoebe before kindergarten

where do i begin about this little firecracker? i would be completely remiss if i didn't write down all the wonderful joy this little girl brings into our family.

this summer, around August, i started to regret our decision to not send Phoebe to Kindergarten this year. her birthday is 6 days before the cut off date, so when to send her had been a hot topic. i started to flip out and luckily my friend is the  K teacher here, she offered to do a quick analysis of Phoebe and where she is, but we were camping. of course. I had a lot of prayers and in the end stayed with our first feelings that she should stay home. we had had such an amazing summer that i was sure she would be bored to tears staying home with just me and the little dude.

fast forward 6 months and i couldn't be more happy with our decision. phoebe and rodney have formed a great friendship because they are the only ones home. i know this friendship wouldn't have blossomed with her gone in the mornings and napping when he naps. yes, they both nap still, i'm a sleep natzi.

their favorite game that they (i think she) invented is called "Mother". She is "Annie" and he is "Tyson". They go get groceries, and run errands, they clean the kitchen and basically "annie" has the stroller full of toys/food and bosses "tyson" around and everyone is happy all morning. when the weather is nice i love to keep the kitchen windows open and hear them chit chatting in the tree house while playing pretend. i think unmonitored play time like that is worth a million dollars to a healthy childhood.

anyways, phoebe's love language is GIFTS and ACTS OF SERVICE. since she was two she has been drawing pictures for daddy and leaves them on his pillow for when he gets home. it is so sweet, and even sweeter i know ty has all of them lovingly stored somewhere and he looks at them. one horrific day, ty worked overtime and then had a last minute auto project that had to be done that night..and it was cold out. so by the time he finished at about 1am he came in to the cutest little hand drawn picture with hearts all over it. it literally made everything a thousand times better. right now her current drawing obsession is unicorns, flying unicorns, flying unicorns with rainbow tails (it actually looks like the unicorn is powered by rainbow farts...haha). she also likes to get into the disneyland change jar and tape money onto pictures for you too. she is so thoughtful.

my dmv companion a few weeks ago

her recent acts of service have turned into cleaning. she's always been eager to help with windows, but a few months ago she started arranging the bathroom after the girls went to school. now she makes all the girls' beds, cleans up the kitchen (and washes dishes and puts them away..i don't even want to know eek!), folds towels and loves matching socks. she is full of such a desire to please people and make the house nice and i'm not complaining one bit.

her favorite time to help is at the grocery store, she holds the list and helps me find things. she unloads the cart with me, pushes the buttons and then helps me unload the car. if you haven't met phoebe she is quite tiny, the grocery checkers always smile with this teeny girl poking her head inches above the conveyor belt and lifting an entire gallon of milk up there.

last week we had to go into town for dr appointments and i picked her up a new stuffed pony. if you know me you know i hate "stuff" but i knew her little heart would just burst. and it did!

we all love this little girl so much and can't wait to see all she accomplishes in this life.

her physical skills are impressive too


take heart


The Keys of the Watchmen

My good family friend Kathleen C. Perrin wrote a novel, a real book! I'm so incredibly impressed. But I was even more honored when she sent me a copy to read and review for my blog readers. I received the book right before the COLD OF 2014 struck our house and my 2.5 week headache attacked my brain night and day. So sorry Chick it took me so long to get this review up but here it goes: The Keys of the Watchmen:
In all honesty, at first the book was a little slow for me, especially with a teenager as the focus, but I was intrigued with the setting and it definitely kept me interested. Kathleen weaves history and facts seamlessly into each chapter and I found myself learning so much more about this beautiful and historic place page by page. It doesn't hurt that I have wanted to visit France my entire life. Now Mont Saint Michel is added to my bucket list of MUST SEE places in Europe. 

But the book quickly sets pace around 100 pages and then I couldn't put it down, especially when the romance starts up (yup, I am your typical female reader). The kids kept prying it out of my hands and asking "Mom! What is that book about?!" By the time I finished the book I was more than ready for a sequel. 

I know a book is good when I keep thinking about if for days after finishing it, and that is exactly what The Keys of the Watchmen did for me. If you are a lover of history, travel and little bit of romance (hehe) you will LOVE this book.

Here is the official review from Amazon:
Katelyn Michaels plans on hating every moment of her visit to Mont Saint Michel with her father's new French wife. Once there, she is confused when she experiences sensations of déjà vu as she and her younger brother explore the medieval village and abbey. She is even more disturbed when she is confronted by two unusual young men, one who insists she has a sacred mission,  and the other who will stop at nothing, even murder, to stop her from fulfilling her destiny.

When the oddly-dressed but alluring Nicolas slips Katelyn a strange medallion, she is whisked back through time where her Watchmen hosts tell her she is the only hope to save Mont Saint Michel. Even worse, she learns that those trying to destroy the mount are led by a fallen angel intent on learning the mount's closely-guarded secret.

Katelyn is torn by feelings of anger at being taken back in time, inadequacy at finding a modern solution for a medieval problem, and responsibility for the mount's starving inhabitants. She is also perturbed by her surprising attraction to the ill-tempered Nicolas. Will she stay to learn why she was chosen by the Archangel Michael and find a way to save his mount? 


abby's baptism day

in our church, at the age of 8 you have the choice to be baptized a member of it. our little abby leigh made that choice yesterday! it was a great day. i remember the feeling of lucy's baptism and just being totally swept over with gratitude and at the same time an immense sense of responsibility. i am raising real human beings who are going to be real adults someday. it's pretty scary sometimes.

abby and i had a great time this week picking out her new scriptures and scripture case and dress for her big day. she was pretty happy to have her trusty dad there to baptize her and be there for her, he is always a good guy to lean on.

after she was baptized all of the family came over for dinner and just hanging out. the kids had a great time and i love when my house is full of laughter and kids running around.

i'm so grateful for the opportunity to have a home and a family to share it with. we missed my parents and more of my family being there, but really grateful for aunt danna and uncle guy making the long drive to be here! thank you!



we've been on a disney kick in the car recently. we have it tuned to a disney channel and the cheesy songs come on and everybody sings (including me). fyi: the kids don't appreciate my amazing voice. "That hurts my head mom", or "could you please turn it down?" meaning: me.

anyways, mulan came on and she's singing "When will my reflection show, who i am insiiiiiiiide?" and i've never really thought about that song, except that mulan can kick some serious butt and the misogyny in chinese culture even beats that of our small little town (another post, another day...but probably not). but then i got all...weepy. because i'm kind of having a midlife crisis over here. i don't know if you could call it that but since i exaggerate, then yah, it's a midlife crisis.

i've had FOUR kids. we are right smack dab in the middle of raising the kids, but not having them anymore. it feels as though everyone is having a baby right now (again, i exaggerate, give me a break) and it's not me. i love being pregnant, and i love my babies, so this is a hard adjustment for me. when i'm pregnant or have a baby i feel as though i know exactly what i'm doing and kept busy enough to not worry about "me". who am i if i'm not a mom with babies? that is a scary thought my friends for someone like me.

but today, in my reflection i see the 20 lbs i still haven't lost since pregnancy #5 and more and more wrinkles with every plus 30 year i add on. and anyone who tells you that they are comfortable and happy with their 20 extra pounds (or however more than that) is lying.  Yes, I love my body more than i ever have right now, but it still stinks. I have zero clothes that can fit, or fit well at least. And it just is not a fun party i like to wake up to every morning. I bought a new nutrition book (for athletes, cuz i pretend I am one) and guess what? I"ve just been eating too much food. What??!! Who knew? Oh wait, I guess I did but didn't? I don't know. All i know is, it's time to really buckle down and figure out what the crap is going on in my life.

last night as i went to bed i looked at this picture:

it has been on my bed stand for years and years. I love it, it was before we told anyone we were pregnant with Lucy and when we used to spend all day together, every weekend, every everything! We were blissful newlyweds! ha!  And it kind of stunk because i'm not that young, spunky and vivacious person anymore. I think I've turned into one of those bitter mothers. And instead of facing what's bothering me I just let it morph me into kind of a, cough, {hag}. You know what I'm talking about, the ones that talk about other people and tear them down to make themselves feel better? Yah, i think i do that a lot. face palm.

I want to be that person that gets to go hiking with my husband for an entire DAY and doesn't worry about the kids. I want to be that friend that is always positive and happy and can make you laugh. I want to be fun and vivacious and not cranky and tired. Side note: I've had a headache for a week and half so maybe writing a blog post was not a good idea. SO long story short, I don't think alone when as a mom i can admit, "I don't really know who i am anymore". I'm not pregnant, and I don't have a baby anymore, but i do have four amazing little monkeys that are pretty awesome (they really are) and we have a great time at home and together. And sadly (or not sadly?) most of that came from a tremendous amount of SACRIFICE from me. I sacrificed my body, my skin, my brain, my sanity, my time, my talents everything for having children. And yes, I'm finding a way to balance it out, because neglecting yourself entirely is a recipe for disaster. But I guess what I'm saying is, it's ok if I don't know exactly who I am right now, other than a mother. I am a dancer, an athlete, a wife, a friend, a sister, a daughter, and a teacher. I have been giving countless opportunities to become better every day, and I {try...cough cough} to take full advantage of every one of them.

being a mom is the hardest and at the same time the best thing i have ever done in my entire life. and I have a weird feeling that it will always feel this confusing to me. sometimes i wish that I didn't really have a lot of things that i enjoyed doing before kids, because i  think maybe it wouldn't be sad every time i couldn't do them? but then i remember, someday the kids will be gone and i can go snowboarding, and travel and have a lunch in the middle of the day with adults. and i'm sure i will miss the kids while i'm doing it all.

if you stuck in all the way to the end of this post, you deserve an award.


God's love

Teaching my church lessons helps me so much, I study all month and read other talks about the subject and search the scriptures. God's love is a fascinating topic, whether it is feeling his love, or loving Him, showing God that you love him, or showing that love to others, there really is no end to what you can learn or apply.

via pinterest

i am grateful for God's love for me, and i am learning how to show him more that i am grateful for him and love him. sometimes i can be a whiny, spoiled little brat. but...i'm a work in progress right?



i've wanted to move the girls into the same bedroom for about a year. i knew that this would be a process, there was no way i could move them and have it work because 1. the room didn't have a functioning closet and 2. they had WAY too many clothes/stuffed animals/stuff.

Ty solved number 1 by building a custom closet shelving unit to my exact specifications. I think I'll keep him.

For number 2 i've been slowly purging things out of my life this past year and it is absolutely glorious. at the beginning of december phoebe and i took an entire car full to donations. i'm talking, all the seats folded down load. i can't describe in words how utterly light and free i felt driving home. it took me 33 years to realize i loathe "stuff". we played our first Christmas music of the season on the way home and it was glorious. the older toys went up into the attic that they don't play with, we have a tub full of baby dolls. sniff...sniff.
the girls have been so good at looking at their clothes with me and deciding what they "Love" and what is just there that they could bless another family with. hand me downs are the absolute best! but...not if you don't actually "need" all of them. how many shirts/coats/jeans does each kid need? we've decided, not a lot actually. we pared down their shoes to 1 pair church, 1 tennis shoe, 1 flat, 1 sandal and 1 boot for winter. We spent a little more $ not the shoes so they will last, and it has been so great!

anyways, enough of the great! and amazing! i'm setting myself up for failure with all of this bragging, but....Ty had to work last Saturday so it was a perfect opportunity to take apart all of the furniture and rearrange the rooms by myself. (ty's left brain does not like the mess/chaos that moving furniture entails).

so, we've tried to have the toy room a bedroom for the 4 years we've been here and it has always looked like this:

yup, chaos.

after letting go of toys we don't cherish and clothes that weren't needed, we ended up with a quaint bedroom with 3 giggly girls and a toy room that is actually getting "Played" in. it's awesome, i'm so happy with it.
No major fights yet, but it's only been a week. Hehe
We've been storing the books in the closet and it was chaos there also. Disheveled, falling off the shelf. Could never find anything, I love seeing them easily on the bookshelf. I'm always surprised at how just looking at books gives me warm fuzzies. 

And the kids have loved playing in their toy room, and BONUS, I can't hear then from the kitchen. You know, just in case I wanted a little peace and quiet. Cough cough. 



i ran into one of my "blog" friends this weekend (hi emily!) and she mentioned reading this thing. she is awesome and updates hers almost daily/weekly, and i was embarrassed that this thing gets neglected so much. it's funny because before this weekend and for the past few months i have been trying to figure out why i don't write on this "blog" as much as i used to. here are the few reasons (ahem, excuses) that i found:

1. i write for whattoexpect.com , that honestly takes up a lot of my writing energy and mojo. also, i have to EDIT those posts, and good gracious editing is worse than sitting through 2 hours with 4 kids of stake conference at church.
2. smart phone, yup, my life has slowly (or rapidly) spiraled into a cone of spending time on my phone instead of documenting our family life and cleaning our house. both important things that easily get pushed out of the way in lieu of trivia crack.
3. honesty. here's the real rub down, i'm (at a fault) an honest person. i will tell you everything that's going on in my life and my children's lives. and honestly, raising children is HARD. and the older they get the challenges are trickier and trickier. marriage is difficult, and the ups are fun and the downs are the worst. i don't have the right, nor do i have a desire to share my children's struggles or my marriage's, and i guess because i can't be completely honest on this thing, i don't write anything. there are so many good, wonderful and funny things that happen on a daily basis at our house, and i do need to write them down. i always have prided myself on not being a "highlight' reel writing over here and sharing everything, so maybe just finding a balance is in order.

it feels like most of the things we are going through are just too much to write down, and so, i don't. like the fact that seeing pregnant women and large families about kills me almost every time lately. and how i've tried to teach zumba again and it isn't working out, and i can't do it and what is wrong with me that i can't just teach ONE class once a week? we don't have many options in our small town for group fitness, (unless 55+) so the guilt of letting everyone down rears it's ugly head.  and i can't, for the life of me, get my eating back on track. the holidays just about slaughtered my clean eating motivation.

but teaching Relief Society every month is an awesome thing right now, i love learning and i love trying to be a better person. auggie the dog isn't humping every single person anymore, just the ones he really likes. i rearranged the kids' rooms and it is AMAZING and bonus! it only took me a year to get it done. no joke. i've been better at dinner planning and that is keeping the kids and ty happy and spring is around the corner, so good things are happening! there is your honesty for today.

and here is a random highlight reel of 2013, before the ectopic pregnancy, lice and everything else that 2014 royally stunk up.


putting away christmas

-i'm proud to announce that just my one tiny trip to the thrift store to donate my unloved decorations in early december left me with empty space in some of my Christmas boxes. What? I didn't have to play tetris to make every single thing fit? Amazing, I tell you what. I bet if I put a little effort into it I could even retire one of the boxes for kid clothing, but let's be honest, no one has the time or energy for that! I just put them up in the attic semi full is all.

-on another note, taking down Christmas means the beginning of my down season. yup, January and February always are tough on me mentally and physically. but i have lots of goals and plans and ready to keep going even if i feel like living in bed with my heating blanket for the next 8 weeks.

-last but not least, my baby graduated up in his Church classes and moved from the baby class to a Sunbeam (3-4yr olds). What?! I cried for a few minutes realizing I didn't have that anymore, it's been 9 years.


the perfect turkey, the sad Christmas

Calvin put it wisely when he said, "i always keep my expectations low, that way i'm always satisfied". 

Christmas eve before going to sleep I lovingly looked at the tree, all peaceful and quiet and ready for the children. Then when they woke up, they tore into the room and the first thing they notice is Santa "forgot" to move the pickle ornament and put a dollar bill in it. 

Great. Failed again. Way to go Santa, you stink.

Luckily they were distracted by their presents and for the first time in our family we tried to stay home and relax but our kids wanted MORE presents from MORE family. Because you know, opening presents Christmas eve from Great Grandma and Christmas morning isn't enough. Insert self loathing and the irrational fear that I have ruined my children and turned them into materialistic monsters for the rest of their lives. Oh, and did I mention my parents are in Guatemala? Yeah, that wasn't so fun either.

Of course I was cranky the rest of the day which makes Ty cranky for the rest of the day and voila! Welcome to holidays as a parent!

But...BUT! I found the best turkey recipe and I can't wait to use it for Thanksgiving. I will never roast a turkey on Christmas day again, holy work batman. But I've made this recipe twice and I can't believe how flavorful and moist the turkey turns out for such a simple recipe. 

Have a happy new year and make this turkey:

The Perfect Roast Turkey Recipe
Prep time:  20 mins
Cook time:  3 hours 30 mins
Total time:  3 hours 50 mins

Serves: 16
1 15lb turkey
1 stick of butter
onion powder
3 cloves of garlic minced
2 onions chopped
3 carrots chopped
3 stalks of celery chopped
1 cup of water
Preheat the oven to 500 F.
Remove the gizzard and giblets from inside the turkey's cavity.
Thoroughly clean, rinse and dry the outside and cavity of the turkey.
Lather the turkey with at least ½ stick of butter and try to get under the skin of the turkey as well.
Generously sprinkle salt, pepper and onion powder over the lathered butter.
Rub the seasoning evenly over the outside of the turkey.
Place the rest of the butter inside the cavity of the turkey.
Add 1 chopped onion and 3 cloves of garlic minced.
Pour 1 cup of water into the bottom of the roasting pan and add the other chopped onion, 3 chopped carrots and 3 stalks of celery chopped.
Roast turkey at 500 F for about 20 minutes or until the turkey begins to brown.
Reduce heat to 350 F and continue to roast.
Baste the turkey every 30 minutes with the drippings and liquid in the bottom of the roasting pan.
The turkey is done once a thermometer stuck into the thickest part of the bird reads 155 to 165 F.
It should take about 3 hours and 30 minutes for the bird to cook, but make sure to use a thermometer.
Remove the turkey from the oven and let set for 20 minutes before carving.


a clear Christmas

this Christmas season has been as interesting journey. i've let go of a lot of traditions and responsibilities I felt i needed to do and instead focused on the few memories we want to create with the kids. speaking of that, i've got a gingerbread house to whip up. ack.

but what if your not having a pleasant holiday season? what if the Christmas time is a time of regrets, sadness, painful memories and family strife? death? divorce? sickness? what if the financial burden is crippling and the stress to keep the "kids" happy suffocates you? are you destined to be miserable every Christmas season? i can't tell you how many Christmas nights I have sobbed because of the guilt and regrets that I wasn't a good mom/family member/wife at Christmas. I didn't do enough, give enough, plan enough etc. etc. etc.  Do I have to feel this every year? We all know the famous song quotes:

the wonderful memories are there, but so are the pain filled ones. and it feels as though they grow stronger with each passing year and the older the children and i grow. what if you don't want to remember those all through your life? what if you want to stop pretending and really feel JOY, just like every windowpane and wrapping paper has written on it?

this is my thought today, that because of Christmas, the coming of the Savior of the world, I can start anew, you can start anew.

I can let go of the pain and regret, the stress and the burdens and embrace the Peace that my Heavenly Father freely gave me. i am not my past or my memories, and because of Jesus Christ I can start over and try again any day, week, year or Christmas time to feel His love and love others and myself more.

so for you, dear reader, that struggles at this time of year but plasters a smile on as you go through the motion, know that there is Peace and happiness and a way to make wonderful things happen in your heart this year, that you will remember all throughout your lives. know that you are not alone, and that there is a wonderful Gift for you today, just as the happy days of past.


Christmas guilt

Christmas guilt, I have it, and it seems to be getting worse every year. I can slowly feel it taking over my holiday spirit as each day clicks by.

Confession: I know that the stress and anxiety of TRYING TO DO TOO MUCH and not being prepared or having a plan for the holidays adds to this guilt condition. I used to follow flylady's holiday survival guide and it was amazing. Why I don't do it anymore is beyond me. I'm a big fan of being stressed I guess.

The stress and anxiety keeps me from making a list, being prepared and going shopping. I HATE shopping, someday I'll figure out how to make Ty do all the shopping like Stephanie does. haha.

When I focus on my favorite Christmas memories and their happiness I am content. I can focus on most of these traditions and pass them down onto my children. When I look on social media and see what/when other people do to decorate etc feelings of inadequacy wash over me and practically paralyze me. No joke. I slowly pulled out decorations yesterday and really analyzed them, are they in my house because I love them and they have meaning to me? Or because I feel like I "need" to have them out? Honestly, some are going to the thrift store. Less is more! My new motto.

A few of my Christmas favorites:

Christmas traditions I enjoyed growing up:
Picking the Christmas tree, this was a HUGE deal for me. It had to have the perfect shape and fullness in my mind to feel Christmasy enough. Do we have decorations long enough to cover that bare spot? no? then find another!

Decorating the house: I loved this part. Don't think I didn't go full blown with the tinsel icicles every year. My poor mom.

Gingerbread houses: my mom would make the real deal, real gingerbread, real icing (no super glue) houses for our teachers every year and Bishop. I have been piggybacking on her baking the last few years and sluffed but now she's gone in Guatemala! on their mission. time to strap on my big girl pants i guess.

Christmas music: I am a daughter of my father, I only love the NAT KING COLE, Perry Como, Johnny Mathis, Singers Unlimited, Bing Crosby and a few others. That is real Christmas in my ears.

Christmas carols: I have always loved them, the words, the music, the peaceful feeling. I'm a terrible singer, but I still love to belt them out whenever I have the chance.

Granny's sugar cookies: fluffy, thick, and with the best frosting, i have memories the most of decorating them with my brothers and sister and then having sugar toots the rest of the day/week/month. Remember that car trip mel?

Traveling to see cousins: this was the highlight from as long as i could remember. dad would always get a speeding ticket on our way (even on Christmas day once!) the shopping, movie watching, eating eating eating aunt lynne's marzipan and other wonderful memories i treasure in my heart.

*since writing this post i've found some great advice from friends (becca!) and online and my mother in law shared this quote with me that is just a perfect dose of Christmas wisdom:


gratitude list a plenty

in no particular order, here are the things i am grateful for that i EASILY OVERLOOK.

i am grateful for my fridge, it works. it keeps my food cold and from spoiling! it's awesome! same goes for you freezer. props.

i am grateful for my vacuum, it sucks! it sucks so good! i am always amazed at how much dirt 4 kids, a hard working husband and 2 acres with pets entails.

i am grateful for my dishwasher, a mouse chewed through the cord, so only two settings work, but hey! i get to deep clean dishes every night while i SLEEP. amazing.

i am grateful for my oven, it gets hot, really hot! and when i put food in it, it bakes it! yay!!!!! i am so lucky to have that.

i am grateful for my clothes. many moons ago i was very particular about how nice of clothes i purchased and what brands. and you know what? I couldn't be happier that i was picky and snobby. I have a collection of nice, quality pieces that are still timeless 8-10 years later, and will be for many more. considering i hardly even splurge on target/walmart clothes for me at all, i am grateful for this fact.

i am grateful for our ROKU, netflix and amazon prime. we no longer have live tv in our house and i love it! we can carefully pick and choose what is shown in our home and more importantly, what is not.  this is such a blessing for me as a mom.

i also love my free pandora stations and how happy music makes our home. speaking of music, i am grateful for our piano. it is old and beautiful and hearing my children play on it everyday warms my heart. 

i am grateful for our property. sure, we didn't realize how much work it takes to upkeep 2.5 acres, but it is beautiful. we are so happy with our mature trees and pasture and green grass! our pomegranate trees are amazing also, and i won't lie, i think we have the best pomegranates in town. hehe

i am grateful for my washer and dryer. they are AMAZING. they are one of the best purchases i have ever made. i kiss them on a daily basis.

I am grateful for our few Thanksgiving decorations. We have our "native american" (i can't say Indian) candle holders, and some pumpkins and some pilgrims and fall leaves. it isn't much, but it's enough that my kids can know what it is about and that we do celebrate a season of THANKS. yup, i think it's crazy that people put up Christmas decoration before Thanksgiving. There, I said it.  But I also have noticed they are mainly women who don't LOVE to bake and cook, so I can kind of understand that. And they are more than welcome to think I am crazy for not decorating.

i am grateful for Thanksgiving. It has always been a special holiday to me, probably because i love to bake and cook. I love having family together and I love baking pies with my daughters. And mostly because thanksgiving dinner is one of my favorite meals. Hoemmade cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, peas, turkey and stuffing in one bite! Oh momma. 


a trip to the mall

signs you are getting old:

-you think the music is too loud in the mall and in every.single.store. 

-you do a double take at almost every other person's fashion choices walking around the mall. It should be known that I was at the trendy mall with a saks fifth avenue and half the European tourists in Vegas. 

-Almost all the girls under 30 were wearing something like this, except all but a few didn't have the body to pull it off. Sounds harsh, but for real, crop tips are back? Gah. 

-you scoff at all the prices and fashion trends for sale.

-you are confused at the pointy fake nails every woman is wearing.

-you realize that said fashion mistakes and pointy witch nails are all a direct repercussion of people watching the Kardashians and beyonce.

-you sigh with delight when you go to bed at night in your old fashioned bed spread and look lovingly at your short, round natural nails. 


Veteran's day etc

veteran's day parade this year was as cute and quaint as always. The kids captured an entire bag worth of junk candy (blech) and the veteran float is getting more empty seats every year, but it's still one of my favorite parts about our little town. I only wish there were more equestrians in the parade, considering how many we have around to participate. Someday right? Kristen?? Ha

We didn't have school Monday or Tuesday and that is always my favorite. I love spending lazy days at home with my kids, lots of uno (thanks rachelle!)

In other news Abby lost her front tooth and couldn't look cuter!
And our pomegranate harvest was huge this year!! Baby Ruby stopped by and let us compare sizes with her cute head.
This is always, by far, my favorite time of the year. Chilly at night, warm in the day and getting ready for Thanksgiving brings many feelings of gratitude for all that we have and are able to do for others because of our blessings. 



the rest of the day at zion was just perfect, and i have to share all of the photos because, well, i have to.

i hate how the camera never can capture the enormity of a full moon over a mountain

just breathtaking all day long
this one is my favorite 

i can't wait to go again, and i especially can't wait until we can do a curvy and windy road trip through utah without giving all the kids dramamine! ha, luckily we have that to save the day. i would love to go for a romantic weekend alone with ty and not have to worry about anyone tossing their cookies on every turn. one can dream can't they?

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