Monday, July 11, 2016

StitchFix #twooooooooooo!

I got my second StitchFix box this weekend!  (I get them once a month.)  I asked this month for my box to focus on colorful shirts because my casual everyday closet is basically full of navy, gray, black, and white right now.  I have some fun ones for Sunday, but I prefer more t-shirty tops during the week.  


From what I've heard, they typically send four items of clothing and one accessory, but I got five shirts in my box!  Whaaaaaat!  Going through each piece before trying them on, I was a little nervous because four of the five were clinger knits than are typically good for me, but also really impressed with what my stylist sent after listening to my feedback / needs.  Here's what I got!

I forgot to take a picture of this one before returning it, so here's a teeny picture from the app. :)
Loved the color, loved the lace inserts in the sleeves.  The lace was see-through, so I'd have had to sew in a lining or wear an undershirt with it, and it was just too expensive for a shirt I'd have to alter.  
Verdict: Returned


I forgot to take a picture of this one and then couldn't find it anywhere online!  But this top is similar.  I liked it, it fit well, and I loved that it had a v-neck that wasn't low enough to need a tank top.  However, it just wasn't special enough to warrant the price.
Verdict: Returned


I've been afraid of horizontal stripes and told my StitchFix stylist so.  But, she sent this one, I tried it on, and loved it!  It's so comfy, needs no adjusting or undershirt, and I love how it looks!  If it didn't have the brighter neckband, I would've sent it back, but I like the balance.  Love how the sleeves are different than the middle, too.  When I showed Joel, he said, "That looks like you.  Like, it reminds me of you."  
Verdict: Kept!


Like the color and lace detail on the back.  I typically like a little more detail on the front of what I wear, but I still liked this one a lot and Joel loved it.
Verdict: Kept!

And #5:

This shirt was a little hard to photograph without it looking bland or super boxy, but this is basically it. :)  Love!  This is probably my favorite one from the box.  As soon as I put it on, I knew I wanted to keep it.  Love the fit, style, and that it's a woven instead of a knit.
Verdict: Kept!

There you have it!  Box #2!  I don't intend to fill my whole closet with StitchFix items because they are pretty expensive.  I'll probably only get a couple more boxes.  When I tell people I'm using StitchFix, I always make sure to tell them this is a fun thing that I saved my allowance money to try.  It's definitely not for someone who's looking for a deal, but it's great for someone who's looking for help in figuring out clothes.  AKA, me. Haha :)  But for how I've used it, I really love it!  If you want to try it out, please use my referral link!


All her life, Sophie had been taught that books are precious.  Each one holds people and worlds.  Each one is a piece of someone's heart and mind that they chose to share.  They were shared dreams.
The Girl Who Could Not Dream

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Happy Birthday, America!

Red, white, and blue jello.
Chicago dogs.
Grilled corn-on-the-cob.
French fries.
Card games.
Video games.
Star-spangled anthems.
Picnic blankets.
Staying up late.
Lighting up the sky.

As American as apple pie.


You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart.
Their daring, nerve and chivalry
Set Gryffindors apart...
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Thursday, June 30, 2016

my first Stitch Fix box!

I decided last month to try a service called Stitch Fix.  For those of you who haven't heard of it, it's a subscription box for clothing.  First you take a clothing profile quiz in which you rank styles, give your clothing sizes, tell your style struggles, etc.  A stylist reads what you wrote and puts together a box with five items of clothing in it - usually 3-4 clothes and 1-2 accessories.  A week or so after you take the quiz, the box shows up on your porch!  You try on everything they send, keep what you want, and send back (in an included prepaid envelope) what you don't want.  Then you "checkout" online - tell them what you're sending back and why, and pay for what you kept.  There's a styling fee of $20 that's deducted from your total if you keep any items.  

I'd been hearing about Stitch Fix all over the place online and was intrigued, but the clothes are from more expensive brands, and that kept me away for a long time.  I'm pretty cheap.  But lately, every day when I get dressed, I look at my clothes and wonder what in the world I'm going to wear.  I've cleaned out my closet several times lately and have been rotating through the few favorites that are left.  It literally feels like I wear the same thing every day.  So.  I knew I needed to go shopping, but I'm just not confident in my ability to shop for myself right now.  I can't count the number of times I've thought, "Too bad I'm not friends with Stacey and Clinton..." :)  And that's why I decided to finally give Stitch Fix a try.  Having a stylist know my frustrations and struggles and desires, and then choose clothing specifically for me, sounded really appealing!  I practically counted down the days until my first box. 

Here's what I got!  

I told SF that I wanted clothing that was comfortable and didn't have to be adjusted all day.  I love t-shirts but wanted something a little nicer.  She sent this.  It fit PERFECTLY.  It's a combination of knit and woven, not clingy, super comfortable.  And it looked better on me than on the hanger in these pictures. :) I loved everything about it except the color, which is why I actually sent it back.

This blouse was seriously so pretty.  I LOVED it.  I ended up sending it back, too, though.  Since it's sleeveless, I would've needed a cardigan or undershirt with it, so I wouldn't have worn it until the fall.  I wanted to use the money I'd saved for summer clothes on summer clothes.  I can use fall money during the fall.  Does that make sense?

Loved the earrings! but they were $38, and I'm just too cheap for that.

I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS MAXI SKIRT.  Seriously.  I want to wear it every day.  I kept this. :)

I also LOVE these jeans!  They make me feel my age - young but not a teenager - which is something I've been trying to figure out.  I'm shocked that they fit in the leg without being super stretchy or massive in the waist - my usual jeans issue.  The shape, length, and rise are perfect.  I kept these.

So, there you have it!  My first Stitch Fix!  Seriously so exciting and fun.  I won't use it forever because it is pricy, but because of just this first box, I have a better idea of what to look for when I go shopping by myself.  I can't wait for next month's box!  If you decide to try it out, please use my referral link! (instead of just going to :)


I should be able to do something that benefits a few dozen people every week.
Adam Grant

Monday, June 27, 2016

candy in the morning time, candy in the hot sunshine

I just wanted to remind you all that this song exists.

My kids want candy all the time.
I mean, ALL the time.

They'd ask me for it a hundred times a day!  And the more they asked, the less I knew what to say.  Do I become a "no" machine?  Do I give up and always say yes?  Do I have them quit asking and just eat it whenever?  Should I throw it all away?  Am I being consistent?  Should I make rules about when I'll say what?  

You get the idea.  Candy was driving me crazy.


Here's what I came up with.

Each of my kids has a napkin on the counter.  Every night, they can choose four pieces of candy to put on their napkins.  The next day, they can eat it whenever they want, with four rules:

1. Not during dinner
2. Not after you've brushed your teeth at night
3. When it's gone, it's gone.  
(If you ask for another piece, I'll say no and you'll have one less tomorrow.)
4. If you ask to eat it, I get to eat one of yours. 

And can I just say, life has been amazing.  Little Boy usually eats all his before breakfast and Little Girl spaces hers out a little better, but hey.  Whatever floats your boat.  They're happy because they get candy "whenever they want," and I'm happy because I know how much they're eating but haven't had to answer a candy question in a month. 

The candy they choose from is whatever's been on sale lately.


Two is the beginning of the end.
Peter Pan

Thursday, June 23, 2016

snack bags!

I try to make most of my posts for a general audience, but this one is especially for parents.  We've tried a few things lately with our kids that have worked SO well! so I felt like I needed to share. :)

Problem: It's snack time! and I never know how much food to give my kids.  Whether we're talking crackers, nuts, dried fruit, ... - Too little and they're hungry again in five minutes.  Too much and they won't eat dinner (and I'm feeling guilty about giving them a pound of Chex Mix).  "Little Boy, I'm sorry that my handful came out looking like more on her napkin than yours."  

BUT They never complain about the amount of snack in a pre-packaged bag, I noticed one day.

Solution: Snack bags!

The day I gave them pre-packaged snacks and enjoyed the heavenly sound of no complaining, I went home and got out my snack-sized Ziplock bags, kitchen scale, and our boxes and bags of snacks, and I started separating.  I measured out bags according to the serving size on the nutrition labels (usually around 30 g / 1 oz).  I ended up with around 50 baggies of snacks.  I put all the bags in a designated drawer in the kitchen, along with any granola bars and "official" snack packs we had.  I explained to the kids that some bags look like more full, but that they all had the exact same weight - some foods are just heavier than others.  

what's in our snack drawer right now
Sometimes I surprise them by putting in two baggies of chips or M&Ms, but it's usually crackers, dried fruit, or nuts.

We also have a snack box in the fridge that has string cheese and baggies of carrots, apples, other produce.  Sometimes I let them have one from both the drawer and the fridge - crackers and cheese or apples and peanut butter, for example.  The kids are allowed to eat produce basically anytime so it's handy to have that cut up (especially if it's something like cucumbers or broccoli).

We fancy.
We have snack time at about 3:00 every day.  When that time comes, I no longer have to think of an answer to the question of what snack will be.  I don't dread the whine that comes when I give an answer someone doesn't like.  I just tell them to grab a snack bag!  And everyone's happy.  They're excited to choose their own, and I'm excited that I don't have to choose anyone's but mine.  We literally have never had a complaint about portion size, either.  When it's gone, it's gone and snack time's over.  If you're still hungry, good!  That means you'll be ready when it's dinnertime. :)

This has also worked great for when we're going to be away from home at snack time.  Sometimes I have baggies in the car, but usually I just tell everyone to grab one before we leave.  So much more convenient than passing around a whole box!  Even when we went on a car trip recently, we just brought a bunch of baggies.  

The adults in our family follow the same portions, by the way.  It's been great for helping us not eat a TON mindlessly.  I wondered if we'd fizzle out after a week, but we still love them as much as we did on Day 1!  This is definitely a trick we'll be sticking with.

Part 2: CANDY


Life isn’t to be found in holding on and looking back, but in letting go and looking forward.
Life Goes On
Philip Gulley

Monday, June 20, 2016

PSA: Life Lesson #4

I haven't written the other Life Lessons, by the way.  I just didn't think this one was quite important enough to have the title "Life Lesson #1."  So, without further ado, Life Lesson #4!

When you've gotten up and started getting ready for the day,
don't go back to bed.

It just never ends well.  You think it will when you're settling in and your bed is sooooo comfy.  But when you wake up two hours later with a weird headache; your child is still waiting patiently for breakfast, bless her heart; and somehow you feel way more tired than when you laid down and wonder if your eyelids have weights on them or are just glued down... - Well, let's just say, it's a good time to learn a Life Lesson.  Now get out of bed and go make yourself some lunch.


We didn’t have to consciously focus on how grateful we were to be here, to be alive, because nature announced its marvels, and we felt it deep in our bodies and souls. 
The Gratitude Diaries

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Why We Bought A Rainbow Umbrella

It's good to ask your kids questions about what they like instead of just assuming.  Probably spouse, friends, and other family, too, for that matter.  

Example #1: Little Boy participated in a reading program this year.  His teacher invited us to observe a lesson.  Before it started, I read a description of his reading strengths, weaknesses, and habits, including this sentence: "[Little Boy] is particularly drawn to nonfiction texts."  That was news to me, although it made sense with the kinds of shows he likes to watch.  I observed the lesson, during which he read a fictional story and a nonfiction book about foxes.  His attention level between the two was fascinating.  He was clearly more drawn to the factual book.  After the lesson, I told him what the teacher had said and asked if it was true.  He nonchalantly replied, "Yep.  I like the books about facts better."  Later, I realized that of course I hadn't known that about books!  I'm drawn to fiction, so fiction is mainly what's available in our home.  LB has had very little opportunity to showcase his interest in nonfiction because I didn't particularly want to read nonfiction books to him.

Example #2: Little Girl and I went to the store so she could buy the umbrella she'd been saving for.  We stood in front of the display so she could see her choices and pick the one she wanted.  I thought she'd immediately choose the pink one because she's been so into pink, but she was drawn to a striped rainbow one.  I checked with her that she didn't want pink, and she responded with a glazed-over love for the rainbow umbrella.  If I had chosen for her, I wouldn't have learned that her preferences may be evolving.

It's like trying on clothes.  We all know our kids won't wear the same size forever, but we don't always notice them growing until they've outgrown a shirt or we measure them.  It's worth measuring them once in a while to know what size pants to buy them, right?  While you're at it, pay attention to how their minds, personalities, and likes / dislikes are growing and changing, too. :)


All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.

Monday, June 13, 2016

political thoughts I probably shouldn't post online

#1: It seems like everyone's calling for extreme gun control after what happened this weekend with Christina Grimmie and with the club in Orlando.  Don't people realize that the ones who will be punished are those who already follow existing gun laws?

#2: People are using the Orlando shooting to fuel the argument that Muslims are the worst.  Can we please change that sentence to, "Terrorists are the worst"?

#3: I wish the news would stop advertising the fact that this is the deadliest shooting in U.S. history.  We don't need some wacko to see all the press and publicity and decide to "beat the record."  Don't get me wrong, 50 is a significant number of people.  One is a significant number of people.  But when you consider the amount of damage that could be done by a wacko feeling challenged - Well, I hope we don't end up wishing it had only been 50.


Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick.  Don’t lose faith.
Steve Jobs

Thursday, June 9, 2016

good things and God things

One thing I love about reading Christian-but-not-Mormon devotionals, like the (in)courage email I get every day, is that the authors talk about things differently - and have different subjects - than Mormons often do.  They offer a new perspective.

We, as a church and as a culture, tend to teach topics very close to the same way every time.  We offer the same quotes over and over - albeit really great ones! - and the moment something's taught in a unique way (in General Conference, for example), we cling to it and share! share! share! until it, too, is the norm.

Now.  None of that is meant to be a criticism.  I'm very happy as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. :)  But I also love hearing a new perspective.  It's refreshing.  This morning I read an article about choosing between the good and the best, creating white space, and letting ourselves rest.  When Mormons discuss this topic, we tell people to choose between the good, better, and best (referencing Dallin H. Oak's talk, "Good, Better, Best").  In this devotional, though, the way the author said it was, "Not every good thing is a God thing.  It's time to go beyond 'good' and embrace the very best God has for you."  

Mormons have some favorite scriptures, too, and I love that other Christian denominations' favorite scriptures are different than ours.  It's fun!  They're verses I've read and heard before, but being reminded of them makes them sound new.  In this same devotional, the author quoted Ephesians 2:10.  "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."  And then talked about God creating us and having a specific plan for each of us:

He has a divine plan that can only be accomplished through us.  He didn't say, "You ended up in this world somehow, so get up every day and see what happens."  No, you are here for a reason and you are irreplaceable.  
God wants you to take ownership of your life.  He wants you to live proactively... There will always be someone who's willing to tell you who you should be and what you should do.  But God doesn't want you to be like anyone but Jesus. 
It's time to go beyond "good" and embrace the very best God has for you.

Isn't that good? 
Sometimes hearing a lesson in new words makes it hit closer to home.


It is not happiness that makes us grateful.  It’s gratefulness that makes us happy.
David Steindl-Rast

Monday, June 6, 2016

Pick a little, talk a little, etc.

Cheep! Cheep! Cheep! Talk a lot, pick a little more...

We all have similar needs, I think, albeit in varying degrees.
The need I was thinking about today is the need to talk and be heard, to have someone interested in what you have to say, who will ask probing questions and act interested. (in a friend capacity)

I went to a block party where a friend met that need... so I totally took advantage and dominated the conversation.  Then I went home and felt embarrassed for not offering her the same courtesy of being allowed to talk and be listened to.  

They say that, to be a good conversationalist, you need to be a good listener.  Ask questions and listen to the response.  Where it gets fuzzy for me is, how often do I be the "good conversationalist" and how often do I let her be?  Because in a balanced friendship, there should be times when I'm the talker and when I'm the listener, right?

In my older friendships, this balance is pretty natural.  (Thank goodness!)  But in new friendships, I never quite feel like I'm getting it right.  

Honestly.  Dating was easier.


Gratitude at its best is an action.
Henry Timm

Thursday, June 2, 2016

When you have a gratitude attitude...

Sometimes I feel the need to complain about certain things just because that's what people (or women) do, not because I actually care.

In high school, people would complain about being tired, so when people asked how I was, I would often reply, "Tired!" and laugh.

It's so normal for women to complain about their children and husbands that I have, I'm embarrassed to admit, caught myself complaining about things that don't actually bother me or that are endearing about my husband and children.  I wonder what in the world I'm saying, where it came from, and try to figure out how to end my thought sounding like a compliment to my family instead.

Little Girl told me twice a few weeks ago that I had a big belly / there should be a baby in me.  But I knew the reason was because I'd just drunk a ton of water, I'm trying to be healthier, and even though it was a little weird at first, I laughed it off and feel fine about it now.  Still, there were several times that night with Joel that I almost slipped it into a lull in conversation, just because it seemed like it should've bothered me more.

Am I a lone complainer who has to fight to keep her mouth shut, or are we all too comfortable with complaining?  Let's become people obsessed with talking about gratitude instead. :)


The real question should be - how can I appreciate this moment more?  There is always some positive in the moment that we can notice and appreciate.  I have two arms, two legs, I’m breathing.  Life is good.
The Gratitude Diaries
Gretchen Rubin

Monday, May 30, 2016

What time is it? SUMMERTIME

photo credit to Joseph Hoban via

(Do I have a post every summer with that title?.....)

Everyone's talking about summer right now - Are you excited for it?  Are you excited school's almost out?  Do you have any summer plans?  Are you going anywhere?

Here's what I think.

I'm excited for my kids to sleep a little later
To go swimming and to the splash pad and the lake / pond thing.
To wear my cover-ups and sun hats.
To have the whole day free instead of just until 2:00.
To be more spontaneous with plans.
To see our flowers fill in and our yard get prettier.
To grill for dinner and eat picnics.
To go to baseball games and practices.

No, we don't have any big plans, and we don't know if we're going anywhere.  Do people already know that?  Unless you're flying, needing a hotel, or meeting other people, how far in advance do you need to plan?

To have a regular summer routine.
To go to waterparks.

I want my kids to play with their friends.  I want to go on dates with Joel.  I want to go on a temple tour [visit temples in Utah].  California - the beach, my sister, Disneyland, the fabric district.  Family pictures.  Making some videos.

We're gonna need more than one summer. :)


On the off-chance that you won’t live forever, maybe you should try being happy now.
The Newsroom

Thursday, May 26, 2016

practicing creativity

I read an article that said practicing creativity - like writing - helps get it flowing, so I got a journal specifically for that endeavor and try to write in it 10 minutes/day.

"Think of this not as a 'daily goings-on' journal, but more of a 'things I could potentially blog about' journal.  A pontification journal?  Anyway, I've noticed that writing in my gratitude journal helps me think of things to write about in my gratitude journal, so I'm hoping this will do the same.
A 'stream of consciousness' journal?
A 'free write' journal?"

I love spring-timey weather, where the coats stay hung up and, when I'm in my office, I hear kids screaming at the park and talking while walking home from school.  That means people are outside again.

What should we do for our next date night?  I want something without food since it's not starting until 7, but maybe not a movie?  What is there to do after 7 that's not food or a movie?  Maybe an arcade-type place or something.  


There is always a reason that people do things a certain way.
Jenn Riding

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

It's not you, it's me. Really.

Have you ever gone to an event and hoped someone would sit by you and then no one did?  Well, it might not be you!  Allow me to share The Top 9 Reasons I Might Not Sit By You That Have Nothing To Do With Whether I Like You.

Hahaha :) It looks like it's all serious, but just wait until you read the reasons...  I mean, don't get me wrong, they're all true reasons.  But that poster just cracks me up every time.  Photo credit to S Packwood on Flickr.

1. My nose is stuffy.
Don't ask me why, but this actually has a huge effect on my mood (without my always realizing it).  I guess because it's uncomfortable?  but it makes me irritable and impatient and I probably won't try to start a conversation with anyone under these conditions.

2. I'm having a low-confidence day.
On these days, I find it hard to be very outgoing.  Usually, I'd rather everyone left me alone while I work through my issues.

3. I'm not in love with what I'm wearing today.
Maybe I just looked in the mirror and things don't look like they did at home, or maybe everything I love was in the wash this morning.  Either way, my thoughts are on myself and hoping people don't notice the weirdness, so please understand that I probably feel too uncomfortable to put myself in a position to be seen.

4. I might have something in my teeth OR My teeth feel dirty.
You know that feeling?  UGH.  It's the worst.  Anyway, I feel like this one's pretty easy to understand.

5. You're already talking to someone.
Trying to join an already-going conversation is just the worst, amiright?

6. I need Vaseline.
Not a tube of Chapstick.  Sometimes I just NEED the slippery-ness of Vaseline.  If I don't have it, I'm extremely aware of what my mouth is doing.  Needless to say (maybe? haha:), it makes talking and especially smiling feel awful.

7. I really need the message being presented.
This applies if we're at someplace spiritual, motivational, or where you're supposed to learn stuff (like a professional conference).  It's sometimes hard for me to focus when I'm sitting by a friend who I'll be tempted to make side comments to, so if I feel like I really need the message, it's going to just be me and my journal.  No offense.

8. I'm lost in my thoughts / distracted.
I looked directly at my neighbor at the grocery store this week and literally didn't see her until she talked to me, because she wasn't the display of sparkling cider I was looking for.  So.  That happened.

9. I have to go to the bathroom.
Well, really, if that's the reason, I'm probably already there.  But if I'm in the bathroom, I still can't sit by you, right?

Moral of the story: Don't beat yourself up if no one sits by you.  If it's me who doesn't sit by you, assume my nose is stuffy or offer me some Vaseline.  You'd be surprised how often one of those is the reason.  But also, there's nothing wrong with going to sit by someone else!  Don't wait for them to come to you.  The people you're waiting for might all be in the bathroom.


Unless you are utterly exploded, there is always something to be grateful for.
Saul Bellow

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Why We're Glad We Did It

(part two of Becoming a Family of Eight Overnight)

After dropping the children off to their caseworker, Joel and I wondered why they'd move after just one day, why they'd even come here for that day.  God works in mysterious ways, and I'm sure there are reasons we won't understand until after this life.  But here's the list of things we learned and reasons we're thankful we had those children.  And why, if we had it to do over, we'd still take them for that day.

The number six - as in, being mother to six children - is not crazy.
Yes, it was hard.  Yes, at the end of the day, I was exhausted.  However, it was an "I accomplished something" sort of tired, and I think that, as life had become more settled and our routines had solidified for the kids, it wouldn't have been too bad.  (Not trivializing life as a parent of a large family, just saying I think I could do it.:)

My love for my children grew immensely.
Joel and I learned that our kids are stronger, kinder, and more responsible under pressure than we knew.  Watching Little Boy put on a brave face as he came to tell me that a toy had been stolen yet again, hearing Little Girl tell me Little Boy was in his room taking some alone time, watching them bravely give up almost 100% of their attention from Mom and Dad - how many young children could do that?  How many would choose to?  Suddenly having four siblings was a rude awakening for them, but they didn't complain a single time.  They both were brave and made the best of it.  That night, as we were sitting in our again-quiet home, I had never loved them more or felt more thankful for them.

My love for and relationship with Joel grew stronger.
We're usually pretty balanced emotionally - when one of us needs help, the other is doing well, and vice versa.  This weekend, though, we were mostly high together and low together.  We took turns with the kids to stay sane :) and seeing him take over for me even though he wasn't ready, made me feel his love for me.  Taking over for him when I wasn't ready also strengthened my love for him.  There's something about being called on to act on your love in a big way, that makes it grow bigger.

Babies: All it takes is the baby aisle at Walmart to make you feel like you don't know anything.
Enough said.

More people support us than we knew.
After dropping the kids off, the first thing Joel said was, "Maybe Heavenly Father gave us this day so we'd see how many people around us are here for us."  We've struggled socially in this place.  Don't get me wrong - people are very kind, and we have friends.  But we came from an area where we made the closest friends of our lives, and we've missed that.  "But that night [Thursday], as we sat in the living room talking to [Friends With Kids], I thought, 'Here are the friends we've been looking for.'"  People spontaneously dropped off meals; set up meals for the next couple weeks; gave us beds; offered to watch our children while we set things up for our foster children; offered to donate clothes, toys, baby supplies; texted us encouragement; felt like literal lifelines - and our eyes were opened.  God showed us the love that's been all around us, and we're thankful.  

I can ask for help.
I don't have a lot of practice with this.  But I got to the point where I needed it badly, and when someone offered, I answered honestly.  "We're supposed to pick up a bed this afternoon, and I either need someone to get it for us or to come stay with me while Joel gets it.  I'm terrified to have all six to myself on the first day."

During hard times, taking one day at a time (without really looking to the future) is key.
Most of the difficulty came from fear / feeling intimidated.  Can we do this?  Are we good enough, strong enough, structured enough?  How can we parent six children???  I called my parents twice on Friday, crying, afraid I couldn't do it.  My dad reminded me that all I needed to do was think about the rest of today.  Do your best for one day, and when you wake up in the morning, you'll do it again.  I can't describe the amount of peace that gave me.  When he said that, I immediately felt a strong resolve.  I knew I could take care of them for one day, and that's all I needed to know.

It's not bad to cry.
I cried, oh... probably about a hundred times between 1:00pm on Thursday and 8:00pm on Friday.  I was afraid, overwhelmed, intimidated, thankful, feeling supported.   The first time I was a little self-conscious.  After that, I realized, anyone would feel full of emotion during all of this!  No shame in letting some of it come out. :)

My parents are my rock.
Did I mention I called them twice, crying?  They were encouraging and supportive and full of "You can do it!"s.  They're the best.

We have a lot of stuff to get rid of!
Seriously.  You don't realize how much you have until you have to move. (or move all your stuff into different rooms to make space for more people)

My appreciation for myself as a mother is stronger.
I am a good mother.  I can put others above myself.  I have a lot of love to give.  I can be fiercely protective.  When things get rough and my family needs a rock, I dig down and take charge, and I'm good at it.  I can do well with difficult children.

There are days I question those things.  I feel selfish, or so frustrated I wonder where my love is.  But then I hear myself say, "Let's move my sewing room downstairs so they can have a bedroom closer to ours."  And I hear Joel say, "Wow, Mama Bear came out when #2 was mean to Little Boy."  And I realize that, even though twenty minutes ago I was crying, right now I'm having a blast and loving, and the kids are all happy because I'm here - and I've gone twenty minutes without a break.  And I hold back tears when, even though he just finished a screaming fit filled with "I hate you"s, #2 tells me he'll only go on a car ride if I come, too.

And last, but not least,
God will make up for any injustice in this life.  
Telling those four kids they were leaving might've been the hardest thing I've ever done.  I felt sad that they'd have to transition again.  I didn't think it was fair.  And then I remembered the lesson I've learned over and and over as a foster parent - God will make up for any injustice in this life.  No, it wasn't fair.  It's not fair that they're in foster care at all.  But one day, the Atonement will make everything right.  If I didn't have faith in that, I couldn't do what I do.  It would be too depressing.  But I do have faith in it.  And that's why, next time I get a phone call that feels right for our family, we'll say yes again.


For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
2 Timothy 1:7

Friday, April 1, 2016

Becoming a Family of Eight Overnight

So, it's not quite the book I promised, but here are my thoughts from the last couple days.

On Thursday at 1:00pm, I got a phone call from a DCFS worker, telling us about an influx of children in the system right now and asking if we would be willing to take a sibling group of four, ages 6, 4, 2, and 7 months.

I called Joel, our kids' therapist, Joel again, and then a friend who has seven children (to ask her if she thought we were crazy for considering it).  Joel and I decided that we needed to discuss it with our kids before making a decision either way.  He came home from work early, picked up Little Boy from school, and then we had a family discussion.  It went something [exactly] like this:

Joel: We got a phone call today that there are four kids living in [shelter].
Little Boy: Let's go get them.
Me: They need a family to take care of them for a while.
Little Girl: We can be their family.

We talked about possible concerns, struggles, what we'd need and expect from them to make it all work.  We prayed together, made a decision, and then prayed again to let God know what we'd decided.

We decided to say yes.

On Thursday at 2:00pm, I called back the DCFS worker and told her we wanted those kids.

"You mean, you'd take all of them??"

Isn't it heartbreaking that sibling groups often have to be split up?

The next eight hours or so were intense.  Joel and I called our parents (and asked them to call our siblings), and then we proceeded to clean and otherwise prep our house like crazy.  We moved the kids' beds, clothing, etc., so they'd be sharing a room.  We moved my sewing room downstairs so the foster kids could have bedrooms close to ours.  We bought and assembled beds, booster seats, and carseats.  Joel's mom came to help us move things, and my visiting teachers were angels and coordinated meals for the next little while to help us out.  The kids were absolutely amazing and helped until they were so overwhelmed, they cried.  All four of us got priesthood blessings, and a friend / couple encouraged and taught us tricks / survival tactics :) for parenting so many children.

When we went to bed at midnight, Joel and I were more nervous than maybe ever in our entire lives.  We alternated between being excited and wondering what in the world we'd gotten ourselves into.

But when Friday morning came - and time to go pick up those wonderful children - we both felt ready.  All four of us piled into the car, drove to the shelter, and there met some of the most beautiful children I've ever seen.

The rest of the day was a whirlwind.  We watched a movie; they had a blast trying out a new family's toys; we played together, ate together, read together, and Joel and I learned how to take care of a baby.  There was plenty of laughing, and also plenty of crying.  Things were hard.  For us, for our children, for our foster children.  But we worked as a team and tried our best to figure things out.  Our daughter and our oldest foster daughter called each other "Sister" and "My Friend."

And then, around dinnertime, we were asked to drop them off back to the caseworker so they could go to a more permanent placement.

We didn't understand.  They didn't understand.  We wondered why God had asked us to be their home for just a day.  Having to look in a child's eyes - a child who you've somehow already begun to love and who has somehow already begun to trust you - and tell him that he's going somewhere else, is literally one of the most difficult things I have ever done.  As we drove home that night after dropping them off, we told our children we were sorry parts of the day had been hard for them, but we weren't at all sorry that we'd done it.

How could that be?  How could a family drop everything, change everything in their lives, and spend so much time and energy preparing for a giant change, only for it all to go away 24 hours later?  We still have all the beds, boosters, and carseats.  The baby wipes, baby bottles, pacifiers, bibs, new mattresses.  There were three dirty diapers in various rooms when we got home, new sets of sheets in the dryer, a crib set up in our bedroom, and other scattered signs that new people had lived there, if only for a day.  Would we have done it all if we'd known it would've been for just one day?

PART 2, COMING IN THE MORNING (because I'm exhausted and need to go to bed):
Why We're Glad We Did It


It wasn’t the circumstances that mattered but how I responded to them.  I could passively wait for the wonderful to occur - and still find something wrong.  Or I could accept whatever events did come my way and try to appreciate them a little more.
The Grateful Diaries

Monday, January 4, 2016

written word

I've had several friends ask what the best book I read this year was, so I thought I'd just publish the list.  :)  Here's what I read in 2015 (that I remembered to put in my spreadsheet) and what I thought of it!  If you're looking for a good read for 2016, it's a good list.  Keep in mind that I mostly read Juvenile Fiction and Young Adult Fiction, so most of these are pretty light, easy reads.

True (...sort of)Katherine Hannigan368January 2015yes. good for younger readers, too
My Body Fell Off!B.J. Rowley208January 2015yes; Mormon-y
Silver Hawk's RevengeB.J. Rowley256January 2015"
Missing ChildrenB.J. Rowley256January 2015"
Which Witch?Eva Ibbotson231February 2015sure, but make sure they know it's kind of weird :) and for younger readers
Ida B. ...and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the WorldKatherine Hannigan246February 2015yes. sadder than expected
SavvyIngrid Law342February 2015I think I want to buy it.
Say Uncle... and AuntSuzy Pizzuti320March 2015sure. silly romance :)
CinderMarissa Meyer387February 2015yes
ScarletMarissa Meyer454February 2015yes
CressMarissa Meyer550February 2015yes
The Wednesday WarsGary D. Schmidt264May 2015really liked it
The Baseball Box ProphecyBruce Newbold550May 2015yes! especially to people who know baseball
CloakedAlex Flinn341June 2015yes! really liked it. Weird but fun premise.
Who Could That Be at This Hour?Lemony Snicket258June 2015a little hard to get caught up in, as are a lot of his books for me, but better than expected
New KidTim Green320June 2015really liked it; definitely a baseball book; a little disappointed in the ending
The Girl Who Could FlyVictoria Forester328June 2015really liked it
My Fair GodmotherJanette Rallison310July 22, 2015yes. want to read others in series
Throne of GlassSarah J. Maas404
Jul-Aug 2015
maybe. It's about an assassin, so definitely for a more mature audience.
Crown of MidnightSarah J. Maas418
Heir of FireSarah J. Maas562
Queen of ShadowsSarah J. Maas648September 2015
WovenMichael Jensen352October 2015yes; wished it were longer
Made You UpFrancesca Zappia428October 2015It was really fascinating. had swearing and mature content I had to skip
WinterMarissa Meyer824December 2015yes! whole series
The Gratitude DiariesJanice Kaplan320December 2015very eye-opening; I think I'll buy it
Tell MeJoan Bauer272December 2015yes


It wasn't the circumstances that mattered but how I responded to them.  I could passively wait for the wonderful to occur - and still find something wrong.  Or I could accept whatever events did come my way and try to appreciate them a little more.
Janice Kaplan, The Gratitude Diaries