Family Pic 2017

Family Pic 2017

Friday, December 16, 2011


Shawn attempts to build an ice skating rink for the kids every year.  Some years it turns out splendidly:

winter wonderland
When it turns out, it is the best thing EVER!!  The kids don't seem to get cabin fever because they have something really fun to do outside and they get some physical activity that seems to help them not be as antsy and look for unconstructive things to do, like teasing each other incessantly.  The first year that we did this, we went to a second hand store and bought a lot of ice skates so that neighbor kids could also join in the fun. Now we have quite a few skates of all sizes,  and the kids like to invite their friends over for skating parties.

The problem is, that the skating rink only turns out about every other year.  This year we thought we had a good start on it until our beloved dog, Jack, went out and ripped a whole bunch of holes in the plastic.:(  Shawn still thinks that he can save it, but I'm beginning to think he may not need to bother.  The ice on the pond is great this year! Now we just need to get a snowblower out to it so that the ice doesn't go bad.

The kids have raced home from school every day this week, snarfed a snack and headed outside for as much skating time as possible before the sun goes down. They say the ice is particularly good over by "the good turtle-catching spot".

Kami and Caden are really good skaters, skating forwards, backwards and doing fancy turns.  Maddie is going to really get it this year, and the smaller kids do better "skating" in regular snow boots, but they always have to try the skates several times.  Kami and I were shaking with laughter watching Nolan here:

He was relying completely on Kami to hold him up, and when I asked him how the skating was, he said, "really good!!"
Just look at him go!!
They come in with glowing eyes and rosy cheeks when it has gotten so dark that they can no longer see anything.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A big boy

When Shawn got home last night I told him about one of his birthday presents: I had moved Abram upstairs to the little boy's room.  Abram has been sleeping in our closet (it's pretty roomy) ever since we moved in, and while I have loved the arrangement and liked to have him close to me for those times that he wakes up during the night, Shawn hasn't been too thrilled with the arrangement. From time to time he has asked, "Can Abram move out of our closet yet?  I can see his side - it's tough to get ready for work in the morning if there's a sleeping kid in your closet!  My side is that it's hard to see my baby grow up!

 The move went off without a hitch and both boys are as pleased as punch to get a sleep-over every single night.:) I must admit that it WAS kind-of nice to turn my lights on when I woke up this morning instead of feeling around in the dark!

* The first night that we moved Abram into Nolan's room, Nolan came out of his room after a few minutes, and, looking frightened/concerned said, "My bed keeps moving!"  We told him that it was just Abram wiggling around.  A couple of days later Nolan told me, "now when my bed moves at night I just smile."  A couple of days after THAT he said, "I don't smile anymore when my bed moves."

We usually sing two or three songs to the boys when we tuck them in and Abram usually asks for the "gallum" song.  He says "gallum" for horses because that is the sound that he thinks horses make when they run.  The other night he kept asking for his favorite horsy song, but every time I started to sing it, he vehemently said, "NO"!! I finally figured out that he wanted "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."  When he wants more songs and I have sung my limit, I can hear Nolan singing Abram's request to him after I shut the door.

Not such a bird brain?

The other day I was reading to the little boys when Nolan happened to look over his shoulder and discover that a turkey was enjoying the story with us! It had hopped up onto Jack's dog house and was looking right over our shoulders.  We had to stop and take a picture:

The kid tree

Every year the kids decorate their own tree with their home-made/school-made ornaments.  Everyone has their favorites that they're excited to see coming out of the box.  The tree is segregated with breakable ornaments hovering around the top of the tree and "safe" ornaments around the bottom.  (Although last year a few of our homemade cinnamon ornaments  - which had been deemed safe for the lower part of the tree-were munched on by Abram.)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Happy birthday, Shawn

Be aware that the following blog will be a bit sappy.  It's mainly for Shawn.

Today is Shawn's birthday, and do you want to know the sad thing about it?  He can't be home for it.:(  We have agreed to celebrate it on Friday, but I've tried celebrating birthdays on other days before and it's just not the same.  There's a magic to the very day someone was born.  I have been thinking a lot about Shawn lately ( especially today) and how grateful I am for him in my life and for him as the father of our children. He has a demanding, stressful job and I wish that for his birthday he could relax and enjoy life a little bit more with his family!

I've never shared this on my blog before, because it's not something that anyone would particularly care to hear about, (not that anything I write about is) BUT, it illustrates a few things about my husband's sweet/ romantic/disciplined personality:  A few years ago, I finally clued in that I had problems whenever I ate sugar of all things.  I had been feeling really horrible.  I mentioned my discovery to my mom and she said, "That doesn't surprise me, two of your siblings are hypoglycemic."  Well, I'd had no idea about that.  So for a few years I have been really careful about what I eat and then I feel great!  But this summer I got tired of being so careful.  Eating carefully in and of itself wasn't particularly hard for me, but I was always so embarrassed to always be the one in a group that couldn't eat something, and didn't like all the attention to be drawn to me, so on those occasions I began eating what everyone else was eating. I started feeling worse and worse - constant headaches, all-over body aches, feeling like I was walking around in a fog, super tired, and CRANKY!!  After a family reunion, where of course I ate everything that everyone else did, it was particularly bad.  I didn't want to believe that how I was feeling was all a result of sugar - there must be other causes. Hormones imbalances maybe? So we decided that I should go see an endocrinologist.
       Well, this doctor checked my thyroid and found a tumor on my neck - turns out it wasn't active, but  I do still need to go make sure it's O.K. - and she also found that-no surprise- I was VERY hypoglycemic.
       So, back to Shawn. I'm not so sure that he will like me to publicly share this, but... This is why I say he is a romantic: while he loves action shows, he also really loves shows by Jane Austin.  You know, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, etc. Shows that most men either genuinely don't like, or won't admit to liking:) Well shortly after I went to the doctor, he watched the new BBC Emma (It's really good).  Towards the end of the show Mr. Knightly makes a big sacrifice for Emma and tells her that he would do much more than that for her because of his love for her (or something like that).  Shawn is a romantic because he thought, "What would I be willing to do for Amy?" I've just got to wonder how many men would think that to themselves. Then he thought, "I would stop eating sugar with her." He didn't want me to always have to be the odd ball - now we can be odd balls together! (This is a bigger thing than you would think, because it's not just treats that cause me problems, but anything that breaks down to sugar easily inside my body, like white flour, or anything else that's been refined.)
       Shawn has eaten just like me for the last four months and it helps me so much!  Shawn has always really loved his food and it's so touching to me that he would give up so many of his favorite foods because he loves me more.

Other great things I love about Shawn:
* He is a very giving person.  His wants are so often brushed to the side because of something that  I want done or that the kids need. He really is so selfless, giving up so much for us over and over again, all of the time.
Fishing with Caden at my parent's house
* He has a strong sense of protecting our family and providing for us. I feel like he would do anything in the world for me and the kids.
* He always has wise counsel and suggestions for us.

* He is so kind.  Many people think he looks so stern (he's a naturally serious and intense kind of guy) and I guess a lot of people commented on that as he was growing up.  One day when we were dating I commented on how kind his eyes were.  That has always meant so much to him.

* His innate kindness isn't an asset to his job.  Sometimes it becomes necessary to fire someone and he HATES that!  He stews over it and tries to find another way, but when he finally has to let someone go he is so down after-wards.  I'm glad that he doesn't relish that duty.
* He can figure out a solution to any problem.  I'm always telling him my ideas for landscaping, or projects, or whatever.  Rarely does he say, "That's not possible.  I don't know how I would do that."  The times that he has said that, I have said, "But you can figure out anything!!"  (because he always has in the past) He ruefully laughs, and then he does!

*He is a thinker.  Sometimes when he is sitting quietly, I like to ask him what he is thinking about. He thinks about things that I would never even think to think about! One of his favorite things to think about is politics. He solves all sorts of world problems while he is thinking. 
* He is a dreamer.  He dreams about what he would do if he could do anything in the world (own a big ranch that someone else would run for him and where we would spend every summer and long weekends and he could jump onto a horse and ride off into the sunset whenever he wanted to.)
   All he has to do is spend some time out in our yard and he comes in with the coolest ideas - like building an ice skating rink for the kids, or the perfect patio.  The dreams are all in his head and he has to hurry and sketch them out on paper so that I can catch the vision. We've brought lots of his dreams to fruition, and they're even more awesome in real life!

We've never gone to the ocean when it's really warm, but it's kind-of nice; we always have the whole place to ourselves!

 *He is supportive of everything that  I do.
* When something's going on with one of the kids and I've had it, he is able to step in and be patient.  He is able to help me see their side of a situation, and gets me back to feeling more patient myself.  Sometimes it just helps for him to remind me about their age.  When I worry about one of the kid's actions, he tells me about something similar that he did when he was their age, and I'm able to feel more hopeful.

* He is very disciplined.  He'd probably get to bed at a decent hour every night if it weren't for me - sometimes I just want to talk and talk and talk! But MOST nights we get to bed at a decent hour, and when we do, he gets up at 5:00 so that he can exercise. He then exercises for about an hour and then comes and joins me and the three older kids and we read/study our scriptures until 6:30 when he goes and gets Isabelle up (Nolan generally already is) for family scriptures. (He has to exercise so early so that he can be sure and fit all of that in.)
* He has a very healthy conscience. He tries so hard to do what's right.

* He is a perfectionist.  He takes his time on everything he does, doesn't cut any corners and starts over if it doesn't turn out right.  When I comment on what a perfectionist he is he says, "Yes, I am!  Why else do you think that I got the perfect woman?!" (Last time he said that the kids were sitting around beaming). The fact that he would say that shows, once again, what a kind person he is because he knows me better than anyone and sees all of my inadequacies, irritating behaviors and bad moods and is still willing to over-look them and pretend...
* I really love his voice.  When we were first engaged he was at my house and my Aunt Maretta came up and met him.  He stood up to shake hands with her and she commented on his nice build.  He said, "Thank you!" and she said, "And he has such a nice voice, too!" He does.  A nice, deep voice.
* He's very sympathetic and is a lot more tender about injuries, illnesses and everything else than I am.
Nolan (this was a few years ago) and Shawn checking out Caden's injury.
 * It's really important to him that the kids learn how to work hard, and he spends a lot of time working with them (and thinking up jobs for them to do).

Cleaning up our land with his crew
* He takes the time to teach and expose the kids to new things and make sure they have a great childhood even though many times he would probably love to sit down and read a book more than anything else.

on a camp-out

 * He gets just as big a kick out of these kids we're raising as I do!  It's so nice to be proud of something that your child has accomplished and have someone else feel just the same way- and think they're just as cute and just as talented and just as amazing.

Holding new-born Abram
I know all the travel isn't Shawn's favorite part of his job.  He misses the family and the home life so often.  When he started this job, I made it a point not to complain about his frequent traveling because I figured that it would only make doing his job harder on him.  Many times I feel like I haven't struck a very good balance in being supportive that way and making sure that he knows how much I miss him. I try to act like I don't mind his leaving every time he leaves and like I am very independent and can take care of everything while he's gone all by myself. And I guess I do - even though I generally have to call at least once a day just for instructions on how to do something or on what I should do about something (I am not any sort of a mechanic or fix-it person, for instance.) In fact, I'm really not all that independent in a lot of ways. It is really hard to have him gone so much (hats off to single parents - there's nothing easy about that job) and I do miss him terribly and nothing feels quite right or is the same until he gets home again.

Happy Birthday, Shawn! You're the best thing that has ever happened in my life and I love and appreciate you so much!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Crevices, halls and Dr. Offices are all decked...

We have been having such a merry time!

This year when the snow began falling (back in October) I suddenly got such an overwhelming urge to create and work on some Christmas projects! Kami was feeling the same way, so first we began making some village houses.  My sister, Heidi got into these a couple of years ago-she makes them out of cardstock- and she makes them SO cute.  I just wanted something for the shelf over my front door, so I had to blow them up 400%, making the church about 2 feet tall and the houses about 1 foot:
The village - still needing some more trees and stuff.
Kami made the houses the small size and decorated a shelf:
Hmm...Her black church steeple isn't showing up against the black bookcase. But it's cute, trust me.  Good thing I got this documented, because today the little boys already rearranged everything and snapped one of the figures in half...
Let's just look at the little village - I know that bottom shelf needs to be deleted...
The little girls even got excited and made a few houses of their own:
Very fun project.  If you are interested, google something like "Martha Stewart Christmas Village" and you can print off a pattern. (The little girls made up their own patterns, though, and my sisters claim that once you've made one you can create anything - that's a claim that I can't make.  A little lacking in imagination, I guess.)

I needed some trees for my village houses, so I decided to make some of those Alpine trees that you find in the craft stores for $25-$70 dollars when they're half price.  I made them for FIVE DOLLARS!!  And it was so incredibly easy!!
It's all in how you hold your mouth when you're drilling!:)
5', 4' and 3' - just to give some perspective.  Now they just need something to cover their bases, some lights, whatever.
Shawn cut me some branches while we were at my parents for Thanksgiving, but it would be so easy to recycle a live Christmas tree after Christmas and make some of these.  I bought some $5.00 garlands and cut them up for the branches, drilled holes and hot glued them in place.

I actually ended up sending these trees off to Boise with Shawn because he said that one of his Dr. offices was looking a little bare and was in need of some Christmas decor.

My favorite things that I just put together are these elegant/cute things:
I bought these candle sticks at Wal-mart for $15.00:
Then I went grocery shopping and found all of the jars that are in the picture - an Adam's PB jar, a pickle jar and one of those dips for chips jars. When we finished eating the contents, I spray painted the lids black to match.  Then while I was in Oregon, I had my dad turn, on his lathe, a few more pieces to go underneath and above the candlesticks: (I turned the candlesticks over)
Thanks dad! ( I'm actually posting all of this because my mom asked me to when I was talking to her this morning, since they had invested some time into these projects and want to see the outcome.)
Next I gave them a coat of red spray paint and lightly sanded down to the black.  The final product:
The great thing about these, is that you can change out the stuff in the jars to match the season of the year.  Wow, I am so happy with how it all turned out!  They will be great on my entry way if I can only find the table runner that I made a couple of years ago, it will be perfect.
It's been fun, but I think I'm ready to focus on other things for awhile

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

It was our year to go to Thanksgiving in Oregon!  I didn't grab many pictures - in fact the ones that were taken were taken by Shawn - he did a pretty good job capturing the chaos of a family of ten; most of whom are now married with many children of their own. This year six of my siblings and their families were there, bringing the group to a total of 46. (Counting two friends and two neighbor/friends that came as well.)

Because of the size of the group, my parents have started reserving the church for Thanksgiving dinner, and it works out great.  We eat in the room right next door to the kitchen, and as the little kids finish up, they can go play in the gym, leaving the adults to talk and be able to actually hear each other!

I needed to include this picture of my sis-in-law Ori.  She had her baby two days after this picture was taken.  They were sure it was another  little boy, but surprise!!  They're two boys and two girls now.
Me, Katie and Judy Brazofsky, a family friend.

After the dinner we did some fun projects with the kids - made snow globes, and painted Christmas ornaments.
Nolan showing off his slew of salt dough ornaments that he painted
 We also stood around the piano for awhile while mom played and we all sang Christmas carols. It sounded just like a huge choir.  The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, to be exact.:)
Then all the older kids did some swing dancing:
Kami and Eli giving it a whirl with stunts and everything!
And everyone played in the gym some more - bike riding, basketball, and adults giving kids rides on carpet squares:
Being around my family could never be considered dull.  They are such fun people!
We all went home around 7:00 after a full and fantastic day.  On Friday and Saturday, two of my other siblings and their children showed up and we got to see them as well. Bring on Christmas now!  Those Christmas carols and gathering with family has got me in the spirit!!