December 10, 2013

Christmas Letter

We have told our children that this year we are going non-electronic for Christmas gifts.  Basically no video games.  When I got home from my volleyball game the other night a note was waiting for me in the hallway from my 11-year old.

November 23, 2013

A Pretty Cake

I have to post a picture of one of my best cakes! and simplest.

My baby girl turned 10!  She wanted a Furby cake.  or maybe Hunger Games (she was Katniss for Halloween).  I still want her to like ponies and princesses.  But she is growing up!

I had considered a Furby cake but seemed too hard for my state of mind.  When Brennen was 2 I made a carousel cake for him and Janessa had seen it in a photo album once and said she wanted a cake like that sometime.  So I decided sometime would be this year!

Instead of  Furby she came home from school to ponies and ribbons.  but she loved it and so did I!  I got to hold on to my little girl a little bit longer.

(And I have decided in the day and a half since she got a Furby toy for her birthday that it is the most annoying toy ever invented).

FYI: cake was made with piece of scrapbook paper cut into a circle with a cut on one side in order to fold it like a cone, curling ribbon, straws, animal cookies (held on straws by frosting).  and some pearly decorations.

November 11, 2013

Think. Click. Succeed!

It had been a challenging autumn with my hubby gone.  It would be for anyone. But throw in sending off a missionary (so many emotions), my difficult 11 year old (who just started middle school which is change equals hard for him plus his dad being gone-more change) and my battle with depression/anxiety into the mix and life was very overwhelming for me at times to say the least.  It seemed like there was so much to do.  I was just so tired!

Somedays I went back to bed after I got the kids off to school.  I watched too much TV trying to reduce my stress level and "relax" but that only contributed because there was stuff not getting done that needed to be done.  It was so hard for me to "get going" and do what I needed to do.  If you have never had depression you probably can't really relate.  You may think "well, just do it!"  For some reason, it is just not easy.

But I have a little yellow friend--my CLICKER.  My friend helps me "Just Do It!" I have had it for a while but it has been gathering dust.  I posted about when our family all got clickers in May but we didn't go very far with them, darn it.  I was reminded about my clicker again and started using it while Scott was gone. Using it to count my positive thoughts. (ok--actually Hilary from sent me another one and asked me to use it and blog about it to spread the word of how wonderful it is!)

It seems silly how a little thing can give me motivation but it does.  I can click when I complete a job, when I am doing a job, and even start a job.  I can click when I make a to-do list!  I click for all the times I say to myself "I can do this." "keep going, you can do it!" Which is a lot.  Positive self talk. Being my own cheerleader by clicking.  And mostly it is simple things that need done, like the breakfast dishes (with maybe last night's dinner dishes too!) or laundry to put away, or vacuuming.  sometimes even getting dressed.  Little things that are easy but I think "I don't want to do that. I will do it later" or "It seems too overwhelming.  I can't do that".  But with a little motivation from my clicker I do it!

When the kids are fighting, or whining at me, or not going to bed well and my thoughts are "I can't do this!" "I want to run away!" my clicker reminds me to take a deep breath and tell myself "Yes I can!" "I can handle it."  I wear it around my wrist as a reminder to tell myself positive things. 

During my husband's absence and I was maybe not dealing with it all too wonderfully, I felt the energy or morale in our home drop.  I was tired, the kids were fighting more, and we all seemed grumpy.  I began to use my clicker to try say positive things to my children, and about my children in an effort to change the attitude in our home.  I felt so much better!  They felt better!  We felt happier. Giving compliments is not a very natural thing for me but with my clicker I am working on it!

I made it through the long month with the help of my clicker and family and friends!

I get so much done using my clicker!  because it gives me  spark of motivation that I needed to start the day and to keep going- instead of going back to bed or something equally unproductive. However, some days the clicker gets forgotten and I think of it later in the day realizing I am not clicking.  And usually I realize that I am not having a great day.

The one thing we can never get enough of is POSITIVENESS.  And in this world we all need lots of positive.

What can drive away depression? Positiveness!!  Not to say that I am cured with a clicker because depression is not that simple. However when I can accomplish a task that I just don't feel I can face,  though simple it may be, and am able to do it, I am lifted up tremendously and my brain is reminded that Yes, I can TOO do it.  I am a winner!  And the more I use my clicker the more my brain is trained to push away the negative and open to and see the positive.

I click for things I am thankful for too. Beautiful autumn weather.  Yellow and orange leaves.  Kids' beds that are made.  The ability to go grocery shopping (though it's my least favorite task).  Dustin serving a mission.  Brennen.  Andy.  Janessa. Cameron.  Scott.  friends.  every little thing I click for helps my brain dwell on the positive.

So how do you get a clicker!?!  go to is a website where people from everywhere can log their positive thoughts!  They are on a mission to change the world for click at a time.  They have almost 3.5 millions clicks and hope to reach a billion!  Add yours!  Watch this short video to see how it all got started.  Then order a clicker kit of your very own! 
                            You can use the coupon code MELISSA834 through Nov 30. 

When you enter your clicks at, you can receive a free digital kit with downloadable quotes, wallpaper and more! plus read awesome uplifting blog posts and comments from others who are clicking.

 Okay!  You know all about it so give it a try! Change your life one click at a time!

November 5, 2013


When I hear the word "wallpaper" I think of bedroom walls with decorated paper on them.  You can tell what generation I am from.  I don't think my kids even know what that kind of wallpaper is (we don't currently have any on walls in our house).

But they know about wallpaper on computers and phones.  My 7 year-old had my phone the other day and asked if he could change my wallpaper.  It was a beach.  When I looked at my phone next I found he changed it to this photo from his 7th birthday:
It's a Minecraft cake made my me!

It is amazing to me what kids know these days.  They learn to crawl, walk, talk, eat with a fork and work smart phones and tablets before the age of 2.

I get a kick out of seeing his smiling face whenever I pick up my phone, and consequently it makes me smile! If I decide to change it back to the beach, I might need his help.

October 31, 2013

My Music Man

Brennen was on the front page of the paper last week with his school choir pictured during their concert.
  (well I can't upload the photo here because it is private or copywritted and I am not very good at all this computer stuff anyway.  I need B's help.  or I need to take a photo of the newspaper)

And he name was mentioned in the article:
      "At the end of their set on Oct. 15, the Low Tones performed an arrangement of "Gone, Gone, Gone" by singer-songwriter Phillip Phillips. Senior Brennen Berkley arranged the song, and it was initially performed at a high school talent show in September by Lucas and seniors Brian Farley and Eli Briody-Pavlik.
     "Members of the men's choir stepped off the risers and formed a semi-circle around Berkley, Lucas, Farley and Briody-Pavlik on stage while performing the pop music piece." 

So they mistaken wrote that Bren is a senior but he is a junior.  Brennen and his boys got 3rd place in the talent show.  They did it a capella with Brennen beating on a drum. He used Garageband--a program on his computer.

He told me that after the concert someone asked for his autograph.  What impressed me about the talent show was Bren's ambition and assertiveness.  Last year he played his guitar and sang by himself.  This year he asked some guys in his choir if they wanted to do a song with him and he arranged a song for them to do. (ya, I should have had a video of the talent show or the concert to post here, but ya, I am not that kind of on the ball kind of parent.)  

When Bren was in kindergarten he saw a performance of a kids choir (TaVaci) and wanted to join.  So he did and sang in it until 4th grade.  He started playing piano sometime in elementary school and had guitar lessons off and on starting in 5th grade.  In sixth grade he joined the middle school band as a percussionist and learned bells, xylophone, and drums, etc.  He played the marimba in a few solo & ensemble competitions during mid school and one judge told him he was on his way to a scholarship if he kept it up.  In 7th grade he played the bass guitar in the school Jazz band.  In 8th grade he tried the Saxophone for one semester.

Ninth grade he played with the high school Marching Band the fall semester then switched to choir.  This year he joined the orchestra playing cello, which he has never played before.  He is also in the men's choir and plays the piano for the Jazz band.  (yes he has 3 music classes)  

And he is still taking piano lessons.  He has a youtube channel where he has recorded some covers (I didn't know that a "cover" is when you sing someone else's song but now I know) in his recording studio: his bedroom.

He tried out for the all-state choir last week and made it!  He was pretty surprised.  

oh-here is a picture he posted on facebook at bit ago with the comment "And this is what your room looks like when you spend all of your free time playing music..."
(his room is usually pretty clean--too clean for a teenager)

Funny but I never thought of having musical kids.  I play the piano and was always in the school choir since 5th grade.  My junior year I didn't sign up for a choir class because I didn't make audition choir. But that lasted only a few weeks until I changed my schedule around to sing in the girls' choir because I missed it so much. (I did sing in the top choir my senior year). I always loved music. However, I was (still am) a sports nut. I thought I would have sports kids. 

Sports was always my first passion.  I came from a sports family.  My dad played college football and me and all of my siblings played some kind of school sports for at least a few years--most of us varsity high school sports. My mom played city and church sports (and would have played school sports but girls didn't get to do that back then).  And if not we are not playing, the we like to watch.  Then I married into a family that wasn't so sportsy.  Which is fine.

I just always thought I would have sports kids.  But I don't.  Except maybe Andy.  The have all played sports now and again and aren't bad but they are not competitive like me and don't have the drive.

I have musical children.  Dustin played percussion and guitar also and was the Drum Major his senior year.  

Janessa and Cameron are both doing well at the piano.  Andy has had some piano and is now learning trumpet in middle school.  He and Janessa are excellent singers.  

Musical children are great! and I love them! 

 (but I have to admit I would rather watch a soccer or volleyball game than a band concert)

October 28, 2013

I'm So Glad When Daddy Comes Home...

...Glad as I can be!

Our daddy has returned home at last!  Hooray.  He has been in Utah training for his new business for the past month and got home this past Saturday night.  Which means I have been a "single" parent.  Wow! It was harder than I thought. I sure salute all those single parents out there.  And I don't even have a job.

One of the hardest things about him being gone was timing--
A:  Dustin left for his mission during the month Scott was gone.  I was on an emotional roller coaster for the few days before and after D left, and had to remember I still had other kids to take care of.
B:   it was soccer season.  Brennen started a job at Costa Vida, and also was busy with music practice (choir & orchestra) & concerts, and Dustin left on his mission, so all of the sudden I AM THE ONLY DRIVER around.  Soccer, piano lessons, soccer, scouts, soccer, achievement days, soccer, after school choir, soccer...  Three kids playing soccer = 6 practices per week and 3 games per week.  I have to admit we didn't make it to all the soccer practices. The last few years I have taken advantage of my teenage drivers and realized how much I appreciate them.

And of course there are the things that I never really do because my hubby takes care of them so I don't even think about them much til he is gone--like putting the garbage can to the curb on Wednesday mornings.  I only forgot once.  And I didn't forget it was garbage day, I was just going to do it later.  oops.  And taking care of the cars and making sure the gas tanks are full; and always locking up at night.  I even mowed the lawn once.  But the mower ran out of gas so I had to go fill up the little red gas tank.  I don't know if I have ever done that since I have been married.

Harder than the day to day tangible "stuff" to take care of is everything else--giving everyone enough attention, refereeing the arguments and bickering, the discipline, the homework, the emotions, getting everyone where they need to go (church is the hardest and I don't even have preschoolers anymore) and, well, just everything that goes with families.  It wore me out!  I am tired--more than usual.  (I think I need a 2 week nap).  There were some tears and calls to my sister and friends asking for help.  But I got through it.  We all got through it.

The mood in our house is happier now that Dad is home.  But I think it was a little rough on him coming home from work today to a houseful of happy noise instead the quiet of his parents' house.  We all might need a few days of adjustment, but it's good to be back together again.