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.

October 2, 2013

New Adventures

Scott had his last day working as controller at the college on Sept 13.  He is now training and learning how to be a freight broker, as he bought a freight business to run with his brother.  Somebody very creative who he worked with at the college made the following going away gift.  

 notes on mailing labels on a freight box --very fun. 

And since his last day we have been a little busy getting our MISSIONARY ready to leave to Sendai Japan, with 2 months in Provo at the MTC first of course.  He enters next Wed Oct 9th.  I have felt exicted about it all and not sad but now the mom emotions are starting to hit me.

D worked in Utah this summer and came home almost 2 weeks ago.  We had some family come for his "farewell" talk.  Some stayed with us, some with my Mom and some in a hotel (I guess Scott's parents prefer the quiet of the hotel compared with 10 enthusiastic kids, 8 of them under 12, at our house).  Then we sent them all away and headed to Utah to take Dustin to the temple for his endowments, plus 2 more temples after that, and shopping shopping shopping.  And we spent so much at one store we got FREE LUGGAGE. Actually the shopping was pretty simple because we went to the Missionary Mall and they have, as Scott put it, "Everything you need and nothing you don't need." (and free luggage) And right across the way was Deseret Book which also has a Beehive clothing so we got more stuff he needed there. I let Scott and D do that and I happily shopped in the book store for an hour (all alone! no "Mom. look look")

The last thing on the list is family pictures!!! I really did NOT wait until the last minute. I had it on my to do list this summer then one weekend D up and left!  He got a job and said goodbye to us.  And we meant to do it the weekend he came home but that was the same weekend we had family and it rained too (no outdoor pictures) so we will get it done this weekend.  And it is so hard for me to think that this might be our last picture as a 7 person family (no, I am not pregnant!) because if B goes on his mission when he is 18 then D could be married by the time he gets back (because they will only overlap a few months).  Wow. hard thought. I would be a mother-in-law.

But, back to the present.  One more week with my BOY because everyone says he will come back as a MAN.  Yet I am so happy that my boy has choosen to and is going to serve the Lord.  and proud and stuff and yeah...

September 6, 2013

Summer Wrap Up

School has started and I have the house to myself again.  It's pretty quiet.
Three different schools this year--
          Brennen 11th grade
    Andy 6th grade
          Janessa 4th grade
      Cameron 2nd grade

Here is a recap of our summer: (more pics later)

A family vacation to Washington DC for a week to see the sights
We rode bicycles around the mall.  (Scott and Cameron)

Janessa siting on FDR's lap

Brennen and Andy in front of the White House--sort of.  gotta love the construction

RAGNAR--a trip to Utah for my hubby to run in the Wasatch Back Ragnar with his siblings, then we stayed to visit for a week the Grandparents and cousins.

Youth Conference in Flagstaff (Brennen)

Some birthdays (Dustin, Brennen, Scott, Cameron)

Family Reunion near Moab

Another trip to Utah (Scott and the youngest 3)

Camping in Colorado a few times

Piedra Falls gathering courage to jump in the pool at the base of the waterfall-brrr!
playing in the river at Middle Fork
Baby kittens--3 that we are now trying to give away

Cousins staying at our house for 10 days while their dad (my brother) gave my sister a kidney.

Swimming lessons (the 3 youngest)

Couple of scout overnighters (Andy and Brennen)

A few trips to Big Bounce--one of my favorite places to take the young 'uns

Rock climbing at the college climbing wall

Lots of swimming at the pool and a few times to the river

Night games at the park

Some reading (mostly Janessa--the rest of us read a little bit but she knocked out the whole Gregor the Overlander series plus some others)

Selling Kirby vacuums (Dustin)

Too much video games and netflix

    Now a new school year...and back to "normal"

May 27, 2013

Think Happy Thoughts

Last year I went to Time Out for Women and saw Hilary Weeks.  She gave a talk about positive thoughts and how using a clicker (counter) to keep track of every positive thought leads you to be happier and more productive and all that good stuff.  She has also made a website where people all over are logging in their clicks to see if we can reach one billion happy thoughts.  It is a great website with positive blogs, quotes and stories, etc.  And you can buy clickers!

My sister bought me a clicker at Time Out for Women but I haven't really done anything with it.  I have visited the website often but haven't "clicked'.  I finally decided that I am going to join in and start clicking!  and I decided to include my family also.  I bought clickers for everyone.  I thought it will be a great way to start off our summer.  Last night I showed the video of Hilary Weeks to my family and we laughed.  (you should watch it because it is funny--and a bit inspiring).  Then I passed out the clickers.  Everyone seemed enthusiastic about it. We talked a bit about how to be more positive in our home and have less arguing, etc.

Then after a little bit my 6 year-old pipes in "What does 'positive' mean?"

so I guess the first lesson in teaching a lesson, is make sure your students know what the key word means! lol

I will (or might) keep you posted on how our "clicking" is going and if our home is becoming a happier more positive place. 

May 6, 2013

A "Ta Da" Moment

I read a great article a while ago about "moments of awesome."  We aren't perfect and make mistakes but once in a while we have moments of awesome and we need to celebrate and feel good about those moments instead of feeling bad that we have shortcomings.

Well, I don't know how awesome it was, but I did have a "Ta-Da moment" yesterday.  I actually remembered before 7:30 this morning that today was CRAZY HAT DAY at the elementary school to start off reading week.  Not only were the hats ready BEFORE this morning, but also BEFORE bedtime last night.  We did it in the evening and had plenty of time to be creative.  (cuz that is really not my strong point).  What made it even better is that I came across the K'nex set (with crazy eyes, etc) in the closet while looking for supplies and so it was easy. And because the hats were ready early we even got to Skype Grandma and Grandpa to show off the hats.

Here are the crazy hats.

  Janessa found hers at a yard sale on Saturday which was an added bonus!  

 I used tape and safety pins to hold everything on. Andy of course just wanted to cut holes in the hat.

Well I used the webcam so the pics aren't great.  Cameron has pipe cleaners and a balloon on his with the eyes and propeller.

Most importantly, I had happy kids.

May 2, 2013

A New and Improved Month

Today is the second day of May and ALL my kids are in school for two days in a row.  Which is almost a record as of late.

April was sick month at my house.  It actually started the last of March.  Everyone in the house got sick at one time or another except Dustin.  He says its cuz he stays in the basement and the rest of us have bedrooms upstairs.  But only 2 people ended up seeing the doctor and got antibiotics for bronchitis.  However, after we got through the coughs and fevers, and everyone was at school for almost 2 full weeks, the stomach bug caught us.

Scott missed 3 days of work.  And collectively my children missed 15 1/2 days of school in April. And I got sick two separate times but I can't count time off of work because I am a mom and do mom's ever really get sick days?  Anyway, seeing that there are only 22 days of school in April, that means that I had at least one kid home with me most of the month.  Of course I love my kids and its good to spend some one on one time with them when they are home, but I do get used to having the house to myself and coming and going as I please so it just upsets the apple-cart so to say.  (Dustin does not work everyday but when he is home he sort of hibernates in the basement.)

Sheesh, complain complain.  Not really meaning to complain but it is pretty amazing how much down time we have had around here.  We got through winter without many hiccups so that is good.  Spring has just been a little rough.

But it is SPRING!  and the trees have leaves and flowers are showing their heads and the grass is greening up!  and my lettuce and spinach are sprouting.  When the wind goes away it will be perfect!

I am gearing up for a house full of kids and noise and energy and happiness (and a bit of bickering) cuz in less than FOUR weeks it will be summer vacation.  wow.  another school year come and gone...

April 28, 2013

Well, I Really Did Try

The irony:
I ended my last post with "I hope I can stay up to the challenge of being a mother to my children."  Not 5 minutes after I posted that, my youngest came into the kitchen and lost his cookies all over the floor.  I could not believe that I just just wrote those words and a challenge came right to me.  All my kids were in bed asleep when I was blogging so I wasn't expecting anything challenging until the morning mayhem. (however, I am so so grateful he came into the kitchen thus saving my new carpet).

Now on to how I Really Did Try.

I have two "sets" of children.  My older teenagers and my elementary kids.  There is a bit of a rift or division between them.  Dustin gets along fine with the younger ones but just doesn't interact a lot with them--doing his own thing.  Brennen, as a typical teenager, gets so annoyed with the younger kids and how they don't put their stuff away, and are messy and loud, and dumb.  (Well he never said they were dumb but it seems to me he thinks that).  And the younger kids think Brennen is bossy and mean. (He is bossy, as most older brothers are I suppose).  Janessa's favorite phrase to him lately is "you don't have to get into everyone's business!"

I have talked to both sides but, yeah, not sure I am getting through.

So I decided we needed to do some "family relationship building" time.  Board games were (are) great for my older boys and we used to play so much with them, but not all of our kids are board games kind of people.  Plus its hard to play one with 7 people.  I got us all together and we decided to play charades.  Nothing formal, just impromptu.  We started with scripture stories.

Janessa and Andy went first.  They went into the kitchen to decided what to do.  When they came back into the living room Andy stood on a stool.  None of us said anything yet.  Janessa didn't do anything.  Except telling And he should stand on the smaller stool.  We waited for a few minutes and decided they weren't going to do anything else so the guessing started with "Samuel the Lamanite" and "King Benjamin".  It was Samuel.  Janessa then got mad because she didn't get to do her part.   She was upset that Andy used the big stool so we guessed it before she had a chance to do her part and of course I piped in telling her we were waiting but she didn't do anything (I said it nicely but still it was arguing I suppose).  I encouraged her to go ahead and do it anyway and we would watch.  She argued "What's the point!"  She got mad and stormed into her room and slammed the door.

Scott and I kind of looked at each other and laughed.  We didn't mean to laugh but it was funny that here we are trying to get the family to enjoy each other and within 5 minutes there is anger and conflict.

Well we kept going anyway encouraging Janessa to come back and join us which she did eventually.  Brennen only participated in one charade as his attitude was "this is dumb" but at least he was there with us.  Dustin participated pretty well.  Of course the little kids are the ones that kept wanting to do the acting.  We moved on from scripture stories to things in history.

It was fun and we laughed.  Maybe it didn't turn out like I wanted, and I should have taken Brennen's phone away first (since he was playing chess with someone I think), but at least I tried.  And it was just a random day, not family night or anything yet we all sat in the same room together without a TV.

April 21, 2013

Forever Family

It was 10 years ago last Friday on April 19th that we went to the temple where Andy was sealed to our family for time and all eternity.  His older brothers, who were in kindergarten and 3rd grade at the time, were able to dress in white and witness the sealing.  It was such a special day.  I told Cameron that he and Janessa watched us from heaven. Andy was a chubby red-headed 14 month old, and it was only a few weeks before this that we found out we were pregnant with Janessa. (such an exiciting surprise!)

My parents were on their mission at the time in Wyoming, but received permission to come to the sealing in the Ogden temple.  We had lots of family there, and ward members.  The next day in sacrament meeting Andy was given a name and a blessing.  (The adoption date was Wednesday the 16th, so he hadn't been given a blessing in church yet).

So this weekend my thoughts have been on that special day and how much our family has changed in the past 11 years.  He is such a special boy with a tender heart and spirit, and a body that can hardly contain his energy.  I admit that he and I have our challenges (as I do of course with every child--just differently) but he is so much fun and we just might be a dull family without him.  Little did we know that two more kids would follow him in joining our family.

Mothering these last 3 children has not been easy for me.  Of course motherhood is not easy for anyone, though some people sure make it look easy!  Maybe its because I am older or because they are closer together in age than my older boys.  But I really think it is personalities.

My number 3 and 4 children are much more demanding than my others.  Why?  Were they born that way or was it circumstances that have made them that way?   Do they feel they have to compete for attention in a large family?  I often wonder why the Lord sent these children to me because I struggle with them so often.  I wonder why our personalities are so different and why the Lord has confidence in me to raise and teach these children, their strong personalities with my soft-spoken introverted nature.  I know that stronger spirits were saved for the latter days and they will do great in life. I just have to get them through elementary school, middle school, and high school!  Which I know is really a short time and I will look back when they are leaving on missions and getting married thinking "it seems like just yesterday when..." But the moments are hard to get through sometimes.  I need to rely on my Heavenly Father and truly believe that He has faith in me to nurture and love his precious children.  I truly am grateful for them.  For all my children.

I have enjoyed slowing down a bit and reflecting on that day 10 years ago when I knew that two more children were being added to my little family, one by adoption and one by birth.  The memory of the beauty of the temple and seeing my children all in white with my loving husband.  Taking time to look at the "eternal perspective" and marvel how our family came to be.  And how the Lord sent us another blessing when we surprisingly got pregnant again with Cameron.

This busy life, and the trials that come with it, is exactly what I wanted, and I really am grateful, and hope I can stay up to the challenge of being a mother to my children.

March 26, 2013

2 years in Sendai Japan

My boy is leaving the country for 2 years to serve the Lord.  It is what most LDS moms hope and dream and prepare their baby boys for from day one, yet when it becomes reality it is a little shocking and hard to believe.

Dustin received his call almost 2 weeks ago.  He was visiting some buddies in Utah and going to 2 mission "farewells" when it came in the mail.  But he didn't want to wait until he got home a few days later to know what it said, so we with modern technology, we all gathered around the computer and got on Skype, and opened it and read it to him.

Scott got to be the lucky one but instead of just reading it to us he said "Holy Cow!" first and then read it out loud to the rest of us.  I realized too late I was looking at Scott and didn't see the reaction on Dustin's face, darn it.  Dustin seems pretty pumped about it but he is like his mother and doesn't show a whole lot of excitement about stuff.

He enters the MTC on July 17th.  Cameron, whose birthday is the 27th of July, said "You are going to miss my birthday."  so cute.

The first person I thought of was my friend from Japan who is in my former Utah ward.  and we found out Sendai it the mission she is from! How cool is that?  A girl I grew up with in my home ward went to that same mission about 20 years ago and taught and baptized Ayako and then Ayako and I ended up in the same ward with kids the same age.  Small world.

I am excited for him.  Nervous for him.  Happy for him.  Proud of him.  He will be a great missionary.

March 17, 2013

Candy Bars and Legos

Amazing things happened at my house the last few weeks.  My kids kept their bedrooms clean!  For two whole weeks! and counting...

Why?  because I posted a sign that said "Calling All Berkleys.  CLEAN BEDROOM CONTEST! If your room is the cleanest all week, including making your bed, you will get a king-sized candy bar on Saturday."

Of course I didn't win.  My bedroom is never the cleanest (much too my husband's dismay).

Brennen was ahead most of the week but he slipped on the bed making at the end.  Janessa won.  But I decided to reward everyone else with candy bars too--normal size because it was AMAZING that ALL the bedrooms stayed clean.

I wasn't planning on a second week but the following Sunday night Andy and Cameron's room was so clean, which is usually the dirtiest day of all because they have been home for 2 days in a row, that I had to continue the contest.  (It amazing to me how fast those boys, mostly Andy, can make a disaster area in their room).  Andy announced that HE was going to win the bedroom contest this week.  So I let it go on!  And win it he did!  He even made Cameron's bed some days.  He told me that Cameron maybe shouldn't get a big candy bar because he didn't help much.

When I first started this contest, my friend said maybe it was a bit unfair to Andy because he isn't that capable of keeping his room clean and it might just make him discouraged.  But we were both proved wrong!  just give the kid some motivation and he can accomplish anything.


The other thing that is amazing is my 3 youngest kids playing together semi-quietly with out fighting on a Sunday afternoon.  Because I got out the special castle Legos.  We bought a big set of Legos (I am sure there is a name but I don't know--it has knights and horses) years ago for the older boys for Christmas that are separate from the other Legos and the little kids don't often get to play with them because, well little kids aren't so careful sometimes.  Anyway, they have been playing nicely without fighting for a few hours.


February 7, 2013

I Am NOT Smarter Than a 5th Grader

I had been going in to Andy's math class--5th grade--to help out a bit and to see what he was doing so that I could help him at home better.  The class has been learning fractions.  I know how to do fractions.  I know what the numerator is and the denominator is. I can simplify, add, multiply, and I think divide them.  I do have a hard time drawing pictures of them sometimes though.  However, I cannot explain how to do them very well.

Today was simplifying improper fractions.  so if you have a fraction of 12/3,  the answer is 4. But how to explain that to 5th graders is not easy.  Especially when they are required to draw pictures too.  Well I was confusing the kids when they asked for help.  Most of them would write 1/4 instead of just 4.  And of course it was even more tricky with something like 8/7 which would be 1 1/7.   I told the teacher I was sorry but I think I confused them.

Later that day I got an email from him saying "Thanks but no thanks."  Not in those words, but he agreed that some of the kids told him they were confused so he said if I still want to come I can come in later and work on multiplication and division facts with some of the kids.  Ouch.

On a happier note, here is something I can do--

Janessa and I have been "redoing" her room.  My little girl has outgrown her cute polka-dot curtains and wall with big decal pastel polka-dots of varying colors--so cute.  So now on to zebra stripes.

I went to work with contact paper.

We bought the little garbage can and I used contact paper and paint to make the bookcase match.

 I also put the zebra contact paper over the outlet and light switch covers.

I found a pair of pillow cases for about $5, and then used under-wonder to iron on some ribbon.  One square pillow and one regular pillow case.  (Cheaper than fabric).  
She couldn't find a zebra bedspread she liked so she picked turquoise and white.

Also used ribbon to "dress up" some pictures. 

We are in the process of making a few wall hangings to finish things up.  Oh, and still deciding about curtains.  It has been a fun project.

February 5, 2013

My Sad Little Man

"My pants are falling down and I can't find my shoes."  My six year old said sadly as he came into the kitchen the other morning.  And to me that moment was so cute and precious for some reason.  I really enjoy him.

He is my little detail man and usually ready for school before anyone.  He wakes up, gets dressed with shoes and socks and comes out of his room dragging his backpack and coat, looking for his sandwich so he can pack his lunch.  He cleans up his dishes after breakfast without being reminded.  If only all my children could be like that...

But that morning he was wearing new pants that apparently didn't fit too well, and had such a rare occasion of not knowing where his shoes were.  And he was so sad about it all.  I just wanted to pick him up and cuddle him and make all the sadness go away.  Which I guess I did by helping him find his shoes and making his pants tighter with those button stretchy things inside the waistband of the pants.

I don't really have anything more to write about that ... just wanted to share I guess.

February 2, 2013

All At Once

Like an ad says:  "Life comes at you fast..."

We got carpet!  New carpet in most of our house--4 bedrooms, the living room and hallway.  When we moved in there was only carpet in 3 rooms of the house.  The rest was mostly hardwood.  A year and a half ago we put some carpet in our downstairs which is just one big room and had really old tile that you used to see in schools.  I know lots of people like hardwood, but I prefer carpet.  Especially in bedrooms.  Besides, the wood was very old and stained and scratched and paint splotched.  So even when you cleaned the floors it still looked dirty.

I love my carpet! It's like a new house!  Before it came Scott and the boys put up new baseboards and I painted the kids' rooms. And we put Pergo in the dining room (because refinishing the wood costs lots more).

But getting carpet in most of the house is a lot of work.  Taking beds down, emptying bookcases and closets, and moving everything somewhere that isn't getting carpet.

A new  house!!
The carpet did not come on schedule and was over a week later than planned getting installed. And the Thursday and Friday it was installed I was already booked up with stuff.

--Cam stayed home from school those two days sick.
--Brennen had oral surgery Friday morning so when we got home and he was still half asleep I was steering him between carpet layers to get him to his bed.  (thank goodness we got all the beds put back together after the carpet people left Thursday night).
--One of our cars was in the shop so we had to shuffle getting us all where we needed to go.  (One night the neighbors had to pick up Andy from gymnastics)
--And, one of my nephews from out of town came home from his mission so I was packing and preparing to go to my brother's for the weekend to hear the returned missionary talk in church.

The carpet layers left by noon on Friday.  And do you know how hard it is to try to pack for a road trip and put your house back together and, and, and?

I was feeling a bit crazy--even more so than usual.

(Now I shouldn't tell you the next part because it is embarrassing for me but funny because of my Andy).

I hit the road with my 3 little kids after school for a 5 hour drive.  Only to be stopped before I was 1/2 hour out of town by a police officer.  Why?  Because he noticed the kids didn't have their lap belts on--they always put it behind their back.  He gave a us a nice warning and said to wear seatbelts correctly.

And as luck would have it a few hours later the lights of police were behind me AGAIN.  Out on the reservation I failed to slow down enough when the speed limit changed because of an intersecting road.  And luck really was on my side because I got another warning.  Especially since Andy was very eloquent talking to the officer.  He told him "This is the second time we got pulled over!"  Thank you Andy.  When the officer saw me with the kids he said I was probably distracted and didn't see the speed limit sign.  How nice to notice.  Andy assured him we would drive slower and safer.

Lots going on in a few days but I got through it.  Brennen's surgery to expose and band a tooth that won't come in went fine and he only took 3 pain pills.  Cam was better by Friday and probably could have gone to school that day.  Our car is still in the shop but we borrowed my mom's for part of the time.

but sometimes life does come at you faster than you are expecting...

January 20, 2013

My Sister's Mountain

My son gave me a Hilary Weeks CD for Christmas, and the words to the song Beautiful Heartbreak were continually going through my head the past few weeks.

       "I had it all mapped out in front of me, 
        Knew just where I wanted to go;
       But life decided to change my plans, 
       And I found a mountain in the middle of my road."

My sister and her family went to Idaho to her in-laws for Christmas, and on the way home the family stayed over at my Mom's here in Farmington.  They planned to spend  New Years here, then head home to Soccoro, 4 more hours south, later in the week.

However, my sister was admitted to the hospital here on Jan 2 because of high blood pressure and swelling in her legs and face.  Her kidneys had stopped working.  She had surgery 4 days later to insert a catheter for dialysis and began hemo-dialysis later that day.  When she was in the 4th grade she was diagnosed with Lupus which damaged her kidneys.  And apparently her kidneys finally did all they could do.

She definitely has a mountain in the middle of her road.

The hard part (well, there are many hard parts...) was that she was in the hospital here for almost 2 weeks but her kids needed to start school, as well as her husband who is getting an engineering degree at New Mexico Tech.  So it was decided the family would go home and my mom and other sister and I would take care of Holly at the hospital.

My mom's health didn't allow her to be there too much, and my sister works.  so I spent many hours at the hospital.  I didn't realize how emotionally draining it can be.  I decided that visitors are not only for the patient but immensely help out the person tending the patient also. 

I was glad I could be there for her but I felt helpless.  Wishing I could take it all away from my baby sister.  At one point I almost offered to go to Socorro and take care of the kids while her husband came to help her at the hospital because I thought she needed him and it would be easier for me.

She has been home almost a week.  Her ward is pitching in.  The dialysis center is 45 minutes away from her house. Three days per week she is away from her home for dialysis for about 6 hours.  That is a huge life changing thing for the whole family.  They need help and I am so grateful for ward families that take care of each other.  And I know that she and her family will grow from this experience.

I know she is going through a lot.  And her husband is too.  I can't do much, but I can pray for her and her family.

In a few months she will be able to do peritoneal dialysis with a machine at home while she sleeps.  The future holds a kidney transplant, but nobody knows how soon.  But we do know I have 2 brothers who are a match that were tested years ago.  My sister and I were never tested.  But we will be.  And there are so many people who have offered her one of their kidneys.

With faith she will be able to make it through these challenges in her life.  I know the Lord will carry her and hold her up.

She has a mountain, but as the song says, eventually she will find a beautiful heartbreak. Just like any of us going through a hard time.

"I knew there was no way to move it, so I searched for a way around; 
Brokenhearted I started climbing
And at the top I found...

Every fear, every doubt, 
All the pain I went through;
Was the price that I paid to see this view;

And now that I'm here I would never trade... 
The grace that I feel, and the faith that I find; 
Through the bitter-sweet tears and the sleepless nights; 

I used to pray he'd take it all away, 
But instead it became a beautiful heartbreak."

January 15, 2013

Nap Time?

We were supposed to be getting carpet installed today.  In the living room, hallway, and 4 bedrooms. However, we found out yesterday that it is back-ordered.  Which I suppose is okay but I wonder if the store was going to call and tell me that.  I called yesterday morning to ask some questions and that is when I learned that it won't be installed until next week.

So I didn't have to work quite as hard yesterday.  And today I think I am going to take a nap.  I already took one kid to the doctor, talked to a banker about a refinance (and you know how salesmen talk), made an appointment for the oral surgeon for my teenage son, made a grocery list, and texted a few times.  Isn't that enough to earn a morning nap?  Especially when it is minus 5 degrees outside?

Also--a very happy 'achievement' at our house, though its kind a 'secret' thing--My son has had FIVE dry nights in a row!  hooray hooray hooray.  (cuz he is almost 11, hence the reason he has been seeing the doc)

January 5, 2013

Post Holiday Ramblings

We had a very nice uneventful Holiday season, thank goodness!  (because last year's season was too eventful with stomach flu, lice, and a totaled family car).

I was a little bummed that the kids didn't get out of school until Friday the 21st.  and it wasn't even a half day.  There just seems to be fun things to do with the kids before Christmas like frosting cookies, crafting etc.  And that gave us only 3 days before the big day.  It's fine, but just sayin'-

However, now I am ready for them to go back to school and they don't go back until the 8th.  Two more full days of kids with lots of energy and cold cold weather outside.

Dustin is home for a few months and won't be going back to school.  He is waiting for his mission call!  His papers aren't quite submitted but will be within the week I think.

Brennen gets to drive himself to school now.  Hooray!  He got his license mid December.  The day he got his license I had him pick up Cam from piano lessons.  nice.

This morning as we had family prayer I looked around at my beautiful family and felt so blessed.  I thought how awesome it is that we get to start our day together as a family kneeling in prayer, quiet and away from the world.  Though I do enjoy the quiet house when they are away at school, it isn't easy to send them into the world everyday knowing (or not knowing) all that is waiting for them.  I am so grateful for my family, the birth of our Savior, and the knowledge and truth of the gospel, and that I have the ability to teach and influence my children in our home, and hopefully, keep them "unspotted from the world."