I try to do a “written snapshot” of life as we know it in our family at the beginning of each year (the others are here and here and here).  Oh how I want to remember the richness of life right here, right now before this part of it slips quietly onto the next stage. So here goes: What occupies Max’s mind the most is where he will get his next form of food.  He is a bottomless pit and can put down seven hamburgers in one sitting. He has also grown probably four inches in the last year and has finally passed up his Dad in height. Max has started borrowing Dave’s clothes and I catch myself not being able to tell the two apart at first glance. Dave is an outstanding Dad. He always knows how to explain things in the right way to the kids and how to set the right kind of boundaries. So grateful for him and his wisdom.2013-02-04 sunday 69164That trampoline is worth it’s weight in gold, by the way. Elle is 5’10” and she and Grace have both caught up with me in shoe size (size 10!).  I am continually finding items of clothes missing from my closet.  Later I find them crumpled up in Elle’s closet. I carry books around with me almost everywhere I go: in the car, from one spot to another in the house, to the doctor’s office, you name it, I have a book.  This is, of course, in hopes that I will sneak a second to read and somehow get through the stacks of books I want to read but I never seem to make much progress. We have finally started on the remodel of our new home.  It’s been a year in the works and Dave and I have both been through so many emotions getting it going. We still do International Nights but not every week. This one was “England Night” and happened to be on the same day as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. 2013-02-06 misc 69203Max was clearly overjoyed to be there. Don’t ask me why there is a brush on the table… Dave works with the Young Men at church and loves every second of it.  I work as the Jr. Primary chorister and although I love those children I always come home from church feeling sorry for those them that I’m not more musical.  Elle and Max are thick into tennis and volleyball.  They are in the midst of tryouts for the school teams right now.  They are really getting it and I love that with all my heart. Grace does a lyrical dance class, Claire is falling in love with tennis, Lucy takes swim lessons all year long, Grace and Claire do gymnastics and just started singing in a really cool choir group.  These things on top of church activities have me constantly trying to find a better balance in life because I’d rather be at home than sit in the car for hours on end. But when I think about it, I do love being trapped in the car with my kids.  I love overhearing their conversations.  Elle has more and more photography clients.  I’m so proud of how she can just do it all on her own now, editing and all.  2013-01-18 Elle-photo shoot 67911-Edit2013-01-18 Elle-photo shoot 679502013-01-18 Elle-photo shoot 68005-Edit  My son has his first friend who can drive.  It makes my heart skip a beat when they go off together.  It skips because I’m so happy for them, I mean, check out those smiles:2013-01-18 iPhone 68658…But it also skips because I cannot believe my son is that old.  It’s the beginning of the end of his childhood.  Lucy is in mainstream Kindergarten.  She adores her teacher and although it was a little rocky in the beginning (I was SO worried about her and she had some emotional outbursts I thought may make her teacher want to throw in the towel), she is doing exceptionally well.  She is reading and has the most beautiful handwriting.  She tested out of speech therapy as well as every other kind of aid except for vision help in the classroom. And that is something that sadly she may need more and more of. When my Dad was in town a couple weeks ago he got to telling her all about how he is color blind in some sort of conversation.  They laughed and laughed together that he thought red was green and brown was red.  When we were walking in the dark one night she grabbed for his hand to guide her and said “You’re blind of colors and I am blind of dark.” It gave me the chills.  It makes me so sad, but also glad that she is starting to comprehend it all.  We can help her through this thing.  I know it.  She’s learning Braille in school and figuring out how to maneuver the magnifying things they have available to her.  And also knowing to always sit in the front of the classroom so she can see what the teacher is teaching properly. Lu is an amazing artist in my book (see here and here…we can’t get enough of it). I am working on a few things with the BBS board where I serve as Vice President.  We are really hoping to make some serious strides together to fight blindness and other things that Lucy rides the bus every day.2013-01-25 iPhone 68770 I pick these two up at the bus stop every afternoon.2013-01-29 iPhone 69021 Grace still asks if I can read to her every single night.  I LOVE when we can squeeze in enough time.2013-01-16 iPhone 68652 The kids and I have sent out almost 100 Book of Mormons to people who have requested them in response to this post.  More on the way. 2012-10-22 life 63562 Elle and her friends are always doing some sort of funny photography thing.  2013-01-27 elle's iPhone 68971 Grace and her friends are starting to join in.  She made this video almost all by herself: https://vimeo.com/59036311 I need to start taking lessons from my children on how to do those types of things. We don’t have church on Sundays until 1:00 in the afternoon. That results in these kinds of activities in the morning:2013-01-13 untitled 67847 We have scriptures as a family each morning at 6:30.  If the kids don’t get there on time, they lose out on their “check mark” for morning.  This motivates some kids to be there, but other kids we are still working on.  Our “money system” (described back here) is still work, but we loving having some concrete way for kids to earn and manage money and to take care of our home. I think 2013 is gonna be a good year.

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  1. I've never commented before, but I have been a teacher of the visually impaired for the past 5 years. Reading your blog and your stories about Lucy has really put things into perspective for me and I love that she's learning braille…hopefully she won't need to use it, but it's much easier for her to learn it now with hopes of not needing it later, than for her to need it later and not know it!

  2. I'd love to learn more about the trampoline. I've never seen one like that before. I've sworn them off for our families because of the falling-off injuary stats. Can you send me more information/post more information?

  3. Hi from the UK,
    I love the picture of your children with their hats on from the crackers & especially that it was on a special day:)

    It's pancake day here tommorow – Shrove Tuesday. We have pancakes in the evening. I'm having mine for tea:). There are loads of pancake races in the area. The traditional topping is lemon & sugar.

  4. Your kids are SO tall Shawni-shoe sharing is awesome and will help you all through many a school dance.9606 I love these posts-you are such hard working parents, raising a sweet family of great kiddos. You are so inspiring!

  5. I think you "post a comment" button is having issues, I had to open the link in a new window, which is fine, but not the norm. Maybe it's just me? 🙂
    I loved this post and your family inspires me to no end. I admire you as a mother and even though we have different religious beliefs, I so love your dedication to your faith and community. So many lessons to be learned.
    I also burst out crying when I read what the beautiful comment that Lucy made to your Dad.
    In that past I've worked with the blind at Perkin's School for the blind in Watertown, MA.
    Even though the thought of Lucy losing her sight is devastating and heartbreaking, the fact that she has had sight at some point in her life, will help her SO much in the future if her eyesight worsens.
    I know you are aware of this and are working with specialists, etc…and I know you don't want to think of the worst case scenario, but preparing her now (which you are already doing with Braille, etc) will be her best defense in making her transition a smooth one.
    Of course, I pray that she never needs it…but preparation in this scenario really is necessary and your are doing all the right things.
    I also wanted to talk about your testing the waters, with eating gluten free, etc. I'm not sure if you're feeling better, or if you feel the difference yet, but please give it (and going sugar free) a chance. If the Dr prescribed a medication for you, you would take it…right? Well, think of food as your MOST powerful medication and that you really just don't have a choice, and that it s**ks..but you have to do it.:)
    You give so much to your family and you need to be your best self, and I know that you know this…but, without our health we really have nothing.
    Thank you for your blog.

  6. Thought your Max and Elle might enjoy a fun piano duet. My brother and I played it as teenagers…and still play it now and then for fun. Perhaps they will enjoy it too. (Sent it to your email) Music…the universal translator!

  7. I found your blog off the BBS website. Our 4th daughter (of 5) was born with what I learned to call Julia's "intricacies" because I have never been able to figure out exactly what she has going on inside her. We have just learned to help her through this life the best that we can. Long story short, although she is yet diagnosis an experience with the Spirit has touched my heart deeply and confirmed that she has BBS. As I had this experience last week I searched the internet until my eyes burned with tears, my heart about burst, and my mind literally hurt. My husband and I are seeing our doctor on Monday to talk about it all. Honestly, finding your blog has been a tender mercy from the Lord. When I saw your pictures and began to read your words, I knew you were LDS…we are also. I have feel SO alone for all of Julia's 5 years. Not alone because I don't have friends or a support system, I do. But alone because no one can empathize or REALLY understand. Now I don't feel alone. I still feel a bit numb and exhausted. I haven't yet been able to wrap my mind around it but I do feel comforted in many ways. I can clearly see how Heavenly Father has prepared me for this moment in many ways but I still feel overwhelmed. Julia won't start Kindergarten until the fall but I worry about her so much. I guess this is more than you needed to know but I feel like I needed to reach out so that in some small way I don't feel alone any more.

  8. I absolutely love your blog. I'm hoping you, or anyone else reading this, has some advice about making girls proud to be tall. My husband and I are both 6' tall, and I was made fun of my whole life. Our 13 month old, beautiful little girl is already off the charts. I am going to do everything in my power to make her feel beautiful (and smart, and capable) but I want her to truly love her height. Any tips? How do your girls feel?
    Thank you for your writing. It's so inspiring.

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