Each year I like to do a “snapshot” of how things work in our family at that particular moment in time.

(Links to the other snapshots are here: 20102011201220132014, 2015, 2016, 2017

I looked over some of those recently and I’m so glad I have them tucked away to remember.

So here we go with how the beginning of 2018 has looked so far.

I wrote most of this before Max got home, but I’ll add a little post-Max’s-return at the end.

Dave has proclaimed Grace to be the best teenage driver of the family.  And I should knock on wood but she does seem to know what she’d doing.  She drives “Ted” the truck around and man alive, I’m grateful every single day for an extra driver….mostly just to get her where she needs to be, but she’s so awesome to help with little errands when she can and it’s the best.

Some things come and some things go in a family schedule, but morning scriptures have remained a “constant” for a lot of years now.  We have shifted up how we do them every now and again, but they’re always at 6:30.  Sometimes I wonder how much good reading a few scriptures together can do in the early-morning state of grogginess, but there’s something about that consistency followed by family prayer each morning before breakfast that I’m hoping causes hearts and souls to be knit together in some way, shape or form. (more thoughts on this back HERE)

We tweak scripture study every so often.  Since there are five of us at home right now we each take a day to lead and try to dissect the verses we read.  Dave’s on Monday, I’m on Tuesday, Grace is on Wednesday and so on.  When it’s your day you assign which verses are to be read, ask questions to discuss, and you get to say the family prayer.  It’s working for now…maybe Max will have some more ideas to freshen up how we study when he gets back.

There is not quite the scramble there used to be to get out the door in the mornings these days.  Nowadays most of my kids can dress and bathe themselves (Lucy is still working on that, but lately we’ve been working on shifting to showers rather than baths and she’s getting pretty good at them). 

They can pack their lunches and make their beds and do the dishes (when they remember).  And I love it but I do miss the bouncing-off-the-wall chaos sometimes.

I still want to remember these mornings.  The mornings where I occasionally still do Claire’s hair alongside Lucy’s and new songs are plunked out on the piano when the girls are practicing.
The girls have things for me to sign and we work and clean together to get ready to get out the door.  But I’ve realized that sometimes they get stuff done faster when I leave them to their own devices.  I think that’s kind of funny.  
Grace drives to school every morning.  She leaves at 7:05 and picks up three other girls in our neighborhood on her way.

Claire still rides her bike to school and leaves at 7:45.  Her bike seat is all melted and sticky from sitting in the sun every day for so many years so she just puts a little washcloth over it to ride to school.  That yellow bike has lasted for a long, long time and I love that it matches her personality…most of the time.  I mean, she is newly 14 after all, and that, my friends, leads to some moodiness every now and again I have to say.

Lucy has started a new season of handbells and we carpool with our neighbor every Monday and Tuesday to get our girls there by 7:45.  On the other days Lucy and I try to walk to school with Bo in tow.  It’s good for the soul and the body for all of us.  Lucy told me after we finished our walking chart (“miles to Ecuador”) before our trip that charts “make her want to do things” so we have a new chart called “miles to max” and we’re trying to get in ten miles before he comes home in two weeks.

We still all look at each other in amazement every now and again that we have a DOG.  That is something I honestly never thought we’d do.


But she is a pretty great addition to the family…most of the time.  We still find little disasters here and there, but for the most part she has mellowed out and most of us adore her.  (I say most of us because I think Dave will always have a love/hate relationship with Bo Jangles.)

Bo can understand three words: “kennel” and she obeys to get in that thing to sleep at night, “food” and she knows to sit and wait patiently while we pour it in her bowl, and “walk.”  When she hears “do you want to go on a walk?” she cocks her head to one side to make sure she’s getting it right at first.  Then when she realizes we’re serious she starts scrambling around all perked up and happy, just waiting for that green mudroom door to open and she jets out of that thing.  I will have to record it some time because it cracks us all up.

When we’re in the neighborhood she doesn’t use a leash, she just stays right with us and will wait at street corners until we give her the “ok” to cross.  She’s pretty good in so many things I have to say.

(I cannot believe I just took that much time to write about a dog!…but we really like her.)

Lucy is the main one to get all her jobs done and check them off on her job chart.  I hope she will some day rub off on her older sisters!

We are all waiting such great anticipation to see Max.  For now we are still writing diligently each week and wait impatiently every Sunday night for his emails to start rolling in.  It will be a strange thing not to have that deadline every Sunday night when he finally arrives home.  He is doing so well on that island of his.  For the most part he is filled with excitement and joy when he writes each week, completely engrossed in the work and learning so much, trying desperately to utilize these last few weeks to work his hardest.

Elle’s calls home have gradually declined as she gets more and more involved in her island life.  She loves being in Hawaii, loves her classes, loves her major and loves all that life there in the tropics offers.  She was accepted into the graphic design program and has some pretty cool specialized classes starting this semester.  She just got accepted to do study abroad in Jerusalem in the spring and we’re all pretty excited for her.

Grace finally has some really good leads trying to find a job right in time for tennis season to start.  She stays pretty busy with student council and tennis clinic a few times a week.  She is the perfect oldest child to have at home because she is so good to her little sisters and is so helpful. Tennis team tryouts are in a couple weeks. {now it’s been a month or so since I wrote this and she made the tennis team and is earnestly starting into her matches…woo hoo!}

Claire is in “sports mania” mode and is doing club volleyball, club soccer, and tennis usually three times a week.  She has a growing love for volleyball which makes us happy because we sure like that sport!  She genuinely loves being involved in all those things and actually does a pretty good job balancing between sports and friends.  She has a great group of friends but is in a dramatic time of life (junior high is the worst in my opinion), but she’s handling it all pretty well.  Track season is coming up…and she wants to do it…trying to figure out what to cut.

Lucy has the sweetest gymnastics teacher who comes to our house on Tuesdays and helps her work out and learn some great gymnastics moves.  I love her.

Lucy’s eyesight is drastically diminishing which casts a dark, black shadow on many things.  We are all trying to get used to this idea.  It’s good that it’s gradual, but it’s emotionally so draining.  Lucy can’t articulate how she feels very well, but I think it comes out in her moodiness.  Sometimes her moods make me so nervous for the future.  It’s more and more difficult to snap her out of the dark ones…distraction is loosing it’s savor.

All the girls are still taking piano lessons and we love our piano teacher who hand-writes out Lucy’s music as large as possible each week for her lesson.

Dave is still serving in the high council at church over missionaries, which means he has meetings with them quite often. Kind of fun to have a good missionary contact while Max is out there. I just got released from young women and called to work in the primary. I work with the six-year-old’s and I adore those sweeties but I’m not gonna lie, they are a handful!  Love the challenge though.

Claire just got released as the Beehive president (over the girls ages 12-13) and Grace just got asked to serve in the presidency of the Laurels (ages 16-17).  I love that they have these opportunities to serve and grow.  Lucy has the best primary teachers who have challenged her to read the scriptures every day and she sure is taking that seriously!

Claire and Lucy have braces…they got them on the very same day right before school started.  I am becoming an expert at brushing braces and putting in elastics because man alive, braces are dang hard to keep clean and Lucy isn’t quite able to get all the food they hold onto.  We are so grateful for our waterpik!

Lucy is addicted to having friends over and also Friend Legos.  She seems to be in continual texting contact with all her friend’s moms (through my phone) and she makes things happen!

I’m trying my hand at home-schooling.  Claire is my guinea pig and we are liking it.  I don’t think it’ll be a long-term thing but I love the way it’s made us think.  I just think that we get so stuck in how education “should” be and we forget that we can really be in the driver’s seat if we want. There are so many options!  (a little more about home-schooling back HERE)

We live in a day and age where we are always struggling to balance the amount of technology we let take over our lives.  It is seeming to infiltrate into everything.  It is something I worry about a lot (most recent post about it back HERE).  Because of this, we talk about technology until my girls’ eyes roll, (ok, not really…at least most of the time, but we do talk about it a lot).  I know they appreciate the “talk” because they’ve both thanked me many times for many different reasons.  It’s a topic that merits lots of “offense” as well as awareness.  We need to re-vamp our “technology contract” since the world of technology keep evolving (contract is back HERE).

Ok phew!  That’s a lot!  I keep adding to this and now I need to just post it already!

A quick addendum though:  Max is now home.  And we are thankful every day…first of all that he’s home, and second of all that he left.  Sounds funny but I don’t believe there are many other things that could strengthen a kid more than something like a mission.  We’re soaking him in every day because he will start a new job in Utah on Monday.  He’s ready but man, we’ll miss him!

Lots more to talk about our adventures with him and his mission adjustment soon, but for now, there’s another snapshot wrap-up.

2018 is gonna be a good one.


  1. FYI – Bo may be a good dog, but you need to have him on a leash. It's the law in Gilbert. It does apply to you. From the Gilbert site:

    "Each dog shall be on a leash not to exceed six feet in length and directly under the owner's control when not on the owner's property.

    (c) Owner's responsibility; violation. If any dog is unrestrained on the public streets, public parks or public property, then the dog's owner or custodian is in violation of this article unless the dog is in a designated off-leash area in a dog park.

    (Code 1984, § 13-2-7; Ord. No. 1557, § I, 4-27-04; Ord. No. 2415, § I, 1-17-13)
    State law reference— Dogs at large, A.R.S. § 11-1012.

    1. Is that eyeroll because you don't believe that Mormons should be the example of law abiding citizens in their towns? Or because like most other rules they encounter, the Pothiers assume they don't apply to them? See the post below. I'm not the only one. I hope someone reports them and they get a ticket or fine. Not that they would care. "Oh we got in trouble 'cause Bo was loose. Ha ha boy howdy."

    2. What does being Mormon have to do with anything? Every citizen should strive to be a good citizen, regardless of religion, race, background, etc. Yes, it’s irresponsible for Shawni to not have Bo on a leash, especially since it’s against the law to do so, but your comment and past comments on Shawni’s blog makes me suspect that you’re one of those people who delight in finding ANYTHING to disparage Shawni. She can do no right in your eyes and you take every opportunity to tear her down.

      Time and time again, I’ve seen people ask you why you even read and comment when obviously you have a problem with Shawni’s blog, but you don’t answer; you stay silent for awhile, lurking, and then pop up in the comments when some time has passed. You claim to want to have a “discussion” but your comments as of late have been crossed the line of being civil and gone right into combative and negative. Seriously, just stop reading Shawni’s blog and focus your energy elsewhere; I know I’m not the only one growing tired of your continued negativity and snark.

    3. I would if you didn’t post on almost every single post. It’s kind of hard not to notice your comments when your negativity is all over Shawni’s blog. And, you should really take your own advice: if you don’t like Shawni’s blog, then stop reading it. It’s really easy to scroll past and not say anything or really, just not read it at all.

  2. Is a therapist or doctor saying to make Lucy snap out of it? Have you seen inside out? I know it’s a kids movie but I think there is truth that we need to be allowed to embrace all emotions and not be full of Joy every second. Sad, disgust, fear and anger also have their roles to play.

  3. I just wanted to say I JUST got a mini goldendoodle puppy and so I SUPER appreciated the Bo Jangles update portion =) I am LITERALLY as FAR from dog person as one can be and now I'm in full blown puppy life…just trying to anticipate how long this hard stuff will be…guessing a year.

    Can you tell me how old he is? I thought you got him last summer…but maybe it was the one before that. Also, did you do training?

    So sorry about your Lucy..I literally can't fathom how this might be but I'm amazed at how well you as a family help her navigate the tough stuff!

    1. Bo was a year old in November (we got her for Christmas last year). And yes, we did two rounds of training with two different trainers. They were life-savers! Good luck with that puppy! xoxo

  4. As much as I admire Shawni and her family, Tabby is correct. I run several days a week around our town and often encounter unleashed dogs walking with their owners. It’s an unfair burden to place on everyone you encounter. I hate dogs (even friendly ones) and don’t enjoy sniffs and licks. I have definitely had a few choice words for dog owners when their dog comes running over to greet me. It’s exasperating to hear them say “oh, he’s friendly!” This is ten times worse when my children are with me, and this animal who is often close to their size wants to sniff them.
    Sorry, I actually just encountered an unleashed dog on my run today, and obviously my blood is still boiling.

    1. I appreciate this, (and the comments above), we are obviously new at this and weren't aware that the leash is a law. Thank you for sharing because it reminds me that your perspective is similar to mine before we had a dog, I still cannot believe we have one! Bo does stay right with us except to run in one little area with no people around but we will have to change that!

  5. Shawni- I wanted to share a podcast I recently heard about kids and technology.It is so good and a total eye opener for me. I saw Kirk Cameron's movie Connect and he interviewed this doctor. I just wish I'd heard this ten years ago. I never realized that the very behavior I was trying to avoid was what I was fostering by the way we let our kids use technology in our home. Anyways I have always loved reading what you say about technology so I thought you might enjoy it. http://www.breakpoint.org/2017/12/dr-kathy-koch-on-kids-and-technology/ As always thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with all of us. XO

    1. I love this, Amanda! Thank you for including the link in your comments. I just listened to it and have a plethora of ideas to talk about with my kids!

    2. Thanks so much for that link, we are on a road trip and will listen in the car. Also I want to see that movie! Sounds like a good one.

  6. Unleashed dogs are very upsetting to people, like my 8 year old son, who are very afraid of dogs. We are working on being around dogs with him, it's not easy to tackle some forms of anxiety, but people who don't follow the rules do make it so much harder. Of course, I understand this is not your intention, Shawni, but I do want you to be aware of how your actions may be affecting those around you.

  7. If Toto was leashed he would not have have bitten a neighbor on that neighbors property, the dog would have not been taken to be destroyed, the girl would have not run away and have been perfectly safe in the tornado shelter. It amazes me the victim of a dog bite is the villain? Different times. The family is new to being dog owners. I’m sure they will improve.

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