I do this little “snapshot” of what life is like at the beginning of each year. There’s something about just capturing a “moment in time” that I love. So I’ve been putting some pictures over here on this draft every now and again in preparation, and I think it’s funny that the majority of the pictures involve Bo Jangles. How is it that this little dog has woven her way so tightly into our lives?

I don’t know, but we all really like her. Claire still talks about how crazy it is that we have this little furry creature roaming around our house.

You’ll see her more but let’s back up to this, because THIS is how our at-home family is right now:

We go to Chick-fil-A every night and we’re just laughing all the time. HA! Actually that picture was taken back in December when we decided on a whim to not make dinner at home and go do the “Chick-Fil-A vs. Popeyes chicken sandwich challenge” which Claire and Dave convinced Lu and I was a “thing” (and it really was). Chick-Fil-A won in my book, just for the record, but the point of this is to show that having two kids is pretty slick most of the time. So easy to maneuver two kids around and these two are pretty great ones.

But we do miss the others like crazy and in some ways it feels like we’re in this strange “twilight zone” with often only Lucy home since Claire has so. much. volleyball. Yow!

We are in club volleyball season following a really fun high school season. This is intense stuff and she has her first traveling tournament this coming weekend. Dave and I start to get overwhelmed with how much it takes her away, but then we watch how much she glows in love with that sport on the court and we’re glad for her. She’s learning a lot.

Speaking of volleyball, Max is also in it hook, line and sinker up in Provo.

He is into his second volleyball season at BYU. WooHOO.

Seriously, this stuff is exciting. Last year he redshirted, and didn’t play, and this year he’s still low-man-on-the-totem-pole so who knows if he’ll walk on that court this year (there are some phenomenal and experienced middles on that team), but man! He’s learning so much and loving it (most of the time…it is tough stuff), surrounded by so many good guys. They are ranked #2 in the nation right now and are undefeated so that’s something right there.

These two are living up the young married college life up there and oh boy, I adore them and I’m so proud of them and all they are doing. I LOVE that Abby is the best daughter-in-law in all the land and is so good at keeping in touch, love you Abby!

They live in a cute little house Abby found that they love and they are busy as can be trying to balance school and jobs and volleyball. And as far as I’m concerned, they’re rocking it:)

We are getting ready to welcome Carson into our family in April, although it feels like he’s already been part of us for a long time, such an easy guy to love and goes with the flow.

Elle is certainly head-over-heels in love with him and he just makes her face light up in every way. So funny to see because this is Elle. And she’s just not normally the twitter-pated type. She will be graduating in Graphic Design a few days before the big wedding (she’s worked so hard, has had continual scholarships, and we’re so proud of her), and Carson will be graduating in a few more semesters with a plan to attend podiatry school.

Grace is living the good life over in Hawaii too, as a freshman in the dorms, taking all kinds of classes and meeting all kinds of new people, trying to fit in surfing and skating and sunset-watching amidst the studying…and a little beach camping here and there.

I love to talk to those girls of mine over there, FaceTiming with blue skies and swaying palm trees behind them. They had two classes together last semester, and Grace loves to cook in Elle’s kitchen when she can (no kitchens in the dorms), and I just really like them and that they are together over there. Love that Grace has had the opportunity to be involved in all Elle’s engagement/wedding prep stuff.

Sometimes we have those swaying palm trees in the desert too, but this time of year I just love the barrenness of it all. I love my neighborhood:

…and any chance to escape to my desert mountains to hike.

Claire is sixteen, the only one of our kids so far to actually turn sixteen and get her driver’s license and start dating during her sophomore year (all the three older kids had summer birthdays). But she is doing it beautifully and drives all over the place. This was the first time letting them drive off to Target by themselves:

Made my heart jump but they came through with flying colors.

Aside from volleyball, there are a bazillion friends her age around these parts. Sometimes she loves that and sometimes it can make for some drama, but all in all, it is pretty awesome. I love that she still wants to go to lunch together and that she’ll still throw her arms around me when I see her in public 😉

She is also a fraction of an inch away from catching up with me height-wise and has grown almost five inches in the last year.

Right now the “style” around here is to wear things from Savers. Or maybe that’s just my kids? Is it the Hawaii influence? HA! I think it’s funny that Claire and her friends will occasionally go to the thrift store and come home with “treasures” to trim and modify to make them work.

Lucy continues to build up her spirit amidst the tough things she faces with her syndrome. She takes notes in church, always listening to the talks so intently, always has some kind of analogy that makes her eyes light up.

Her vision is dwindling quickly and it is tougher and tougher for her to maneuver the worksheets in school and to grapple with the assignments on her touch-screen computer (highlighting certain parts of articles, mapping parts of World War I, deciphering rocks and minerals for science. You don’t realize how much you take your sight for granted until you have a little girl who tries to hold on to the strands of vision she has for dear life. And then you waffle between wanting to just sit down and bawl because you are trying to carry that heavy burden for her and you can’t, and wanting to bask in the beauty of her strength and determination.

Dave and I take turns taking her on dates to Wisconsin for her clinical trial. It is COLD there!

But the people we work with are the best and we have begun to embrace those dates and we have our routine down to a science. And the results of the trial have changed Lucy’s life for the better in drastic measures. She has lost nearly forty pounds, she is so much happier, can get around so much easier despite the vision loss, and things like that domino into the rest of family life as well. We are so grateful. She gets a shot in her belly every morning and she is brave as can be. This is the reason for her serious “suntan” for those who missed it the first couple times I mentioned it. Much more about that back HERE.

We ride the tandem bike to school almost every day, often with Bo in tow. She is so funny when we put on her leash harness thing-a-ma-bob, she stands there like s statue and won’t move until we’re ready to go. And she cracks us up.

Those are some pretty precious moments of motherhood, talking as we ride along on that tandem bike, the wind whipping our hair. Sometimes I have to snap a picture of Lucy when she comes out of school to greet me because she looks like a little angel to me, the sun lighting up her hair from behind.

Lucy has become such a hugger and I love it. She used to be a little prickly when it came to that, but now she will fold herself into us. All the time. And it is the best. It’s also the best that she will still let me read to her, and requests to snuggle while we read, and loves to discuss books.

She still loves everything Lego Friends, and is bracing herself for some pretty serious back surgery this summer to fix her scoliosis. (We’re all bracing ourselves for that one, grateful it can be done but nervous too.)

We have embraced the “third hour” of church to have our own family meeting. (For those who are wondering what the “third hour” is, for as long as I remember church has been three hours on Sundays and this past year they reduced it to two, encouraging family study at home.) And although I sure miss seeing more of “my people” at church and learning more there since it’s so short (I’ve always been a church-lover), I do love this:

No wonder they like that third hour, all sprawled out on the couches, right?? Ha! It actually didn’t change much for us since we’ve always done “family home evening” on Sundays after church, but we stepped up our game a little with the “Come Follow Me” program (which rocks), and we have some great meetings.

My favorite of which are our own family testimony meetings on Fast Sundays. That is when, to me, that room up there in that picture fills up to the brim with love, for each other as well as for our Savior.

We still do scriptures/devotional in the mornings, all of us bleary-eyed, and often with blank stares from the girls, but I am so grateful for that time set aside together, and then breakfast right after (Dave and I take turns on who teaches and who cooks breakfast). I’m especially grateful for this time together this year, since dinner, on the other hand, is kind of a train wreck lately. Oh I am still cooking lots, trying all kinds of new recipes, (inspired by my internet “friend” Lillie, love her recipes!). But so many nights one or both girls are gone, Dave is sometimes out of town, little things that make a bigger difference now that it’s just the four of us. Not giving up though!

A little example of what Lucy brings to lunch each day:

Just because. Sometimes that stuff is fun to remember. We buy out Trader Joes from their freeze-dried banana slices every time I go. Lu has an awesome piano teacher who writes up new songs for her each week. I took this video a little while ago but it tells the story of how piano is going right now so here you go:

And Dave and I? Well, we are just trying to hold on tight and keep up with all the happenings around here.

It seems like rather than getting more simple like I thought it would, life keeps catapulting to new levels of puzzles to figure out. With parenting and life in general. Gosh people go through rough things and it seems like those things are happening more and more right around us, and I’m so grateful for the “village” that we can lean on, and to whom we can try to be strong enough to lend a shoulder to cry on.

And I know it sounds cheesy, but the more I’m married to that guy up there, the more I’m grateful for him and adore him. He is the yin to my yang, and he helps me keep life in the proper perspective. And also makes me laugh. In church he just got released from being a high counselor and I teach primary and activity days (best callings in the whole wide church in my opinion), I am trying to keep up with all the passions I’m interested in: this blog, writing…(I’d love to write another book some day!), learning from being a guest on some podcasts here and there (I’ll link some of the ones I’m doing soon), and mothering the best way I know how, and he is working his tail off with all the things he’s got his fingers in for work plus being the best dad ever to all his kids who adore him. He still works from home which I love, but will be moving to an office soon. The biggest thing we fight about right now (ha!) is how in Heaven’s name to plan a wedding from thousands of miles away. But we’re making some traction and it’s gonna be a party.

I know there is so much I’ve forgotten but I’m out of time so that’s a wrap for my little snapshot of 2020.

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  1. I’ve always loved these snapshots. I wanted to recommend a book to you. It’s called The Read Aloud Family by Sarah Mackenzie…you would probably enjoy it, but I would recommend it for younger families. I thought maybe your kiddos who are getting married might enjoy it; it’s a great wedding gift alongside kitchen stuff honestly. It’s so good I read it every year now; to remind me of the importance of what I do as a homeschooling mom. 💕

  2. A shot in the belly EVERY day? Yikes – that takes some SERIOUS courage. Lucy is so incredibly brave. I do realize that sometimes the only choices are staying in bed with the covers pulled up over the head or getting up and putting one foot in front of the other…..but from the outside looking in, she is so, so, so brave.

    I have a good friend who says, “God wants this for me or something better – not worse” I love seeing that echoed in Lucy’s church notes.

    1. Oh BYU Hawaii kind or rocks in the scholarship category because if you get really good grades, they just give you an automatic scholarship. You don’t even have to apply for it. It’s pretty amazing!

  3. Just have an intimate lunch or dinner after the wedding for local folks and immediate family and do an open house when you get back. My parents actually had very little to do with the wedding planning.

    1. Kristine, Everyone’s experience is different. Sounds like what you suggest above worked for you but it is not necessarily what Elle, or anyone else, wants. For example, My wedding included a big lunch reception at a fancy outdoor venue and my parents had EVERYTHING to do with the planning

    2. Here in Australia the minimum driving age is 17 without an full licenced driver in the car to supervise. Recently my 17 and 15 year olds were heading off to their part time jobs together for the first time. It was bittersweet watching them reverse out the driveway. Sad they are becoming so independent exciting that they could save for a car and become young adults. I feel your pain!

  4. I had to drop back in and say thank you and that I love the search feature on your blog! We make homemade pizza every year for Valentine’s Day with our kids. I’ve been using the flatbread recipe you’ve shared, I think it’s Shelley’s Flatbread? Anyway, I had that post saved on Pinterest and I just refer to it every year. Since you changed your blog format, the Pinterest link didn’t work last night. 😩 No problem, I just can’t here and searched. THANK YOU.

    I should also probably write the recipe down since it’s now a family favorite around here. 😍

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