Lately we have been watching a whole slew of old family movies around here.

You see, a couple months ago our dear Emily (who has a business transferring old movies to DVD and is my hero because of that little fact) dropped off our second installment of them.  (The first installment and contact info for her is back here.)

There is nothing like a family movie.

You can take pictures by the boat-load and never, ever capture the voices and the depth of life the way you can with family movies.

Seriously, they make my heart warm.

But in a small way they make me sick to my stomach.

“How did those years pass so quickly?” I say to myself.

And I find myself wishing with all my heart I could reach right through that television screen and hold tight to that newborn.  Smell her neck and watch her stretch her tiny feet out of my swaddling.

I wish I could fold that small, quirky boy who used to be Max into my lap and whisper in his ear how much I love him.

I wish I could sit down on the piano bench with that beginning piano player you can hear plunking away in the background.

I wish my voice didn’t sound so funny behind the camera asking questions 🙂

But oh how I love reminiscing with the kids at how funny we were.  How different things were.  How much we have learned.  How much we have changed.  I love to hear Lucy coo over how “darling” she was as a baby and to see Grace’s slow smile as she watches herself give a tour of her bedroom as a two-year-old spit-fire.

I sit and wonder: did I cherish those moments enough?  Did I stoop down low to really look into those sweet, glistening eyes?  Did I lie on the grass with them to watch the stars?  Did I snuggle them into bed at night and tell them how proud I was of them?

But then I am comforted because to be honest there is love oozing out of those movies.  I don’t think you could hear more love in my voice for them in those silly questions if you tried.

Sometimes I wish I could revert to that mother I was.  Man, I sure seemed nice.

There was no huffing and puffing, or nagging, or wringing my hands with worry about this or that.

Sure, there is an occasional child bawling as background music, but through that lens life seems so peaceful and serene.

I was lamenting the old days until my friend reminded me that no one pulls out their video camera when they are mad-as-a-hornet at their kids.  No one thinks to capture the throw-up in the middle of the night or the trips to the doctor…or the fights with your husband.  That stuff is filtered out and forgotten.

It’s absence is filled in by the “happy birthday” songs with dimple-cheeked children and sunset walks creating halos around the messy hair of those darlings.

It sure seems all hunky-dorey in hindsight.

I was comparing that this week with blogs.

Sometimes only the highlights are captured.  All the good and fun and glamorous parts of life.  I really do try to keep it real on here, but sometimes I get carried away with the highlights and forget to put in the nitty-gritties.

I was extra aware of this last week when I got several comments from readers and even my husband that life sure seems pretty perfect around here according to this blog.

It reminded me that sometimes I need to back up and remind my future children (and others reading this blog) about the disclaimer I wrote back here (and put a link at the top of this blog).

Life is not all butterflies and rainbows around here.

And to be honest, I want to remember the tough-as-nails stuff just as much as I want to remember the rainbows.

Like how Lucy has worn Claire’s huge, dirty flip-flops to church the last four weeks because I can’t find Sunday shoes wide enough to fit her feet.

And how I got in a wing-dinger fight with Dave about who should do what on Sundays.

And that Max’s teenager attitude is rearing up more and more.

And how I can’t seem to manage my time to save my soul.

Our house project is slow as molasses.

Lucy’s obsessive compulsive habits are on the verge of sending Dave into a tailspin of worry and her deteriorating eyesight weighs so heavy on our hearts sometimes we can scarcely think about anything else.

My health stuff is always inconclusive and I’m so sick to death of going to doctors to have them tell me they don’t know any answers as to things like why my hair is falling out in handfulls, and Dave is trying to figure out some health stuff as well.  Which equals that we are getting older.  And that’s not that fun.

Yeah, I do want to remember those things.  The rough things make the good things that much sweeter.  I’m not trying to compare our hard things to others…everyone has their own sorrows and worries that no one else can really fully understand.  But that’s the tough thing about blogs (and family movies), they don’t show those things intermixed with the cheery smiles and special events.

But hey, I am as grateful as can be for life and I want to remember that gratitude.

Gratitude translates into silver lining on those black storm clouds that roll in so ominously.

And I’d rather concentrate on being thankful for the good than wallowing in the bad.

I have kids who are willing to work hard.

Lucy can see right now…and got some new whiz-bang glasses that help her even more.

I have a husband I adore who comes home from working hard for our family each day and gives me a kiss and a hug.

…even if I’m mad at him.

Yes, life is good.

…with the good and the bad that rolls along the way.

So, dear children and grand-children, be sure to read that disclaimer.  And all the other “keeping it real” links I put in here.  Because life is real.

But I still love it.  And I feel like the luckiest girl ever to have what we have amidst the bumps along the road.

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  1. Anyone who has lived life knows that nobody has a perfect one. I love that you highlight the good stuff because you're right, life is good and we should be grateful for what we have. Even when it's extremely difficult, we still have a lot to be thankful for. Thanks for reminding everyone of that.

  2. first i have to say i love your yellow pants. i'm 4'11 & can't fathom having long skinny legs like yours.

    I appreciate your blog. and yes, i agree totally there is a fine line on how real and how cherry you can keep your blog.

    for example, on mine (which is even private) i never write about my frusterations being married to a functional alcoholic (i'm an active mormon, hubby isn't). some that know my life more intimantly can read between the lines but writing and sharing about the good stuff is what helps me to stay positive, keeps my eye on the prize. we have to "press on". some things are not worth writing about and dwelling on and others are.

    you do a beautiful job. you and nienie are my inspirations. and you have incredable husbands.

  3. I may sound petty, but I am thankful for your keeping it real posts. I love your blog, but your house looks so beautiful, you have or had cleaning help at 1 point, you get to travel, and you seem to mostly have it all together. I find you very inspirational. You have lots of brilliant ideas, but it was good to know sometimes you, too, have/had kids all around driving you bonkers, etc. We each do have our trials, but focusing on the positive is key. We just need to realize everyone has their worries-whether they choose to focus on them or the good stuff. Rambling I am, but thanks for what you share. 🙂

  4. Great post. I see this problem with youth and facebook. They look at others' facebook pages and think that everyone else has it all together when the reality is like you expressed here; people typically do not post the negative things that happen throughout the day. It's so important to remind our children of this!

  5. I talked with Dave the other day and commented about your blog. He said, "yeah, I sometimes read it and say to myself, 'hey, those guys seem to have a great life. I wish my life were like that.'" I've laughed about that several times.

  6. It's great to hear some of your concerns along with the great things in your life. I also feel your pain on finding dress shoes for wide feet. Crocs have been a lifesaver around here! I know some people don't like them but I have found some really great ones that we've used as dress shoes.

  7. It's posts like this that remind me why I love reading your blog. You're real and you're not afraid to tell everyone that everything isn't perfect.

    The other day I was going through my blog books (I turn my blog into a book at the end of every year) and I was thinking, "Wow, we were always happy and smiling back then. Everything was perfect. What happened?" Then I started reading my recent blog posts and realized, it still seems pretty perfect….although it's not. When I write my posts I always think that someone down our family line will read this so I want them to know how happy we are right now. But you're right I also need to keep it real. Thanks for the reminder.

  8. Love this! Also, I know this probably isn't the best place to ask but I couldn't find a way to email you. What is the best way to protect your camera when around water. We're going to Thailand soon and I don't have a good camera case/bag but want to get all the necessary things to protect my camera. What do you recommend? We do have a DSLR if that helps. You're wonderful and an inspiration to so many.


  9. Thanks for keeping it real Shawni. I think we sometimes forget that we compare what we know to be "our worst" with what we see as "someone's best". We all have the good and the bad (and the ugly). Part of my sanity though is to write my blog from the perspective of wearing my rose coloured glasses – as it does help me TRY to be better, try to be that person on my blog more consistently. When my kids read it, I feel more accountability to make sure it happens and that I am the kind of Mom/Stepmom that my rose coloured lenses allow me to be. If I express gratitude, I become more grateful. If I turn a negative into a positive as I write my blog, guess what? It turns that way. But, I have to admit, sometimes it is good to be recording the fits and the tantrums and the sulky attitudes to keep it real – and make us appreciate the whole journey! Sometimes I want to document, and to remember the challenges, the negatives, the doubts. It is often the best teacher for my future self (and my future children), and maybe some others going through similar trials? I once was told an entry I had written concerning "grief" was too "negative". That made me sad, because writing that entry about my personal struggles and grief was so liberating and was actually uplifting and one of the most healing things I have ever done. Thanks for your awesome blog and inspiring messages:)

  10. Hello, I felt the sudden urge to comment you after reading this post; I read a few blogs on a regular basis (too regularly, some may say!) and I rarely comment. However, this post, it hit me, you are a real person living their life just like me. I am 21, I live in the UK and I was dropped off at University yesterday for the fourth and final year, it is always painful waving goodbye to my parents and home. Your blog makes me look foward to the future, the good and bad bits, I really love what you do here. You make it REAL and thats what draws me back day after day! Thinking of you. Anna

  11. Hey, Shawni, for wide shoes, have you tried Zappos? They have categories just for kids' wide shoes. Also, they have a cheaper sister site, so sometimes I order a bunch of different sizes from Zappos, pick the best, return them (they have free shipping both ways) and then order from 6pm. Also, shoes for diabetics are often made extra wide to account for inserts that those patients often need.

    I hope it works out for Lucy! She is such a cute girl — she deserves some pretty dress shoes!!

  12. Go to a crocs store, they have cute Mary Janes that would work for her I think!

    Thanks for keeping it real, I was amazed at your international nights post and wondered how you do it even with health problems! Glad to know you have challenged as well

  13. Sometimes I DO pull out the video camera in the middle of an ugly scene around here. I hit record and say keep it up-I'm going to want to remember this or this will be funny to post on facebook. My darn kids always quit the nonsence right then and there and I always seem to miss capturing it.

  14. Shawni, we should chat about our "situation." I have Hashimoto's too and I am doing my best to also understand how to address the piles and piles of hair I lose daily and vacuum up all over my house. I have a number of other fun symptoms too and I am learning more every day as to how and address this "fun." I am sorry you are in this too.

  15. I recently read a quotation that said, “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” Boy, isn’t that the truth!

    I appreciate your blog and the insights you offer and I don’t judge you one bit for focusing on the good- it’s called being optimistic and grateful, and it’s what will get you through the not-so-good. 🙂

  16. I remember an old family “Kodak” parenting moment when my Mom was frustrated and yelling at us to do something…and the phone rang in the middle of it…she grabbed it and in this SWEET-AS-PIE Pretty- Princess voice said, “Halloooooo? Oh Hiiiii Sister Jones! How ARE you??” The look on our faces, as kids, was complete shock! (WHO is this imposter answering the phone??!?!? And HOW did she show up so QUICK?) Personally I LOVE stories of parents in action. (Love when parents are yelling at their kids…and they go through ALL 5 kids names until they get to the kid they want.) I don’t think there is anything to be embarrassed about when it comes to parenting or how we authentically treat each other in our private lives. It is pretty darn universal.

  17. I thought of this when I read this….years ago we loaded up 6 kids and stuck them in an RV and drove them from Idaho to Nauvoo and back in 10 day's. We stoped to see everything we could think of in those 10 day's and I wanted so much for our newly blended family to have some awesome and fun and (loving) memories. Memories they would cherish and maybe just maybe they would learn to love each other a little. Well, by the time we got home I was sure that all they would remember was the constant fights and battles they seemed to have and how bad they hated being stuck in an RV for so long (where they couldnt get away from each other). I am happy to report however, that the few good things that happend IS what they remember most. I was totally surprised, but so glad that the good memories can outweigh the bad. Its so much more fun to reminice over the good stuff!

  18. Thank you so much for this article..I have been reading your blog for a couple months now and it has helped me tremendously become a better mother, have more family fun and closeness.In my opinion what you write is meant as inspiration and gentle guidance. We all have bad days and tantrums, we all lose it sometimes. But most of us didn't have the great parents you had, most of us don't know about all those wonderful praising tips and psychological tools that you use with such grace. Finally we all benefit from the wonderful spirituality that is yours and your family's ;).
    So thanks a million…As for the hair loss, i'm a bit of an expert so I would advise scalp massages and Vitamines B (B6, B9 and B12). Check out with your doctor first of course!
    Have a bright day,

  19. 25Thanks for the honest comment. I was starting to feel terribly inadequate as a mother because it seems like your life is so perfect, having international nights when I can barely muster up Mac and Cheese for my 4 kids.

  20. oh i love your outfit in that last picture!!!!

    i love this blog, because you do keep it real, i still think your family are one of a kind in an amazing way! I strive for that!!

    * so are we allowed to ask, what the talk was you and dave had words over about who does what on sundays? LOL

  21. I love your blog, especially today's post. I love watching old movies with the kids and so do they. But… things are different when they are older, we are older too. Just got to keep rolling along and loving them just as much along the way. Thanks for this post today.
    Have a great day!


  22. My favorite quote, from 'Old Yeller". Pa says to Travis,

    "It might seem mighty cruel and unfair but that's how life is part of the time. But that isn't the only way life is. A part of the time it's mighty good. And a man cant afford to waste all the good part, worrying about the bad parts. That makes it all bad."

    Life really is "mighty good" even with the bad parts!

  23. I have been a regular reader of your blog for a few years, but never commented! I love the keeping it real posts you have, b/c in reality…this is how everyone's life is! There are great wonderful things and then also those things happening in the trenches of mothering a family! I'd love to know where you got those yellow pants in that last picture!

  24. You are simply the cutest Shawni! And hey, how about some pics of that slow as molasses reno? I'm dying to see the transformation of this new mysterious place you guys will call home (soon I hope)!

  25. Tears everywhere. They began as you discussed the fears you had that you had possibly not savored their little years as much as you would have like. They were exacerbated by the reminder that you are a real person and this is a real family and as such you guys have bad and not so good and sometimes awful in addition to the amazing. The honesty is a hard and beautiful thing.
    My life and personal beliefs couldn't be further from yours, in so many facets, if I tried, but I love your blog. I love the values you teach your children, the effort you put into creating meaningful experiences for them, the love you share with your husband.
    Thank you for sharing with we strangers.

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