In the beginning of February our kitchen looked like this with our traditional kitchen “heart attack” plastered all over the place:

Plus, it always looks squeaky-clean like that.  Ha! I should post more pictures of my kitchen when it’s strewn about with so many “things,” pots and pans and dishes and kids and backpacks and smudges of peanut butter rather than opting for pictures on the “extra clean” days…because boy, that kitchen is sure a hub for a LOT of things going through it.  And I love that because that’s where so much life happens. 

But I digress.  Grace’s notes were extra in depth this year, complete with her beautiful handwriting and thoughtful “love.”

Those are some examples.  

But don’t go thinking that it’s all love and sweetness over here all the time though, we sure have our fair-share of sassiness and arguing, just gotta set that straight.  Maybe that’s why I was so determined to get those love-notes up speedy-quick!  🙂

I swear being surrounded by those makes a difference…at least I like to think it does.  
I love a reminder of the love even through the iron-wills that dwell here!
Dave got to go skiing with his friends. 

 …and this time he didn’t have to check himself into a hospital so that’s good 😉

We delighted in having these tall kids work out with us while they were home and their little sisters were at school.  Here we are after a particularly sweaty workout:

 Lucy had a “color run” fund raiser at school.  Here she is with her class pre-color spray:

Lu was really worried about getting sprayed with color…that just did NOT sound fun to her.  So her darling teacher let her be the “official color sprayer:”

 …which she was very good at:

I couldn’t be there and my friends were the sweetest to send these pictures.

 Meanwhile Dave and I were soaking in our “big kids” with all our might.

Elle was only here for a few days so we made the most of that time.

I wrote all about what we did for those precious days back HERE, but I don’t think I included this cute pic of his great aunt and uncle who came to meet us on our little sunset bike ride one night:

 I did post this one, but hey, bowling…and everyone together:

And there are a lot of skateboarding pics on that post but one more here for good measure.

I just cherish that togetherness so much!

In February Lucy perfected her art of coordinating get-togethers…she’s pretty good at that.  Here’s a funny text chain with one of her friend’s mothers so you can get the idea:

Coordination is apparently one of her many talents 🙂

Here’s a fort they built one day:

I got to take my big girls to a baby shower for my niece:

 …where we met up with almost all my sis-in-laws and lots of cousin-in-laws too and so many nieces:

I feel incredibly lucky to be related to each of those women up there.  They are power-women, every one.

And so glad my girls get to be related as well.

Super Bowl Sunday…Lucy made sure we did almost EXACTLY what we did last year…she was quite pleased with that I guess!

Elle helped me teach my primary class at church.  I only had six six-year-olds but she was laughing at how “busy” they were and took this pic…which really doesn’t do that busy-ness justice and only shows a few.

But boy-oh-boy they sure were cute.  (We have since had a ward split and I don’t have a new calling yet…but I miss those kids!)

We were pretty grateful to have Elle that Sunday…we weren’t supposed to…we had this awesome supposedly “last” morning together where I made everyone take a family picture and we had one of my favorite family testimony meetings ever in the car on the way to the airport.  We dropped off Elle, headed to church, got a new calling (to teach the Marriage and Family relations class…which is now changed because of the ward split as well…) and then got a call that that girl had somehow missed her flight.

Complicated to explain, and she was pretty stressed about it, but the airlines were so nice to reschedule for the next day, it was the best class possible for her to miss on that Monday, and we got one more precious day with the whole family together.  Woo Hoo!

Here are some out-takes from the pictures we snapped that morning…with the self-timer perched on a ladder:

We just took a few, and here they are:

Lucy’s glasses broke right at that moment:

We tried to have her just stand really super still:

 Max was so tall:

 So we had him crouch down a tad:

 There we go:

Ha!!  (Lucy’s sporting some new glasses Dave bought in China in case that happened…he thinks of everything.)

After that Max became my “date” for most things.

I loved having him along, especially for fun things like picking up Claire’s volleyball carpool and watching the last little bit of practice.

 …Lucy couldn’t be bothered with volleyball watching and was pleased as punch to pull out her book:

The night before we headed to California Dave took me out for my Christmas present here:

 To see “Hamilton” with these good friends:

Oh man, it held up to all the hype in my mind I have to say.  So clever and brilliantly put together, and really deserves more than those couple dark pictures to show for it, but they help me remember.

Then it was off to be together in California with our returned missionary…including exercise challenges:

Game nights, book reading everywhere we went for Lu:

No-pose challenge HERE.

…and just being together.

Lots more about that little trip to California HERE.

Then we came home and low and behold, we had this crowd there to surprise us at the airport to greet us:

…and who would not be overly delighted to have group like that greeting you at the airport??

Oh boy.
(We knew they were coming to the desert, but didn’t realize they’d be at the airport to greet us all together.  Love them!)

Lots more details about that back HERE,  which includes this first of Max’s mission reports for all the cousins.

We had so many great family members from both sides of the family around for Max’s homecoming talk at church and we were so thankful for all the great support.

Here’s a tiny sampling of the group that I caught:

All about the homecoming weekend HERE.

 More good friends for Lucy…my friend sent this from lunch one day:

 Max bonded with Bo Jangles:

(As a side-note, see all those pictures behind him?  We printed those out from pictures he sent from the mission…it was kind of fun to have a “frame-of-reference” for him to explain a lot from what was pictured there.)

 ..and he bonded with his Dad who was so happy to have him around…

(that last picture is from when they went to the BYU volleyball game that was taking place here in the desert)

Desert sunsets:

I thought this was funny:

 More creations:

 …with more friends:

 We fully utilized the orange season…not much better that freshly squeezed oj in my opinion:

Fun to marvel at how much everyone grows in two years.

Sorry if I’ve already posted these pics of Bo, bear with me.  But here she is in all her glory:

She has crazy hair on top of her head:

Claire had cousins sleep over on President’s Day weekend because I guess that’s a tradition.
And it’s also a tradition to have ocean pancakes:
(recipe for those back HERE.)
Grace’s friend from China who moved here, then to Boston, came back to visit….just in time to help her get ready for MORP (on the right below).

 Claire’s friends helped me make sure the light was ok for pictures before the MORP couples came:

…and then we ended up taking most pictures without it anyway because we lost light by then.
(More about MORP back HERE.)
Then the next night she got asked to prom:

She’s so excited!  Colby is such a great kid.

So fun to have friends reunited after two years of completely different adventures for each one of them:

Not sure who took this next one, but I like it:
My handy husband worked to fix our broken kitchen sink.

That thing was on it’s last leg, then broken for a while. 

My companion Max and I were on a quest to find a new one.  Man alive you sometimes forget to be thankful for things like running water (at least I do!)

Luckily the plumber came to fix the water heater and was able to fix that thing too. 

Now I think about how grateful I am every single time I turn it on. 

Running water is such an amazing luxury!

Max asked someone out on a date…his first date home from a mission. 

I got to be in the car with him when he called that cute girl he knew in high school and it was the funniest thing.  I loved being there with him as he about died of nervousness to make that call. 

Man, I’m so happy I didn’t have to ask many people out in my day…although I did ask Dave on our first date…which I talked about back HERE. 

But asking someone out on a date takes guts, especially after a mission, and it was fun and funny to be with Max for that 😉

They went bowling with some friends on a double date and he got seven strikes.

Yep, you heard that right…SEVEN strikes! 

Here’s Dave trying to ask how his bowling stance was in FHE the next day:

I love how the light filters into our family room.

Lucy and I keep plugging away at our Narnia series.  Seriously I love it…I don’t care how slow we go…I just love that she still wants to read when we do get the chance. 

I talked all about my latest epiphany from that book back HERE…remembering the “signs.”
I love that my sister Saren’s website, Power of Families (HERE), has such great ideas all the time.  Here’s a screenshot I took of some Valentine’s Day ideas:
Max worked his tail off learning a new song on the piano:

…and Lucy worked on her “Beauty and the Beast” songs in handbells…

…with her mother at her side who she was a little frustrated at this particular day.

We started hiking again.

Oh man, there’s nothing like a hike on a gorgeous spring day in the desert with this great hiking companion of mine!

Then it was Valentine’s Day:

(more thoughts on that back HERE)

More Bo:

She gets so excited when she gets to come with us driving carpools…apparently Claire does too 🙂

She adores that pup.

Have I posted a picture of my new hallway yet?  I need to tell some details about this soon…

Elle sent this picture perched in her spot to hear Elder Bednar speak at BYU-H.  (not the greatest spot)

But kind of fun that he was there (he’s one of the apostles…the one who gave this talk that I talked about back HERE).

The Activity Days girls came on a “service scavenger hunt” to try to help out at our house.

They were the cutest little workers I ever did see.

Homework in a cozy spot:

The cause of our allergy problems:

(SO happy they weren’t awful this year…I think it really did help to start taking the prescription medication in January…then go to Taiwan when it usually is at it’s worst 🙂

Elle trying to find pants long enough to take to Jerusalem:

(They have to wear long, not “skinny” pants there…tall order for a tall girl.)

Lucy and her sweet walk-to-school-together friend in the beauty-morning-sun:

Temple date:

Grace’s friend from China (the one who helped her get ready for MORP above)…we loved having her stay with us a couple days.

Lucy was really into the “deck of cards” workout we started in California.

It was part of her “2-week challenge” we did with Max the last two weeks he was home (which I talked about back HERE). 

She was serious about this thing!

More good friend visits:

And lots more about Max’s adjustment at home back HERE (he got to go to Utah for a few days which he loved along with other things we got to do together here).

It was our neighbor’s birthday who claims they will NEVER get a dog…but we’re gradually trying to win him over.  So we figured Bo would be a perfect person to bring him some bday balloons.


More Lucy and friends:

Seriously, she has the best of the best.

Volleyball stuff…

…more thoughts on that back HERE.

One of Elle’s best friends (and ours too) came over with her brother and new dog.

You can’t see him very well in that picture but that is one cute puppy!

Goodbye to Rebekah…until next time!

We love you!

Our baby cousin was born! (the one we had the baby shower for earlier in the month)

They didn’t find out if it was going to be a boy or a girl so it was so fun to meet that little BOY!  We were all glowing with pride and love for that teeny little newborn (IWAN for sure). 

 Cutest new little family!

That was a little bit of a crazy night since we slipped over to soak in that baby, came back to host book club here:

Then started packing for our flight to Taiwan the next morning.  Yeah, a little behind there, but we made it.

And that was a pretty amazing book I have to say.  Hoping to review it tomorrow.

Thanks for hanging with me through all those pictures and links.  A lot happened in February.  It was a good one.

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  1. Hi! I have a question about your weekly church services! From what I understand, everyone first meets together in the sacrament meeting. Then people head to Sunday School based on age. Then finally to Relief Society/Priesthood.

    When you have a calling, such as teaching one of the younger age groups' Sunday School classes, does it bother you to miss YOUR actual Sunday School meeting? Or does your time in Relief Society make up for having to miss the other hour? What sort of things are discussed in the adult Sunday School? And where do all the kids go during Relief Society/Priesthood?

    1. Everyone gets moved around quite often and you learn so much where ever you are serving so I feel like it all works out. There have been so many callings that have made me SO uncomfortable, but I have learned so much from every one of them.

    2. The main adult Sunday School class rotates through the church’s standard works. So one year you study the Old Testament, the next the New Testament, then the Book of Mormon, then the Doctrine in Covenants, repeat. Topics within those scriptures/lessons can range from prayer to following the prophet to the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

      During Sunday School and Relief Society/Priesthood the children (4-11 years) attend Primary, the youth (12-18 years) attend their own Sunday School classes and then Young Men’s/Young Women’s. 😁

  2. Hello, long time reader first time to comment! Where do you buy your jeans? I'm a tall girl too (5'10") and you always have the right length for your height! thanks!

    1. Madewell is the only brand I can find that regularly works for me (they come in regular and talls– I'm 5'10" as well!). Unfortunately for Elle, they're definitely skinny pants!

    2. We have one pair of Madewell jeans (skinny) but haven't had luck recently. ASOS and Athleta both have some pretty great ones…sometimes random other stores too. It's always a journey!

  3. I love that you are so consistent with these little monthly life updates. You have inspired me to take pictures of the everyday happenings in my life! I'm sure I will enjoy looking back at them one day. Thanks for your continued optimism and light you share!

  4. I’m not sure if you’ve already tried Athleta, but they have a ton of pants that would probably be perfect for Jerusalem (lightweight, foldable, great to travel with/in, etc). And, they carry “tall” sizes in most of their pants. I’m 6 feet and they fit great (sometimes too long even).

  5. It is so fun to follow your family, partly because its so close to mine.
    My oldest is returning from her mission in a couple weeks then will start school at BYU in Provo, and my next oldest is at BYU-H, she found her place there too:) Then I have 2 more left at home. Is it wrong to love that your life seems just as crazy as mine right now? Ha! Thanks for being willing to share it all with us weirdos out here!

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