We started out January still kind of shell-shocked that we were HOME.
We hit the temple straight away (no temples in China) and I loved spending the morning with these three big kids.
We took Nana and Papa out for dinner and yogurt to exchange adventure stories. They went to Africa and we only just crossed paths in the airport (back here) when they got home as we were off to China.  

So great to get a minute to really catch up.

Loved catching up with so many great friends we missed while we were gone and I only have one picture of a couple of them which I may have posted before but whatevs 🙂

Oh wait, here’s another one.

Love these ladies.

School started back in the States after the big holiday.

The kids were actually pretty excited to start.

 (Grace gets a friend in her pic. since she doesn’t go to school with a sibling, poor girl!)

We got to catch up with all the great “little” friends too. 

And I sorted through piles and piles of paraphernalia and keepsakes we brought back from all our travels to try to figure out what in the world to do with them all.

Grace is taking a “foods” class and it kind of rocks because she comes home with awesome recipes and makes them all for us.

Her home-made pizza crust is my favorite.

Claire got a new piano teacher:

She is pleased as punch about that little fact for the time being…we’ll see how long it lasts!  From experience I know it won’t last long but we’re eating it up for a while.

Orange season is in late December and early January.

Which is pure and complete HEAVEN for me.

Oh boy I cannot believe how lucky we are that we got to salvage three beautiful little orange trees through the remodel process and they produce pure gold I tell you!

I had some cute little harvesters to help me pick them one day.

 We made some pretty delicious juice.

 Ok, let’s leave that topic because my mouth is watering way too much.

Here are the tasters and another baker…

 Claire has been in heaven because one of her friends got goats for Christmas.

 They got to take care of them like little babies.

Oh here are some more friends…(no particular order here…).  Love these guys.

Pay Day is going semi-strong.

(We are serious with jobs around here…more on that soon.)

We did our “Dream” or “Goal”/New Years Resolution binders I talked about back HERE but never posted this pic.

 I went bowling with our church group and I realized my long-lost talent there.


Reading has slacked off a bunch since China…maybe I need to hang up my good ol’ banner we made there (here) to magically make it come back to life.  But we are still reading and I love when I get to do it with my kids.

Man alive, maybe I need to re-name this post “Little things that happened to Claire in January”…we’re a tad-bit lop-sided here.

But I guess she is kind of the star since January was her birthday month.

Amidst my birthday and Claire’s birthday my brother had a birthday too.  We like to visit him in his element on the big day.

And eat cake.

It feels like we had 473 cakes in January.

We like to “borrow” our neighbor’s baby every now and again.

Oh boy we are lucky.

Wait, what’s that??  Claire again??

Yep, doing the braiding chain.

Nothing like a good braid chain.
We took Dave’s sister and her husband out to dinner for their Christmas gift.  (We give to one sibling each year as per tradition in his family and we like to do “experiences” rather than “things” sometimes.)

Love these two so so much.  That three-hour dinner whizzed by getting caught up.

Claire’s friend from China continues to send her Chinese “lessons” through WeChat.  It is the cutest thing ever.  She explains the word and then says is so Claire can hear it.

 She misses China.

We went bowling on MLK day.  We took the whole family plus my brother Josh and I tell you it was like herding ants to get everyone together for a couple hours.  But it was sure fun.  I wish I had time to upload the video of Lucy jumping her little heart out as her slow ball made it’s way down the alley.

A bunch had left by the time I remembered to take a picture but here are a few of us.

Elle is doing a film class in school (has been for a couple years and she loves it).  I love this picture she took of Grace on the Great Wall.

I was mesmerized by this story from Humansofny:

I love so much to hear stories of people who are making such differences in the lives of others.  It took one principal to help this kid out so much.  I guess the guy doing the picture was pretty inspired too…inspired enough to go seek out the principal:

They have since requested donations and I think they have over a million dollars to help out this school.

Thanks to one principal who really made a difference.

Oh man I love that.

My friend Claudia and I took advantage of the gorgeous weather to go on a gorgeous hike.

Love that these cousins get to take gym together.

This one was interesting too:

I started volunteering at an organization called Brain Food (here).  It is an amazing organization.  I get to deliver the food to two of the schools they service.

Lu and her job of setting the table…

Early morning scriptures:

Don’t they look so enthused??

A few more friends.

Lucy started art class with the most amazing art teacher you could ever imagine.  I’ll have to talk more about this some time…Lu and I are both on cloud nine about this.  She is learning so much from this darling lady!

I love that Lucy wrote her little Chinese words in her school “agenda” where she keeps track of her homework:

Birthday lunch with sister-in-laws:

One more because Kara was missing in the first one.  And you can’t forget Kara!

We live in a beautiful spot in the desert.  I couldn’t resist snapping this pic as we left.

Our neighborhood went from fall to winter lickety-split.

And now it’s back to spring again.

And I have taken 59 pictures of it but those can wait for the “February Little Things” post cause I’m sure we’re all ready to wrap this puppy up for now.

January was a good one.

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  1. Does your brother Josh happen to be dating anyone? I have a dear friend who might be a good match for him. She's a regular temple patron, math teacher, early 30s, kind, fun, cute and tall. 🙂 Sorry this is kind of impersonal, but I didn't see another way to get in touch. Will you please contact me if you think he might be interested at all? My email address is ljlillywhite@gmail.com. Thanks, Shawni!

    1. Oh man I am so grateful for so many kind, good blog readers who reach out to line up my brother with fabulous girls. I forward all the emails to him and let him respond as he wishes. Send me an email at sepphotography at gmail dot com and I will forward it to him. Thanks again for thinking of him!

  2. Hello! I have a random question. I am a long time reader and even though I feel like I come from a much different background (religiously, ethnically…whateverly) I've never felt the urge to ask a question or leave a comment, BUT I need to know… What does, "Man Alive!" mean? Is it an exasperation like "Oh my gosh!"? Do you know the meaning or origins? Just curious! 🙂

  3. Hi Shawni! I love the morning scriptures part and would love to know how you go about that? Do you just read a few verses together and go over it, does Dave/you do a sort of devotional? Also, on another note – are you planning on updating the 71toeshome blog again or have you decided to not carry on with that anymore? I loved reading about your progress and was just wondering whether you'll do another post or not!

    1. We've gone through a lot of different phases of scripture reading but right now everyone reads two verses as we go around to read. The kid in charge of the day (Max is Monday, Elle is Tuesday, Grace is Wednesday, etc.), is supposed to summarize and keep everyone going and choose someone to say the family prayer when we finish up.

      Yes, I'd love to update the home blog at some point. I'm gearing up to finish this project so maybe I'll post more there soon.

  4. I always love your updates and also, I wanted to say thank you! As a young mom I am constantly uplifted and inspired by you and your family! Thank you so much!! One last thing, do you happen to know where grace got her dress from in the first photo outside the temple?? It's darling!! 🙂

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