Ok let’s talk about beauty one more time.  

Those cute girls up there AND their surroundings.  
Did I mention I love the desert?  Don’t ask me about that again in August, because my love affair with it ends by then…or certainly by October when it’s still over 100 degrees.  Oh, and don’t ask me in the midst of the allergies those dang trees cause or the valley fever filling my lungs with spores (ha!), but for now, I adore it.  

In March one of my dearest friends from high school came to visit.  We had talked about having all the girls come and do a little reunion like we did back HERE, but alas, life got too crazy and it ended up being just me and Maureen…and my girls ;).

…who call her Aunt Mo Mo because they have known her for as long as they’ve been living as just that.

And I shouldn’t say “alas” because it was SO great to get that girl one-on-one and really catch up.

Maureen appreciates nature like we do (in fact, she sells the most amazing greeting cards with her photography on them that I adore…I’ll have to see if she has a website I can add in here to share).

So it made sense to go enjoy the golden light with her at the Riparian close-by while she was here.

Maureen and I went antique shopping and found one of my most favorite things…an antique yoke.  It deserves a whole post on itself so I’ll save that for later.

Our salads at one of our favorite places we ate with all the girls last time they came deserve their own post too (they are SO good) but I’ll post it here for time’s sake:)

(That salad is from a place called Hillstone and it is called the “thai steak salad.”  If you ever get a chance you should try it.  You will not be disappointed.)

Love that girl and all that she is and all that she has taught me over the years.  She is a newborn ICU nurse and I don’t think there could be a better one.  Love you Mo!

Maureen’s visit overlapped with my parents who came to watch a couple of Max and Elle’s games.

I talked about how they saved my bacon back HERE.  Oh boy I love them.
Did I already mention they whisked the kids off to see Cinderella one night?  

Do you think the girls were excited?  Love that picture.  And I loved that movie too.

“Have courage and be kind.  When there is kindness, there is goodness.  Where there is goodness, there is magic.”

What a wonderful message and I want my girls to always remember.

Right after they left Dave’s sister and her six kids came to stay with us. I wrote more about their visit back HERE, but here’s the end of it after Dave got home:

(a little love at Elle’s tennis match)

…and at Max’s game too.
So grateful for these good-as-gold and kind-to-the-heart teenage cousins.

March is already pretty hot here so we were so glad to finally get some trees and plants replanted that didn’t make it through the winter.  Hope they make it through the HEAT now!

Sometimes Dave and I look at each other, our eyes shining when we go to bed at night and look around at our house that the kids have actually taken care of.  Some weeks they’re just ON on those jobs and zones (talked about back HERE and HERE) and we look at each other in wonder.  Some weeks one of them even decides to go the extra mile with her checkmarks:

And other weeks we are so frustrated we could just die because we think we are complete failures as parents.  Those charts are empty and the house has sticky fingerprints on every wall you can see and we just shake our heads hoping the next week will be better.

Am I alone in that?

Parenting is a giant roller coaster I tell you.

The elementary school did class pictures and I know I’m biased but I can hardly stand how much I love those two smiley girls in the front of each.   

They have the best classes and the best teachers.  We are so lucky.

I’m holding on to my last two elementary school kids like nobody’s business.  Only one more year with them both there.  So weird to think that all four of my girls were there once.

Some of Lucy’s latest:

 …can’t wait to hear what the “different” part of the story is…

We are at various tennis courts and volleyball courts in the valley what seems like non-stop these days watching these two.

It is nutty/crazy and there are a lot of logistics involved getting the other girls where they need to be if they can’t be there, but we trying to balance it all and soak it in as much as we can.

I wrote this on Instagram, but having these two fourteen months apart was the best surprise we’ve ever had.  I questioned that a bunch when they were both babies needing such different things and I didn’t sleep night after night with all their crazy antics, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

 I love all the great athletes they get to work with too.

This is how Lucy spends her time at the tennis matches when we drag her there kicking and screaming (not really, but kind of sometimes!)

 Sideline friends:

 A gorgeous view of the sky from the tennis courts:

Sometimes we have “google hangouts” (aka “extended family home evening nights”) on the computer.  My girls obviously thought this one was pretty funny.

Lucy is blessed with some really, really cute friends.  One day I found this when they were in their make-believe world:

 up closer:

 …their own little placemats.

Lucy adores her Legos and when she’s not playing with friends (and sometimes with them), she’s building all sorts of things which she stores in her little dollhouse.

 Let’s get a closer look at some of those:

I was worried at first that she wouldn’t be able to see those teeny things very well, and that her fine motor skills wouldn’t be able to handle them, but she has learned to use them no problem (thanks specifically to one particular friend who is really good at Legos…thanks Emma!)
Speaking of Lucy, she had a long-awaited 2nd-grade performance at school on healthy living.  She put her Chinese sports day uniform to use and was over-the-moon excited about this (talked all our ears off about it for a month before the big day).

So I went to the performance for the other kids at school during the day AND the second performance for the parents that night.  She cracked us all up because for as excited as she was about the big event, she sure didn’t show it up there!:

 I got Claire in the audience too:

 Apparently living a healthy life is very serious business 🙂

 When we talked to her after and asked her why she was so serious she told us they had given everyone really strict instructions not to look at the stage where the other kids were performing the little dances each class got to do.  You can almost see it in her face below, she’s trying so hard to follow instructions and not look!

There’s the smile.

Love that girl of ours, and those good-as-gold friends of hers.

Some other supporters who came to watch that night:

One of the kids’ friends (and mine too…we’ve known her for years), got baptized.  After years and years of going to church her mom finally gave her permission.  We were so excited for her and loved sharing that special day.

In other March news, we had spring break (more about that back HERE…still awaiting Grace’s whiz-bang awesome post she’s going to write up about Hawaii for me…).

And Max’s friends started getting their mission calls.  Makes my heart jump to even think about that!  I need to write a lot more about that and what Max’s plans are soon.

This is just a random picture I took when I lingered after family scriptures one morning, the girls were eating breakfast and all seemed right in the world…

I can’t believe we’re at mid-April now.  In a little over a month my son is graduating from high school.  He is living it up this last couple months and I sure don’t think he’ll have any regrets of not enjoying high school enough!

Happy Wednesday!

Love, Shawni

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  1. Hi! I was just wondering if you wouldn't mind sharing where you got your cute white blouse in the restaurant picture? I am always on the look out for summer tops I don't have to wear a layer under 🙂 Thanks

  2. Speaking of beauty, I thought Elle looked absolutely beautiful in her prom dress, but I didn't get a chance to say so earlier. I hope it was a wonderful night for everyone!

  3. Hi Shawni I have been following your blog for years now without commenting but I decided now was a good time to let you know how much I enjoy reading your blog and that although we are from different religions( we are catholic) I can totally relate to much that you discuss and I admire the way you approach parenting! Especially since it's not easy( my children are 8,12, 14!) we are Australian but from reading you blog I realise issues with children/teenagers are the same no matter what nationality/religion you are! At times I feel for you especially seeing as people can be so judgemental/ harsh but I wanted to say well done for always writing in such a realistic relatable way! You help to make people feel not so alone in this sometimes tough world of parenting.

  4. Elle did look beautiful and the dress was super modest. But her shoulders were showing – none of the comments were judgemental or unkind. They just wanted to know why Shawni (or any other LDS parent of a young woman) would allow that since the rules specifically say to cover shoulders. Still don't have an answer.

  5. Someone please explain why it's okay to have exposed shoulders some of the time and sometimes not. When is it okay and when is it not okay? So far it sounds like formal occasions it's not okay, and for tennis (as you can see in the pictures above) and swimming it is okay. What's the difference? Just wondering.

  6. Yeah, see, I was wondering too. And for the life of me I can't get a straight answer from Shawni – just "oh there are so many more important things than shoulders and hemlines…" Agreed. But WHAT IS THE RULE? WHEN CAN YOU CHOOSE NOT TO FOLLOW IT? AND WHAT KIND OF EXAMPLE DOES THAT SET?

    1. At the end of the day there is no die-hard rule about what LDS youth can wear to a formal dance. They certainly aren't going to be condemned by their church leaders for wearing a dress that shows a little shoulder. Especially if 95% of the time said child is dressing modestly. Now if a young woman is wearing bootie shorts, midriff tops, strappy tanks, tight & low-cut tops then her youth leaders (and hopefully parents) will say something to her. And each parent is different. My oldest daughter is 9 and I have no problem with her wearing a sleeveless top. In fact, I don't think I'd care too much if she wore a sleeveless top to high school as a teenager if everything else was modest, loose, and covered. What I do care about are low-cut tops showing cleavage, tight shirts showing every curve, midriff tops showing stomach, bootie shorts and bikinis. Those pieces are revealing, attention-seeking, and sexual in nature. Those are a huge "no" in my book. Shoulders are not sexually promiscuous in my opinion. I think that's what people have tried to say — guidelines are given and it's up to your family to interpret them. It seems like Shawni has a similar way of thinking as far as modesty is concerned. I've never seen her daughters in tight shirts, low-cut tops, midriff tops, and bootie shorts. She seems to be fine with shoulders showing like many other LDS moms are. I did see the dress and I would have no problem with my teenage daughter wearing it. I didn't think anything of it until I read comments. Then I just thought "goodness people, it's a shoulder."

  7. Mama Saurus I think that is a fair question to be asking. I myself am a Mormon and have set a pretty strict dress code for myself. When I was growing up and doing dance (ballet, contemporary), I was showing off more legs and sometimes not capping off the sleeves at the shoulders. I felt that as long as the uniform/dance outfit I was wearing was not promiscious that I would be ok. However, I did work really hard to cover my shoulders and legs in all other atmospheres (school dances, school attire, summer attire, etc.). Me personally, I never wanted to portray my body in a promiscuous way to anybody.

    The reason why the Mormon culture focuses on modesty and not exposing too much skin is because when we make covenants in the temple and receive garments to wear, the garments cover a lot of the body. I personally chose to be modest because I knew that eventually, when I made my covenants and received the garment that I wanted to be used to being modest. I even wear my garments when I work out now (some Mormons choose not to, it's what they best feel in those situations I guess) because I want to have that constant reminder of covenants I made. Hopefully that clears the air, I can see how sometimes standards and ideals that exist in the Mormon culture can be confusing.

  8. Thanks, Jessica. So, it's kind of a gray area – not really a hard and fast rule…I think that's what you're saying. Modesty is a very general and subjective term – so I can see where some people could define it in different ways. Even though in the handbook it does specifically say to avoid clothes that don't cover the shoulders. If I was LDS/Mormon I would take that to mean the ENTIRE shoulder, not just have a strap (thick or thin) going across it.

    Thanks again – for giving me a straightforward, courteous explanation – I'm sure a lot of us here would like to hear Shawni's personal thoughts on it.

    1. Mama Saurus- I am not Mormon but we have guidelines and rules in my church too-and some people follow them sometimes and some strictly and some do not because our church is made up of humans. I think the question you really need to ask YOURSELF is why it bothers you so much that a blogger's daughter's 2015 prom dress does not cover her shoulders in a way you think would be appropriate for her faith? Wouldn't that be her judgment call, and her parents and between them and their God? Look at the big picture. Who cares? There has to be someone in your life- a family member, a friend, a neighbor, that is needs your time, your brain cells, your concern, more than this terribly big issue of prom sleeves? For your sake, I hope so.

    2. Mama Saurus we have a pamphlet called "For the Strength of Youth" that all the youth in our church have that spells out the standards for them to live. They are guidelines for them to follow for a happy, successful life. In the LDS church we believe not only in the letter of the law but also the spirit of the law. Elle's dress was not flaunting her body or sexually revealing in any way. Her shoulders were not totally covered but it was still a beautiful, modest dress, I would have been proud for her to be my sons date. Here is the link to the pamphlet in case you are interested in reading about the standards we encourage our youth to live. It's pretty remarkable that in the world we live in that young men and women will live up to these standards, none of them are perfect but they are sure trying!

  9. Mama Saurus, the handbook is just a guideline. How one dresses is really between them and Heavenly Father. In comparison to how many teens dress which I think is just short of looking like bargain basement hookers, Elle is very modest . We are not rehired to wear t-shirts for example over swimsuits to cover shoulders and I am assuming Elle's tennis outfit is her uniform. If she were a dancer she would not be expected to wear an outfit that covered her whole body. On top of this Elle has not made the covenants that would require her to cover her shoulder as she is only 16.

  10. Not wanting to derail your blog at all, but there are some creepy comments on Elle's latest post on her blog. Thought you might want to know. Feel free to delete my comment so as not to drive unwanted traffic to her blog.

  11. Hey there love your blog. Was just on Facebook & saw a picture of your sweet L used as a meme. As a mama I wouldn't want my sweet girl's pic floating around anywhere.

  12. Thank you Cheryl – I appreciate your kind response – I have plenty of things to occupy my time, Sarah – thanks for asking – but this issue was something I'd been wondering about for a while – actually ever since Shawni's other shoulder discussion a while back. Seems my questions put you in the defensive – not necessary – and neither are your sarcastic remarks – not very nice – or very Christian.

  13. Thank you for your positive outlook on life. Personally, I am surprised you keep doing this considering how judgmental some people can be. I am glad you can see past the pettiness and focus instead on the positive impact you might have on others' lives. I myself would hide those beautiful children away. Have a good night and know that it really really doesn't matter what anyone else thinks; you never need to address them–they aren't entitled to "hear" from you.

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