Dave and I ran into the mother of one of Grace’s friends one day while we were out and about in China (they lived in an adjacent neighborhood to ours).
She told us her daughter had come home from our house a few nights before with stars in her eyes and had raved on and on to her our family:  “They are SO happy!  Oh how they treat their little sister!  Oh how they laugh and help each other out!  Oh how I wish we had more children like they do in our family!”
Dave and I looked at each other and almost laughed.  Hadn’t that been the night that Lucy had started her new habit of yelling out “I hate everything about my life!” in frustration?  Wasn’t that the night we were so embarrassed because Elle and Grace had been in a little fight about who borrowed who’s shirt right in front of the guests and that just may have been the same night that Max broke off the front doorknob because he was so mad no one would come answer the door.  

Was she really talking about the same family??  Somehow she just saw the glossy overview amidst the nit-picky squabbles.  
I wonder if sometimes that vision of our family comes across here on this blog too.  Well, actually I KNOW it does in a lot of ways.  Although I do try to keep it real on here, the majority of what I write is the snuggly, feel-good stuff.  But when someone at book club (who reads this blog from time to time) looked at me funny last night when I was telling her how Max was mortified to so much as press send for an email to one of his teachers in China let alone talk to him face-to-face because he’s so painfully shy at times and told me that was definitely not how she envisioned that tall boy of mine to be, I realized I better do a better job of telling the other side of the story along with the lovey-dovey stuff.  (Yowzas that was an awesome run-on sentence.)  Because boy howdy and man alive we have problems over here just like every other family.  (I wonder if sometimes the “meanies” come out more when they think everything is just a little too hunkey-dorey over here??  Who knows.)
I mean, really, we do adore each other.  I like to think we have some pretty heart-melting relationships going on around these parts.  But that certainly doesn’t mean we are always nice to each other.  And these kids of ours?  Well, I’m a little biased because as their mother I can’t help but think they’re about the best thing that ever hit the planet.  But wow, do they still have their issues.  Teenagers?  I don’t say a whole bunch about the dumb mistakes they make because that’s not very fair to them.  Although I am an open book in a lot of things, there are some things that aren’t appropriate to blab over the internet.  It’s one thing to talk about a toddler having a tantrum in the middle of a parking lot, it’s a whole other story to put your trying-to-figure-out-life-for-reals teenager issues out there in cyberspace.
That’s one reason I’m slowing down a whole heck of a lot on this blog.  I want to be with those kids of mine now more than ever.  I cannot stand that Max is graduating in a matter of months.  I don’t ever want to look back and think, “oh man, I wish I had been with those kids (and husband!) more instead of hunching over my dumb computer!”  So many thoughts on that and my “one word” for the year that is helping me when I can get my act together enough to post it.
For today, I just wanted to say that just because I haven’t talked about my specialty of slamming doors lately doesn’t mean there haven’t been some doozeys over here.  
Just wanted to set that straight this fine Wednesday morning.   

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  1. Man alive!!! I love you and this blog! Thanks for keeping it real. But also, I enjoy the good-makes me seek for more good in my life. Guess there will always be the madam queens wherever you go. But I choose to seek the shawni's in mine! Bles you and your family and those darling teenagers!

  2. I love reading about your family! I don't know you in real life, but my oldest is Lucy's age, and I love reading about how you're doing it with older kids. They are not perfect, but they seem pretty great and I'm thankful that you share because it helps me to know how to get to where I hope to go. I've been reading Covey's _7 Habits of Successful Families_ and in the very first chapter he points out that family life is rough–we are off track 90% of the time. But the most successful families keep trying to get on track to their destination.

  3. Thanks for keeping it real, but I wanted to say that your blog is my most favorite to read. It truly makes me want to try harder and do more to have fantastic relationships with my kids that I feel you have. Keep the posts coming, after you spend time with your family of course 🙂

  4. I'm a new mother of three littles and I just want to say that I love your blog, not because I see you as perfect, but because I see your honesty and I need to learn from all the seasoned moms that I can get! I appreciate you trying to keep it real even though I can imagine it's incredibly hard at times to balance wanting to show all of the happy moments of life while trying to keep from the illusion of perfection. You're doing a fabulous job.

  5. I've been wanting to ask a question…this post seems a good time. My oldest is in 1st grade. Lately she has been back talking and sassing us and her teachers at school and tumbling, we have tried talking to her and she says she hates when we point out her mistakes, cause she is trying to be like Jesus. Which we teach her, but I don't think we have been over the top. I'm at a loss. Advice, I figure maybe you have some ideas after 4 young lady 1st graders. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your family and experiences, I really enjoy reading and learning from this blog!

  6. You know, my mom died when I was twenty, long before I married and had children. I would give anything now to be able to ask her all sorts of questions about the details of mothering, about how she felt about things not just what I remember. I am quite confident that if nothing else, your children will grow up and be so thankful for this record you have kept. That you have shared it with the rest of us is just our luck! I also don't think you need to "keep it real" anymore than you do. I swear in our society you are only worthy to be admired if you can complain about every thing under the sun that has happened to you, so it feel refreshing to me to find someone who can celebrate the truth of joy in every day, not just all that is hard.

    I have five children but they are much younger than yours and I am so thankful for all of the ideas that you have shared here. We had made New Year resolutions with our littles and their goals were pretty hilarious, but it is our third year doing it and we know now that even when we pull it off completely imperfectly, the experience and attempt makes us better than if we had never tried at all. I sat right down with my oldest three during naptime after reading your resolution post and we broke our year goals down…and it was the cutest experience of my day. Our littles love the exercise because that is all they know, it doesn't seem over the top to them…just the normal thing we work on each year. Thanks for all your inspirations and for having the courage to share them. Some of us need awesome "mothers" to follow.

  7. I love your blog and your family (that I have never met!) I onlt read two blogs: 71toes and nieniedialogues. Both have helped me be a better wife, mother and person. I have 4 children, my oldest is 9, and we have done several things you have talked about on your blog in our family. Heart attacks on Valentine's day, 5 facet reviews, goal setting, etc. I don't regret any of it. Thank you from
    a busy mom of 4 who is trying to do the best that she can:-)

    1. I feel the exact same. Please keep sharing your family and ideas. You've made such a difference in my Mothering journey. Thank you so much!!!

  8. I know your family is not perfect for the mere fact that you have 5 kids and some of them are in those glorious teenage years. I don't read your blog because I think you and your family are perfect. No person or family is! The thing that makes me want to read your blog every single day is your thoughts you share with us. You give me something to ponder or consider. Whether that is finding the joy in the crazy life of a mother or opportunities to grow through travel or mixing up a menu with a new recipe. Sometimes you look at things differently than what I see or have even thought about seeing. Your posts allow me to think about what and how I am doing. They remind me that life and being a mother isn't always easy and that we need to look for the good in life and motherhood. They remind me that we're all trying to do the best we can whether that's on good days but especially on the not so good days. I always come away from this blog uplifted and encouraged. Thank you for taking the time to post. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and family with me.

  9. I love that Grace's friend saw all that good in that situation you describe. What everyone needs to remember is that in every struggle, you can always find the good. I really enjoy your blog and what you share. Thanks for sharing what you do.

  10. What?! You're not perfect? You set goals you can't possibly achieve and choose not to focus on your snarky teenagers? Why would anyone read this blog? 😉 In all seriousness, I was glad to read this post today. I need a little dose of reality mixed in with the dreamy every now and then. Thanks.

  11. I love that you are so quick to love your children in spite of their behavior. I love that you are so positive and thankful. You are such a good example to me. Your blog is my favorite and I look forward to reading it every day. Thank you for all of the work you do to put it together!

  12. I have been a long time reader of your blog, but seldom ever comment. I just wanted to say thank you for being so open and willing to share your life and experiences. I enjoy seeing what another mother is doing and how she is working to protect and strengthen her family. My family and I have benefited from many of your thoughts and ideas over the years.

  13. I love what you wrote and it's so, so true. I was just thinking this morning, 'wow the people I follow on the internet are so much more positive than the people I know in real life'. But then I thought a little longer and realized that that may not necessarily be true. I blog as well and I know for a fact that I do my best to keep things real but I also filter out some of the things that don't need to be shared with the world over the internet. I appreciate your honesty.

  14. I love your blog so I hope you don't stay away too much! I honestly don't understand why people come on here acting like you have to give them an explanation or reason for your choices because it's a public blog? You don't owe anyone anything!!!

    You are inspiring so many mothers and I find it really hard these days to find Mums that are so focused on their family and blogging without making it all about the business side and money.

    Your children are going to be amazed as they read back one day that you did see all of that good in them. That you celebrated them and loved them even though they were challenging at times. They are going to be reminded of all of those little moments and big adventures and it's going to be so special!

    Thank you for being brave enough to share your life with all of us and inspire us all so much! xo

  15. Now seems like a good time to confess: I have 3 broken doors due to teenage attitude. Luckily, they did not all occur on the same day:) I think I will wait until all of them are past the teenage stage before purchasing new doors!!!

    It is great that you blog about the good. Us moms need to focus more on the good than the bad….otherwise we could lose sight of how wonderful our children truly are.

  16. I have to say that I have not once thought of you all as perfect. I have enjoyed seeing your blog posts because turning on the news today is often, no almost always, filled with awful things that are sometimes too much to process. Please don't change your posts (or stop!)….they are truly a bright spot and so inspiring (while knowing you have challenges too).

  17. Thank you so much for sharing! I know that could not have been easy for you but believe me, you made the rest of us feel a little better. 90% of the time my kids love each other but that 10% when they don't stresses me out so much. I worry about it constantly so hearing you share the same concerns is something I'm grateful for. Ignore those haters 😉

  18. I have been reading your blog for about two years. I feel like “the meanies” have come out a little more frequently and forcefully recently and I feel like there are several factors involved, from my perspective: 1) You represent the entire LDS religion to some readers who don't know any people of your faith. You are accessible through this blog. Therefore, you are probably getting a lot of criticism from people who find areas of LDS doctrine troubling; they might be using your specifics to make a larger point. 2) You have discussed some heavier topics now that your kids are getting older, and that is bound to stir up more passions and controversy. 3) You have claimed to be and seem sincerely interested in growing and learning, so some readers offer constructive (and not-so-constructive) insight into possible opportunities for growth. 4) You are probably aware of that other web forum where many readers of your blog go to discuss this blog. I think some of the discussion there has fueled some of the responses you see here.

    Some of the people who comment in that forum are essentially like mean girls from high school who like to snark on others for no good purpose (Hurt people hurt people???). I’ve been reading through the conversations in that forum for a couple days now, though, and it seems like the majority of the people on there are people who follow your blog because they admire you as a parent and a person, but they have some sincere questions or concerns about things they’ve seen posted.

    On a personal note, I’d say I definitely fall into the latter camp (although I haven’t commented on that other forum). Your blog is one of two blogs I follow and it has been a wonderful resource for me. I have read your sister Saren’s blog a few times and I liked what I saw. I really admire many things about your mom! You all do a wonderful service for parents who want to be the parents their kids deserve.

    At the same time, the older I get, the less patience I have for potentially divisive behaviors for the sake of religion. The less tolerance I have for inequality. I have kids now and I want this world to be better for them.

    Many people, myself included, perceive undercurrents of racial and gender inequality in the LDS faith. Maybe the perception is wrong, but that is a widely-held perception, make no mistake. The recent discussion about Jesus’ appearance was a turning point for me. Your readers proposed some hard questions and got *crickets* (except for some enthusiastic fan commenters who jumped in). Based on what I have observed, one might infer Mormons only interact with non-white people when they are charitably “serving” them (therefore in a position of authority) or prosthelytizing.

    I understand this might look benign compared to Boko Haram, but isn't that how factions like that begin? From lack of exposure to, lack of understanding of people different from themselves? You can’t empathize for someone if you don’t feel any connection with that person. I don’t believe you find the same kind of connection from building someone a house for one weekend than you would from sharing the same lunch table at school every day, for example. The atrocities that have been happening all over Nigeria, the tragedies in Paris recently… these are very real examples of people using religion to justify DIVIDING people instead of UNIFYING them. So maybe I’m just a little sensitive.

    I won’t even start on the gender inequality issues. Others have expressed my thoughts already.

    I’ll get off my soapbox now. I just really, really appreciate you and your blog and I wanted to share my perspective with you. I believe the issues I mentioned are weighing heavily on the minds of some of your readers and have brought out some confrontational comments. (To clarify, I dislike disrespectful speech in ANY context and I'm not trying to justify some of the comments you've received. I find LDS-bashing just as intolerant as anything else.)

    1. Jill-I know your thoughtful comment was directed at Shawni, but I felt compelled to respond. I am not LDS. With the exception of one girl I met in college while working at a dreadful summer job, I had never met an LDS women until my 40's. I had heard about them though-I had heard they were repressed, taught to be submissive by the cult-like Mormon religion, to walk two steps behind their husbands,etc,etc. Then I came across the blogging world, and little doubts about what I had heard crept into my head. It all didn't seem to match up. Thankfully, I had a chance to meet a large group of LDS women IN PERSON. I was blown away. Every preconception I had was deeply challenged. I have never met a more educated, well-spoken, well-traveled, multi-lingual, self-starting, career-oriented, confident, intelligent, accepting group of women in my life. Almost all of them had lived in different cultures, taught themselves different languages, acquired broad and all encompassing views of the world. They welcomed my challenging questions, and answered them all humbly with no defensiveness. (In fact, I was embarrassed at my lack of knowledge of my own faith, for which there is no excuse.) They never ever implied their faith was superior to mine-just the opposite. They never implied their beliefs were superior to mine.
      I don't know what my point is, besides maybe it seems that you might also hold perceptions on LDS women, that are likely not true, perceptions I too once believed, until I met a wonderful group of women IN PERSON. Their beliefs might differ than mine in some or many ways, or they might not, but I don't let those difference divide us and never for a second did they. We find our commonality, and let those parts unite us. Just like you, I really appreciate Shawni, she has impacted my life in ways I can't even count with her joy and her passion and her love of motherhood.

    2. Hi, Sarah! Thanks for your response! I feel like I should clarify. I live in a suburb near Shawni's so I, too, know several LDS women. My husband and I intentionally seek LDS child care providers for our kids, actually, because we love their comfort level with kids and appreciate the focus on kids/family within that community (and yes, I realize I've made broad generalizations there). The LDS women I've met are some of the best women I've ever known for many reasons. My perceptions that I described in my initial comment, however, are supported by my regular and ongoing interactions with those women as well as from my observations of this blog. No disrespect was intended to LDS women so I hope I didn't come across that way!

    3. I am a 43 year old LDS woman. I have grown up in the church and know hundreds (if not thousands) of lds women. We are valued and intelligent and strong and incredibly capable. Some women are vocal about what they see as gender inequalities in the church, but that is a small minority and the majority of women in our church don't feel that way. I am equally as valuable to God as any man and know it and feel it deeply. My parents raised me and my four sisters to be ambitious and smart and educated just like they raised their 2 sons. I have a college degree and I choose to stay home with my children because I honestly feel that is where I can make the most difference. I have had some male leaders treat me like maybe I am not as "important" as they are but I see that as their individual problem, not as a church problem. I see the priesthood as being a different role to fill for men. I don't need it to be an important and contributing member of the church. There are some cultural things that I would like to see changed and actually some are changing now thankfully. I just needed to pipe in here that I love being an lds woman and the women I know are amazing and strong!

    4. Hey Jill,

      I just wanted to add my view to the discussion too about two things you mentioned: gender inequality and racial inequality.
      First, I have the privilege of serving as the Primary President in our ward. I'm not sure how familiar you are with the LDS Church, but Primary is the organization for children in the church. As part of my responsibilities, I actually "oversee" many men who teach classes, are scout leaders, etc. if they need clarification on things or permission to proceed with a certain activity, I am the person they come to. And yes, the Bishopric of each ward (or congregation) is always comprised of males, but I honestly can't count the number of times that they have called me from their weekly meeting to ask for my input on decisions that they are making, and I think that is how most wards function. Sure, there are males who are chauvinistic, but that can be found anywhere! 🙂 I just wanted to point out Primary because I think a lot of people don't realize that within the LDS Church, there are cases where women oversee men. Oversee is't the best term, but you get the idea.

      I have a college degree, stay home with my three kids, and you're right, my children largely associate with children like them, but that's because those are the people that live around us. One of my son's very best friends is Hispanic. We adore their family, and certainly don't look down on people based on their race. And I truly don't believe that the church does either. A few months ago I attended the Temple, right in the heart of Utah. When I walked in, I was told that the particular meeting I attended was being held in the Spanish language. I panicked a little, because I don't speak Spanish! Ha ha! The people working there got me a headset and I was able to listen in English. I feel like the church really tries hard to make sure that people can listen to/ read materials in their own language. If the church favored a specific race, then all those things wouldn't make sense to me.

      Anyway, I just wanted to point out my experience. 🙂 I would also like to mention that I loved that you offered your perspective without being mean or belittling anyone. I like when people can be kind despite strong opposing views. Like you, I want the world to be a better place for my children, and the disappearance of kindness and even civility in some facets of life really concerns me!

    5. Just a few cents to add to this. First off, Jill, I really liked how well you raised your concerns and what you have noticed. You've demonstrated a very kind way in which to disagree with someone. And heaven knows we are all going to disagree with someone about something.

      Secondly, I wanted to add a few points to your insights. I certainly get where you are coming from in regards to the gender and racial inequality. There are certain areas where LDS congregations seem to perpetuate that feeling more than others. But I can assure you it is very much not the case. We are LDS and since marrying my husband we have moved often enough to have attended 6 different congregations (in 6 years of marriage) throughout countries in Europe and in Canada. On shorter trips we have also attended congregations in the US. In addressing the racial inequality, I have this to say; it has most often been the case that the local congregation is a direct reflection of the people who live in that city/community. For example, our congregation in Germany was in a city primarily comprised of Germans, immigrants generally from a few different countries, and a little bit of people from other EU countries. The international community (from countries outside of Europe) was not particularly large there. As such, the local congregation seemed to reflect that on a much smaller scale. Church assignments were given to those that were able and willing and it, of course, did not matter their race. Fast forward to the first congregation that we attended in Montreal and it was a very different overview. There are a lot of countries and races represented in Montreal and so, as expected, the congregation reflected that. This is a very general observation as there are some places we have been where it is not quite the case. For example, we have been to countries where there is a very strong religious connection in that country to one particular religion. In those places, the congregations have been, for the most part, made up of immigrants from various places in the world. I guess what I am getting at is that the people who are in leadership roles in a congregation is very dependent on the people available in the congregation. No particular race would be chosen over another for those roles. In fact, pending there is someone willing to step into the various roles, we all have time in several different positions.

      As for perpetuating gender inequality. I think this is a difficult one to address because it is often linked to feminism and depending who you speak with they can view feminism slightly different than another. To me, equality of the genders means equal opportunity. In the working world, a man and a woman should have equal opportunity for getting a job, advancing in a company and should definitely receive the same wage. This does not mean that we will all be same, but able to receive the same benefits. In the religious setting of the LDS faith, you are correct that women and men cannot hold the same positions in the church, yet there is a misunderstanding in thinking that this implies that women are less than men. If the difference in roles somehow meant that women were inferior to men then women would also be promised less in heavenly blessings yet this is not the doctrine of the lds church. The doctrine is that men and women are equal in the eyes of God and have the opportunity to receive equal blessings in this life and in the one to come.

      I hope that helps your understanding somewhat. I really enjoyed reading what you had to say on the matter. Open, respectful dialogue is an important part of understanding others.

    6. Thank you so much for your answer, JLH. I am not a mormon, but I love reading your blog, Shawni, because your life centers on your religious belief and your family. Both are very important topics in my life, so I can relate, although I disagree on a whole lot of things with you. But isn`t it great that we all are so different and can learn so much from each other?!
      I couldn`t help but notice that there seem to be two different definitions of equality, one for work etc. and one for (the mormon) religion. I always stumble upon the definition that both man and woman are equal in the mormon faith. They obviously are in many ways but one: Women can`t hold the priesthood. This is the reason why I personally think that they are not equal, and I don`t understand why. Also, the rols models of the father and the mother (or the man and the woman) seem to be such a cliché in today`s world and can put so much pressure on someone who might not be able for whatever reason to fulfill this role.
      I would love to get to know a mormon in person, but every time I see missionaries I don`t dare to disturb them-I don`t want to annoy them. Do you think I could just walk over to them and say Hi? Would that be alright or would it bother them?
      I so appreciate this respectful discussion. Thank you everybody!

    7. Matilda, it wouldn't bother missionaries if you walked over to them and said Hi! They would love to be able to answer any questions you have.

    8. Matilda,
      You certainly raise some valid points. It is difficult to explain the appearance of inequality between the genders (eg., the priesthood) when set against the backdrop of just this life or even just the environment of the workforce which is probably a primary reason of why the definitions look different. There are two doctrines that broaden our horizon and understanding on this. The most important being that we are not just looking at this life on earth but for the eternities. We existed before coming to this earth and our life will continue after leaving it. With this understanding we also do not know everything about how things will be organized in heaven, but we do know that we will be organized in family units where man and woman are equal in their roles. Here is a quote by one of our apostles that I really love on this topic:
      “There might be wards and stakes in heaven—I don’t know anything about them—or there may well be some other organization that we don’t know much about. What we do know will exist in heaven is families. And most of what has been revealed about our afterlife, our eternal life, our celestial life, focuses on family organization . . ." – Jeffery R Holland
      Men and women are inherently different but not unequal. There is a great document for the family that provides a framework for the family that you can read. You can find it here:
      It mentions several times that husband and wife, jointly in their roles, raise their family and even says straightforward that "fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation."
      I like the second sentence there because it reminds us that we all have individual circumstances that will need to be taken in to consideration and our roles may need to be adjusted and that that is okay.

      I hope that helps. And I second Marci, the missionaries really would love to answer any questions that you have. That is the primary reason that they serve missions – to help answer questions and teach the doctrine. Best to get the information from the source. If you are a concerned about asking in person you can also check out mormon.org , there is a link in the top of the page that says 'chat' that will connect you with a member/missionary who can help answer questions as well. They can also put you in to contact with your local missionaries if you would prefer in person (which I personally think is a little bit easier). Loved your observations!

  19. Your blog is the only one I read…I used to read several but deleted a few from my favorites as I just don't have time to spend reading blogs 😉 I have learned SOOO much from you and use many of your tips on a regular basis. What I think is even better is that you and I have different religions and probably polar opposite political views…and that is ok! I think that some people may read your blog and think that is not ok 🙁 Anyways…just wanted to send you a comment that I think your blog is great and completely normal. I am glad you don't air all your bad days out there because even though it might make me feel better in the moment (with all my teenager issues etc.)…it's definitely not a good thing for your teenagers! I like how you focus on the positive…and that's what we should be telling our kids about social media right? since it's out there basically forever. Keep posting…and you know what…the comments are great as well. I am sure you don't take offense to any of them. It's interesting to see where people come from and their different perspectives. And it makes me reflect on how you should or should not comment 😉

  20. I like to write on our family blog FamMijangos.com and I always struggle to not just show the happy moments. Although I always feel more eager to share the happy moments, I want to show our lows. Some of the lows are very personal, or involve others outside our family.
    But more and more, I want to make sure that those struggles are written down, because I want them presserved, because they are the ones that shape up.

  21. Sister Pothier, I hope you take to heart the encouragement and kudos that are posted today for you and your sweet little blog. Back in my younger mothering years, I used to read and re-read the books your parents wrote–they inspired and encouraged me. I assume that being raised in such a loving home by them, you are what you appear to be–a loving, happy, hard-working, focused Mother and Wife. Never feel you have to apologize for enjoying and sharing the goodness and rewards of your efforts to live up to your potential and goals in Life. As a mom of 7 children, I would be disrespectful of my children if I overshared their continuing "evolution" into adulthood. Frankly, you have the responsibility of deciding the content of your blog and it is easy to see you take that seriously. Hug your babies…and even that very tall, shy boy. I have a 15 yo son who is measuring 6'4" these days–all arms and legs and a soft spot for mom. Thank you for being a light in the world. You are admired and needed.

  22. I'm just glad to see someone else use 'hunkey-dorey"! I'm a 'bit' older than you but some of these young people at work look at me like I'm crazy when I use that phrase. I do love your blog. It brings so many smiles to my face but I know no one is perfect and I think you reach a good balance of what to say and not to say.

  23. This is YOUR blog and you should be able to share the good parts and the "real" parts only occasionally and as appropriate. I love having a fairly "all inclusive" record of my kids, but I think it is better to focus on the positive parts and only mention the struggles here and there. You are such an amazing mom and you do a great job discerning what to share and not share for your family. Your kids and family seem awesome-and like a normal family :). Thanks for being such a great example of what family relationships can be like and (even though that means there are still problems) giving those of us coming behind you in the mothering years hope for loving, friendly relationships among our children!

  24. I really appreciate your blog! I learn from the ideas and habits that you share with us, I adore your love of nature and family, and I love seeing a good example of someone striving to do their best! Thank you for sharing your thoughts & family with us. You are touching many lives.

  25. Just keep doing what your doing lady! It's obvious the positive out ways the negative comments. There will always be people who don't agree and have to share that they don't agree. Take it for what's it's worth. But know that you are a positive light to so many more and so many benefit from you sharing your thoughts and feelings. So many more do. You are a good decent person who is doing good things and sharing those things with the world. Keep it up.

  26. Thank you for all the great input on this. For all the sweet comments and emails that have come in, as well as for the questions and responses to help clarify things.

    Jill, I appreciate your insightful observations and questions and I’d like to try to address what you said. I so agree with you that people in the LDS religion can be largely misunderstood (thank you, sweet Sarah for your comment addressing that!…and Jill, you live by me? I’d love to meet you!). And I also think you have many other valid points I want to address. I am formulating my thoughts on this but I'm kind of on the run today…just want you to know I'll get to it as soon as I can. Love, Shawni

  27. What I love about the way you blog is that you "seek the good". That's not a bad thing. Yes, your kids/teens aren't perfect and make mistakes as they figure out this crazy thing called "life" – that's an understood. But while they're figuring it out, there is also SO MUCH GOOD going on! You find it and post about it! In fact, if something good isn't happening – you MAKE it happen: family trips, day hikes, checking a kid out of school for a one-on-one, snuggling with books, etc. Your kids are blessed to have you. What you post IS your reality – and I love it!

  28. Shawni, I just love reading your blog! Our lives are so very different (I am a childless twenty something living in a large city in Britain with no particular faith – which I only mention as your being LDS is a well discussed topic) but I love seeing how you live and appreciate you sharing your lives in this way. Yes, I have read comments on the other forum and I can see that people are very interested in commenting on your every move. I think it's a shame that lots of people come across as 'meanies' when really they could contribute here and engage with you in a much nicer way! 🙂

  29. Thank you so much for writing this. I love following your blog and your family. I am truly inspired by your mothering. Even though I know your family is "normal" it is nice to read you confirming that 🙂 I totally understand you wanting to protect your teenagers. But it is good to know that they squabbled over a shirt! Thank you for doing your part to make this world a better place and inspiring mothers all around the world. God bless your family!

  30. Thanks for sharing. I suffer from anxiety. As I read your posts from China and the amazing trips and experiences you had with your family there, I gained courage. I can go and have my own family adventures and work to not be paralyzed by fear. I have so appreciated your example. You gave me the nudge I needed to tackle this issue. Thank you, thank you! Happy mothering to you as you raise a bunch of growing kids.

  31. We lost our sitting-room door handle so often through teenage doorslamming that we had to fix it on with giant screws that stick out 1cm on either side. I'm still impressed with managing to break a front door though – that takes strength.

  32. As a new mom just starting down the parenting road, I love your blog because it chronicles what an intentionally happy life can look like. Sure, doors slam and unkind words are exchanged and some days are more loving than others, but the underlying current of genuine love, acceptance and an orientation toward the good in each other is such a good reminder to me to stay positive. Right now for me that means working with my spouse as parenting partners rather than letting sleep deprivation and transitional growing pains pit us against each other. I've read your blog for 3 years and love what you choose to share with us, although of course the reality doses are nice to see too. Please don't feel defeated by those who try to pull you down — you have a beautiful life you've worked to create and 99.9% of us love reading about it and are genuinely appreciate of your insights and stories. I totally admire your openness and the openness of your parents and siblings – you choose to make yourselves vulnerable at times for the good of those of us who seek rich, intentional relationships and life experiences. Carry on, with gusto! And thank you.

  33. I honestly can't believe you have to make a post like this. I understand its your family so you want to defend any negative words others are spewing but this is about your family and your memories. I appreciate tge advice you give because I grew up with a junkie mom and dad. Don't let people change who you are or what you know is right. God bless.

  34. I discovered you about five years ago and you have done a great job of keeping it real. I utilize your blog for education. I appreciate when you share stories from your childhood and how you incorporate these ideas into your own family unit. It has been PRICELESS knowledge for me and I am incredibly grateful. Please know that there are several of us out there that know that kids will be kids and their developmental process is sacred and it's our job as their parent to protect them so I appreciate you being a great mom and having boundaries. And of course I appreciate all that you have shared and I hope your continue to share i.e. goal setting -year, heart attacks(valentines), family rituals/reunions, chores, your family statement/motto, etc. So from the bottom of my heart Thank You!

  35. What I don't understand is this…if you don't like (or don't agree with) what you're reading on this, or any other blog, stop reading it! It's that simple. The fact is, these "meanies" are jealous because you and your family are beautiful, inside and out. There are so many of us are truly inspired by the kindness, happiness and joy we feel from the words on your blog! I speak for myself, and for all of your other many, many "friends" around the world…keep up the good work!

  36. Whoa. That's a lot of long comments. I didn't read them but I'll just add. I get what you're saying. It's good to be real. But I, like you, like to keep my blog positive. I'm not always the most positive person, but when I blog I don't want to sound like a complainer either.

  37. I am a young mom now and have loved reading your blog for a long time, and loved when we got to come meet you guys at bear lake a few years ago! I always feel inspired after reading your words and am grateful for examples of motherhood like you. Keep it up!

  38. Adoro tu blog! Aunque no sé muy bien cómo escribir en inglés, sé leer en inglés. Me inspira mucho tu blog y me da muchas buenas ideas! Follow your heart!

  39. You inspire me to be a better Mom, Wife, Sister and person. Thank you for your posts and insight. Please keep posting when you can. I cried the other day that my oldest son is 9 years old and I only have 9 more years until I (cross my fingers) send him out on a mission. Can I have him ready in time? Will he be prepared? Will he have a strong testimony? Love on Max all that you can while he is home!!

  40. Dang, I want to read all the comments and respond, but I can't! I LOVE popping in to read your hear, and look up to how you rear your children. I, too, have a hard time sharing what my boys are doing b/c I know a lot of their peers follow along on Instagram or whatever, so I've shared less and less about them recently. You've always uplifted and inspired me!

  41. Your blog-writing slow down fits perfectly with my blog-reading slowdown!;) I have 4 kids in similar stages 17-11 and feel our family goals run parallel, so I love reading your blog. There is often so much negative-focus out there, and your blog is a respite for me. It is the quest to reach higher and farther, and to do it all together. You don't have to tell me that doors slam and kids cry and clothes are dirty, cause I know all about that! (Granted when you do share I get a good chuckle) For me it's all about helping other moms find the JOY in motherhood, about letting myself EnJOY the joys of motherhood and family all while bringing us closer to our Heavenly Father. Your "reply" post was spot on. thanks for sharing:)

  42. I was rereading this post and started laughing at Lucy's – I hate everything about my life – statement. My five year old has picked that up as well. Hannah apparently hates everything about this world. Sigh. I have to remind her how awesome the world is despite the fact that Netflix is not working or she is unable to have candy all the time. 🙂

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