Abraham, Rachel, Soren and Liam. Our life together in Smalltown, Idaho.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Year in Review: 2014

A quick report on how I did on my 2014 resolutions.

1) Love better. Every year of my life teaches me a little about love. I didn't have to make too much effort here. I have made an effort to love my hunny more selflessly, and I think I've improved there. Right, Abe? RIGHT?

2) Be more positive. I did spend some time recording "Happies" throughout the year at the end of the day. (Not every day, mind you, but once in a while.) I love that. It's such a boost.

3) Prettify the house. Well, um, we bought new couches. And I bought paint for the kitchen cupboards! Which my sweet sister-in-law Hillary then actually applied to them. So now we have beautiful white cupboards, which are surprisingly easy to keep clean.

4) Write that dang novel. I wrote 30,000 words of my novel! Not the whole thing, exactly, but a helluva lot more than I've ever done before. 

5) Eat more healthfully.  #totalfail  

6) Get over my phone phobia.  I have gotten FABULOUS at this! Not perfect. But better. The phone is NOT as scary as it seems to be, people. 

7) Play the organ better. I've gotta be honest. My organ playing skills have not really improved. It's completely my fault, since I just haven't been able to bring myself to prioritize practicing. 

8) Track household spending more carefully. Nope. Totally sucked at this. 

9) Read scriptures at least 3 times a week. I have an on-again, off-again relationship with the scriptures. I definitely didn't do this consistently, though I did read all of the Book of Mormon except for 2 Nephi, Jacob, Enos, Jarom, Omni, and Words of Mormon. 

10) Continue exercising at least 3 times a week.  Be able to do 50 man push-ups in a row. HA! I exercised three times a week, but I can only do about 8 man push-ups in a row. 

11) Continue praying at least 3 times a week. This went pretty much the same way as the scripture reading.
12) Learn how to blow dry my hair with a round brush. Learned. Decided it wasn't worth all the effort. 

13) Teach Soren how to ride a bike without training wheels. DONE! BOOYA! 

14) Plan and cook healthy, nutritious dinners 3-4 times a week. Sometimes I did this. Aaaaand sometimes we ate cereal and sandwiches and pancakes every night. 

15) Improve our family's food storage/emergency preparedness.  Make awesome 72 hour kits, first aid kits, and car emergency kits. Well, I did think a lot about this! And discovered that the 72 hour kits my parents gave us for Christmas several years ago are pretty well equipped. And that's about as far as that went. 

You know, that's not too bad. I didn't do All The Things, but I didn't completely fail, either. Yay for goals!

Other things I accomplished this year:

1) I made an Adoption Wiki! Okay, I actually just figured out how it worked, created a structure for it, and then supervised interns and employees as they filled it with content. But still. I was proud. 

2) My hair grew another six inches without my hacking it all off. Then I discovered braiding, thanks to Lagertha, my new best friend--er, I mean, a character in the History Channel drama Vikings. (Which you should watch. After the kids are in bed. Because it's so good. But kinda gory. And then Lagertha can be your friend, too.)

3) I spent more hours in meetings talking about navigation for Adoption.com than I'd ever thought possible. I did not realize, until 2014, that website navigation is such a very serious business. 

4) I kept the lawn alive all the way through October! And mowed it pretty much every week! Plus, sometimes Abe put magical things on it, like fertilizer and weed killer and such. And it was all green and lush and such. I'm considering adding weed trimming to my repertoire for next year. That's pretty intense, though, so don't get too excited. I'm not sure if I can commit to that. 

5) I grew a garden! Get this, people: FOOD GREW IN MY BACKYARD. The edible kind. Strawberries and cucumbers and lettuce and things. Also, squash and pumpkin, which almost took over the world. Surely there's a movie about a squash patch that takes over the world? Because those squash--they're seriously so aggressive. 

6) I learned to advocate for my children. I am not a naturally assertive person, so this was hard for me, but I realized that if I didn't do it, no one would, so I stood strong and pushed and annoyed and pestered until I got them both what I felt they needed. 

7) I read so many things about adoption and fell in love with every single member of our Adoption.com writing staff. 

8) I learned the piano accompaniment for a pretty intense Christmas Cantata that the stake choir put on this year. 

9) I crocheted an entire scarf for Briar in 4 hours. I haven't crocheted anything since '07, so it was kind of a big deal. 

10) We went on two vacations with the children and made it out alive.  

11) I bought a flat iron and learned how to use it. 

And I think that's about it.

Otherwise, if you needed to find me in 2014, I was probably washing dishes, hanging out with my kiddos, kissing Abraham, or napping. There was a lot of napping. 

In 2015, I hope to nap less. (But more about 2015 later.)

Monday, December 22, 2014


Look at this woman.

Isn't she gorgeous?

But she is more than just a pretty face.

She is a mom to four incredibly awesome kids.

She is a faithful wife (and has been for almost 20 years!).

She is a rock climber.

She is a musician.

She is a student.

She is a teacher.

She is a bicyclist.

She is an artist.

She is a reader.

She is an explorer.

She is a writer.

She is a muscle machine.

She is the kindest auntie in the world.

She is an amazing cook.

She is a skilled bargain shopper.

She is a yogini.

She is a home decorator.

She is ridiculously organized.

And . . . because I got incredibly lucky . . .

She is my sister.

Collette is seven years older than me,  so she was always my idol. And she, who had waited seven long years for a little sister, took her role as big sister very seriously.

She taught me how to read. She taught me the proper way to hold a newborn kitten. She taught me how to play the piano. She taught me to love rainstorms. She taught me how to draw floor plans for houses. She taught me how to wear makeup. She taught me how to make a man sit on the pot without bending the paper. (<---inside joke.="" p="">
When she was in college, she wrote letters to me about her roommate and her professors and about the spider that lived in her dorm room. When I was in college, she wrote about her kids' antics and clipped the police log out of the Shelley Pioneer, highlighting her favorite entries and adding humorous commentary.

Once for my birthday, she surprised me with a picnic by the river.

We have taken many a long, giggle-filled walk together, swapping stories and worries.

Yes, there was that time that she paid me 5 cents to remain completely silent during the drive from Pocatello to Idaho Falls.  There was that time that she permanently kicked me out of our shared bedroom. There was the time when I completely freaked out because she had accidentally thrown away my half-eaten dinner. There was that time that I said something jerky and insensitive and totally hurt her feelings (well, actually, that was lots of times.)

But for the most part, sisterhood has been good to us.

When Liam had his tonsils removed in May, I found myself sitting alone in the hospital waiting room. My baby had just been wheeled into an operating room filled with strangers. I had just received a text informing me that Soren had thrown up on the way to school. My parents were out of town. I was sitting there, trying to hold myself together, when my phone rang. It was my sister. I heard her voice and I was a goner. Tears streamed down my face. Between stifled sobs, I told her how worried I was about Liam and how sad I was that I couldn't be there to take care of Soren.

She knew just what to do. She validated my worries about Liam. She picked up some popsicles and Pedialyte and took Soren to her house, so he would get the kind of attention only a mom can give to a sick kid. She brought dinner to our house that night.

I felt loved and safe and cared for.

My sister is my angel, and I am so grateful to have her be a part of my world.

I love you, Clee!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

New Hampshire Visit: 2014

Our trip to New Hampshire this year was the best. It was so nice to spend time with my in-laws (weird thing to say, I know, but true). Abe's brother Tanner, his wife, Holly, and their three boys were visiting as well, so between their family and the New Hampshire cousins, there were lots of kids to play with. I hardly saw my boys (save for the occasional story time). 

The weather was perfect. I loved hanging out my clothes to dry in the sunshine while songbirds made a joyful noise. We had lots of time to play outside in the lush, green grass and woods. 

And we got to see many people that we love--Abe's parents, of course, and his Nana, and his "other" family, the Irwins (we met his friend Jared's adorable baby boy), Six of the eleven kids in the family were there at some point. 

Also! We went to Santa's Village, the Christmas-themed amusement park where many of Abe's younger siblings worked as teenagers. It was truly a delight. 

I can't capture the joy of this trip in a blog post, but I'll try to compensate with a few pictures, 99% of which were taken by Abe's sister, Lara. (Thanks, Lara!) 

In which we visit people: 

The boys with Nana, Abe's grandmother.

Playing at Nana's house.

We had dinner at Quentin's house.
Here are Soren, Auntie Tailour, and Oliver.

We ate dinner with Lara and Nathan, et al. Here are Nate and Abe being all playful.

After dinner, we went for a stroll.
L-R: Maya, Abe, Nate, Lara, me, Soren, Liam

Abe and Soren enjoying the lovely New Hampshire evening.  

Me and Abe enjoying the beautiful New Hampshire evening.

                                                                We must have found something awesome.

    I couldn't resist the sweet tree house.

Yep. This pretty much sums up these two. 

(Though this was how they interacted 6 years ago.)

In which we spend the day at Santa's Village:

Liam sleeping en route.

Soren emerging from the spinning drums of the little drummer boy.

Waiting for the bumper cars (both above and below).

 Soren contemplating the magic of the wishing well. 

Me and Soren water racing. After a traumatic experience on a ride called the Flume (it's Splash Mountain-esque, Liam didn't want anything to do with water rides). 

        Ferris wheel! Liam yelled at me every time the car rocked. "Stop it, Mommy!"

There was an awesome water park portion inside Santa's Village.

                    This ride made my tummy sad.

Lara's remark here was that she thought the reindeer was a bit "dainty" for Abraham.

Chase and Maya on some Christmasosaurs. 

The Chimney Drop made me and Soren laugh hysterically. Chase and Lara liked it, too.
(P.S. My calves do not usually look that massive.)

In which we frolic in the water at Beaver Brook Falls:

L-R: Tailour, Maya, Soren, Me, Liam, Chase, Holly.

Building a dam. 
Sistas-in-law: Tailour, Holly, and me (above) or Lara (below)

Yes, Lara's hair is blue! Isn't it fabulous?

I love these ladies. 

In which the children do a lot of playing:


A very serious game of chess. L-R: Samuel, Chase, Liam, and Auntie Ivy

Uncle Caleb was a favorite playmate when he could be found. He and the kids created a "Hideout" in the woods. They all wrote their names on the sign. 

They were all VERY excited about having their "own" fire in the hideout.

In which Abe's and Caleb's birthdays (36 and 26, respectively) are celebrated

Abe sitting with his mama. 

Sharing a joke.

Birthday dinner! There was so much delicious pie.

In which various people demonstrate their affection for one another:

  Quentin resisting Abe's brotherly affections.

B and Gramps being adorable. 

Caleb, Gramps, and Abe.

The boys giving each other piggy back rides. (Quentin is hoisting Caleb while Abe looks puzzled.)

Maya is actually five months younger than Soren, but she can heft him easily!

L-R: Chase, Ethan, Soren, and Maya

Tailour and Quentin. 

Lara and Nathan.

Caleb with the kiddos. L-R: Chase, Soren, Liam (concerned about the crying baby), Oliver (also alarmed by the crying), Isaac (crying), Samuel, Maya, and Ethan

Caleb playing well his role as Pied Piper. 

Liam looking hale and hearty. 


Six of eleven. L-R: Caleb, Lara, Abe, Quentin, Tanner, Ivy 

Reading to some kiddos. The listening crowd grew from here. In the end, even Gramps joined storytime. No idea why I felt compelled to poke my leg out like that. 

Breakfast club! It was so fun to get out and have some "girl time" with these ladies.

Liam shows his love for his Uncle Nate by pretending to shoot him.

 This is called "mad scientist hair."

The apple and the tree.


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