Sunday, December 21, 2008


Last month my niece and nephew, Kayla and William Smyth were baptised. It was the week before Thanksgiving and all my family was able to be there - it's been three years since the last time we were all together.
So even though, at this Christmas time we are not able to be all together, we were recently all together and it was wonderful!

Tomorrow night we will be with Jeremy's family at his parents in Pine Valley (where all the snow is).

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow Bunnies

We went to Pine Valley (45 minutes north) Wednesday night and stayed all day Thursday. We were out on a drive Wednesday afternoon looking at the little bit of snow that dusted the mountains in Ivins, just west of St George, when we decided to go to Pine Valley to stay the night. We called Jeremy's mom to see if it was okay to come for the night, she said yes, just come as soon as possible because the snow was really coming down and it would be dark soon. Because it would have added 45 minutes (or more) to go home, grab supplies (like coats and pajamas) we decided to just stop at the grocery store and get some diapers and then head to Pine Valley. That is one reason for the lack of warm clothes on my children (as pictured) when they went out to play in the abundant snow on Thursday. Even if we had gone home we wouldn't have had too much more proper snow clothes, but the kids do have warm winter coats, we just didn't have them on when we went for a "car ride" that turned into staying the night at grandma's house. The snow boots are ours, but the hats and scarves are courtesy of grandma (she even made them).

Friday, December 05, 2008

Giving to those who need this Christmas

There is a story "The Secret Giver" in this month's Friend magazine about a family who secretly gives gifts to a family in need. My boys really liked this story and are planning who they want to give to and what they want to give. A few weeks ago I told my kids that we wouldn't be buying any extras any more (like the occasional happy meal, or toy from the dollar store) I told them that Christmas would be coming soon and we need to save our money to buy gifts. Yesterday they asked if we could have happy meals for lunch (which it isn't really the "meal" that they want, just the toy that comes with the meal. Someone once said, "It isn't the toy that comes free, it's the meal that comes free with the toy you paid for"). I asked them if they remembered what I had told them a few weeks ago. Tom got all excited and said, "Oh yeah, we have to save money to buy our secret gifts to give".
To help with keeping the true spirit of Christmas we have been doing an activity in this months Friend, Stories of Jesus, Tell Them to Me, which lists a scripture story and picture from the GAK, one to do each day of this month. We are also learning the song "Picture a Christmas". I am recently called as the primary song leader so I figure I need to practice with my kids to learn how to best teach the song to the other primary kids - it gives me a chance to have a live audience to work with, rather than having to practice in the mirror or something.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Lydia's baby blessing

I never did get a picture of Lydia in her blessing dress. She wore the same dress that I wore for my blessing and the same dress that Becca wore. I never got a picture of Becca in it either. The dress is still draped over her bassinet waiting for my good intentions of putting her back in it to take a picture. Both girls got rashes on their face the day of their blessing and the commonality is the dress. I think Lydia is too big to wear it anymore - she is only 3 months old but moving into size 6 months. I guess I should at least try.

Friday, November 14, 2008


I found these photos online and thought they were beautiful and needed to be shared.

What is your favorite season

Yesterday I bought a Circle Journal and the idea is to share the journal back and forth between two (or more) people. I bought it to share with my husband. I find it easier to write what I'm thinking than to share it outloud sometimes, so I thought this would great for sharing things with my husband that I might not otherwise share.

That is what I love about blogs - a place to share our thoughts that we might not otherwise vocalize and we can see into others and come to know them and their hearts. I'm glad for those that let me in on their thoughts and their lives - I'm glad to be a part of yours and to let you be a part of mine.

I thought I would share my journal entry today "What is your favorite season of the year". If you like either respond back in the comment section or put a post on your own blog.

"My favorite season of the year is this season - whatever time of year it is, the current season is my favorite. When fall begins I think, "Oh, I love fall." I love it getting colder, I love the pretty color changes of the trees, I love the wrm days and cold nights, I love the smell in the air.
When winter comes I think, "Oh, I love winter". I love the beauty of snow blanketing the ground, I love the winter holidays - the energy of the season, the smells of baking, the tastes of hot chocolate, the sights of decorations, the sounds of music and the feeling of love. Winter means time indoors, together as a family, playing games, eating together, celebrating together, and warm, cozy fires.
Then comes spring and I thing, "Oh, I love Spring". I am so happy to see the snow melt and the buds on the trees - new life is on its way. Spring is refreshing and invigorating. I love spring flowers - the colors, the smells. Growing up lilacs were my favorites, I would gather armloads and bring them to my bedroom and let the scent fill the air.
Summer comes quickly after spring (at least in St. George) and I think "Oh, I love summer". Summer is for fun and outdoor play, for baseball games and water fights, swimming and hotdogs, for staying up late and gazing at the stars.
I think the best part about life it that things change - there is always something new to look forward to.

I invite you to be part of my circle journal and to share your favorite season with me. It doesn't have to be long like my response was - I just tend to be verbose - even a sentence would be great.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Recent photos

I have been going through my pictures and realized I have a lot of pictures I've taken recently. I thought I should put some of these on my blog for family to see.Grandma Smyth stayed with us for a few weeks after baby Lydia was born. Here she is with Charlie and Tom.
Grandma Smyth with Becca and Lydia.
One night Jeremy was putting Becca to bed and he laid Lydia down by Becca - it was too cute to not take a photo of them together.
Every once in a while I try to do Becca's hair. I tried hair rollers, but all they did was make her hair extremely poofy. This was worse than her normal hair, so I wet the poof down and let the natural look be the look of the day.
One day a few weeks ago I heard the kids all laughing together and found them on the front lawn enjoying ice cream. They had carried the baby and her chair outside and luckily didn't try feeding her any of the ice cream.
Sweet sleeping baby Lydia.
Charlie loves his baby sister. He is always carrying her around and playing with her.
What a sweet face. Lydia is an angel baby. She is just happy to be - but don't leave her alone, she loves interacting with everyone.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Sharing my testimony

The Ensign conference issue came today in the mail and I read all the talks from Saturday morning session. When I read Sister Silvia Allred’s talk about missionary work I really identified with her statement about the impact her mission had on her life – “I learned to rely more on the Lord, to seek the guidance of the Spirit, and to feel and overwhelming love for God’s children. My knowledge of the scriptures and my understanding of the doctrines increased. So did my desire to be obedient and to keep the commandments with exactness. My testimony of the Savior and His infinite Atonement was strengthened.”

I served a mission in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1997-1998. I truly loved the people of Russia, and my testimony of the gospel and of Jesus Christ were strengthened – in fact all of the above quote from Sister Allred is true for me. One thought I had while reading this talk was if I am a return missionary, who went abroad to share the gospel with others, and if I have such a strong conviction of the truthfulness of the gospel and the restoration of the gospel then why do I have such hesitation in sharing the gospel with others? Why do I hesitate to pray to have missionary opportunities?

Today as I pondered that I had the thought that I don’t doubt my testimony or conviction of the gospel (I’ve always known the gospel to be true and known that it was restored in its fullness through Joseph Smith) the thing that I doubt is other people believing it. I don’t doubt my testimony, I doubt the ability of others to believe. I forget that it isn’t by our minds that we are converted, but by our hearts – more specifically by the Holy Ghost speaking to our hearts, telling us that it is true.

I have an attitude of fear which needs to be replaced by an attitude of faith. I also have a lack of confidence in my ability to share the gospel in an effective manner. Again, that goes back to thinking that it is me that has to be convincing, which is not true, it is the Spirit that does the convincing. I just have to live the gospel with diligence and never be apologetic to others for living the gospel and keeping the commandments. If others object to the way I live then it’s not me they have a problem with but God’s laws, for I live my life according to God’s laws.

Sister Allred gives two fundamental truths to keep in mind:
1 – have a clear understanding that God loves all His children and desires their salvation
2 – Our message of Christ and His restored gospel is the most important gift we can give

I know I have a powerful testimony of the restored gospel, I felt it very acutely last Sunday when I bore my testimony. I know this is a gift from God, not given to me to keep to myself, but to share with others.

I’m looking forward to reading more of the conference talks and being reminded about what was spoken at conference.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Upholding the Constitution

Proposition 8, in California passed, but that doesn't mean that the fight is over. This was a very controversial issue and it's not likely to go away - we are going to have to continue to fight for traditional marriage and for anti-traditional marriage to not be propagandized to our children. Also, as was pointed out, this wasn't just and issue about who can or cannot get married, it's about the Constitution and who is and isn't allowed to make and amend laws. Orson Scott Card wrote an article, Upholding the Constitution that is worth reading.

He explains "there should never have been a Proposition 8.In order to make such a radical change in human behavior and custom, the proponents of gay marriage should have followed constitutional, democratic process and persuaded people to support it until a majority was achieved....small groups of dictators (pro gay) have simply taken it upon themselves to deny universal human practice and remake the law as they saw fit, without waiting for democratic process. ...No branch of government was ever intended to have the power to dictate new law without other branches of government having a chance to stop them or at least slow them down.... But they think only in the short term. They don't mind leaving democracy in a shambles and making the Constitution a joke, as long as they get their way on this issue. ...As much as I think gay marriage is a terrible idea, grounded on neither science nor common sense, we should be even more concerned that our republic is in the process of ceasing to be in any meaningful sense a democracy."

Saturday, November 01, 2008


Well, according to my kids, "Halloween is the BEST EVER!" That is what Tom and Charlie kept saying yesterday. Of course who doesn't love getting dressed up in something fun and then getting lots of candy from people.
What they dressed as:
Charlie - Grim Reaper
Tom - Ninja
Becca - Tinkerbell
Lydia - witch
Jeremy - as self (nurse)
Jenni - as self

We started out the day with orange pancakes and green dragon milk (credit goes to Jeremy for making this fun breakfast for the kids). The kids loved it and commented "Dad spoils us too much". The kids wore their costumes all day long, so by the time night rolled around they were dirty. Trick or treating for us started at the Bloomington Hills circle park where all the neighbors park their cars around the park, some of them decking their cars out with halloween decor and while Jeremy stayed at our van to pass out treats I walked with the children from car to car to load up on loot. It is so fun to see everyone dressed up - a lot of the adults dress up too. Everyone is so creative - there is such a variety and little duplication.
I enjoyed halloween when I was young. Every year there was a Halloween carnival at the elementary school with games to play and treats to eat and everyone dressed up. I like the sense of community when people are gathered together celebrating - that is probably why I enjoy going to the circle park on Halloween, to gather with others and enjoy it together.

After the trunk or treat at the park we stopped at a couple of houses and then came home for dinner (yes, I do know that it is a bad idea to start the gathering of the candy before a nutritious dinner is in the stomach, then the little ones just eat the candy and dinner is neglected, but my timing is always off on these things). I took Charlie and Tom to a few of our neighbors after our late dinner and Charlie wanted to do just one more and one more. Soon we were a couple blocks away and poor Tom was tired (it was 8:45 pm). When we got to the Murdocks house he asked Sister Murdock if she would give us a ride home. I didn't realized that he was so tired and was surprised he asked her, but glad because then we were able to go home without one more and one more, because Charlie was a die hard and would have kept going.

This morning, on advice from a neighbor, we portioned our candy out into baggies so the kids can have controlled amounts from time to time - I think we have our year's supply of candy. We had the boys help assemble the bags, I thought this would help them take ownership for the idea and not feel jipped that we weren't going to let them just have free access to the candy at all times.

When Becca got up this morning I noticed little red dots on her head. Of course it worried me, I didn't know what they were or how she could have got them. I had Jeremy look at them and he was concerned too. We decided we should bathe her and then take a good look at them (her hair was wild from sleep and the hair gel I used last night in getting her ready, also, I thought maybe the spots were a reaction from the hair gel). Well, thankfully after her bath the spots were miraculously gone. What ever they were, the soap cleared them right up. I still can't imagine what she got on her head that created rash like spots, but they washed right away.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Visit to the Nature Center

I'm adjusting to life with four kids. Really it's going rather well, I'm just not getting to things I used to do (like posting on my blog page or scrapbooking). I still do manage to take my kids out quite often - we love going to the library and to the park. Last week I took them to the Nature Center. There is a trail that goes past a small pond, it had 7 ducks swimming around, and there are many plants and trees native to this area. It was a beautiful day and the boys were busy gathering nuts and leaves from the trees.

Yesterday we blessed the baby - Lydia Lucille Taysom. Yes, we finally chose a name for her. We had decided Lydia a while ago, but didn't get her middle name decided on until a few days ago. Lucille is after Jeremy's mom's mom (technically his grandma, but she died when Susan was 12, and the only grandma he has known is Betty Ann).
Saturday was Charlie's birthday, he turned 6 years old. Last week he asked if we could start his birthday at 6 am, I said I wouldn't be awake yet, but if he wanted to get up that early he could. We did follow our yummy tradition we started of having birthday cake for breakfast and he got to open his gift from mom and dad. Saturday was also Charlie's first day of gymnastics at the city rec center. He enjoyed the class and did great at learning to do cartwheels. He has been practicing and is getting good at them. I tried doing one today to see if I still could and sure enough I was able to do it fairly well. Tom kept trying to do one, but he was trying to get his head in on the action and ended up doing more of an awkward somersault.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New Baby girl

We are so happy to have baby number four join our family. We don't have an official name for her yet, but we are thinking Lydia.
She joined us early Tuesday morning, August 26, at 2:37 am. Having labor start on and off for the past week or two made for a short birth. I woke up at 1:40 am, at 1:45 contractions started, at 1:55 I woke Jeremy up because the contractions were coming hard and fast, at 2:00 we were headed to the hospital. We arrived at the hospital about 2:10 and when they checked me I was 9 cm dilated. I was so glad, the contractions were very intense and I knew birth had to be close. Luckily the doctor lived close and he made it there in time to break my water so I could start pushing the baby out.
It was all such a whirlwind. After the baby was safely in my arms I mentioned to the doctor that I had only woke up an hour previous. I think they were all a little surprised how quickly it all happened. However, we knew quick was a possibility because on Monday at my checkup (just 14 hours previous to my labor) I was dilated to 5 cm.
My stay at the hospital was longer than I wanted, but much shorter than any of my other babies and we came home just after 4 pm that same day. The kids were glad to have me come home. They love the new baby and especially Charlie, love to hold her and love her. The kids are insistent that her name is Lydia, maybe Jeremy and I will just have to except it and quit trying to decide if that's really who she is.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Anxiously Waiting

As much as I tell myself to be patient, I'm just not being very patient these last few weeks of my pregnancy. Last night I thought for sure I was going into labor - I had an hour of very consistent and close contractions that were much more than braxton hicks, but then they suddenly went away and I've had nothing all day. I'm at week 38, so it really could be any time now, or it still could be another few weeks. I'm really not very good at waiting. A couple weeks ago my doctor asked for my prediction and I gave him today's date. Well now that today is almost over and I'm still pregnant and my prediction was wrong.... now I just have to wait more. Bummer.
To keep myself distracted I've been reading a lot. I'm too tired and lazy to motivate my self to do things like housework, or scrapbook, or even blog. So, I've been reading a lot. The past two weeks I've read 4 books - two were over 600 pages long - Stephanie Myers books - her last in the Twilight series, "Breaking Dawn", and her other one, "The Host". I liked them, but I don't know that they will make my favorites list (hope I don't offend any Twilight fans, they were good, but probably just a one time read for me). Although they are large books, 600+ pages, they read very quickly and I think they only took me two or three days each to read.

I've been working with Charlie on learning to read using "Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons". We are half way through the lessons. He is doing so well. Costco is carrying the "BOB" books right now, which are great little easy readers for beginners. They seem very simplistic in story and in illustration, but I think that is what appeals to kids, Charlie loves them. It's been a nice bonding experience working with Charlie learning to read. Although most days he doesn't really want to do his lessons, it only takes a minute or two to convince him to do it and I love the sparkle he gets in his eye when he accomplishes the lessons and is proud of himself for reading the words and the stories. When we were at Costco buying the BOB books, Charlie also saw a book about the body with a wealth of pictures and information about the make of the body. He is very interested in the body and how it works and begged me to buy the book. The first night we had it we spent about an hour looking at it. He would decide what part of the body he wanted to know more about and we would look it up in the book and then he would look at every picture and ask me to read every paragraph on the page. In particular he was fascinated with the brain. The picture in the book had the different area of the brain colored in various colors to distinguish the different functions of the brain. At first he thought it was cool that our brain was so many different colors, so I had to explain it really isn't. That particular diagram showed what part of the brain coordinated with which sense. Today Charlie asked me which part of the brain memories are stored in. That wasn't one of the things that page talked about, and I don't know the answer, so I told him we would have to look it up in his book. I love that he loves to learn.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Praising our children

The following is from the blog teaching self government

and I wanted to share it here so I can always look back on it and remember that I am setting this as my goal for this month - to look for the good and to praise my children much more often than I currently do. It is easy to get caught up in trying to correct our children and for me that starts a downward spiral of noticing more of the naughty things that they do rather than the good.

A reader said that praising doesn’t come naturally for her. In fact, praising seems fake and annoying to this mother. She asked:

I don’t want to be a cheerleader, always saying “Good job” no matter what—I want to say things that really matter, that I really believe, that are true. I guess what makes it hard is when I know (or think I know) that I’ve taught them how to do something better than they have done it, or that they should be capable of doing some things without always having to be praised for it. I know you said in your presentation that we could never give too much praise, but how do you stay real? How can I change my mindset from being critical, to seeing the positive, while still helping my children improve and expecting them to behave well and do chores and other things well?

I wasn’t raised by parents who praised me all of the time either. I mostly remember trying do anything I could to keep my parents from knowing I did anything wrong, because I dreaded all the negative comments. Yes, I learned a survival skill; dishonesty. From my experience and observations, if people are not praised enough, they usually start to hide many things about their lives from people who love them to avoid negative attention. This is significant to me.

Years ago when I started doing foster care we were told to praise 6-10 times for every correction to the youth. This was overwhelming to me. Praising didn’t come naturally for me either. I would often remember to praise, but stumble over the words. I would think of praising and let the thought pass, because I didn’t want to appear weird to the foster youth. During this time of no praise, I noticed something. I was making a dark cloud hang over my home. I was all about expectations and not nurturing. I was driving away the Spirit.

Even though I recognized it, I was slow to change. Praise just didn’t roll off my tounge smoothly. I think most of society is like this. Too bad too, because freedom comes from praise. I made myself praise each child 20 times per day. I kept track. After a few weeks I was doing better. After a month I noticed that my whole family was happier, and I was by far the happiest. I was looking for the good in the people I love, how can that not make you happy?

Training yourself to look for the good in others, especially those closest to you, frees you from the bondage of pride and selfishness in your relationships. I have also noticed that it only takes one critical person to make a home full of critical people. Likewise, it only takes one person to start praising to change the whole mood in the home to love and support.

As to the fakeness of some people’s praising. The praise could seem fake to a person not used to praising, or it really could be fake praise. Some people do fake praise. I don’t like fake praise. If you praise, mean it. A normal praise for me is a lot more than a “good job”.

I say things like, “I love the way you walked into the kitchen just now and saw what needed to be done in order to get dinner done on time, and chose to just start doing what needed to be done. You are a great problem solver! I think that I will probably have time to hem that dress you needed to have hemmed because you saved me so much time. You are an incredible help to me. I don’t know what I would do without you. Thanks.”

To avoid being fake, just tell them how you really feel. The problem comes if you have conditioned yourself to not feel like people deserve praise.

Should people ever get to a point where they don’t get praised for every thing? Yes! I am not suggesting that we parents praise things not worth praising, or praise for brushing teeth every day as long as they live in your home. My children know that as they get older they will not get praised for the same things younger children get praised for. Some people have the belief that children should be babied by praise, and never be expected to behave like an adult; who doesnt’ get praised very often. I am not one of those kinds of people. I would never recommend enabling people.

That said, most parents I know expect perfect adult behavior from their children before the child has an understanding of how to control their body or emotions like an adult would. Basically, we are impatient. It takes more talking, teaching, patience, and energy to keep teaching our children what they need to behave like in all the many different situations. My rule of thumb on this is: If they keep making the same bad decisions, then they are not ready to graduate from being praised when they perform the behavior correctly.

To change your mind from seeing only negative to seeing things to praise about you must see your family through different eyes. When you are negative you are looking through your own selfish eyes. I often sit and watch my children interact with each other and try to pick out what their intentions are for all the things they choose to do.

My daughter was given an instruction to clean her room. About 15 minutes later she was found cleaning her brother’s room. Her room had barely been touched. I went to my daughter and told her that she didn’t follow instructions because she was supposed to be working on her own room, so she had earned an extra chore. She immediately asked to disagree appropriately. She said that she heard her little brother crying in the next room because he was overwhelmed by the mess he had to clean up in his room. She told him that she would help him clean his room to ease is anxiety. She was planning on going back to her own room.

Of course I accepted her disagreement and she earned no extra chores.

She showed me that she was really governing herself by deciding what would be the best thing to do at that time. I decided then that I needed to give her more credit. She was doing what I would want her to do. I just didn’t understand the situation enough to know it. Seek to understand them. Give them credit for being the good child that they are.

Praise as often as you can. Praise brings the spirit into your home, it unites your family, gives the children a reason to care about choosing the right, and it frees you from all of those feelings of dissappointment that can ruin a day or a life.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Lagoon trip

We aren't doing a vacation this year, so we sandwiched in going to the Lagoon in the middle of the week. Tuesday night we drove to Payson and stayed the night with some friends, then Wednesday (yesterday) we went with those same friends and spent the day at the Lagoon. We've never taken our kids to the Lagoon before and the most of a ride they have ever been on before is the quarter rides outside of Walmart. We weren't sure how much they would like it or not. Tom absolutely loved it, even some of the bigger, more "scary" rides (scary for kids). Charlie liked most of them, but the Bat ride he wasn't too fond of and when we were on the Tidal Wave he asked me if the first time I went on that ride if I was scared - he was a little scared and not really sure he liked that ride. He loved all the little kiddie rides. Becca wasn't much of a fan of the rides. The picture of her in the airplane ride is one of the few rides she went on, and I was afraid she was going to try to bail out (good thing the seatbelts sinch down nice and tight). When the ride first started she almost started crying, then she looked like she was trying to decide if she liked the ride or not. By the time the ride was over she was more than ready to get out and was not happy that it took so long for the ride attendant to come undo her seatbelt.
Going to Lagoon A Beach in the afternoon was a very nice way to get out of the heat for a while. It was in the 90's and humid - so not St. George hot, but hot enough that the water felt very nice. The boys loved going down the water slides and I enjoyed that I finally got something to do. Being 8 months pregnant I didn't go on many rides - the pioneer log ride, the tidal wave and Puff (the little kids roller coaster that goes around 3 times for total of 30 seconds). So it was nice to go in the water and splash around and play with the kids.
After the Beach we went on more rides for and hour or two more and then by 7:30 pm we packed up to head home - we drove back to St. George. It really was a quick trip up and back, but it was lots of fun and worth the drive. We borrowed my sister Debbie's car - a Toyota Corolla, definitely not a family car, but worked very well on saving gas - I think it cost us about half of what our mini van would have cost to fill with gas.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Love my Freedom

First, I have to say thank you to Summer from Summer Time Designs for this free "Freedom Kit" digital scrapbook paper. I can't believe she designs these wonderful kits and then lets people download for free - but I'm glad - she has cute stuff. She had lots of cute embellishments, but I guess I'm too simplistic to figure out how to use them in a layout - I usually stick to one or two papers and pictures and words. So it's not that I don't like using embellishments, I just don't know how.
The only 4th of July pictures I could were from 2005, I guess I need to take more pictures on the 4th.
Recently I've been reading books about George Washington "The Real George Washington" and "The Making of George Washington". It's been fascinating to learn more about the "father of our country". Truly, if we could have more leaders like George Washington our country would be better for it. Washington was a man of values and principles and didn't do things for his own gain. He was very strict in obeying the constitution and not doing anything to go against it. He was a driving force in getting the constitution to be just and fair. Washington was God fearing and gave all credit to God for everything - he was such a humble man. He did not want to be president, he felt there had to be others more qualified to lead the new country, but finally submitted to the will of the people. They recognized what a great leader he was.
Reading these books has given me a greater appreciation for our country and for the sacrifices that were made to establish our country. It has also made clear to me my responsibility in being a more informed and active citizen. I want to read and study the constitution to gain a better understanding of the foundation of our country.
Here is a quote from Washington's inaugural address "no people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand (God) which conducts the affairs of men, more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency." And I think this statement still holds true for us today - we are kept free by the hand of God and if we fail to acknowledge this there will come a day that we will no longer be free.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Tom's Birthday

Tom's birthday was last Sunday. He turned the big four, but he is already saying that he is "four and a quarter" - always wanting to be older and bigger. The sepia toned scrap page is a letter to Tom. I saw this idea - to write a letter to each child on their birthday, and thought it was a good idea. Tom is the first one I have done this for, but I hope to do it for each of my children each year.
Tom was so cute - he was so excited about everything. He loved the cake that I made for him - a tractor-dirt cake, every boy's dream cake. His response was "that's the cake I always wanted". This is my first time being creative with a birthday cake. The reason I did it is because the kids always see the cakes at the grocery store and look at all of them, trying to decide which one they would want for their birthday, but I just refuse to pay so much for a cake. The dirt cake was easy, I just crumbled up some cookies and put it on top and then added the little tractors I got at the $1 store. The other thing Tom got really excited about was the pack of gum he got as one of his gifts - he hugged it when he opened it. Tom is funny with gum. He chews one piece of gum for about 5 minutes, then adds another piece, then another, maybe throws away the big wad and withing in 1 hour has consumed all his gum. Of course, he did share some with Charlie, but I was still surprised at how quickly they went through all 5 packs of gum.
Since Tom's birthday was on a Sunday we did some stuff on Saturday to celebrate - mostly at Charlie's request. He said that we couldn't do anything fun on Sunday for Tom's birthday so we needed to do it on Saturday. Tom chose to go to a movie. Jeremy took the boys to "Wall E". I didn't go because I knew Becca wouldn't sit through 5 minutes of it, so there was no need to even try, so we went gift shopping and then made Tom's cake.
The reason it says "Chuck E Cheese" on the bottom of Tom's birthday letter as one of the names that he is called is because he insists on us calling him Chuck E Cheese. I'm not sure why this started, but one day he announced that his name was now Chuck E Cheese and periodically this is the only thing he responds to. He is always asking me how to spell it and now when he spells it on his own he says "c h u c k e e s e" and thinks he spelled the whole word.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Spiritual Aspect of Housework

(Not my photo)

These two articles "The Sacred Nature of Everyday Work" and "My Home as a Temple" are must reads. I often get overwhelmed and discouraged by all the demands of running a household and trying to keep my house clean. I've been doing better this past week and have found better routines and a better attitude. However, these articles moved my mind beyond the "task" of keeping my home clean to the "purpose" of housework and the possibilities that I am missing out on by being so task oriented.
The Sacred Nature article talks about the bonding that is created between family members when they work on tasks together. This reminded me of some of my own fond memories from my youth. We heated our home with a wood burning stove and each fall a load of logs would come and fill our driveway and our task was to stack all those logs on the back patio. This was a time consuming job and took all of us working together to do it. I remember that we formed a chain and passed the logs from one person to the next. Even to this day the overall feeling that remains with me is the fun that we had working together. My parents might have a different feeling about it. Maybe we complained and whined and whatever, but all I remember is the bond that felt with the others who shared that experience with me.
Another thing the articles talk about is working together. I don't think it means that on every chore that has to be done that everyone has to be together, but definitely none of us like doing jobs by ourself. I remember when I worked at a boys ranch (for teenaged boys who needed counseling) and a major component of our responsibilities as the "parents" was to have the boys do chores. The meals were cafeteria style and once a week it was our house duty to clean the large kitchen (like schools have). We had fourteen boys we were responsible for. Even with all of us working I think it took close to an hour to clean the kitchen. Jeremy and I divided the responsibilities between the boys and then we would work along side them. One time one of the boys commented about the fact that we worked along with them. I didn't understand why this was a big deal to him. He said that none of the other house parents worked with the boys, they would just sit and talk while they made the boys work. Us willingly working along side the boys helped them have greater respect for us and it also formed a bond between us.
At that point in my life, at least in that certain situation, it seemed natural to not require something of those boys that I wasn't willing to do myself. Now as a mother and the manager of my household I'm not quite as quick to work along side my kids. It's definitely not because I am sitting down while my kids work, it's more of a divide and conquer attitude - if we split up the work and you do that and I do this we will get done faster. Sometimes that is necessary, but right now while my kids are so young and think it will be better for me to work with my kids and not get all the tasks done than any other way. There is definitely time and place for kids learning to do things on their own and learning responsibility of a task and blah, blah, but I'm not at that stage yet with my kids.
The articles also point out that service and gaining Christ-like attributes are a result of family work and the ordinary everyday tasks that we have to do so often. I'll have to remember that when I am sweeping the floor for the fourth time in the same day, or wiping up the 3rd glass of spilled milk, or whatever the situation is that usually leaves me frustrated and feeling down. As I set my sights higher and maintain a spiritual view on these physical tasks I hope to transform my way of thinking and focus more on the positive aspects of housework rather than the negative - let them fill my soul rather than empty me emotionally.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cute Girl

Becca is such a cutie, and she is at a fun age 18 months. She is full of smiles and loves. I love that she can understand so much. Her vocabulary is limited, but if I ask her questions she correctly says yes or no.
Becca is a people person. She loves to be around people and does not like to be left out. If the boys are going outside and shut the door before she gets there, she cries because they left without her.
At night she loves to snuggle up and drink her bedtime bottle while I rock her in the rocking chair. If this routine gets messed up and someone else tries to put her to bed she protests.
Becca knows her mind and knows what she wants and what she doesn't want. When ever she wants to go outside she brings me her shoes to put on her. When I'm getting her dressed there are certain clothes she likes more than others and will protest if I try to dress her in something she does not like.
Becca brings joy and love to our house and I am very thankful for her.

Monday, June 23, 2008


I haven't done much on my computer lately. I was on such a roll last month, and this month has been so sparse.
A few weeks ago was the Smyth family reunion and I took this picture of my two boys with three of their cousins (Spencer's kids). Richard's family wasn't able to come, so we were 3 cousins short. The five cousins pictured are very close in age and have a lot of fun playing together. I wish, and they wish, that we lived closer so they could get together more often.

I spent the morning doing a quick clean of the whole house and ended with mopping. Mopping is such a chore - I have about 1000 sf of laminate flooring and it is such a workout. Now, 5 hours later after mopping I am still tired. I remembered why my good intentions of mopping more often never happen - it's too much work to mop more often. I really want to put in carpeting in my family room - that would eliminate a fair amount of work. I do love when my house is all clean. I'm trying to get into better routines so that it doesn't pile up and become such a huge chore to clean. In efforts to get my children more involved in daily cleaning I've set up a point system that they have to earn a minimum number of points just to be able to play and then they can earn even more points if they want to do something big, like go for and ice cream or go swimming or such. They earn points not only for doing a chore, but also obedience points for doing it when I ask (ie, not dawldling and telling me just a minute 500 times) and they also get attitude points when they do it with a good attitude.
It's been great so far. Last week when Charlie asked if he could go outside and play I asked him if he had earned his daily points yet, he still had to earn one more point, so he asked what he could do to earn that point, and then he quickly did it so that he could go outside. I also like that this way we can focus on one or two big activities for the week to work towards "remember, we are earning points to go swimming on Thursday", etc. It helps keep them motivated and it helps so that I don't have to tell them "no" all the time when they ask to do this or that.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Temple quarry hike

Saturday we went on a hike as a family. The kids and I just got back from Idaho on Friday and it's been almost two weeks since we've seen Jeremy. It was a beautiful morning for a hike. The kids love being outside and hikes are a fun way to enjoy nature. This hike is the "Temple Quarry" hike that goes along the trail where the pioneers took wagons to get the basalt stone that they used for the foundation of the Temple. We didn't do the whole hike, and so we didn't see the actual site where they took the rock from, but the whole hillside is littered with these stone. It's interesting because the sun turns these rocks blacker and blacker over time, various rocks have varying degrees of blackness on them. Even though we were hiking by 9 am, it was still quite warm and that is one reason we didn't hike the whole trail. Becca was a great trooper and she walked most of the trail on the way up and then we put her in the backpack carrier for the way back. We spotted a few lizards and Tom almost stepped on a desert tortoise. Jeremy said this is the first time he has ever seen a desert tortoise. There is lots of protected BLM land in St. George for the tortoises, but Jeremy has never seen one before. 
Jeremy kept reminding us "hydrate or die"- That was what he learned on his river rafting trip, some of the other people on his trip kept saying that and it stuck with him.
Jeremy took our small digital camera on his trip with him and the LCD screen on the back got broken, so now when we take pictures we can't see them. The camera still works and all these pictures were taken with that camera, but it is odd to not be able to see what the pictures look like - kinda like the old days before digital cameras. 

Friday, June 06, 2008

trip to Idaho

Tuesday was travel day. I loaded up my three kids and headed to Idaho. We are having our annual Smyth family reunion. Jeremy didn't come because last minute he was presented with an opportunity that he couldn't pass up - a week long river rafting trip down the Colorado in the Grand Canyon. He was able to go for the cost of the helicopter ride out when the trip is over and didn't have to pay the other $2000 the trip regularly costs. So he got it for about $200.

So that left me to travel alone with my kids to Idaho. I was worried that Becca would give me fits and not travel well. She nicely surprised me by taking two naps and her awake times she looked at books and played with toys and entertained herself. She fussed a few times, but Charlie would hand her a new toy or book and she was good for a while more.

We are having a wonderful time visiting with family and the kids are loving spending time with their cousins - Spencer's kids. They are all close in age and enjoy playing with each other.

The weather is not nice. It is windy, windy, windy. The kids haven't even asked to go outside today, so we've been in the house doing projects and watching movies. Mike, Susan, Debbie and I went to a session at the Rexburg Temple. This was my first time there. It is very beautiful. My parents are ordinance workers there and have 2 shifts a week. It's wonderful for them to have a temple so close by.

I'm hoping tomorrow will be nicer weather so we can play outside games and get out the water games for the kids. We keep our family reunions pretty low key - we just like getting together and spending some time with one another.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Monthly themes for devotionals

I try to do morning devotional with the kids in the morning, but we don't get to it everyday. I decided to create these monthly pages (the info comes from the Primary program outline) so that I can have them out for each month and we can repeat the scripture (every day maybe) and sing the monthly song. I had to share them because I was so excited at how nicely they turned out. The first page took a little bit of time, but the second one (and all the rest) will be really fast because I just use the first as a template.

I know it's probably obvious, but I am absolutely loving photoshop elements - the creativity factor is amazing - the amount of control I have over my design is endless.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Char hair cut

The boys got haircuts this morning so that we could get rid of their unruly hair - It was getting so long. Charlie hates getting his hair cut and always makes a huge ordeal of it. Today, with help of bribery of a piece of gum, and lots of begging on our part, we got him to sit and he was very good for the whole hair cut. He liked when dad had shaved the top and the sides were still long. After he got the top and sides done Jeremy wondered if he should leave the back as a mullet (not really, what an unfortunate hair style). Tom always does well and has no problem with getting his hair cut and it only takes about five minutes for him.

I found a link to the BYU Women's Conference that has 'virtual sharing stations' where women have posted lots of ideas about various things - definitely worth taking a look at. I love BYU Women's Conference and wish that I could ever go - I could have this year if I would have planned it out ahead of time, but I didn't know about it until the day before.

Another great link I found is and index created on Sugardoodles website for Sharing Time from the Friend.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

What do you do?

If there is one thing that I lack it is definitely consistency. Routine and schedules with my kids is hit and miss. One thing I've accidentally started doing is Friday chore day. Yesterday I was trying to be more than just the drill sargent for getting chores done, so I put my non-artistic drawing skills to use and drew pictures of what the boys needed to get done in order to earn a date. Although the pictures helped I still had to verbally motivate and remind them to stay on task. Charlie loves to clean the bathroom - I think it's using the squirt bottle that he loves.

I'm wondering what others do to get kids to do their chores?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Strapped In

The look on Becca's face is what made me want to make this scrap page - otherwise I probably wouldn't have taken the time to write about Rebecca's non-love of her car seat.

The look on her face reminds me that there really are lots of things in life that we endure, or put up with but really don't want to. I think one of the great things about being an adult is we really do have more control over our own lives than when we were little - at least to a certain extent. But even the things that can make us feel like we are putting up with, but not enjoying life, are up to us and our attitude. Attitude, and how we mentally approach a situation makes all the difference. I'm trying to develop more of a "Pollyanna" attitude (remember that movie) over the mundane things in my life (ie. housework) and find the joy and enjoyment so that I'm not just strapped in and enduring.

As a side note - I used photoshop elements a while back to create the effect on this photo, but for the life of me I don't know what I did. I really love how it looks, but I have no idea how to duplicate it. I guess I need to pay better attention, or take notes or something so that I remember what I learn.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008



Today's assignment for my digi scrapbook class was to use a template and add paper and pictures. The page on the left is the template original. I wasn't loving it, so the page on the right I left out a few things and I like the results much better. I'm all for simple and not getting things too complicated. I really didn't care for the weird curl on the template and was happy to leave it out. This still isn't a favorite layout of mine, but I definitely like the redo better than my original try. The whole concept behind templates is they are supposed to be fast and easy - this one wasn't for me - I think I spent the most time on this layout over all my other layouts - I think because I was trying to figure out how to make too many elements work together and it wasn't flowing for me.

The theme of this layout is "lunch". As long as lunch is cheese tacos or sandwiches lunch goes smoothly - no complaints from the kids and easy for me to make. So on the days when we are out of bread and tortillas we often do ramon noodles, which isn't a favorite for me, or I feel kind of lost and don't know what to make. The weird thing for me is I could eat sandwiches every day for lunch and have no problem with it, but if I had to eat the same thing for dinner each night I do have a problem. Why is that? Why do I need variety for dinner, but don't care at lunch time? Just something I have been wondering about lately.

Today is Jeremy's birthday! Happy Birthday love.

Aunt Sue

We had a fun visit with Susan this past weekend. The kids really love when she comes to visit. She posted a nice entry giving details of her visit and posted some cute pictures of the kids.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

It's hot!

I actually scrapped a page that had a picture of me. This photo was taken by Charlie in January. I was highlighting the fact that I have on warm socks and slippers and a jacket and am sitting in front of my heater (and fireplace, but there is no fire in the fireplace).
Well, now that it is hot like a furnace outside I am purposefully making my house cold and definitely am not wearing socks. Yesterday and today it's been over 100 F. Too hot too fast. I don't know what I'm going to do with my kids all summer. Once 10 am hits it's too hot to go outside. I usually take them to the park in the afternoon - now I'll have to take them as soon as they wake up (not really I won't, but in order to enjoy the park and not be too hot that is what time we would have to go).
In the past we've been able to go over to Jeremy's parent's house and go swimming all the time, but they are renting out their house and living in Pine Valley full time. Maybe I'll just go join them up in Pine Valley. It is about 20 degrees cooler there and mountainous and beautiful and the boys would love it. I am going to visit my parents in Idaho and spend a week or two with them, so that will be a nice break.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


One thing I've realized as I've been doing scrapbooking is it is hard to remember much detail from events in the past. As I was doing Becca's 10 month page I really didn't know what to write. I would say that the most important thing to be doing right now is writing down details as they happen, because I just don't remember later on. I know when I look at Tom's or Charlie's baby pictures I think, "cute picture", but I don't remember the specifics of that age.

This morning I had to be to church early and let before the kids were ready for church. Jeremy was lucky that he had my two sisters to help him in getting the children ready. When they showed up to church and my boys came walking up to me in their suits I thought, "my, what handsome boys I have".

Becca has a new little dance/walk that she does. She swaggers back and forth and saunters around. Little sassy girl. actually she has a lot of attitude lately and throws fits when she doesn't get her way - I guess she has hit 18 months old (next week actually) - tantrum time. Becca loves toothbrushes. She is constantly stealing someones out of the bathroom. She now has one of her own to chew on, so hopefully we won't have to hunt and search for the other ones anymore.

Tonight we were reading in Helaman of the Book of Mormon about Nephi and Lehi when they were put in prison and the still small voice comes and talks to the Laminites. I asked the boys who the still small voice was and Charlie said, "it's the Holy Ghost. I have a song I made up" and he proceeded to sing a cute little song about the Holy Ghost and how he whispers to us if we are doing something bad and he helps us have good feelings. It's moments like those that I know that I am doing something right as a parent. It's so fun to watch them grow and gain knowledge and understanding.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

3 Month Old Becca

I have been going through my digital photos - all 6000 of them - organizing them and trying to decide which ones to scrapbook. I never have made books for my kids and I would like them to have at least a few photos and memories from their childhood. 

Digital scrapbooking has just opened up a whole new world for me. This page of Becca only took me about 20 minutes to do.  I want to try to do a page a day - so not a lot of time involved, but a lot of results to show for the little bit of time.

One thing I'm trying to do is go through my photos and decide which stories to tell through which photos. I have a list of about 20 so far and the only reason the list isn't longer is I haven't gone through very many photos yet.

Tom and Charlie went on Fathers and Sons last night with Jeremy and his dad, Scott, and his brother, Brad. The boys love fathers and sons. Ever since they went last year they have been looking forward to the one this year. Charlie was so sad that it wasn't longer than one night - he wanted it to be a week long. They went up to Kolob - about an hour away. They had dinner with the ward, but then went and stayed at a friends cabin instead of sleeping out - Jeremy said it gets to about 30 degrees at night - I wouldn't want to sleep out either. Charlie said his favorite part was fishing and catching crawdads. The boys came home dirty and I sent them straight to the shower to get cleaned up before I spent time cuddling with them and telling them how glad I was that they were home.

My sister Susan is here for the weekend. We didn't plan a girls night out last night while the boys were gone because she was supposed to do something with friends, but it fell through last minute. I guess I'm getting old and boring because when she asked what we should do I thought, well, maybe a movie, but there was nothing to see, and I had no other ideas than that. If it doesn't involve kid stuff I feel lost - I don't know what to go do - especially at night. At night is when I try to fit in all the things I want to do, like my computer stuff or catching up on housework, etc. I think the problem is that I am fine with being a boring person - I don't require much to keep me occupied and satisfied - a good book, a project and I'm good to go. I do like playing card games and table games, but usually those are more fun with more than two people. Regardless, we had a nice night together and went and got some ice cream, yum.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Muddy Boys

These photos are from 2 1/2 years ago. Charlie was 3 and Tom was 18 months. Tom got it so bad because Charlie was smearing him with mud. The pictures of Tom standing at the window asking to come in are the kicker of these photos - he was sooo done with being muddy. I don't even remember if it was traumatic to clean them up - I'm sure I stripped them down outside and hosed them off and then probably put them in the tub.
The reason they always got so muddy was the yard had a low spot that always puddled with water from the sprinklers. To tell boys to stay away from mud is like telling them to not eat candy that is sitting out - totally impossible. As much fun as it is for them I'm glad we no longer have a mud spot.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Becca watches the bike riding

I created this whole layout from scratch - it was not a template - yay! for me. I'm learning so much. It does take longer to create this kind of page than the one I did earlier of the boys, but this was fun and a stretch for my creative side.

Becca was so cute this morning as she sat on the sidelines watching Tom and Charlie racing down the street. Really, she wasn't paying much attention to them, but she sat on the side for a long time like she was in the cheering section.

Riding Bikes

Charlie and Tom spent the morning taking their bike to the top of the hill and riding down together, again and again.
I took a ton of pictures, I was inspired by Heather's story boards on her blog as a fun way to show multiple pictures and let them tell the story.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Quotes anyone?

I'm wondering if any of you have saved up lots of great quotes. On my scrapbook pages I would like to put great quotes on them, but I don't have a stash to pull from. Or are there websites that have some to just cut and paste from?

My flower garden

I love pretty flowers, so I went and bought some to plant in my front garden by the front door. The yellow ones aren't doing so well, but the others are as beautiful as the day I brought them home. I've always wanted to do a "secret garden" English style. In England they have beautiful gardens full of beautiful flowers and grasses. I have an area to the side of my house that I hope to turn into my secret garden someday. In the meantime this will have to do.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Websites to check out

I've been finding lots of great websites and products lately and thought I would share them.

Amazing Action Alphabet - There are a few products from this company that we have - A flip chart of the animated letters, the activity book and the CD. The cd is our most recent purchase, since it just came out, and the kids are loving it. We listen to it in the car when we run errands - they not only love the cd, but there is no fighting because they are too busy enjoying the songs. These product teach the sounds of the letters and they are helping the kids to be able to sound out words.

Food storage - this site - Simply Living Smart - has video tutorials on things like sprouting, fruit leather, storage, etc. They also are a store where you can purchase food storage stuff. I've only watched the videos so far and they are great.

Children's Miracle Music - I don't know if any of you have heard of this yet, but I absolutely love this program. It's a set of cd's, one for morning and one for night, you put them on and the kids do their morning and evening routines. We really only use the evening one, but I need to start using the morning one more. When we turn on the evening cd my kids are ready for bed in 10 minutes. On the nights we forget to use it, it takes 1/2 hour or more. The kids love trying to get the different things (jammies on, teeth brushed) done before the song gets over - it's like timing them, only set to music. Charlie does better with it than Tom. Charlie is 5 1/2 and Tom is 3 1/2. Tom still doddles a little, so I have to stay near him to remind him, but it is still light years better than when we don't use the cd.