Tuesday, January 31, 2017


I don't know about you,
but all the political controversy lately has me feeling
and helpless.

I'm comforted by the fact that the vast majority of my social media friends continue to express their compassion and love for their fellow men. The anger and debating that is so prevalent in the online world is largely absent from my Facebook newsfeed. Instead I see messages of hope, love, concern, and service-oriented action. I feel so blessed to be surrounded with such people.

I was e-mailing our senators yesterday, encouraging them to stand against some of the decisions I find most distressing, and I came across the resolution officially recognizing Jell-O as the Utah state snack.
I laughed and laughed at the serious silliness of it all!
It was a welcome reprieve from the more weighty matters.
Here's to Jell-O.

Be it resolved by the Senate of the state of Utah:
     WHEREAS, Jell-O® brand gelatin was introduced to the country in 1897, just one year after Utah was admitted to the Union as the 45th state;
     WHEREAS, Utah has been the number one per capita consumer of Jell-O® brand gelatin for many years;
      WHEREAS, Jell-O® is representative of good family fun, which Utah is known for throughout the world;
      WHEREAS, Salt Lake Magazine proclaimed Utah "the Jell-O® State" in a cover story in 1996;
      WHEREAS, Jell-O® brand gelatin recipes, which often include bananas, apples,
marshmallows, pretzels, carrots, and grapes, are a traditional favorite at family, church, and community dinners throughout the Beehive State;
      WHEREAS, in 1997, Salt Lake Tribune editorial cartoonist Pat Bagley drew a week-long series of political cartoons showcasing Jell-O® in Utah in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of Jell-O®;
      WHEREAS, a 2002 Winter Olympic pin was designed that featured a bowl of green gelatinand has become a valuable collector's item;
      WHEREAS, when Des Moines, Iowa edged out Salt Lake City as the capitol of Jell-O® gelatin consumption in 1999, it sparked front page stories in Salt Lake City's newspapers;
      WHEREAS, Utahns rallied to "Take Back the Title" as Chef Scott Blackerby hosted a recipe contest in the Hotel Monaco's Bambara Restaurant and Pat Bagley ran a cartoon persuading Utahns to purchase more Jell-O® gelatin;
      WHEREAS, throughout 2000, Brigham Young University students campaigned to make Utah's love of Jell-O® official at festivals and fairs throughout Utah;
      WHEREAS, more than 14,000 signatures have been collected from the people of Utah in support of the campaign to select Jell-O® as the Official Snack of Utah; and
      WHEREAS, due to these and many other efforts, Salt Lake City has now successfully recaptured the title:
      NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Senate of the state of Utah recognize Jell-O® as a favorite snack food of Utah.
      BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this resolution be sent to Kraft Foods, Inc.

Monday, January 30, 2017


Today Talmage came home from school and told me he had gotten a book from the library,
but he didn't think I would like it.
He explained that the book was a little bit violent and asked if I wanted him to stop reading it.
I told him that I trusted him to make the right decision in a case like that,
and I encouraged him to think about how the book made him feel and then decide whether or not it was okay.

He thought for a moment,
and then told me he wasn't going to read it anymore.

It's so hard to let go and trust kids to make the right decisions on their own--
whether it's an issue of choosing clothing in the morning,
crossing the street safely by themselves,
or choosing their friends.

But there is almost nothing in the world as gratifying as seeing them do the right thing
after you've released the reins.

I'm so grateful we've been given this boy to be our "guinea pig"
as we try to figure out parenting.
Sometimes I feel like if our kids turn out okay it will be in spite of me instead of because of me,
but one way or the other, he is setting a wonderful course thus far.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Focus on Joy

This blog is not grandiose or eloquent.
Most of the time, my posts don't have a lot of thought and effort put into them.
It is merely a chronicle of the joy I find in our day-to-day life--in the "plain and simple" things.
Keeping this blog helps me focus on joy,
and reading posts from days and years past reinforces the positive in my life.

The other day, I read a post from a friend on Instagram.
Her words resonated with me and struck a chord deep within me.
They seemed to me to demonstrate exactly what my purpose is in keeping this blog,
so with her permission, I'm sharing them with all of you:

The past month, I've struggled finding the joy in motherhood.
My children have been inconvenient, frustrating, demanding, and exhausting.
There are nights I cried to B and the Lord that I felt I'd lost my identity and what makes me- me.

What am I?

I am a broken record that reminds over and over and over again that hands are not for wiping boogers, stickers are not for walls, and waiting is not a good idea when you need to go potty.
I am a wash cloth, decorated with peanut butter, boogers, and toothpaste.
I am a referee, a laundromat, a dishwasher, and Google...asked all day why we have to wear seatbelts, when snack time is, and where to find missing toys and shoes that are needed IMMEDIATELY.

My time is not my own...except maybe when I lock myself in the bathroom (yep).
My hands, feet, arms, and legs are used primarily for a sole purpose-to nurture 3 little human beings.
And as I explain my woes to a listening ear, GUILT creeps in and the defeating, self-destructive habit to COMPARE my motherhood to another's rears its ugly head.
Phrases such as "I'm not good enough," or "Why can't I be more _____?" slip through my lips, with a final, resonating, "I am not feeling joy as a mom."

A couple weeks later, I'm reading Russell M. Nelson's talk "Joy and Spiritual Survival" (read it!) while refereeing breakfast. As I read these words, "Joy is POWERFUL and FOCUSING on joy brings God's power into our lives," my first instinct was to roll my eyes, but I highlighted the phrase and addressed it over and over in my mind.
Remembering something in Relief Society to keep a journal of daily miracles, I decided to be experimental.
I would jot down anything my children did during the day that made me feel, even slightly, joyful.
So, I carried my little green notebook with me everywhere, writing and recording--
"Finn wanted to hold my hand into the kitchen."
"Liam gave Kate a hug."
At the end of ONE day, the level of fulfillment I felt was amazing.
I laughed easier.
I was softer.
More "Yays!" Less "Nays."
And for the first time in weeks, my motherhood was feeling joyful.
That power? It's real.
"What will you and I be able to endure as we focus on the joy that is 'set before' us?"

Thank you, Megan, for your beautiful reminder.
May we all focus on joy and receive that power in our lives!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Dad in Training

Maxwell has brought so much joy into our family.
And, mom-guilt aside, I feel so thankful that the other boys are learning more responsibility.
Sometimes this comes as a result of me being busy and them having to take care of their own problems,
and sometimes it comes as they pitch in to help with Maxwell--either because I need their help or they just want to give it.
And those times are some of the sweetest things I get to experience as a mother.

Maxwell adores his big brothers (just look at that smile!),
and I adore them, too.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


Our littlest charmer is 5.5 months and all of a sudden seems to have grown up!
Just over the past couple of weeks he has suddenly started to have recognizable goals and purpose in his actions.
He rolls all over the place and is starting to scoot.
He loves solids--so far he's eaten everything I've tried to give him, although sweet potatoes made him shudder a bit!
He still has the most piercing eyes.
He loves grabbing our faces to plaster kisses on them.
He is super cuddly.
He doesn't like to lay flat; when I lay him down he usually goes into a crunch position and holds it as long as he can to try to sit up.
He's finally starting to sleep better! (!!!) He's making it through the night without eating and once we didn't even have to get up with him!
He loves books.
He's obsessed with his big brothers.
He's in the 95th percentile for height and 75th percentile for weight (roughly).
Thanks to Sam, he has a long list of nicknames--Maxwellito Mio, Maxwell Giuseppe Parmigiana, and Boy Jaby (which started as "Joy Baby" but was then flipped) are the ones that come to mind. I pretty much just call him "Maxwell," but I have to laugh at his Daddy's Italian variations.

We can't get enough of him.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Talmage's Stitches

We hosted a Christmas dinner for a few people in our ward on the 23rd.
It was a little bit hectic because we had just gotten home earlier that day
after spending a few days out of town with my family,
but I hurriedly threw things together.
And just as there was a knock at the door,
Talmage came running up the stairs and somehow whacked his forehead on the wood at the top.

Sam and I tried to greet our guests and start dinner as we took shifts with Talmage,
who was a bit traumatized as blood dripped off his forehead and into his cupped hands.
He calmed down significantly once he saw himself in the mirror and realized it wasn't as bad as he thought.
We managed to make it through dinner and just kept changing his band-aid,
but after our visitors left Sam took Talmage to Urgent Care.
Thankfully we were able to avoid another trip to Primary Children's
(and another $800 bill after insurance!)
and they stitched him up there.

He didn't cry a bit as they worked--
the nurse said he was the toughest kid she had ever had come in.
When I asked him what he did to be so brave he said he just "held Daddy's hand."
I told him it was like Joseph Smith saying he would be okay when his leg was operated on if his dad just held him, and he replied, "I know! I thought of that!"
He was such a trooper.

I had to laugh because he ended up getting 3 stitches in the exact spot Lincoln did earlier in the year.
They have matching little scars!
Wesley needs to find a way to get in on the fun, I suppose.

Friday, January 13, 2017

A Lost Tooth, Secret Service, and Arguing

I'm feeling so grateful that these boys have each other.
They squabble a fair amount,
but they really are the best of friends.

A few months ago, the boys were in bed
(talking and giggling)
and suddenly Talmage shouted out,
"MOM!!! I lost my tooth!"
I was surprised because none of his teeth had been particularly loose
and I ran down to find out what had happened.
Come to find out, he was on the top bunk and decided to bite down on his sock monkey's tail
and dangle it down, where it hung tantalizingly beside the bottom bunk.
Wesley did the natural thing and yanked it downward,
which launched Talmage's tooth out of his mouth and onto the floor.
They were all so excited!

A friend planted a seed in my head,
so we recently began doing a "secret service chore" each day in addition to their other chores.
They have to choose someone in the family to do an anonymous act of kindness for every day.
It has been a joy to see them sneakily put money in each other's banks,
clean up laundry,
write notes,
and read books to each other.
Today I asked Lincoln what he wanted to do for his secret service.
He gasped excitedly and said,
"We can buy a magnifying glass, and if someone lost their toy, I can find it with my magnifying glass!"

I read recently that as kids play together in an unstructured way,
their "arguing" helps them develop negotiation skills
and gain a sense of fairness.
I've been viewing their bouts of arguing more patiently since then
and trying to step in less often.

I'm so happy to have the chance to see them progress through life.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Backyard Snow Adventures

The snow this winter certainly hasn't disappointed!
It has dumped down, creating a dreamland for our little boys.
After we set the jungle gym up in the backyard,
it was begging to be made into an igloo.
So Sam shoveled snow from the backyard until he had filled it up,
and then we worked to dig it out.
It's been a pretty amazing snow fort for the boys!

I am a summer lover at heart and spend basically all winter trying to stay warm,
but there are two things in particular that make me love it, too--
hot chocolate
and squishy cheeks in snow gear.

Monday, January 9, 2017

First Bites

Maxwell has been dabbling in solids--
I've only just begun to give him solids consistently.
So far he's seemed to like everything we give him
(with the occasional shudder).
We'll see if that remains to be the case as we progress through veggies.

I just love the facial expressions I get when feeding little babes their first bites.

Not so sure...

A bit worried...

Okay, it's pretty good!

Ah, babies.
I never get tired of 'em.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Christmas Day

When the boys woke up on Christmas morning,
they found to their delight that Santa had moved a couch downstairs,
as well as all the wrapped presents,
and a new jungle gym was set up in the living room!

(I guess Santa wanted the boys to experience the thrill indoors where it was light and warm so he thought it was worth making Sam and I take it apart and set it up again in the backyard...
and actually, Talmage and Wesley both demanded to know the truth this year so they are officially "Santa's helpers" now. But that is a story for another day.)

(Also, side note: I took the picture below before Sam filled my stocking. I may not be all that I hope to be, but I managed to avoid the naughty list, contrary to what the photo indicates!)

It was pretty fun to have the jungle gym inside for a day.
We quickly looked through our stockings and opened presents
before eating breakfast and getting ready for Church, which was at 10 am.
Sam grew up with the tradition of saying one thing he was thankful for before opening each gift, and I have loved continuing that tradition with our family!

The boys receive a main gift and a stocking from Santa (this year their main gift was combined),
and three gifts each from Sam and me,
and this year we started a rotation between siblings in order to limit their gifts.
This system seems to work really well, as it has allowed us to decrease the number of gifts they received while increasing the quality of each gift--both things we feel help fight the entitlement mentality that is so prevalent in the world today.

After Church, we headed to Grandma Sue's and celebrated with family there for a few hours.
Then we came home and Grandma & Grandpa Brady came over with more gifts!
We all felt so loved.
We have such wonderful families.
And the 10 or so inches of snow that covered the ground on Christmas morning made the day even more delightful
(and provided us with a sledding adventure the next day!).

Such a marvelous Christmas!

 (Talmage was sporting some stitches from a mishap on the evening of the 23rd)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

All I Have Is Not Enough

Yesterday I wrote in my journal,
"Sometimes it seems there is just not enough of me to go around and meet all of [the boys'] needs."
Just a few hours later we received some devastating news about a friend of ours...
the kind of news that brings a literal heartache and hollowness inside.
I was overcome with sadness and prayed desperately to know what to say to her
while simultaneously recognizing that words do not exist that would ease her burden.

I felt so inadequate.
And I feel so inadequate each and every day because what I have to offer seems woefully pitiful
when I look at all the needs that exist around me.

But then I am reminded of one of the Savior's miracles.

I think of the pitiful amount of food that was given to feed a seemingly impossible number of people.
5 loaves and 2 fishes.
And over 5,000 people.
But the power of God made that tiny offering expand until it was enough--
more than enough, in fact.

And that gives me hope.
Hope that the effort I devote to our family will bear good fruit.
Hope that words will fill my mouth when I can think of nothing worth saying.
Hope that maybe somehow God will use me as an instrument to further His work despite my many failings.
Hope that perhaps my pitiful offerings will make a difference for good.

Because although all I have is not enough,
Christ is.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Christmas Cookies with the Big Boys

After we got home from the house at Maple Mountain,
Sam went Christmas shopping and took Lincoln and Maxwell with him
while the older boys and I made Christmas cookies.

With Christmas music playing in the background,
the kitchen being filled with delightful smells and cheerful chatter,
and powdered sugar dust coating everything around,
I couldn't help but feel grateful for the experiences I get to have with these sweet little ones,
the memories we get to shape and create,
and the happiness they bring into our lives.

I've always been grateful to be a mother,
but lately I have positively cherished these precious opportunities more than ever.

Life is so full of beauty
if only we choose to see it.

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