IMG_8176I feel like I documented Noah and Liam’s younger life better than I have done with Ray. So here’s my effort to keep up. Ray is 3 and a half and adorable these days. And he loves me the best.

He says hilarious stuff. Lately these are my faves:

“nermal” (normal)

“smokes” (cloaks … on his lego guys)

“lellow” (yellow)

“Green Lanturd” (Green Lantern)

He consistently refers to Daniel and I not as daddy and mommy but as “Dad” and “Mom”. It sounds so grown up for a 3 year old. Even as a 2 year old he did that. We’ll even say things like, “Tell Daddy – ‘Daddy I’m sorry'” and he’ll repeat it as “Dad, I’m sorry”. So funny. He also consistently refers to his poop as “stinkies” not poopies or anything else we call it. He seems like he has his own opinion about stuff.

He’s ridiculously happy. The only time he gets in a bad mood is if he hasn’t had enough food or if he doesn’t get enough alone time at home. He seems to kind of love his time with me while the older boys are at school. He gets to rule the house and the legos and nobody tells him what he can or can’t do and for a youngest child, who gets told he’s too little quite a bit, it’s good for him to have time when he’s in charge of his own little life.

Ray is VERY loving. He spontaneously gives “huggies” and kisses throughout the day. He will tell me he loves me all the time too. He’s a love. I can usually talk him out of a fit and I can generally take him with me anywhere I go. He’s a pretty good natured kid. I’ve taken him to class parties in Noah’s fourth grade class several times because I’m the Room Mom and have to go. He stays close to me and is pretty low key in public.

His best friend is Emily Clark, his cousin. Today in Primary they were sitting side by side in the front row and I was teaching singing time and they just kept talking to one another and then finally started kissing each other and giggling. He calls her “Emlee”. Emily is pretty bossy but Ray is pretty easy going so they work well together. They both like pretending together and we call them, collectively, “the babies”. They are both the youngest of our families and we might refer to them as that for the rest of their mortal lives. They’ll probably hate it. But they play so well together, that sometimes I will call Christina and ask her to bring over Emily so I can get some stuff done. Emily and Ray will play for hours, happily. I love it. If Emily or a playmate is not here for Ray to play with, he will follow me everywhere and ask me to play with him. He doesn’t like to be alone. I constantly trip over him because he is usually at my feet or right behind me or within 24 inches of me at all times. I see it in photographs. It’s kind of funny, kind of cute and kind of frustrating at the same time.

I have a hard time playing “guys” with Ray, so I generally don’t do it. We do other things together, but Daniel plays “guys” with him. It’s usually Lego guys. Daniel says Ray is a pretty demanding player though. He has specific things he wants you to say and do and pretend with him as you play with him. He doesn’t seem to do that with friends, just adults. I think he feels the need to guide us because we don’t seem to know how to pretend very well.

He’s a beautiful little soul and I love him.


New Year

I don’t usually use this blog to discuss spiritual matters, I mostly use it to describe the daily happenings of our little family. Lately I feel the need to write down my spiritual experiences, so here we go …

This year our Relief Society is doing something cool. They give us a scripture on Christ to ponder each week and right around Easter we finish our study and talk about how our testimonies have grown. I thought this was a perfect opportunity for me to study the scriptures, specifically on Christ and write about my experience.

This week the scripture to study was Helaman 5:12:

And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

This is so pertinent to me recently. I’ve been wondering since Christmas what I can do to help my boys be more grateful and loving.

Christmas day was kind of a let down for Daniel and me. Every Christmas morning kind of is for us. Our boys are notorious for having terrible or no reactions. I blame Daniel. But this Christmas we really thought they’d be excited and happy about the gifts they got … but they weren’t. They would open a gift, stare at it and then say something like, “awwww, I really didn’t want THIS lego set. I wanted a different one” or “OK, so it’s clothes huh?” or …. no response at all. They’d open it, give no response at all and scoot it over off their laps. It was crushing to watch. The amount of money that was wasted on them this year (and every year) was significant. I couldn’t help but feel upset the whole rest of the day. Daniel and I talked about it for weeks afterwards and the first fast Sunday of the year I prayed and fasted asking what I could do to teach my boys to be grateful and kind.

I’ve been worried that it’s a personality trait or something I didn’t have control over. Then I worried that it was a fault of mine; that it’s something I should’ve been teaching them all along. How do you teach someone to be grateful? I thought about taking everything away from them, and I’ve done that in the past – taken away all of the their Legos and it seems to work in the short term, but it doesn’t seem to make a lasting impression on them. But that’s just the gratitude portion, I worry about them just being kind – to one another and to others.

After fasting I felt impressed to follow the teachings of a talk I heard in conference last year. I don’t remember who it was, but I remember it because I wrote it out on a chalkboard in our house. I wrote this:

“These are the very practices that help take away stress, give direction to our lives and add protection to our homes. Prayer. Your heart will feel buoyant peace. Tell him everything. Study the word of God. Through daily and consistent scripture study you will find peace in the turmoil around you and strength. Family Home Evening. As we come unto Him we can endure every temptation, every heartache, every challenge. Go to the temple”.

I obviously took parts of the talk and put them a little out of order to fit them on my chalkboard, but they all spoke to me.

I decided that this new year I would try to implement these practices more consistently into our lives and that it would help my boys learn to be grateful and kind. I’m not sure exactly how, because it doesn’t seem to hit the problem head on with a direct lesson YET as I read the scripture for this past week, Helaman 5:12, I nearly wept reading the first line, “And now, my sons, remember”. Here I have 3 sons, looking for answers about how to teach them and Helaman begins in this verse by directly addressing his sons, “remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation”. If I can teach my boys the Gospel of Christ then, “when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you”. I want that for my boys.

I read all of chapter 5. So powerful for me. I felt the Spirit speak to my heart as I read. I didn’t have to try, the words were shown to directly apply to my life and situation right now. At the beginning of the chapter it tells how the people had gotten so wicked that Nephi gave up the judgement seat and left on a mission, to preach the gospel the rest of his days with his brother Lehi. I couldn’t help but feel like my boys have gotten so bad that I feel impelled to dedicate my life to teaching them the gospel. Nephi and Lehi then reminisce of the words their father, Helaman, had spoken to them and that’s where we get verse 12 (and several others) where Helaman pleaded with his sons to keep the commandments and remember to repent and rely on Christ. As I read Helaman’s words, I thought how I wanted the same for my sons. Helaman was a daddy. It sounded like a daddy. At one point he tells them to remember why he named them Nephi and Lehi – it was after their ancestors and they were good and he wanted them to be good. I want my sons to be good.

Then Nephi and Lehi go on a mission. It’s wildly successful with the Nephite cities, then they go to the Lamanites and convert hundreds there too. In one Lamanite city they are disliked and get taken and thrown in prison. There is a beautiful description of a spiritual experience that happens in that prison. The part I latched on to was how they described the spirit – “…they were as if in the midst of a flaming fire, yet it did harm them not … and they were filled with that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory”. I have felt this and it was brought to my mind as I read this. I have felt as though I were encircled about with fire, it was during my patriarchal blessing. As Patriarch Hawkes had his hands on my head and as he spoke I distinctly felt as though I were sitting in a pillar of fire. I remember feeling it so tangibly that I peeked opened my eyes, thinking I might actually see something. I also remembered that joy that was described. I have felt it on several occasions – on my baptism day, my wedding day and several times in the temple. On my wedding day, I remember being so full of joy that I couldn’t stop smiling, huge, and I was shaking the bench I sat on because I was bouncing my legs. Just sheer joy.

The very last thing that jumped out at me in this chapter was the voice that spoke to the people in the prison. That voice was the voice of God and it said, “Peace, peace be unto you because of your faith”. I have so many concerns and I am emotionally distraught a lot. I feel like, in the end, all I desire is peace. I just want to feel at peace. I yearn for this and plead in my daily prayers for this.

I’m so grateful for this spiritual experience. I’ve noticed that anytime I am obedient, I am rewarded with another spiritual experience. It’s these personal experiences that fuel me until the next experience. I need this constant feeding of my spirit and I find that I hunger after it. I have started feeling that desire, that hungering and thirsting that the scriptures talk about and these experiences are like sustenance to me. I am renewed to teach my sons the Gospel of Jesus Christ and I am confident that it will change their behavior. At the very least, if they build upon the rock of Christ then, “when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”

California art


Yesterday I made this. I’ve wondered what to do with this awkward spot above the desk and next to the stairs for years. I even made a pallet project before this to fill it, but it ended up looking better somewhere else in the house. I thought I’d used up my pallet wood and tried to throw the rest of the pallet away in the trash but the garbage men wouldn’t take it! They took the wood pieces out of the trash can and put it on the sidewalk. Sooooo, I had to do something with the rest of the pieces of pallet wood. It was good wood too, just in weird, smallish pieces though. The wood had been well weathered – a process I had nothing to do with. I just let it sit in the side yard getting rained on, washed over with sprinklers and bleached out by the sun for years. Anyway, I wanted to do a little tutorial as to how I made it.

I don’t have a ton of pictures to share about the process, so I’ll have to explain it mostly. First off, I really used this website as a guideline and inspiration: http://www.manmadediy.com/users/david/posts/3456

1. I had a map of CA printed on a large engineer print at Staples for like $4. You can use my map, which is 2×3 feet, but I felt like it was too small and didn’t realize it until I got home with it and put it on the wall space. At that point, I just tried to freehand an enlargement of the map I had printed out. I don’t recommend that. But here it is:


If you want something bigger, here is a 3×4 foot map:


2. Once you print out the map, cut it out.

3. Lay out all your pieces of pallet wood on the ground and situate it the way you like it. I had thick and thin pieces of pallet wood. Some were 4″ tall and some were 6″. Brush it all off and make sure it looks the way you want it and then place your cut out map on top of the wood. Once you see that it fits ….

4. Take your map off, flip all your wood over to the “wrong” side (or the side you want on back) and you will be working on the back side of your project from here on out. Flip your map over too now, so you’re looking at the back of the map and lay it on the wood pallets. Now trace it.

5. Take your paper map off the boards and get a piece of thin plywood (that’s what I used). Make sure your plywood is smaller than the map you drew. Cut it if you need to (I used my Skil saw for that).

6. Once your plywood is small enough to fit within the border of the map you drew, screw it into place. Make sure your screws are just long enough to go through the plywood and into the pallet boards without coming through the front side of the pallet boards.


7. My plywood was pretty flimsy, so I used a 1×4 pinewood board to stabilize it. I just screwed that into the back also (see picture above – the picture above was taken at the end, after I had already cut everything out, but at this point in the steps, you haven’t cut out your map yet).

8. Now you cut out the traced map with a jigsaw. There are few tight turns on the CA border, especially the San Francisco bay area and I had to use my drill to make holes and then insert the jigsaw blade into those holes and keep cutting. I also cut it in sections. Sometimes I came at different portions from another angle. If you need to know how, I watched a few videos on YouTube about how to use a jigsaw. Very informative.


9. The pallet wood I used was pretty heavy, so to hang it, I used two hook eye screws and screwed them in at an even level, then wrapped a wire between them. Below is a picture of a hook eye screw:


California is an awkward shape, so to make sure it hung correctly, I had to put the wire and hook eye screws pretty far down on the state, about halfway down, and not high at the top.


10. And that’s it! You can sand it if you want (I didn’t) or stain it (I didn’t) or paint it (I didn’t), but don’t let that stop you. If I didn’t love the patina the wood I had, I would’ve stained it.

At the end, I freehand painted a gold heart over the Bay Area where I grew up.


I really liked this project. It was pretty easy and problem free. It was meant to be rustic looking, so a few imperfections are desired. Fun project. There you go, make one yourself now!

scheduling conflicts

Oh. my. goodness. Life is just screaming along at a breakneck pace! Daniel and I have turned 70% of our conversations into scheduling discussions. I feel like we’re playing some sort of tag team race. Days and weeks are just flying by and we are so exhausted!

This morning was supposed to be different. We had a whirlwind weekend and yesterday was the first Bishop’s Youth Fireside that we hosted here at our house. We got to bed late and I woke up, got the boys off to school and thought, “phew! I’ve got a free morning ahead of me and Ray isn’t awake yet! huh. I think I’ll sit down and blog.” But as I went to sign in to the blog, I had to reset my password and I had the new one sent to my email …. and that was my mistake. Because then I was looking at my email and there was soooooooooo much there. I found myself answering emails to our Rental Manager in MI about refinishing the hardwood floors and emailing a family photo to the ward YW’s president for a ward event and scheduling with Daniel how I could get him to do the soccer practice rigamorale so I could attend the ward Terrific Tuesday and then I’m so busy that I haven’t eaten breakfast and I’m scheduling piano lessons over email!

It feels like it will never end. But it’s all good stuff. Nothing terrible is happening. We’re just so busy we feel like we can’t get our footing. We feel like we’re spinning. It’s felt like that ever since he was called to be bishop.

I would never pick this for my life but I can see how it changes me for the good. For instance, I am back to praying constantly. I have felt this scripture play out in my life:

2 Nephi 32:9

9 But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.

I felt this way while I was a young mommy too. That was terribly hard. It was exhausting and it was painful. I needed to pray. I needed the help. I feel that way again and it worries me. I don’t want life to be a struggle, I want to enjoy it but maybe the only way I can be perfected is through struggle. I would not go to my Heavenly Father unless I were in dire need. Why am I like that? Maybe if I were a more perfect being I wouldn’t need struggle to bring me to my knees; I would seek for the Lord in times of relative ease too. But I have to say – either way, I have felt the Lord with me. I feel a sense of strength and assistance.

I also feel closer to Daniel. Weird, cuz he’s physically and mentally gone more. But because he is gone more, we relish the time together. We really appreciate one another now. It’s only been about 6 weeks with him serving as bishop, but it has made a massive change in our lives. Our love feels concentrated now, because it’s given and received in small chunks, but it’s like taking a spoonful of orange juice concentrate – it’s strong. We also don’t have time to be angry with one another or have fights. That’s wasteful. Every time we get angry (in the last 6 weeks), we are quick to resolve it and melt toward each other. We need each other more.

That’s where we’re at right now. It’s crazy busy and I don’t know how to change that. I want more downtime and I wish things were less hectic, but it has caused me to depend more on the Lord. Daniel remains as the most wonderful thing in my life. I love him.

eating my words

So remember when I potty trained Ray in 3 days? And I didn’t think it would work and it did? And remember when I was so proud of myself and sharing with other women I met how unbelievable it was and how they should try it too? Remember when I smugly told Christina that I could potty train Emily too cuz I was evidently so good at it? And remember when I thought, “wow, this third kid is actually easier than the first two. He did it! He’s the best! I knew I could do it with him because I didn’t make the same mistakes  as I did with Noah and Liam!” ….. yeah.

So Ray has majorly regressed in the potty training department. In fact, he has completely forgotten how to go to the bathroom. Like, he’s a large baby wearing underwear that I have to clean up 7 times a day. It would be easier if I’d just admit that he doesn’t know how to go to the bathroom and put a stinking diaper on him. But something inside me says that it’s wrong to do that and that it will have major emotional consequences or something.

I keep telling myself that it’s just a set back, that he’s busy playing and forgets, or that cousins are over, his schedule was disrupted and that’s why it’s happening. But guess what? We were home all day, in our normal schedule with nobody distracting him today and guess how many times I’ve cleaned poop out of his underwear? Three times. Do you know how gross that is? Like waaaaaaaaaaay grosser than changing a diaper because when you change a diaper, the poop usually stays inside the diaper and you can undo the diaper while he’s lying down and wipe it with wet wipes and then toss it in the trash. But when you’re changing underwear that’s been pooped in you know you will touch feces at some point. It’s only a matter of time. Because you have to pull it down his legs and poop inevitably gets all over his legs when you pull down his pants and then sometimes he loses his balance while you’re pulling the pants off his feet and he steps in the poop.

Sometimes he says he needs to go potty, and you believe him (first mistake), so you run to the potty with him and pull his pants down quickly, plop him on the toilet and realize he didn’t make it and his poopy underwear is smashed up against the front of the toilet now. So now you’re cleaning poop off the toilet too. Then you have to clean the poop off the underwear by swishing it around in the toilet. That’s the worst. Because when you’re turning the underwear inside out, poop usually gets on your fingers or when you’re swishing, poopy water gets on you (equally as disgusting). If poop mysteriously doesn’t get on you when you’re swishing then it happens when you’re wiping the poop off his bum. If it doesn’t get on your hand then, it’s when you’re cleaning the poop off the front of the toilet, or off his legs or feet or when you pull down his pants …. it becomes unavoidable that you will have poop on your fingers at some point during clean up of a poopy pants situation. I’ve done that 3 times today. Three times!! I mean, how much poop could a child his size make? I feel like I should stop feeding him so he stops pooping so darn much.

So I’m at my wits end. A few nights ago, I cried about it. I don’t know what to do. Heavens knows I’ve tried though. I made a potty chart and gave him rewards, stickers and treats, but that didn’t seem to make a dent in the problem, so I tried making him clean up the poopy mess. You know what’s a sure fire way to make a poopy pants situation worse and a bigger mess? … having him clean it up. Major fail. I’ve been putting him on time outs now every time he does it and I just don’t know what else to do.

He says all the right things though. I ask him if he wants to go back to diapers and he says, “Nooo. I’m a BIG boy and big boys wear underwear!” and I ask him after he sits on time out what he did wrong and he says, “I went stinkies in my underwear and that’s bad. I go poopies in the potty!” Then smiles. He seems super optimistic.

Well, I will no longer be preaching the good word of potty training in 3 days. Cuz that’s a sham. And I don’t believe people that tell me that potty training isn’t that bad … maybe it’s just me and the children I create. They have potty issues. It’s always a year long, drawn out, terribly dirty, frustrating experience where everybody involved cries … especially me.