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.”

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.



I have so much to do, but I have wanted to blog for weeks now and have not found a moment. I am squeezing this in anyway. I said I’d keep you posted on how the bishop thing is going and today I will. Also, today was crazy and I have to share.

When Daniel was called as bishop, my mom told me, “the Lord takes care of his bishops”. She was, of course, right. I have felt blessings poured out on us and I wanted to document what I see happening. It’s mostly small things, but it makes me feel less alone. I feel like someone is with me, helping me out.

For a couple Sundays in a row now, the nursery leader has taken Ray to nursery. I am usually frantically picking up the massive mess that is our row at church when he comes by and says hi to Ray and then asks if Ray could come with him to nursery. I don’t even know his name, the nursery leader, but I just love that he’s so kind and helpful.

About 2 weeks ago Daniel went out of town for one night. That one night happened to be back to school night. It also happened to be one of the 3 nights I was watching the Clark kids while Jeff and Christina went out of town. I had a babysitter all lined up, then something happened and she called me hours before and said she couldn’t. Nancy Rowley found out and jumped in and came over and watched all 7 kids so I could go to back to school night. Nancy is the previous bishop’s wife. It was so incredibly kind of her to do that.

One night a week ago, I was losing it. I was near tears and stressed out from the invasion of ants we’ve had all month. I feel like all I do all day is find ant lines, trace them back, caulk the area, spray it with ant killer and vacuum the ants up, then repeat in a different portion of the house. It drives me bonkers. It’s never ending and an urgent need all. the. time. And I wanted to scream. The boys had also been fighting. I talked to Daniel on the phone as he was on his way to the church and just cried to him. After I got off the phone, I sucked it up and tried to figure out what I was going to do about dinner. 10 minutes later Daniel walked in the door! His interview had been cancelled and he was able to come home and be with me and help me. It was so needed that night.

I still miss Daniel madly but I also feel like I can do this, with the help I feel like I’m receiving. Just when I feel overwhelmed, I receive assistance.

Today I had a LOT of errands to run. We were all out of food, it’s the first day of the month and I had to do Costco shopping. I also have preschool at my house tomorrow morning and had to get things for that. I prayed last night to be able to accomplish everything I needed to do today and planned on getting an early start today. That was the plan …. until I found ants. again. It really blows my mind. I just sprayed the exterior of the house 2 days ago. The ants were coming out of the inside of the sink and up through a crack in the carpet. for reals. I had also just spent an hour the night before cleaning up ants in the boys’ room … and in their bathroom, and in the laundry room … and in Ray’s room. I wanted to cry this morning when I found them. It set me back. I spent an hour and a half cleaning them all up. I didn’t leave the house until 10:30 am. I had just 3 hours to do everything and I just thought, “well, I’ll do what I can and see what happens”. I wasn’t sure there was anything I could cut out so I just moved forward. And it happened. All of it. It was amazing.

I had to go get some things printed at Staples for preschool and knew they got busy sometimes, so I called them. The girl said they were reeeeeeally busy. But I knew I wouldn’t have any time the rest of the day to go there before they closed tonight, so I just went anyway. And guess what? I walked in and the girl was helping one other person, which finished in a couple minutes and then literally there was not a single other person there but me. I showed her what I wanted printed and she said, “were you the one that called just a few minutes ago? Because you just barely missed the rush!”

There were green lights and things moved smoothly. I even found all of my library books for preschool quickly! This is everything I accomplished in 3 hours with Ray by my side:

– I went to Rite Aid, returned something and picked up my meds (no line)

– I went to the library and checked out books for preschool

– I went to Lowe’s and bought sand for preschool

– I went to JoAnn’s and bought supplies for preschool (paper, glue sticks, treasure boxes and foam)

– I went to Staples and printed out stuff for preschool

– I went to Costco and got in and out in 40 minutes. No joke. I did a Costco trip, with Ray, in 40 minutes, start to finish. Should I say that again? That’s unbelievable! Buying, checking out, unpacking it all into my car …. unreal.

I was even able to go home after Costco and refrigerate the perishables before picking up the boys from school. I know that miracles are often hard to recognize. The word “mira” means “to look”. Miracles are only seen by those who are looking. I was looking, hoping and praying for one today.

Tired and guilty

I should have practiced singing today but I didn’t. I’m just pooped. And I’ve missed talking to myself in my journal so here I am.

I have a few performances coming up in a few weeks and so I feel impelled to practice all the time and I’ve been overdoing it. But today I was supposed to and I just couldn’t find the time.

I went on a field trip with Noah’s class and didn’t get back until almost 4 pm after I picked up Ray and Liam from Christina’s house. But I loved watching my Noah all day.  I don’t know how to express it but I was just delighted to see him participate and answer questions. He is so good. He seemed so happy. It made me smile all day long. I caught myself quietly clapping one time when he answered a question that no one else could in his class. No joke.  What is wrong with me? I don’t know but it was wonderful. He even seemed happy that I was there too. He came up after lunch and hugged me and kissed me. I love that he’s not ashamed or embarrassed yet. He was blissfully unaware if it was not cool to kiss your mom in public! And he’s such a beautiful thing too. I found myself stroking his hair into place, pinching his little curly lips and telling him he was beautiful. Ah, my little Noah.

Once I got home, I thought I could squeeze in some practice time because I gad Ray down for a late nap but no. Liam needed homework help.  Then it was time to make dinner. Then it was time to eat and Daniel came home and wanted to go to REI for FHE to buy Noah some hiking shoes and get Liam a helmet. Sigh. Singing went by the wayside again. And I found myself entertaining Ray in REI. And I wasn’t even mad about it.

I pulled out this balance bike for Ray and he plopped on it and rode that thing around REI for an hour and 20 minutes! He was so content to ride/walk around on that thing and call out to me, “mommy, come on!” So I followed him. And he talked to me. “I going THIS way mommy”, “see me mommy?!”, “oops! I do it … Uh, (struggling) uh, I DID it! Come on mommy, you coming?” And I was.  I watched his tiny toes grip his little red flip flops hard to stay balanced. And I loved every minute. It didn’t even feel like over an hour. I just followed him and he talked to me and that was it. Something about watching him learn his balance and talk through it was mesmerizing. And super cute. What a little love. Once he realized there were seats all over the store too, he’d ride over to a pair of seats, get off his bike, put it down, then scramble up on one seat and pat the seat next to him and demand that I sit down. So I would. Then he’d look at me, smile and wiggle down off the seat and get back onto his little red balance bike. It was beautiful.

So now it’s late, 10:30 pm and I’m exhausted from the day and also cuz I started my period today. Ugh. And singing didn’t get done but so many good important things did. I’m gonna call this a win today anyway.