Tuesday, March 8, 2016


She may be little, but she is not one to fly under the radar. Last week I was getting bombarded with kid requests and demands while I was cooking so I just tuned them all out. She was at my feet trying to get my attention. Finally, Noelle says, "Mom, I am talking to you!"


The other day I was taking Julia to school and Noelle tagged along. As we were driving home, we were practicing animal sounds. What sound does a dog make? What sound does a horse make? Etc. Etc.  Just to be funny and a little bit out of curiosity, I asked Noelle, "What sound does a Noelle make?" She quickly replied, "Born is the King of Israel!"

I was laughing so hard. Do you get it? From "The First Noel", after you sing Noel, noel, noel, noel....born is the king of Israel!

She just kills me.

Aladdin and Eli's Baptism

Raef participated in his school's play this year. It was four months of practice and finally last week we could enjoy the fruits of his labor. He was cast as a guard in Aladdin, Jr. It was an adorable play. And Raef had one line. 

"Why did we bring him all the way down to this cave?"

After a little bit of coaching from me and his viola teacher Aisha, we improved the delivery by about a thousand. "WHY?" (long, dramatic, cliff-hanging pause) "did we bring all the way down to this cave (cave, cave, cave)?" It was delivered as an echo with a sweeping hand gesture. I saw it on Tuesday and it was hilarious. We brought the whole family and they just loved it! All the siblings went nuts over his adorable performance. 

My only critique of his one line was that his face got partially covered by the staff that he was holding. Apparently he took care of that problem on Thursday. After he said why in the same manner as before, he threw down his weapon and also made sure the echo was even louder. That seemed to do the trick.

By Saturday, the entire scene was greatly improved. Raef did his line the same over-the-top dramatic way, and then the next two guards also added an echo to their final words. It was hilarious. At least that is what I was told. I was helping backstage trying to keep those recalcitrant kids quiet. My friend Yvette filled me in on all the details and she said that it was completely hilarious. I was one proud mama.

That is how I ended my Saturday, but the beginning of my Saturday was even better. Eli was baptized.

It was a very special day and it turned out better than I could have ever hoped for. 

He shared his day with his friends Bryson and Landon. We did ours at a special time of 9am with Landon because Landon's grandfather is a general authority and it was the only time he could come. It worked out well for us to do it earlier because that enabled Lyf, Angie, and their three youngest to make a quick trip up for the baptism. They also brought grandma with them. We were so happy to have them there. It seems to have become a tradition for people to get professional photos taken and to also make fancy invitations and give them to everyone in the ward. I knew that Katie was going to do that and I didn't want to complicate my life or the day so I didn't do anything. I just figured that people in the ward would get invited and that was just fine. For our part, we had a very small crowd.

But I really did want the invite the spirit to the meeting and I know that he was there. 

I spoke on baptism and I was so grateful that I could do that. I talked about the courage of Abinadi bearing his testimony to a hostile, blood-thirsty crowd and because of him, Alma was converted and led hundreds, even thousands to the waters of baptism. I told the boys that the only way to heaven is through the strait gate and that strait gate is Jesus Christ. We have to follow Him and do what He did. I talked about the symbolism of baptism and that we are buried in our sins and emerge clean and pure, just like we will in the resurrection, just like Jesus did when He was resurrected. I also reminisced about my own baptism and also about the time that I went to a baptism in Puerto Rico and felt prompted to sing a song. And with that, I ended my talk by singing "I Like to Look for Rainbows". 

After I finished, Eli was baptized by Rinar. I really couldn't see a darn thing because there was a wall of children blocking any chance of seeing anything. But that is okay. He was baptized. When they came back from the dressing room, Landon grandparents both talked about the Holy Ghost. Landon was confirmed first and there were a ton of priesthood holders in the circle. We only had Lyf and Mike there. So, Rinar asked all of the men from our ward to join our circle: Christian N., David Manz., Bubba P., Martin H., and Shawn C. It worked out really well. 

For a closing song, Raef, Zach, Eli, and Harry did a viola/violin medley, a mash up of Army of Helaman and I Will Follow God's Plan For Me. Most of it was improvised and it was a powerful ending to a spiritual baptismal ceremony.

Yes, the most important visitor was there for it, the Holy Ghost.

Afterward, we met at our house and did a brunch and visited. Melanie S. and her kids were able to come and that was special as well. 

When everyone left, I put on my biking gear and did an 11 mile mountain bike excursion with Haley. It sure was a lot of fun, but holy moly, my legs were trashed after that.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


This was a good day today. I went to the gym and did a Zumba class and I didn't totally suck at it. I can see that I am getting a little bit better. Now that I am sitting here thinking about it, I can't believe that I do a Zumba class. I guess you never know where the road will take you, right?

I was also able to be amazingly productive with homeschool work. Eli did a lot of stuff in a very short amount of time. I am realizing the value of doing projects. We are currently working on adding a math resource book. Today it was ordinals. It probably took about 20 minutes to add the information to two pages of the book. I am going to try to be very consistent at adding things so that he can fill up the entire book. He is  my guinea pig. I will be able to see what worked and what didn't and then use it as a model for Harry and Julia in the fall. I am certain that Julia will just love it and Harry is pretty artsy also. Now I need to add a science journal to the mix and then history folders as well. We have been doing history folders and I want to see it through for the rest of the school year.

I am realizing more clearly that the core curriculum only takes about 90 minutes to get through. But I really want to do much more with the kids. I am going to really search out projects we can do throughout the year so that we have something to show for what we have done. It is very rewarding to see things 'published'.

Rinar has been mentoring a business student at the University of Utah and in gratitude, he brought us a huge helping of homemade tamales. His mom made them and I thought they were delicious. However, I was riding solo on that one. I don't think Rinar really cared for them and all the kids weren't good at hiding their dislike of the authentic Mexican meal. So I was left with a ton of tamales that I know for a fact will not getting eaten unless they are eaten by me. I love the tamales but I don't want to eat them for the next two weeks straight. So, I took a bunch over to Melissa and Brad's house. It is nice to share and it is also nice not to waste.

Monday, February 22, 2016

It's About All the Kids Pretty Much

I have been writing a ton lately, just not in my blog. A few months ago I decided to start writing for a local magazine called Draper Lifestyle. I can't remember if I mentioned that in a previous post. But, man, the assignments are starting to add up. I really enjoy it. I usually submit 1-3 articles per month. The work is very satisfying, although the pay is pretty lousy. Fortunately, I could care less about the pay. I would do it for free. I have been able to meet so many interesting people. Plus, I am writing even when I don't want to, even when I get major writer's block and write myself into a corner. I have to keep pressing on because of a deadline. The deadline really helps me a ton.

As for my family, I am so very blessed. My kids are all doing really well right now. Here is a recap of the past month or so.

Raef is finishing up basketball. He plays on two different Jr. Jazz teams and loves it. I don't love it, but he does. It is almost more than I can handle. I guess it is not so bad because he never wants me to come. He thinks that I am bad luck. I just have to get him there. He takes care of the rest. Raef also decided to start a weightlifting class at the high school. He goes M-Th at 6am! Holy moly. But he gets up himself and gets there. I am proud of his diligence and dedication.

Zach continues to homeschool and drive me crazy. It recently came to light that he was not doing his homework at all, but playing computer games instead. I shed many tears on Friday. I feel like a failure almost on a daily basis when it comes to him. But I am hopeful that he will turn it around. He sat down with me today and we went through a couple of his tests that needed to be turned in for his BYU independent study classes. I am just happy to see the classes getting done. On a good note, he is excelling at the piano and continues to work hard to get better. I suppose there is always that.

Eli is my little angel. He is so easy to homeschool, can do so many things, and loves to learn. He has a mind for it. He is also doing well with violin and continues to progress at rapid speed. Today we worked our way through most of Hunter's Chorus, which is song #3 in Suzuki book 2.  He is about a book behind where Raef and Zach were at that age. However, I have a feeling that he will catch up to them rapidly. It comes very easy to him.

Harry is just so darling. He is currently obsessed with playing with his friend Charlie S. They are the best of buddies. I think they play together 2-3 times a week. Harry also is playing the viola and doing a beautiful job. Right now he is working on Allegro and I think that by next week he will be able to play all of it pretty flawlessly.

Julia is plodding through our reading book, "Teach Your Kids to Read in 100 Easy Lessons." Today we finished #82. She does really well when she chooses to do well. And then when she decides it is too hard, it can get ugly. Oy! At school she jumped from level C to level E. Clearly, all of the work, no matter how painful, seems to be paying off.  But man, it can be really painful. Julia does love beautiful things, especially things she can wear, like fancy shoes, shiny earrings, and lipstick whenever she can get away with it. She also loves to color pictures for me and write me love notes. What's not to love about that, right?

Noelle continues to potty train, although over the past week #1 has been less and less reliable. However, #2 seems to know where to go every single time. Thank goodness for that. Whew! She is just the most precious little girl. She loves hugs and kisses and telling me how happy she is.  And because of potty training, she is currently obsessed with anything "Frozen". I can't even tell you how many times I have heard the song, "Let it Go".

Rinar is working hard for the family. And thank goodness his back seems to have made a full recovery. He has worked hard at physical therapy to keep it healthy. I could do nothing without him.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Winter Homeschool Convention

Once again, this week was an absolute whirlwind and it ended with the winter homeschool convention in Ogden today. I am so glad that I could go. The drive up was a bit harrowing as there was a pretty good snowstorm this morning. I went with my one homeschool friend Rebekah. I feel like I got a lot of valuable things from it.

I attended one class where she showed us how to do different kinds of lap books and journals that will really be a wonderful resource for my kids. I know that Eli and Harry will just love it. I am excited to start working on some of it with them. This was a practical class. But I also attended some inspirational classes. 

My first class was taught by a Fijian gentleman and I was surprised with how much I liked it. These are my notes from the class.

Clarity - How to Accomplish Goals

by Aisake Vuikadavu

“Innergy Mentor”

Common knowledge is not common action

1.  Rely on a Higher Power. Trust God. Pick one thing and just go for it. I will choose a path and start walking and if it is the wrong path, trust that God will tell me. God helps me when I am moving! Take any direction and God will give me guidance.

2. Focus on the process, not on the goal. Let the prize be the process, not just the end result. Once I get the reward, then it can all fall apart, but the process can be applied to anything in life. If I don’t have a process, it won’t have a lasting effect on my life. Make a plan, then put my head down and work. Even bigger goals may come up uninvited.

3. Keep the big goals quiet. When I share with others, it can feel like I have accomplished something, and then its over. Share with an accountability partner only. It protects me from negative feedback, apathy, and criticism.

4. Slow down to speed up. Take it nice and slow. Hold my space, be ok that I will mess up and be embarrassed, but be steady and allow myself grace. Be consistent and do it correctly. When I go slow, I go further.

There are ways to breakthrough the road blocks and filters: reputation, intensity, large body movements, and music, which is a back door into my mind.

I also liked what I heard from Gretchen Rubin in one of her podcasts. She said to just act the way you feel. If I want to feel energetic and productive, then just act that way and the feelings will soon follow. I think the simplicity of that statement is beautiful. 

I had circled a class on my schedule that looked pretty good but when I went to get a seat it was super full. I refused to sit on the ground so I went for another option and ended up in one of my favorite classes of the day.

12 Steps to Avoiding Homeschool Burnout

by Glenn Kimber

If you are not trying, you are not learning…

1.Receive a confirmation from the Holy Spirit that it is the right thing for you to home school. Then let the Spirit guide. The Spirit will not direct you to fail. Children were sent to you from Heavenly Father with a specific purpose here on Earth. You were selected to be their guides. YET - if you don’t understand something, just say I don’t understand it yet. The Spirit will not direct you to fail. People tend to behave according to what they believe. You will have confidence in what you are most familiar with. Familiar knowledge is the greatest blessing and the greatest enemy.

2. Do not take counsel from your fears. Know the difference between inspiration and desperation.

3. Avoid duplicating the public education system. If it was working for your family, you wouldn’t be inspired to seek something else. You tutor, but the Spirit teaches. Teach them to stand out, not fit in. Public schools destroy the need of a family.

4. Eliminate the stigma of “homeschooling” which is looked upon with negativity by many, and replace it with the concept of “home tutoring”. School means you look to a pattern that is failing. Tell people they are being privately tutored.

5.  Where to begin? Diagnostic testing! You will gain confidence when you discover the weaknesses and strengths of your children’s current knowledge and abilities. When you use PROPER testing, you will be able to discern their attitude towards life and learning through diagnostic testing. Test kids every 90 days, if not moving academically 1 year every 90 days, you need to change your approach. You are training leadership, not followship.

6. Make sure that ALL the curriculum you choose is based on God, family, and country, and select it according to student interest and level of learning - not age. You don’t have time for anything else. Children looked to mothers for guidance and to fathers for acceptance.

7. Use and encourage creativity and talents in all subjects. They can write it, teach it, perform it, record it, paint it, show it, memorize it. Then they’ll love it, and it will become part of their personality and character - not just their memory. If you want them to remember forever, put it into a poem, a picture, or music. Use it creatively and they will remember.

8. Remember that the greatest learning takes place in the mornings. To enhance better learning, everyone should be dressed and ready for school - not lounging in pjs (which unmotivates). Dress for success every school morning. Studies have shown one hour before noon is equivalent to two hours in the afternoon, and 3 hours after 4pm. Statistically it doesn’t work to do it late.  Get up and eat breakfast and then get to work. Heavenly Father’s favorite number is 3 and 12!

9. Focus on “LOVE of learning”. When frustration or negativity sets in, change the scenery, have a snack, sing a song, go for a walk, say a prayer. Then return to the task when ready. “Solutions never come from a negative frame of mind.” Regain the Spirit when it turns negative. The best way to the heart is through the stomach, but jumping down the throat is no short cut.

10. Create as many opportunities as possible for the children to give their knowledge away. This involves practicing to share their knowledge with others - any group, any individual, any relative. Knowledge is only theirs as they give it away. The more they give it away, the more it becomes theirs. Thank you notes are great.

11. Children look to mother for guidance, and they look to father for acceptance. This teamwork gels as mothers correct and guide, and fathers praise good efforts. Remember that RELATIONSHIP is more important than SCHOLARSHIP.

12. Follow the example the Lord uses to ISOLATE leaders, so they can be INSULATED against the world, and then go into the world as leaders, not followers. They are in the world, but not of it. Instead of our youth trying to “fit in” to the ways of the world, they will have strength and confidence to “stand out” as leaders - when they have been properly isolated and insulated, they will be sent out from the home to be leaders in the world. Keep them home until you have insulated them from the world.

As I was listening to this presentation I came to a realization that I need to reexamine Julia and her school situation. I have never really been super happy with her going to public school, even if it is a charter school. I don't want her to sharpen any of her edges. I know she needs to be around me as much as possible. So I am really going to pray and meditate on it and decide what to do for her next year. Plus, I honestly think it will be better for our family as it will simplify our family and not divide my loyalties at all. I will make the decision and I know that the Lord will provide a way for me to do it.

So, it was a good and productive day for me, a nice reset button, shot in the arm kind of day. Every homeschool mom needs those every so often.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Viola Fest

Every week seems to just be zooming by and this one is no exception. I can't believe that another week is over. We just did our things this week: basketball, dance, music, school, game club, church. Now I am getting ready to hit the reset button and start all again this coming week. 

Rinar took Eli and Julia to St. George on Friday morning to stay for the weekend. My Grandma is moving into an assisted living facility and needed help getting her furniture moved so she could get released from the rehab center and get going on a new life. Her health has taken a serious turn for the worse these past few months and it is just not possible for her to live on her own anymore. This gave Rinar a good reason to go down. He took his truck and borrowed his brother Nordel and spent a few hours getting everything in place, as it was not possible for my uncles to go down this weekend. It also happens to be the 2nd anniversary of Lynn's death and Rinar wanted to be there to commemorate his dad with his siblings. I think they all got together on Saturday and visited the grave site, singing songs, telling stories, and just being together.

I was not able to go because Raef and Harry had committed to participating in Viola Fest. It was on Saturday also. Zach stayed with me as well because he was going to go on a Boy Scout campout, which ended up getting canceled at the last minute due to permit issues. The Viola Fest went well. They participated in a couple of classes and then performed a concert. Raef did a solo because he was the only student to graduate from book 6. Then with each lower book, the stage got more and more crowded. Harry played the last three songs and was so darn cute. When the Twinkle finale was played, he was cracking me up with his silly faces in between each variation.

And can I just say that Harry is such a special little boy. On Friday, he eagerly helped me do a slew of chores and he did them really well. He has also gotten into a habit this past week of making everyone's beds. He even made mine today before we went to church. I was rushing to get everyone ready that I just didn't have time to do it myself. Too bad everyone doesn't have a Harry like I do. I am a very lucky woman.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

14 Years Old!

I can't believe that 14 years ago I became a mom for the first time. I have been so blessed with two incredible young men. I love them both so much. Raef is now officially 6 feet tall and Zach is almost 5'10". They are both a pleasure to be around. And in honor of this momentous birthday, Rinar and I broke down and got them both phones. I guess it is time for them to enter a new phase of life. They were both pretty darn surprised and very happy with the gift.

On Friday night, we took the family to watch Zach perform in a very shortened version of King Lear. The kid was a riot. He played both Cornwall and Edmund. It was funny because there was one scene where he had to do both parts at the same time. I enjoyed it thoroughly. He couldn't help but smile with every line, even though he was supposed to be "evil". The most adorable "evil" Edmund I think I have ever seen.

On Saturday, Rinar took them and about 8 friends to Chick-Fil-A and then a movie at the $1 theater. When they got back, they hung out in the basement for a little while and played a hilarious game of sting pong.  You play round robin pong and the last one standing gets to hit the ball into the bare backs of the losers.  Those boys were hilarious. Rinar and Brian L. (Eli and Izzy's dad) even joined in on the fun.  Zach just sat with Izzy the whole time as he had not interest in playing.
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