Friday, January 20, 2017

coronation day

this day.

i remember 8 years ago when Jeff and I sat in our Orem Utah basement and watched Obama's inauguration. it was unforgettable. 

and today Jeff woke me from my nap on the couch to come watch Trump get sworn in.
i only watched parts of it because Gladys, who isn't feeling well today, kept urging me to hold her and watch her movie with her, and she takes first place, but i knew that it meant a lot to Jeff to watch it, so i kept making my way back beside him.

i have to say that Trump reminds me a great deal of my husband. whenever either one of them opens their mouth, i get knots in my stomach and i feel like i am going to pass out. listening to him give his speech made me so nervous and uncomfortable. but Jeff loved every minute of it.

today's rain and last night's late night fight between Jeff and I made me really sluggish today. i spent the whole day lounging around recovering.

the fight was significant only because of where i am at in my "wife for life" journey.

last night, Jeff, in his kindness, told me that i smell bad lately.
i was offended. more than necessary.
i tried hard to follow the suggestions in the chapter i had JUST read that very day from my 'wife for life' book, and it wasn't panning out like i wanted it to... well, i should say, i wasn't really ready to go from infantile to adult in just one day, though i know the suggestions are truly the way to go.

what i was supposed to say?
i was SUPPOSED to wait until it was a good time to talk about it aka when i am not emotionally on a cliff and about to JUMP. (and i really did TRY to wait.)
i was SUPPOSED to say, "honey, you really hurt me. next time can you please _______"

but that was the problem. 

i could NOT think of a better way for Jeff to announce to me that i reek. because... IS THERE A NICE WAY TO TELL SOMEONE THEY SMELL BAD? i can't think of one. and i didn't take it well. we have a long history of this issue, sadly. and no matter how far i have come over the years, when something like this resurfaces, i just lose my cool. and i wanted him to SUFFER. so i treated him like garbage for four hours. 

but Jeff really did well. he did everything he could possibly do.
and then this morning, after lunch, i finally apologized. to which he quickly forgave.

here is to hoping that the next tiger attack goes better.

Jeff got to see this at a patient's home today. its not what you think... the tiger died at the zoo and so they had it stuffed so it can live on at a museum... which is where it will go when this dude is done with it.

Thursday, January 19, 2017


today my children celebrated their 100th day of school.
yay us.
we made it through our first 100 years of daily uniforms and deadlines. homework. tutoring. memorization. tests. teacher conferences. packed lunches. recess. PE. music. library. PTO. nurse's office. flyers. awards. emails from teachers. accidents. new friends. pick up line. early releases. class parties. crafts. Spanish. and ONE absence.
i have almost given up multiple times, and in all honesty, i still constantly ask myself if i am doing the right thing. who knows if i will keep them at this school or not... but for now i say this:
we did hard things. we have learned a lot and grown a lot in just 100 days.
God got us this far and i hope He carries us farther.

shyla, a kid i dont know, layla, and charles getting principles pride. Jeff got to go.
God DEFINITELY carried us through our time at Peter Piper Pizza tonight... that is for sure. i was dumb enough to take all the kids by myself for their school celebration and i had no help and Gladys threw a massive tantrum the whole time and i thought i was going to die. But i PROMISE God sent angels. James didn't nurse the whole time and spent the majority of the two hours just laying in his carseat and cooing. Roger just stayed at the table and ate and played happily. some random people just gave my kids a plate of brownies and a prize for Roger. and yeah... it was just... miraculous.

in other news?
Jeff's laptop saga came to an end. he got a new one in the mail.

the other day Gladys pretended to be sleeping beauty- or maybe more like- snow white (we just watched that)... and then Walter and Roger took turns kissing her and waking her up. it was cute.
Jeff likes to take pictures of Gladys on the toilet because she makes weird faces.

Roger keeps giving James 'priesthood blessings'... i don't even think that is what he is really doing, but for some reason he loves to come up to James and place his hands on his head in a reverent way. its cute.
Jeff captured a rare moment in time.

today i saw a coyote in our hood. it was cool.
Jeff's trailer.

i took a parenting style test at the library today and felt irritated by it. but i still like going to the 'fun van' each week. and i enjoyed the company and the rainy park beforehand.
boys and legos. 

yesterday and today have been kinda... me just... being lame. but today it was like national 'holly appreciation for no reason' day and i got two love letters in the mail and some nice emails. one of the letters came with a sweet gift:
you. are. enough.

and i asked myself, am i enough? what does that mean? do i really believe that? should i believe that? could i believe that? i believe that about my children. do they know that i feel that way about them? how can i teach them that? and... does it really actually fit on my wrist? its just so beautiful.

also... unrelated, random question of the day is this:
is there a nice way to tell someone they smell bad? because i just don't think there is.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

with you.

today was a nice day.

i got laundry to a smaller pile.

and i snuggled James like nobody's business.

i also got a few good smooches in with Roger.

i never lost my cool with Gladys today.

all the kids got to try out Jeff's massage chair.

Walter practiced his article of faith.

Sally got recognized at school for straight a's.

Evelynn was kind to a friend at school.

Charlie told me i made the best dinner ever: lil' smokies, zucchini, and sweet potatoes.

a kiss with Jeff reminded me of the day of our reception... and what a hunk he is.

i worked on my church lesson a bit.

i listened to a couple general conference talks.

i weeded through my inbox.

reregistered my kids for next year's school.

and i sang two lullabies tonight.

it wasn't a perfect day. but when i heard a song on the radio, i wept. i feel so incredibly blessed.
i love my family.


Monday, January 16, 2017

Monday Memoir #3

in an attempt to keep up my Family History Friday, i will now be posting Monday Memoirs, with topics inspired by THIS WEBSITE. enjoy!

back then, being with boys was all that mattered to me. this night was no different. my group of friends, now high school graduates, were gathered together and searching for something fun to do. it was, after all, Casey's last night before his mission farewell. he was the first of our group to leave for his two year mission. that was when someone brought it up: why not make dry ice bombs? i had never heard of them, but just the word bomb was enough to make me leery of trying it. i wasn't much of a risk taker, let alone a trouble causer. 9-11 had only happened a year beforehand, and frankly i didn't want to be involved in ANY kind of bomb making. but here i was... with boys. they were excited. and i went along... just to be near them, because in my mind it was all my privilege to be invited. just riding in the car to the orchard was great within itself. cramming myself next to males in a small car was everything my heart desired. we made it to an orchard, where we thought we would be inconspicuous, and then the boys busted out their supplies. i didn't intend to participate. i sat shyly in the sidelines making small talk and giggling at everything any male said. David mentioned something about squirrels and i told him there were no squirrels in the desert, to which he matter-of-factly replied, "Holly, squirrels don't just live in trees!" i found his response HILARIOUS and told him he had just earned a spot on my quote wall in my room. that was when someone handed me a bomb and told me to throw it. i did, quickly, because it scared me, and everyone laughed. i was starting to feel slightly more comfortable... maybe we weren't doing anything bad at all, after all. 
then we heard sirens. we saw flashing red and blue lights. 
i wanted to jump the wall. but instead, i stood there: stiff.
the officers asked us to all come out of the orchard, hands up. we came forward slowly, and i had never been more scared in my life. i think my heart actually stopped beating. 
we all sat on the curb and got drilled. i was in shock. i started thinking about what life would be like in jail. how awful, i thought, that Casey would not get to go on his mission. how sad that our futures were all in jeopardy now. i had never dreamt of having 'bomb maker' on my resume. obviously i was running with the wrong group of friends. maybe being with boys was not worth this horrible mess.
my eyes were welling up with tears.
and then i realized the officer was talking to me.
"what is your name, miss?" he asked.
i was silent. what WAS my name? did i have to tell him?
"holly" i mumbled quietly.
"what is your address?" he was ready to write it down. 
i could not remember where i lived. suddenly the address that i had lived at for the last 18 years was a mystery. my voice cracked. i started to shake. he repeated the question. thankfully, i had my drivers licence in my pocket and i placed it in his hand before putting my head down between my knees. 
i sobbed and prayed simultaneously.
but when i looked up from my despair, i realized the cops were letting us all go with a warning. 


MLK day
5:30am- alarm goes off. i have no desire to move. 
6:30am- wake up suddenly and realize i am behind. force myself out of bed. prepare myself for failure. 
6:45 kids are all up. Jeff and I are attempting to make breakfast. chaos is in full swing.
7am- we all eat breakfast: sausage, biscuits, and gravy. have devotional. 
7:15- dress all the kids and make sure they pee before getting into the car. pack my bag.
7:30- we drive away. i am feelin' pretty awesome because we just might get back on schedule. 
8am- we reach the rock mountain. beautiful morning. i nurse James while everyone else collects walking sticks, climbs palo verde trees, explore and collect rocks, and enjoy the soft dirt. then we depart up the mountain. i discover there is no trail. i sit and watch them climb rocks until i realize... its not very safe. they come down slowly and we head back to the car. Charlie informs me that that was the best hike he has ever been on. i have to admit, i was impressed with how gutsy and strong Walter was in his hiking abilities. 

9am- we drive to Freestone Park. i am quite happy to be back on schedule. 
10am- we arrive at the park and meet up with the Drapers. we feed ducks until the kids scare them away, then make our way over to the park. the kids played. we gabbed. 
11:30am- we leave the park and drive to my mom's school.
noon- we arrive at her school for lunch- i pig out. kids are in heaven. we chat. time flies.

3pm- say our goodbyes and head home.
4pm- arrive home and begin our next project: build a family fort. the kids have a great time. it was cute. it began stressful but ended blissful.

5:15- dinner time! we clean up our mess, and eat pizza while watching a new movie.
7pm- Jeff comes home and offers ice cream.
7:30- kids to bed. Jeff and i catch up.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

rain, rain... stay.

who doesn't love a good rainy day?
perhaps growing up in arizona has made me worship rain in an unhealthy way... but i just don't think i could ever get sick of it. for me- rain is always welcome.

today was rushed. even with all my preparations in advance, i always end up feeling rushed.
i hate racing through each day.
i should go back to the way i lived during winter break... where i just existed. that was nice.

breakfast. devotional. i heard a phrase that reminded me of the importance to

but we made it to church.
sacrament was good.
first a simple phrase, "you need a testimony, and i have one."
a talk on the importance of education.
then powerful verses of scripture, "Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates."
and finally an epiphany over the story of the tower of babel, when i heard the words, "they were trying to get closer to God..." and i realized that maybe i am trying to get closer to God, but in all the wrong ways. the rest of his talk told the true way to come close to God: prayer and repentance. 
primary was good, too.

but arriving home brought more stress. feeling like there wasn't enough time. dinner needed to get to the crockpot, but james needed me and Jeff went Home Teaching. i wasn't graceful at all under pressure and it just built up to the point that i sat down on the couch in tears. i guess it all sounds melodramatic. silly. what a spoiled brat, right? crying over such things. 

so what if my day didn't go as planned? 
i attempted a couples council to see if it would help me communicate. i didn't feel too resolved, though. 
eventually the sister missionaries arrived and Jeff took a nap. the sisters were kind and our visit was nice.

next i knew what was coming but i had a sliver of hope that maybe it wouldn't be a disaster. the kids had been upstairs making a horrible mess. i asked them to clean it up and put on PJs, but all that did was start tantrums and fights and wars. we didn't end on a good note.

and now i feel pessimistic about tomorrow. 

but i forgot to tell you about Walter's prayer yesterday.
yesterday while we were moving wood at the neighbors house, i told walter to come over and help me. he came over quite irritated with me because he had his own agenda. "but MOM.... i wanted to help throw stuff in the fire!!!" i then informed him that it was too dangerous. this made him reflective and he said,"wait mom. i just wanna talk to God real fast." then he sat on the trash pile and folded his arms and said, "Jesus. i am sorry i got too close to the dangerous fire. help me do work with my mom." next he stood straight up and said, " just needed to talk to God, mom."
it was adorable.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

a single battle

where to begin?
i say that a lot.
it has been a roller coaster day... but would anyone expect less from a drama queen like me?

i woke up on time.
but boy, i was tired. everyone was still asleep. i didn't want to ruin things.
James needed to be changed and fed and jeff said he wanted to leave by 6:30... but i just wasn't sure if i should push him or the kids... it was tempting to just have a lazy, peaceful weekend morning.
soon, however, Roger woke up and then Gladys. slowly but surely kids began to pile onto our bed. it was kind of magical and again i was tempted to just slow down and be. Jeff was in a hurry, though, so i made sure we had a family prayer and he left as i began breakfast.
smoothies and waffles. not the best pick when you are in a hurry. and i was. there was a service project where kids were welcome- and it was just around the corner- at our neighbors!
i quickly found myself rushed and grouchy. and then i caught myself. how dumb that i was yelling at my kids to be on time to a service project... not a good message. i tried to calm down, but i was annoyed that i had already succumbed to my anxiety. at least i recognized it, and this helped me deal with Gladys' subsequent tantrum.

we got to our neighbors. a half hour late. we stumbled around trying to find out where to go and what to do. we spent the next two hours talking and moving things. it was a pretty good time, but i realized my kids were losing steam, so i attempted to round people up into the car. that's when my crazy came out. no one was listening to me. it made me mad. i felt disrespected. i felt embarrassed. and i was stressed. i was annoyed that we left on a bad note.
we drove to the bank. i got lollipops for the heathens. Evelynn didn't like her flavor. threw a tantrum. again, i was irritated. didn't handle it well. mailed the last of my thank yous (hallelujah) and came home to make lunch for everyone.

it was our arrival home that ignited my highest anxiety. i felt like i had a mile long list of things to get done with a time frame that wasn't conducive to a newborn. the kids were hyper and it felt tricky to approach them correctly or assign tasks the right way. i was on the edge of screaming my head off and giving up completely, but somehow we made it through our chores and i got the list done. kids played outside while i finished up a few things. then it rained and they played upstairs.

Jeff called. passed his first test. one more to go.

next up? project FHE. i gathered the crazies for our lesson: the plan of salvation. thankfully i used my puzzle from my mission and the kids had a pretty good time- it was a nice visual. but the clock was ticking. i felt rushed. hurry... make cookies. hurry... play the game. there just wasn't enough time. i cut the game short and started the baths. thats when James decided he needed me and i could not get anything done. i was at wits end. i didn't see myself finishing baths and dinner and everything in a half hour. nope. what was i going to do? i just... kept moving forward. rushing. stressing. annoyed.
second attempt at our disney game. 

loves his snuggly pjs

never stops moving.

Jeff calls. didn't pass the second test. he was going to unwind to a movie and dinner- solo. i tried to find my inner wife for life but was not in a good place. i just had to get over it.

soon everyone was bathed. i yell at everyone to hurry up and then as i step downstairs i see the babysitter standing there. how long had she been inside? i didn't know. i looked like a hot mess of a mom, which wasn't what i wanted for my first impression with this new recruit. oh well. i handed off the baby, ran to my room to change, then gave her quick instructions and left. unsure if i had made the right choice to make such an effort. was it all just a total waste? was i totally OFF track in life? maybe i should have just not served. only done chores and family night. canceled the sitter. *sigh* oh well... off i went.
another new outfit! :)

i parked and found people i knew. sat down. ate. gabbed. i enjoyed learning about the ladies at my table, though i must say i spent too much time thinking of my next question instead of actually listening... this is an attribute that makes me a bad friend.
the food was good, but the portions weren't quite enough for my ravenous appetite. and then... the speaker began.

it was great.
she spoke about how we are like quilts- which were displayed all around the room.
then she told a story called the grasshopper and coins. it was all about how we hear what we want to hear. this phrase repeated through my head over and over again. what did i want to hear? was i hearing the right thing? listening to the right voice? following God or just blazing my own path?
she spoke on fear. she said the 11th commandment is 'thou shalt not fear' and she spoke about a book she had recently read: On Fire. a true story about a boy who was burned 100% in a fire. his mother told him he had two choices- did he want to live or die? he said he was used to her giving him the 'which flavor shake' choices instead and longed for her comfort, but he had to choose something much harder now. she mentioned the part in the book when he had no fingers and sat down at the dinner table and watched everyone eat. his sister picked up his fork to feed him and his mom said, "don't. if he is hungry enough, he will eat." not something he wanted to hear, but needed.
next she told a story of a little girl who's mom always made christmas magical and wrapped presents super special. one christmas eve she ran out of wrapping paper just as she got to the last gift. she was out of time to get more, so she used an old cereal box instead. as her daughter woke up christmas morning, she took one look at the gift, threw up her nose in disgust and said, "i am NOT happy." after she got over the wrapping, she opened it to find her favorite gift that year. how many times are we like this little girl when God answers our prayers? she continued with the personal story of her mothers death after multiple positive priesthood blessings. and the eventual answer that came 40 yrs later. she spoke about her son, an only child, who chose not to serve a mission, even after she made a 'deal' with God, and how learned so much from that experience.
there was much more. but i came away feeling thankful for women. thankful for the gospel. and thankful that God was aware of me- out here in the middle of nowhere.

i came home to find things were fine. Jeff arrived happy from his alone time. i worked on my church lesson. and another day is done.

Friday, January 13, 2017

friday 13th

so. there is this CREATURE that lives at the farm next to our house. 
this thing is weirdo. i'm serious.
okay- let me describe it to you. 

its about a foot taller than a goat. 
its body is kind of a mix between a sheep and a goat.
but its body is white and black spotted like a cow... with random brown tufts spiking out of its back.
then- it has a black mane. 
it. is. bizarre.

we call it willy the wing-ding-dilly... after this book:

today was better.
i made some better choices.
i was more mindful of God and my plan for the day mostly worked out.

i got some laundry done, even Charlie's bedspread (he wet the bed last night).
i listened to general conference talks.
i made dinner in advance.
i packed Jeff's lunch.
i got more thank you notes done and made it to the post office.

but most importantly...
i enjoyed my children and the outdoors.

after i grabbed them from school, since dinner was already made, i sat on the porch and let them play out front. they were elated. they find the front exhilarating for some reason... i don't know why... maybe because Lindy isn't there? maybe the piles of dirt? maybe because its not common that they get to. but whatever the reasons- they love it.
today i let them get three toys each and take them outside. they made houses out of dirt mounds and enjoyed some make believe.

then after dinner i put on a movie none of us had ever seen so we could partake all together: Pete's Dragon. it was just what i wanted.
Charlie and I laughed at all the same parts.
Sally and i cried at all the same parts.
Evelynn gave up her seat for me to have a place to nurse.
Walter asked 500 questions.
Roger was a super snuggly snugglebug
James ate and slept.
Gladys was an anxiety ridden mess.
she loves her daddy so much and struggles with his absence. (she also struggles with his presence...)
she missed him so much that when i asked her to set the table, she set a spot for him. i told her he wasn't going to be with us for dinner and she said, "i leave it here for da 'morrow?" i told her sure. then she gave him a fork and neglected two other people's forks. when Walter asked about his fork, i told him to just use dad's and Gladys screamed, "noooo! daddy use it 'morrow!"
i am hoping to do better at gaining her trust and building a relationship with her so she feels safe when Jeff isn't around.
i carried her all the way up the stairs tonight.
and sang a lullaby.

yes. today wasn't too bad.
and tomorrow is the beginning to a three day weekend.
lets hope i don't blow it.

over and out.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

little blue engine.

tonight i ended my day with reading to my kids the lines, "i thought i could, i thought i could, i thought i could..." and some lovely person wrote over it with the words, "i knew i could, i knew i could, i knew i could..."

and it made me realize that i need to be more like that.

today had some highs, but i didn't finish strong like i could have.
i was chugging along in a very non-graceful way until about 5, when i just could not go on anymore. i tried to reach out for help but ultimately just chugged on and crashed through the night routine.

right now things are hard.
they aren't unnecessarily hard.
i want children. i am glad my husband is employed. i want to be a homemaker. i chose this. i am blessed with this. and its an opportunity to tap into my God given abilities and turn to Him in my weaknesses, which are many. i am grateful for my current situation.

that said, its still hard.
its likely that i will survive.
but man its challenging me to mother these beautiful seven children.
its really a struggle to adjust to Jeff's schedule- which is a good schedule for him- he is so happy right now and really maximizing his time... but its making me step up to the plate of motherhood in a new way, and while i still share my load with him in many ways, i carry more than i have the past year- or ever before. but i know God will aide me and that i am meant to do this. and its hard.

usually when people ask me, "how are you" i answer "peachy" because its my favorite unusual response. and over time, i have struggled to answer that way, because it doesn't seem to encapsulate my current state. and then i am stuck with an awkward silence where i just don't know what to say. then people are confused why i can't just throw out some one-liner to satiate their question. so today, when i knew i was going to likely hear that phrase, i searched my soul to find the perfect retort.

it was this- 'hanging on by a thread'.
its as close as i can come to the way i feel.
i am surviving, yes, but barely- and at any given moment i could fall hard and fast.
people seemed satisfied with my answer, which i guess means it was believable. it seemed to put them at ease for some reason... maybe because they felt i was being truthful or they felt like they weren't alone... i don't really know.

i made a lot of mistakes today. sometimes they felt deliberate. i wish i could stop choosing to repeat my bad habits... and i need to be like the little blue engine and believe that i CAN and WILL do it right. i not only should be better but absolutely could.

here are some highlights of the day:
*library and park with Stephanie. Thiphanie, Katie, and Sis Dalphree were there, too. Connie led good discussion as always and encouraged us at the end that we wouldn't fail our children completely, even with all our imperfections as mothers.
*made it through the normal chores with music on, but most importantly got half of my thank you cards done and mailed.
*got my stitchfix in the mail today! pleasant surprise. i feel so excited to get dressed tomorrow.

all the clothes are comfy and fit perfect.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


i had great optimism for this day.
i told myself i would get a lot done.

i did not, however, get a lot done.

i feel a great pull to do and be better.
i keep making excuses not to change. not to improve.
my existence feels forced. i just... survive. i rarely call the shots. i am at the whim of others.

James did not want to sleep tonight for some reason. he has done well the past two nights and i had false hope that we might be on to something grand. then tonight he just... was wide awake.

so i sat on the porch and rocked him.
the air was quite nice... not the usual cow poo smell.
and i thought to myself,
"am i really here? how did i get here? to this point. to this spot."

my mind went back to a time when i had naiive dreams and aspirations. oh i wanted to take the world by storm. i did. i really thought i could be great.

and next i thought to the time when Charlie was a newborn and what a shock motherhood was for me. how disappointed i was in myself. how terrified i felt of having more children. how terrified i was when i found out i was expecting Evelynn.

and then here i was. sitting on a porch of a mansion in the middle of nowhere. rocking my 7th baby... a sweet, nocturnal baby boy. my husband gone at work. i had survived another day. not necessarily a day i am proud of, but a day nonetheless.

and i thought i should sing a song.

so i did.

a raffi song.

my version seemed to go on and on.
my list of things to thank God were endless and i couldn't seem to stop.
i closed my eyes and pictured myself sincerely thanking my Heavenly Father.

i made an effort to catch the sunset tonight. i kind of missed it. but this isn't too bad of a view from my front porch.