Thursday, December 28, 2017


I've wanted to get a microscope for about 18 months.  We found one at a thrift store that was a piece of garbage.  The one I wanted to get, the magic scope was a little expensive at $180 and I didn't make it a priority.  Last month we found another garbage one at Aldi and impulse bought it.  I took it back because I realized that I was wasting money and giving the children a bad example by continuing to throw money after non quality microscopes.  M was so sad that I wasn't even going to try the Aldi microscope.  I told her that I loved her and that I wanted her to have a microscope that worked.  Looking in the garbage one, she was so enthusiastic but it was just blurry.  She wanted so badly for it to work.

I'd watched a few auctions on Ebay so I knew that the one I found for $40 was  a good deal.  It arrived before Christmas but we presented it to the kids after Christmas.

This thing is perfect!  It magnifies enough to show you the surprising shape of thing sup close.  The focusing is easy and very sharp.  The tube comes free of the base so you can look at any surface up close.  It's so awesome.  It's just what I had hoped for the children.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Happy Family

We had the missionaries over for dinner Tuesday.  They asked us what make the sister missionaries so good.  LP said "I think it's because they are not bad."  Wise.

The missionaries read us a scripture Matthew 16:13-19 and asked the children to draw who Christ is to them.  It was amazing how quietly they sat and drew.  B drew ninjas.

The missionaries said we seem like such a happy family and why was that?  We gave them a lot of talk about how we appreciate each other, and teach our children to not be entitled.  But it's the gospel that makes us happy.  Everything we claim to teach the children, is observed and forgotten on a moment to moment basis.  We are very happy because the gospel is most important to us, not other things that don't make us so happy.

Some of the things we like to think make us happy are:
-You do not deserve anything. 
-Needs and wants are different.
-Don't look in someone else bowl unless you are making sure they have enough.
-Don't buy season passes to disney.
-Value what you have.
-Buy used.
-Spend less than you make.
-Live on 1 parents income.
-Have 2 parents.
-Be super blessed.
-Be kind.
-Don't bathe very often.
-Don't care what people think of you.

These are the choices we imagine make us happy.  They don't work for everyone, and as I said, the gospel is the real reason we are so happy.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Mr. Kruger's Christmas kind of day

Today we had a humorous and humbling juxtaposition of events that was a lot like Mr. Kruger's Christmas.  We gathered with friends and went to a nursing home to sing songs and pass out crafts.  There were lots of cute children and L ate cereal through the program.  Those fantasy segments Mr. Kruger takes while listening to music are just mental vacations, not actual dementia.  We saw some dementia today and it was sad.  A lady cried for help, she wanted to get off the boat and find her son.

The children were sweet and did their parts, plaid their piano songs, read their scripts, and sang the songs.  After the caroling I took them to the fruit stand, then on to the bakery thrift store for a treat.  We never really ate lunch because I'd been stressing out to prepare things for the caroling.  As the children sat on the curb eating their Krumpetts a man approached us.  He asked if all the children were mine and I happily claimed them.  He extended his hand and said "My name's Jess." as he shook my hand, leaving money in mine. 

"No, really!" I said holding on to his hand.

He smiled and said "Merry Christmas!" then walked away.

I just laughed and started singing "We wish you a merry Christmas!" and the children joined in.  Later I told M what happened.  I said "He probably thought we were poor so he gave us some money."  As I kept laughing about she thought it was funny too.

So now I have to figure out who really does need this money and how to get it to them.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

work for happiness

Today we had the privilege of going caroling with 4 other families to 7 homes.  It was really sweet and each home we visited was so happy to see us.  The kids just had the best attitude and in a perfect ending, the last home gave them cookies.  It's no good for kids to do things for the cookies, so it is so nice when it happens that the last home you visit has a treat.

I heard something on the radio that was pure brilliance I'd never heard before; "Sadness is free.  You have to work for happiness."  I love that.  It is truth.  So often people think that work IS sadness, but work leads to freedom.  In friendships and marriage, you have to work to stay happy.  But sadness comes from not paying the price of time, effort, and often money or forgiveness.

I've heard people talk about how they achieved their success through hard work.  I think working hard is really important AND I recognize that it is a privilege to have your work result in your own success.  A lot of people who don't want to recognize privilege mistake their own work as an excuse for wealth inequality.  Because they weren't just given money but had to actually work, they feel it is deserved and that people who don't have money just didn't work.  But they fail to recognize how opportunity is a gift.  That they even had the opportunity to build wealth through their labors, rather than just constantly working their heart out for minimum wage is a benefit that they did not merit.  Some people have to loose their hard earned wages due to unfair housing practices, biased enforcement of criminal charges, and wage discrimination impact the earning power of many people who put in the same effort.

So yes, work for your happiness AND recognize that all men and women are children of God and deserve the same access to happiness.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Invest where your heart lies

A friend of mine really wants to be involved in an activity that is by nature invitation only.  I was thinking about it and how if we want people in an organization to know us, we have to volunteer even when it isn't our job.  Especially when it isn't our job, we need to be seen as someone who shows up on time and is eager to help.

Whatever it is in life that we want to be included in, we need to invest our time and effort.  We can't say we're too busy and then expect people to think we have time to give.

I know that with my children I sometimes make good investments of my time, and other times I am selfish.  I hope that I can make a change and invest more time in them and show them that I'm here for them.

Today in family council I invited them to make a dish for the linger longer.  I'm trying to impress on the children how fun it is to visit family and to bring food. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Growth opportunities

 Yesterday we went up to Jtown and watched these folks do a terrain race.  The kids love the ninja warrior shows and I thought they'd really enjoy people doing those sorts of feats in person.

 They had a good time and hope to do one of these courses themselves someday.  I was really inspired watching the participants reactions to the different obstacles.  Some just dove in and did their best.  The monkey bars were a beautiful challenge to watch.  So many tried and even if they fell in the water after just a few rungs, they tried.  Others didn't even try.

This mud pit was very interesting because the runners couldn't see it until they'd charged over the mound of dirt.  Many who took the challenge on slipped and fell in.  Some took a cautious approach and lifted the bungee cords up so they didn't have to get too dirty or wet.  Some walked around.  I felt sad for the people who didn't even try.
 I thought of how these obstacles were a lot like the opportunities for growth that God sends us daily.  We receive promptings to do hard things.  What are we going to do about it?  Are we even going to try?  Are we going to do it, but complain about it?  Are we going to dive in and have a good laugh over how gross it was but feel good that we DID IT!
 We picked up E and brought her along.  The kids didn't sign much.  G read his book a lot and M and P didn't sign much.  I scolded them a lot about that.  I let them know that they were wasting a chance to build relationships and serve one of God's children.  I don't believe that kids have a right to not include people.  I think that's a really toxic attitude, and we've been excluded plenty.  My answer to the universe is to be a person that includes others.  I am the only person that I am actually in charge of.  I am responsible for my children and don't want them to grow up self centered. 

Friday, December 15, 2017


Today we visited the state Senator for our area.  G is studying Civics and the kids had various questions to ask.  L didn't have a good time.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

humble brag

I went walking with a friend on Tuesday.  She said she loved how humble my car was.  This car is a 1997 Sentra.  I love it because it was a mission car that my dad bought, then my sister N bought, then my my dad took it back from her and it sat for a year unused.  Eventually we bought it and have used it for the last 12 years.  We've fixed many things on it and once my sister N complimented me for keeping it very clean.  I'm pleased to have a car stay in the family and to take care of it.  It needs some repairs and we're considering getting a different car.

When we bought it from my dad he gave us a fair price and said that if we ever sold it for more than that he would like us to give him the difference.  It's well past the ability to be sold for that price. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017


A friend's daughter recently was diagnosed with a tumor in her foot.  I'm feeling such sadness and hope for them.  It's so hard to go through chemo.  I hope they will be able to have happiness and peace.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

mini bathroom make-over

We needed a new toilet in the kids bathroom for a long time.  Today we had the time to take care of it so I took the 3 older kids over to the store to choose one.  lP had a clear preference "I like the one that says 'new'."  M and G had a big laugh about the devices that spray you so you never need toilet paper again.  We chose one that was 1 piece so there will be less crevices to clean.

We brought the new toilet home and P found that the old toilet had pulled up the vinyl tile.  So I got to go shopping for new flooring.  I've wanted to replace the flooring for ages and was pretty excited to do so.  At the 3rd store we seemingly impulsively bought a particular flooring but it was actually the style I'd admired for a long time.  Yay!

I installed flooring with my sister L in college.  Mostly I just helped but I did work with her crew 1 summer and got experience doing more of the actual cutting.  When I brought home the new flooring I laid it out in the big room and cut out my shape.  I got it installed by just tucking it in.  I'm glad that they make vinyl now a days that you don't have to glue down.  Hmmm, I should probably check to see if the kind I got was the kind you don't have to glue down...  It's held in place by the molding and tucked under the tub.  I think it looks quite snazzy.  Oh yes.  Snazzy. 

Monday, December 4, 2017


Today we set goals.  Some of our goals were things we do every day and others were a special effort.  It was an interesting paradigm shift for me to think in terms of a goal we could set for 1 day.  There was a recent church talk about someone asking their son to be kind to his sister for 1 day.  Then after accomplishing that for 1 day, could he keep doing that and even add more goals. 

In our baby step world I hope to just introduce the children to the idea of deliberate action and celebrating the exercise of self control. 

lP had a goal to not break any of M's things today.  My goal was to not hit any of my children today.  I don't generally hit them at all but I do often feel mad at them and I did swat lP the other day after she hit B.  Great....  So I made that my goal. 

When the kids were yelling in the back seat I pulled over and told them I was going to play a game on my phone rather than let myself get really mad at them.  They were annoyed and I threatened to play 2 games. 

Throughout the day we would check on each other "Do you remember your goal?" as keeping it in mind is really important for achieving a goal, especially when it is a goal of something you don't want to commit.

I am not perfect And I can make goals to be better and achieve a better relationship with myself and others.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

financial realities

We're making some financial changes and it's interesting to me to come to the reality that things are good and not actually going to change as much as I dream.  I have a bad habit of imagining that when we've reached this or that line in the sand, things will be different.  But things are good and I'm glad they aren't going to be significantly different because in general I think it could only be worse. 

Saturday, December 2, 2017


Our stake has an activity each December with about a hundred nativities set up in the gym.  Different groups sing or play the piano from the chapel.  This year we got to play our tenor horn and tuba.  M played 2 pieces on piano and that helped spell us enough.  We practiced and really prepared our out of shape lips so it was a really good experience for us.  I'm grateful to have married someone who values the tuba as much as I do.  It's not just some eccentric hobby of mine that is snickered at.  P even got to wear his fabulous tuba tie tonight. 

G watched the 3 little children in a side room with a movie player.  I'm so grateful to have an older child and a movie player. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

end of the month

I'm in a good place with keeping track of expenditures.  Today is the last day of November and we still have food in the house.  Yay!  I got creative and called the apples I brought to co-op today "eating out" so we could buy them AND the milk that baby needs, or there is trouble.

It's interesting imposing these limits on myself.  Sure I could just spend money from the Christmas envelope on groceries so I never have to feel any sense of scanty means.  But I don't have to. 

P glories in being independently wealthy and I appreciate the ends to which he goes to keep us so.  He did not buy a smart phone until he needed one for work, rather than when he wanted one for years.  Rather than buy the newest phone, he got the one that was free with the only company that could provide a signal to our home.  He kept that phone in mint condition for 5 years until it's capabilities were limiting his work.  And again he didn't buy what was new and hot.  Even better, this time he paid $500 to own an iPhone 6 and switched to a plan that only cost $45 monthly instead of the $66 we paid previously.  No contract.  And P loves technology.  I'm shocked at his ability to make rational decisions in the face of so much magical shiny! 

Being independently wealthy means that we can make choices based on what is long term good rather than what is immediately pressing.  It doesn't actually mean we have a lot of money.  We have a lot of positive reinforcement to make good choices coming from each other.  He doesn't need to spoil me or buy fancy things for me.  I don't need to spoil him or buy fancy things for him.  We both agree that those things are not necessary for the continued emotional health of our relationship.  And that is really the source of our wealth, our independence. 

We don't have to buy the children fancy things so they won't be made fun of at school.  They don't go to school.  We don't have to drive fancy cars to look like we're rich, who cares! 

Two friends were in need of baby gifts and yesterday I didn't want to leave the house to even make the minimal gesture of getting gift cards.  So I cleverly devised to give them cash.  But then I thought on the sweet outfits people have given me and how I wanted to send a particular message at the moment.  I personally love cash and appreciate and remember the sweet people who have been so generous with us.  I also love the cute outfits.  So in the situation that I was choosing cash because it was easier on me, I decided I should in fact go out and choose something cute.  So we went out and went to 5 stores because once I'm out I may as well buy all the things!  It was good for us.  I'm glad we went out and glad I could give my friends cute clothes for their babies.

It's very tempting to be judgemental and think people have what they need.  One of the moms was so grateful and mentioned that she had had no shower for her little girl that is 3 months old.  And I don't doubt that she has materially what is needed but everyone needs to be loved and I hope that was what we said with this shower.  I am grateful for the times people have overridden my insistence that I had what I needed and gave me cute clothes and love.