Sunday, July 31, 2011

I wasn't even at the New Canaan Ward today

But I am getting their lesson everywhere I drive!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

My mom's friends

My Mom's friends have always been the best. I never had to worry because I always knew one of them would be there for her if there was a time when we couldn't. Today we went over to Linda Talbots. We go way back and there is always plenty of stuff to talk about and reminisce about. Her girls and Amber were such good friends. Here we are L to R. Carrie, Amber, Linda, Kathryn, Jamie -- and that is baby Candace.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Happy Birthday to Madelyn!

Today Madelyn turned 7 years old.

I cannot believe my baby girl is 7 years old. Madelyn just couldn't be any sweeter, kinder, or more enjoyable to be around than she already is. We love her so much.

We had to celebrate with a little help from facetime -- since Trent is in CT and we are in TX. (notice the ipad in this first picture displaying dad-- you gotta love technology!)

Tyler's room redecorating

We are finally done. It has taken a full week to get Tyler's room redone. We started last Friday and what a difference 7 days makes! Here are lots of photos for any of you who want to see. His room was beautiful before, but it was designed for a young boy. We are not sure how time has passed so quickly, but Tyler has grown into a wonderful young man. His new decor matches his increased maturity and style!

I had so much fun helping him pick colors and bedding and shelving. AND I loved organizing it all.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

More Friends and More Swimming

This morning Catherine got up, made her bed, emptied the dishwasher, got dressed and had breakfast all by herself. I asked her if she was feeling OK? Then she replied that last night she had finally finished reading the 2nd Harry Potter book and she wanted everything done so that I would let her watch the movie.

So she did. And we took it with us when we went and visited with Laura Smith and her 2 little girls. We had a nice visit.

I have continued spending much of the day working on Tyler's room (pictures soon to follow). But tonight the kids all went swimming. Owen took a very, very quick (skinny) dip. He is just so cute!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Lazy River Pool

Today I was reminded just how big Houston really is. It may not have as many people as New York City, but the city itself stretches out into endless suburbia. I left my parent's home and drove to my sister Amber's house. She lives on the North of Houston (it is about 35 miles. Julianne had stayed the night with her and helped her with her 3 little girls. I picked up Julianne and then we drove to Katy (to our home there) and it is 46 miles door to door.

I met our tenants of 3 years there and our property manager and we did the final walkthrough. Our tenants loved the area so much they built a home right close by. They were spectacular tenants and took such good care of the house.

We have leased the house for another 2 years. So there is still a chance we could come back to it.

After all the driving I got Sonic for the kids for lunch and then we went and swam at the Lazy River pool. My kids had a blast. We were there almost by ourselves and we all enjoyed the slides and the memories of coming there so often 3 years ago.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The cookie recipe that will never go on my cooking blog

When my dad came home from church he stated very matter of factly that we needed to make a dozen of the worst cookies ever.

And we did. And they look pretty darn good if you ask me.

1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup white salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg

Cream together until it looks just right (like all the other "good" cookies you have made before) you may need a little sugar more or a little less -- judge it by what it should look like.

1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup corn starch
1 cup flour
1/4 cup baking powder
2-3 heaping TBS of garlic powder
2 tsp of cinnamon

(again, judge the powder ingredients by the texture and look of regular cookies)

1 cube of Baker's unsweetened bitter chocolate baking squares roughly chopped.

Spoon onto a pan and bake in a 350 degree oven for 7-10 minutes.

Put on a nice pretty plate.


Because my dad (and all of us) were invited to play games at a friend's house and to have dessert and normally my mom would be in charge of dessert -- so my dad wanted it to seem like "everything is totally normal" we can even make dessert.

The question was could we all keep it quiet long enough to get anyone to actually try one of them???

Yes, we did it.

Everyone arrived and we set our plate with all the other plates. And one guy grabbed one took a bite and said while spitting, "These are awful" And the host replied, "You can't say that, his wife just died -- I'm sure he just doesn't know how to make them as good as she did." And he proceeded to grab one and take a huge bite to show his support at which point he made a beeline to the bathroom to discretely spit it out.

With laughter erupting all around he realized the joke was on him. The cookies are truly awful just as they were intended to be.

My only worry????

The host looked my dad in the eye and said, "GAME ON"

My dad, replied back, "if they offer to bring dinner, SAY NO!"

I'm pretty sure my mom is rolling her eyes in heaven.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Lunch with good friends

Today I went to lunch with some friends that go way back. How far back??? Well Susan (first on the left) was one of my young women's leaders -- I have probably known her since I was 10 years old -- so 25 years!!!! Wendy (to the right of me) actually grew up on the same street as me just about 7 or 8 houses down. She is a few years older than me, so I mostly knew her brother, but she dated (and later married) the brother of a girl my age who I played softball with so I had seen her around. Many, many years later, she joined the mormon church and I "remet" her there. When Trent and I bought our first house, she and her husband bought one just 7 or 8 houses down the street from us. Sometimes it is just such a small world! (so we technically go back 27 years!) And Deann (on the far right). She and I met at the riviera in provo utah during my sophomore year. We did not overlap there for very long, but she quickly relocated to Houston (since she married a guy that I knew growing up) and we have been friends ever since. (so 16 years!) There is truly nothing like old friends. We had so much fun catching up, laughing and enjoying each other's company. Thanks ladies for such an enjoyable afternoon!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pioneer Day

Most Anxious
Today is Pioneer day.  On July 24, 1847 the Mormon Saints first arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. 

My ancestors were Mormon pioneers.  This painting is a depiction of my great (many greats) grandmother, Eliza Chapman Gadd. 

You can read a little bit of her story here if you are interested. 

At church today there were a couple of talks on pioneers, both were really nice.  One of them quoted from a talk given in 1997 and I loved the quote.  So -- here it is -- it is kind of lengthy but worth reading -- especially when we wonder why we celebrate the pioneers and how their stories apply to us.  The speaker is Virginia H. Pearce and she was speaking to an audience of young women ages 12-18.  I have even underlined my favorite parts.  She summarized so beautifully how I truly want to live. 

"When I think of pioneers, tragic scenes come to mind: handcarts in blizzards, sickness, frozen feet, empty stomachs, and shallow graves.

However, as I learn more about that monumental trek I am convinced that along with those very real and dramatic scenes, most of the journey for most of the people was pretty routine. Mostly they walked and walked and walked.
When the pioneers broke camp each morning, the cattle had to be fed and watered, fires built, breakfasts cooked, a cold meal for noon prepared and packed, repairs made, teams hitched, and wagons reloaded. Every single morning. Then they walked about six miles before halting to feed and water cattle, eat lunch, regroup, and walk again until about 6:00 P.M. Then the routine of unhitching and watering teams, making repairs, gathering tinder, building fires, cooking supper, a line or two in a journal before dark, sometimes a little music, prayers, and bed at 9:00 P.M.
Speed wasn’t important. Because the pace was set by slow-moving oxen, no one had to run to keep up with the wagons. On a good day, on a no-problem day (is there ever such a thing?), the pioneers covered about 15 miles. Usually it was less than 10. Imagine how puny that seemed compared to their ultimate goal of 1,300 miles!
On a bronze frieze 2 in the Winter Quarters cemetery, a detail shows a mother resting her hand inside the wagon as she walked the distance to the Salt Lake Valley. She did this because her small child wouldn’t stay in the wagon unless he could see his mother’s hand. Even as they walked forward, those pioneers knew how to help one another.
So what does all this have to do with us in our current world? I believe it has everything to do with us. Most of our lives are not a string of dramatic moments that call for immediate heroism and courage. Most of our lives, rather, consist of daily routines, even monotonous tasks, that wear us down and leave us vulnerable to discouragement. Sure, we know where we’re going, and if it were possible we would choose to jump out of bed, work like crazy, and be there by nightfall. But our goal, our journey’s end, our Zion is life in the presence of our Heavenly Father. And to get there we are expected to walk and walk and walk.
This week-after-week walking forward is no small accomplishment. The pioneer steadiness, the plain, old, hard work of it all, their willingness to move inch by inch, step by step toward the promised land inspire me as much as their more obvious acts of courage. It is so difficult to keep believing that we are making progress when we are moving at such a pace—to keep believing in the future when the mileage of the day is so minuscule.
Do you see yourself as a heroic pioneer because you get out of bed every morning, comb your hair, and get to school on time? Do you see the significance of doing your homework every day and recognize the courage displayed in asking for help when you don’t understand an assignment? Do you see the heroism in going to church every single Sunday, participating in class, and being friendly to others? Do you see the greatness in doing the dishes over and over and over? Or practicing the piano? Or tending children? Do you recognize the fortitude and belief in the journey’s end that are required in order to keep saying your prayers every day and keep reading the scriptures? Do you see the magnificence in giving time a chance to whittle your problems down to a manageable size?
President Howard W. Hunter said, “True greatness … always requires regular, consistent, small, and sometimes ordinary and mundane steps over a long period of time.” 3
How easy it is to want quick and dramatic results in exchange for a day’s labor! And yet how happy people are who have learned to bend to the rhythm of paced and steady progress—even to celebrate and delight in the ordinariness of life.
Don’t be discouraged. Think of those who reach a hand into the wagon to give you courage. Be the person who reaches out your hand toward others as we all move forward together.
When you get into bed at night, rehearse the things you have accomplished during the day. Allow yourself to feel the satisfaction that comes of work completed or even partially completed.
Not only were those remarkable pioneers willing to keep moving forward, they “sang as they walked and walked and walked.” Are we expected to be cheerful as we do our daily work? Well, maybe not every minute of every day. Certainly we are sad and even angry at times. But we can make a decision to refrain from wallowing in our sadness or anger.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

"There's a hundred and four days of summer vacation"

"till school comes along just to end it!" That is the starting line to Phineas and Ferb, a disney cartoon that is surprisingly witty and entertaining to my kids and to me. So when I called an old friend to see if we could come see her today and she replied that we should come watch her daughter dance at a radio disney / phineas and ferb promotion I knew my kids would be happy.

We played hot potato with phineas and ferb dolls. We got stickers and posters. We got tickets to a cinematic screening of the new phineas and ferb movie. We also got hot!!! It was 100 degrees outside. The location was right across the street from the hospital where my first four kids were born.

We had a great time visiting with our friends afterward at their home. I was once again filled with this new found empathy when the husband stated that his mother had died of ovarian cancer and his father three years later from pancreatic cancer. I'm certain that they had mentioned that to me before, but now it holds so much more depth of feeling.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Tyler's room -- color scheme

With grey walls -- Update -- so far the wall paper border is off. Everything is ready to prime.

Goals -- priming on monday

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Three weeks

Dear Mommy,

It really doesn't seem possible that you have been away for three weeks. You know how we always joke with the kids that we aren't going to let them grow up -- and how you just want each little stage that is so sweet to last forever? and yet no matter how much you want it they still grow up?

It is like I want to freeze time. To back when you were here. And yet even though it seems like you were just here, already so much has changed. Amber's sweet new baby is here and baby Candace has already gained a whole pound! Owen has learned to pull himself up to standing. Adam can take all his breaths when swimming with ease and just goes all over the pool by himself. (with me closely watching of course!). I finally got those outdoor chairs re-upholstered for you. They look great too! We have started to re-decorate Tyler's room. He and I went looking for paint today (we can't agree). Trent is back in CT working for 2 more weeks before he comes back to TX. We rented out our Katy house for 2 more years! Carrie went to Curacao. Shad and Amy and the kids are on vacation! and I could go on and on.

And these are just the obvious physical changes. We have changed on the inside as well (it just might not seem so obvious). I can't speak for everyone else, but I can just tell you how I have changed. I can't go a minute without wondering if you are watching us. I don't think I truly understood empathy until now. I have cried for so many other people as I can now for the first time truly understand what they are going through. You know when you get a new car and suddenly you see so many of them on the road?? Well, it seems everywhere I turn I see or hear evidence of so many people's lives changed from cancer. I feel vulnerable. I guess I was living in a little bubble thinking nothing bad could ever happen to me or those I love and now -- that bubble has burst. I worry about what else we all might have to endure. There is more, but I am getting tired. I'll have to write more later.

When it is late at night, I love to look at all your photos. I have been working on restoring some of the older ones. I hope you like these. You are so beautiful mom. I love you.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Old Friends

It doesn't seem all that long ago that me, Trent, Jason, and DeAnn were all single folks living at the Riviera. But it has been 15 years.

It was fun to have our three girls all around the same time. DeAnn and Hannah did Joy school with me and Julianne.

And now look at how they've grown!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Today it rained

Rain has not been a frequent event this summer in Houston. They are in a serious drought right now. So for the first time, we did not spend most of our day outside swimming. We went to the church for some playtime with friends.

Some kids played apples to apples.

Tyler played basketball.

And Owen wanted to play basketball!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Owen sees himself in the mirror

He is such a cute boy. He even trys to wave at himself.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Carrie Curacao

We have been hearing all about her trip -- she has some 800 photos for us to see. And here she is sporting the new Curacao hair style.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Baby -- sweet baby

Here are just 2 of the photos of my newest niece. I'll be posting more on my photography site soon.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Big Helpers!

This is why baby #5 seemed so easy -- my girls are such capable helpers!

Thursday, July 14, 2011


I have the best siblings. I love being near all of them and seeing all that they are doing. I don't know just how, but we all have grown up -- It still often feels like we are little kids hanging out together-- but somehow we have all these kids, and jobs, and responsibilities.

I don't have any pictures today of my sister Carrie because she is scuba diving in Curacao -- that is one thing I love about her -- her sense of adventure -- I figure she is doing enough traveling for the both of us!!!

And next is Shad -- here he is with one of his little girls -- I wonder how our kids learn so much stuff???

Then there is Amber -- she just had her third little girl this past week. We have so much fun hanging out together-- It doesn't seem that long ago that I had three little girls!

Last of all is Tyler-- He is getting his own post with pictures soon. He is such a good brother and uncle to the 12 nieces and nephews running around!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Restoring Old Photos

This may be a new passion of mine! What a difference a little TLC makes on this old photo of my granny (my mother's mother).

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Grandparents

Aren't they young and lovely? My aunt sent me this photo to edit a little and I must say I am in love with it!

Monday, July 11, 2011

I'm an aunt again!!!!

Congratulations to Dan and Amber Aird.

Candace Aird
11:26 am
7 lbs 6 oz

I got to be there and take some photos. Here is the video I put together for them!

I can't wait to get to know her even more. Thanks for letting me share in such a special event!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

More photos (from the good camera) of the circus

But the best part is the video -- We were all enjoying watching the kids dance. As I was rewatching it I started cracking up -- the lady leading the dance routine has the kids shake their "bootie" and then right at the 29 second mark she asks, "Can you guys shake your a## good?" to a bunch of little kids!!! I can't believe none of us noticed at the time, but now on the video it is crystal clear!