Hoppily Ever After

Hoppily Ever After
Once upon a time, a Princess and a Frog Prince fell in love.
They were married in a beautiful castle in The Wooded Hills for Time and All Eternity.
The first Tadpole Princess joined their family only 2 short years later,
and was very quickly followed by two more Princesses, Twin Princes, another Princess and another two Princes.

Bring on the Hoppily Ever After

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Our Christ-centered Easter 2016

As we approached Easter this year, we overheard lots of disturbing comments from our kids. "Mom, can you tell the Easter bunny to get me ______", "I can't wait to see what toys the Easter bunny is bringing me", "We're going to get SO MUCH candy from the Easter egg hunt!!"

Dave and I kept trying to remind the kids that Easter was not about toys and candy and bunnies. But the kids just brushed us off and ran of to write lists of all the things they were excited to get from the Easter Bunny.

We decided something had to change and it was time for an object lesson. One they would *feel* and hopefully remember.

Our plan ended up having 4 phases, and overall was quite successful!

Phase 1 - The empty tomb.

Our kids asked that the Easter bunny hide their baskets. That seemed like a fair request, so after the kids went to bed I hid their empty baskets. At the bottom of each of their baskets was a single card.

"Matthew 28:6 He is not here: for he is risen"

A picture of Christ was on the other side of the card.

When the kids woke up in the morning they were SO excited to go find their baskets and see what cool stuff they got. And they were SO mad and upset when they found them empty. To be fair, K totally guessed what was going on and tried to remind everyone else to be happy and to remember that Easter wasn't about all that stuff. B was just excited for the hide-and-seek of the baskets. And W slept through the whole thing. But the other 5 were MAD.

In case you care (but mostly for journaling purposes), here's the video of them finding their baskets.

We had church at 9am, so we went to church before moving on to any of the other phases. And actually, by the time we got home from church, picked up the house, ate lunch, and Dave had his 1pm meeting, the kids seemed to have forgotten all about their empty baskets, and the fact that it was still Easter.

Phase 2

After lunch, meetings, and pickup, we gathered in the family room and watched The Lamb of God. I know it's a bit older, but it does a great job of depicting the crucifixion, and shows the empty tomb. The kids had also watched a short clip of the resurrection in Primary, so they knew what came next. 

After the video, we had a discussion on the Atonement and the Resurrection. We talked about what the Atonement and Resurrection were, and why they are so important. Two scriptures were super important in our discussion:

Moses 1:39 - For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
2 Nephi 25:10 - Wherefore, may God raise you from death by the power of the resurrection, and also from everlasting death by the power of the atonement, that ye may be received into the eternal kingdom of God, that ye may praise him through grace divine. Amen.

We pointed out that immortality means never dying. And because of Christ's resurrection, we will all be resurrected, which will fulfill part of God's work. And eternal life means living with God again, and becoming like him. Through the Atonement, if we repent, we have the opportunity to have eternal life, which is the second part of God's work.

Therefore, Easter is the celebration of the most important events in the history of the universe, that provide the possibility of fulfilling God's work, and bringing Him glory. Without the atonement and resurrection, there would be nothing. Just emptiness. Just like the baskets they found that morning.

After a great discussion we handed out these bookmarks I made the night before (I love having awesome tools!).

The kids were actually really excited about the bookmarks and thought the way the two scriptures worked together was really cool. I think they would have been content with Easter at this point.

Phase 3

But the tomb was empty for a reason. Christ LIVES. He was resurrected to provide the opportunity for us to experience true JOY. And we are parents. We love our children and want them to experience happiness also. And for kids, happiness often comes with toys, candy, and prizes.

So, we gave the kids the keys to the basement, and sent them down to find their (very small) surprises.

There was a small bag of goodies for each kid, along with a bag of stuffed Easter eggs for phase 4.

Each bag had a small notebook, a pencil with the Primary theme on it, a tube of bubbles, 2-3 pieces of sidewalk chalk, a Reester Bunny, and a CTR ring (W didn't get a ring though).

Here's another video of them finding their surprises. They were all so excited, and very grateful, even though the goody bags had much less than they were hoping for. 

Phase 4

Easter should be a time of joy. Most of that joy for children does involve traditions that do not directly relate to the Atonement and resurrection. So, after our wonderful discussion, and their goody bags, Dave and I hid 6 dozen plastic eggs in our backyard and let the kids go find them. 

They each got 9 eggs. They were so excited with the candy and the joy of the hunt. At the end, I asked them what Easter was about. They all started yelling out answers, and within 3 seconds I heard "Jesus Christ", "The Atonement", "The Resurrection". No mention of candy, egg hunts, toys, presents, or the Easter bunny.

Mission: Accomplished.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

An Atypical Day

Honestly, in our house, there is no such thing as a typical day. Today was a good day though. We didn't do anything according to our "normal" routine, but a lot of things about today were pretty typical as to the kind of stuff that goes on around here.

We started our day with my alarm going off at 5:50am. I tried to snooze it so I could nurse W back to sleep and then get up at 6am to get my personal scripture study done. I hit the wrong button though and didn't wake up until 7:30.

We gathered everyone in our room at 8am for scripture time, then shooed them off to get ready for the day. We were in a hurry today for many reasons, yet the kids still insisted on acting like slugs.

At 9am we jumped in the car, skipping breakfast since no one finished getting dressed on time (does that seriously take an hour!?). We went through the checklist for needs for the day:

Does everyone have a coat? No. B & W don't have theirs. B claims he has his because it is in the garage. Mom gets the coats.
Does everyone have shoes? Yes. Are you sure? Yes.
Are those going to swimming lessons today wearing swimsuits? Yes.
Did everyone put their clean underwear in the towel bag for after swimming? Yes.
Do we actually have 6 towels in the towel bag? Yes.
Do we have enough goggles for those who want them? Yes.
Did mom pack something for everyone to eat for lunch? Yes.
Did mom pack all the sewing materials for sewing club? Yes.
Did we bring a diaper bag? Yes.
Does everyone have what they need for commonwealth? Yes.
Including show & tell? Yes.

Wow. We actually did pretty well with all that. I only had to run back in for one thing.

9:25am We arrive at our commonwealth. I remind all the kids we will be leaving early today because of swim lessons. (Because I didn't completely think through the fact that our commonwealth conflicted with the lesson times... I was just concerned with getting as many as possible into the water at the same time.)

10:50am I gather the kids and head to the car to drive to the aquatic center. Two of them are upset because they didn't get to take B & W to the car because they were finishing a project so I just took them. One of them takes forever to leave her class because she is taking notes and telling a joke.

11:05am We arrive at the pool. The four girls go straight to the family locker room, strip down, shower, and get to their classes. The four boys and I head to the lobby to eat our lunch - crackers, deli meat, cheese I slice on my leg with no plate or cutting board (but I did bring the cheese knife), CapriSuns, carrots, and cheese-itz. We do our best not to leave crumbs, but don't succeed very well.

11:40am We clean up lunch and the boys and I head for the locker room. J & J strip down, we note that the girls did a great job of putting all their things in the lockers.... but something is missing. Maybe they left it in the car.

11:55am Just as the girls finish their lessons and get out of the pool, I return from checking the car, and the locker room, and the entire pool deck. We did, in fact, leave the entire towel bag, neatly packed with all towels and everyone's underwear, on the floor in the family room. Another homeschool family lends my girls a towel to share, and my twins get in the pool for their lesson.

After the girls dress (commando) and return the borrowed towel, they head to the lobby with B to eat (I monitor them through the glass wall). W nurses to sleep and dozes on my lap.

1:00pm Once the boys are dressed (without the use of towels) and we are all back in the car we go over the rules for our sewing club. This is someone's home, standard house rules apply. Since there is only one of me and only one sewing machine, you'll need to take turns. If it is not your turn to sew, or your turn to observe, then you need to keep the younger three happy or no one will be able to sew.

2:30pm Sewing club went surprisingly well... just way too short to attempt with 5 kids and only 1 machine. We'll have to finish at home.

5:45pm Now 7 kids have done half the project for sewing club, but the kids are starting to make a huge mess of my supplies. I call it quits for the day. Club doesn't meet again for 2 weeks, so we have time to finish this later.

6:00pm While C makes dinner, K runs around the house, excitedly gathering books. Apparently she has been assigned a "climate" presentation with a classmate for her Transition class. She is getting ready to research the cultures, animals, weather, and vegetation of the Arctic.

D & C complain that they never get to do any "homework" assignments. I suggest they do a report on a state, given that they just learned the "50 Nifty United States" song and can now name all of them. They get super excited about the prospect. So I write a quick list of things I would want them to find out about the state of their choice.

After dinner C complains that D isn't letting her see the list for the state report, so I type it up and print out a few copies. Turns out J1 wants a copy too.

Suddenly dinner cleanup is abandoned as everyone gets super excited about their reports. K helps J1 find pictures to print out, and he scribbles out facts as he finds them.

C & D argue because D is hogging the computer as she types up her report.

When C finally gets a computer she needs help copying and pasting pictures she finds, but she is enjoying it.

J2 decides that he wants to do a report on birds instead of states. (But he really just wants to color some pictures of birds.) We print some pictures out for him. Then M wants some too. I accidentally print an extra page, so B gets it. I am really not sure when B figured out his colors, but suddenly he knows nearly all of them. I knew he knew which person in our family was assigned each color, but now he knows the color names too!

And now it's 8:30pm. Bedtime. And I have one kid searching for pictures on my computer, three kids working on state reports, three kids coloring pictures of birds, and one kid wandering around the house carrying the plunger because someone left the bathroom door open again.

It takes us another hour to convince everyone to put away their projects until tomorrow, and to get everyone in bed.

Happy Birthday! I Mean New Year! Or Both!

New Year's eve is now super special in our house for two extra reasons. Those reasons are named Christine and Matthew. Yup, our third daughter and our fourth son were both born on New Year's eve, seven years apart, and neither was induced. Pretty incredible.
This year was the first year we actually got to celebrate both of them. (Since I was in labor most of the day last year.)

We usually keep celebrations pretty simple unless it's a "friend party" year (7 and 11 so far). And even those are low-key. Last year C had her friend party 6 days after her brother arrived on her birthday. I will forever be grateful to my mother who helped me pull that off.

Since the birthday boy was turning one, he got a traditional smash cake. This one was cheesecake, since that's what C asked for. W hated it though. He LOVED smashing it to bits, but wouldn't put any of it in his mouth and when it accidentally got in, he tried to pull it out. 
After the parties we settled in for a quiet New Year's. My parents and brother drove in that night and arrived around 10pm. By then several kids had already fallen asleep. We woke the birthday girl who didn't want to miss midnight and rang in the New Year with sparkling juices with my parents, and my brother Michael, and our oldest three kids.
Saturday, January 2nd was a very special day. As C turned 8 this year she had the opportunity to be baptized. We are so proud of her.

Sunday we drove down to Eagle Mountain to witness the blessing of one of my new nephews, Talon. We had so much fun with family and really, really, REALLY love that area. On our way back to Layton we drove around Saratoga Springs and Lehi looking at homes for sale. We're hoping to get our house on the market around March or April. 

We also stopped by to visit with the Burkes who were in town. We miss them so much, especially Heidi. Somehow we missed taking pictures of our visit with them though... We need to be better about that.

Sunday, December 27, 2015


Around the 20th of December one of the kids poked their head into our bedroom late one night asking when we were going to build gingerbread houses out of graham crackers. I had totally forgotten that I had agreed to do that this year. Oops.

We decided to spend a couple days prepping (as in, cleaning the house and finishing Christmas presents), then do the graham cracker thing on Christmas Eve. 

It turned out pretty fun.

Thankfully W slept through most of the building, so I had time to help.

B got SO excited. He loved the whole process, especially eating the candy.

Poor M got sick and was throwing up off and on throughout Christmas Eve. This was as far as her little house got before she left to go take a nap.

J2 decided to build a treehouse. Several of the others ended up following. Or maybe they gave him the idea before anyone started... not sure which.

J1 built some huge structure with a huge flat roof which kept collapsing. He fixed it though and then covered the whole thing in "snow" and more cinnamon bears.

C had the brilliant idea to make a tire swing out of chocolate covered pretzels and twizzler pull'n'peel. Several others copied that idea.

D built a trailer (like an RV trailer) and a treehouse. Apparently we've been watching a lot of Treehouse Masters and Tiny House Nation. :)

K is getting pretty good at these things. She had a lot of patience with this twizzler ladder for her treehouse. 

Dave (as always) created a very precise, very thought-out creation (he once made a huge transformer). It took the kids WAY TOO LONG to figure out what he was making (though my sister, Stacey, figured it out based on a texted photo of the whole group). :)
I guess he sees a lot of the Salt Lake Temple on his way to and from work. ;)

It's so much fun to see everyone working together. Especially since I only had 5 pastry bags so they had to take turns.

The completed village is a lot of fun. :)

And Christmas Day!! I did not take nearly enough pictures this day. But I did take a bunch of videos... which I'm not going to upload here because they are HUGE. :)

Notice how the ornaments have migrated to the top half of the tree...

My new color laser printer!

K on her way to test-ride her new bike (after she helped assemble it) in the snow (and ice) along with her new helmet, new gloves, her AG doll (from two years ago), and her pajamas. She wanted to wear her new winter hat, but it wouldn't fit under or over the helmet.

December Festivities

As a practice run for my blog this coming year, I figured I'd share a few of the things we did so far this month.

My kids are paying attention to some history stories at least. :) Here they created their own "Sword in the Stone" out of Duplos and a foam sword.
2 December 2015

Decorating the Christmas Tree. Notice how all the ornaments are on the bottom half of the tree.
5 December 2015

We had a fun Christmas piano recital. Our oldest 5 kids all take piano lessons from Grandma, and this recital was all duets. J2 played with Dave, J1 played with K, C and D each played a song with me, and K played a song with Dave. K & D each also played a song with a fellow student. At the end of the recital D & C received awards for moving to the next level in Grandma's curriculum.
8 December 2015

On our way home from the piano recital we noticed our big van was about to pass a fun milestone. So we took a couple detours to make sure we caught it on camera. We happened to find a fun park with some "drive through" Christmas lights. Then we pulled over to the side of the road to safely take this picture.
8 December 2015

We enjoy taking the kids to see the lights at Temple Square, but we know from experience (and the fact that Dave works ON Temple Square) that Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings are less crowded, and the earlier in the evening and earlier in December, the better.
9 December 2015

We chose to go on a Wednesday evening, early in December. We started in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building (or Daddy's office) and ate dinner in the Nauvoo Cafe because I was way too late with everything that day to pack sandwiches for us.
9 December 2015

Danielle REALLY wanted to take pictures, so I handed over my phone. This resulted in LOTS of blurry pictures. :)
9 December 2015

But she got some good ones too.
9 December 2015

We went to the North Visitor's Center to listen to the nativity story and watch the scene being lit up.
9 December 2015

It was a wonderfully warm night for December. We almost took our coats off. Much different from when we went 6 years ago with 3 month old twins. :)
9 December 2015

The funniest part of this trip turned out to be the next weekend when we learned that my sister, Lindsay, and her family visited Temple Square the same night we did, and we had no idea.
9 December 2015

Morning scripture time. B loves to hold his own scriptures. This particular morning he said, "Oh no, it's upside-down." And then turned the book to the position shown in the picture. Silly boy.
10 December 2015

I learned how to make meatballs this month.
13 December 2015

I ended up making a ton of them for a freezer meal swap I did with some friends.
13 December 2015

And then the snow started.
14 December 2015

And kept coming.
14 December 2015

I needed to call in backup for this one.
14 December 2015

This was the morning of the second day of the storm. We actually had this much the night before, and got another 2 1/2 inches that night, but it compacted a bit on the deck where we were measuring.
15 December 2015

I had to go buy a second snow shovel and Dave and I did half the driveway. Thankfully at that point our neighbor came over with his snowblower for a few minutes before he had to leave and got a good start on the second half of the driveway. Then another neighbor came over and helped us finish shoveling the rest. Our poor mailbox ended up nearly buried in the snow banks. Our Christmas lights got buried too and glowed softly through the snow. Unfortunately a few days later they shorted out and we haven't been able to get them to turn on since. Sad.
14 December 2015

The kids had fun with the snow, At least until they realized how cold and wet it was. We ended up getting 30 inches in a span of 9 days. Yuck.
15 December 2015

We did a lot of other fun things in December that we didn't happen to get any pictures of. The best was probably when Dave and I went with K to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens with Dave's parents on opening day. K LOVED it. (Dave and I enjoyed it too, but K was SUPER EXCITED.)