Thursday, May 31, 2012

31 Days of Things- Ali Edwards Big Picture Class

Here is another Photography Challenge that I am doing but this time it's more writing than photography. This is something that I need to work on so bare with me please. These are my personal stories and you may or may not be able to relate to them. Every day Ali posts a word and then gives prompts or questions to help to write your story. Then you add your pictures at the end. I am a little nervous about this one but here goes.


The only jewelry I really wear is my wedding ring and sometimes earrings. My wedding ring has gone through a transformation. Originally it was a man's band of gold which was too thick and heavy with a 1 carat Zirconia instead of a real diamond. We had planned to replace it eventually with a real diamond but I have since become attached to it and don't want a real one. The ring got too heavy for my finger and so for Christmas one year I took my ring to a jeweler and had the original band replaced with a smaller, lighter women's band. Then I had them take the original and make it into a man's ring for David who had lost his wedding band a couple of years earlier. I had them put some swirls in it and a tiny diamond for decoration. I felt that it had special meaning because I had worn that gold on my hand for years. He has never lost this one and never takes it off.

One of the reasons I became attached to my Zirconia was because once I took it to a jeweler to be cleaned and he praised the ring. I asked him if he could tell it was fake and he said "let me see that again". I handed him the ring and he looked closely at it again and said "wow they really did a good job on this. It even has a flaw so I couldn't tell it was fake". So now I know that even jewelers can look closely at my ring and not tell it's a Zirconia. Why would I pay more money for a real one when nobody can tell the difference? I would just be more worried of losing it or getting it stolen. And it has sentimental value regardless of the cost.

As far as earrings go, I used to wear them a lot. I liked the dangly light ones and they did look good on me. For a number of years I stopped wearing them. After body mutilation became a big thing (we were living in PA at the time) I decided to take my earrings out and teach my kids not to pierce their ears. I had done so only when I turned 18 because my parents wouldn't let me. My Grandpa whom I loved dearly always was against it and said "if the Lord would have wanted holes in our ears he would have put them there himself". Anyway I wanted them at 18 and they did enhance my looks. Shortly after I stopped wearing earrings the church came out with a statement on more than one piercing and said it was wrong. On one set of piercings they said "we make no comment". Even women in general authority positions had pierced ears. I felt vindicated by the statement on my choice, though some thought it was a bit extreme. Even I do now, but after about 15 years of not wearing them I have felt a little rebellious (Oh, I am so bad!) and started wearing them again. I let Abby (18) and Emerald (14) get their ears pierced, but Anna (19) has chosen not to. She says she has gone this long without them and likes being a little different than the other girls who all have them.

Anna brought back some beautiful sets of earrings and necklaces from India but they are heavy and the studs are bigger making them hard to put on. Indian women wear Sari's and jewelry because the dress and jewelry are beautiful, not to enhance their bodies which is what we westerners tend to do. The jewelry and fabric is very ornate and beautiful. 

 As far as family heirlooms go, my parents are still alive. My dad bought some gems, mostly amethysts, emeralds, and rubies, home from his mission in Brazil 55 years ago. Some of them are still around. I don't know if I will ever get any of them but I sure as heck took a picture!


My morning routine has changed over the years, but right now I think I have honed it to how I like it. Of course getting high school kids, middle school kids, and elementary school kids off to school is not my version of a preferred morning but that's how goes. Abby and Rex get themselves off to school while I am still sleeping at 7:20 am. Sometimes they go earlier for Rex's football weights class or Dad or I will get up and take him. Then while Emerald is getting ready to catch the bus for Timberline (I used to have to car pool with two other people but not now that we have moved), I get up and get started on my workout.

I am taking a class by Cathy Zielske called "Move More Eat Well" which is a year long inspirational class. She sends out a video at least once a month to keep you going and you keep track of your progress etc. So far all I have done is the Move More part but it's helping. I usually just drink shakes for breakfast because it is easy. But I am trying to make conscious healthy eating decisions daily rather than do any kind of diet. I want this to be a life changing experience that lasts. I think I am getting better at choosing better foods.

I believe I have found the key to enjoying working out. Since January I have been trading lifting weights and running on the treadmill on M,W,F and I do a yoga video on Tu, Th. I used to hate running because I would kill myself and have to stop all the time. Then I realized if I took it down to where I could actually do it, I might like it. I tried this and it works! I run 2 miles in 30 minutes at my own pace. I do put the incline up to 6 though which makes it harder but it seems that the speed is what kills me, not the incline.

I just discovered Yoga and I love it. I have a video that is challenging but also relaxing at the same time. It's Sean Corn and I like her video. She has good reminders on eating healthy and stuff on it. I will probably try others in the future, but for now she is good enough. My balance and stretching abilities have improved a lot with yoga. Joseph likes to do it with me sometimes. He is really cute.

As far as weight lifting goes, I also have honed my routine. I do three sets of 12 of everything switching between legs and arms so I don't have to stop and then I do an abs workout that is a set of 25 of sit ups, leg scissors, bicycles, leg lifts and crunches. So it's more of a toning workout than muscle building.

I have been working out on and off since high school when I played basketball, volleyball and ran track. I think that's where I learned to dislike running, but I feel now that I have worked out something that I can easily do and enjoy. And I don't have to go anywhere. I have my own exercise room!

After working out it is time to get the elementary kids on the bus. Megan gets Joseph's clothes ready and gives him a bath after they have eaten breakfast which usually consists of toast and cereal and grapefruit, or eggs, and then she gets him ready and John cleans up a bit. If I am early enough, we all work together until the whole house is clean. That usually doesn't happen though. Then they get on the bus (it comes to pick up Joseph no matter where we live because of his handicap) and I drink a shake for breakfast and then get into the shower. I get dressed, put my makeup on which takes me about 2 minutes, do my hair which takes about 5 minutes and then I am ready for the day.

I check email first and then I work on whatever is on my list to do. It's usually computer stuff. My blog, processing pictures in Lightroom, my scrapbooks, Pinterest for a few minutes or Project Life which is one picture a day all year around (this is my fourth year). I also like to do photography challenges like "The ABC's of the Bryce's" or 30 Days of Spring etc. I have so much more I want to do than I can ever accomplish which makes me happy. I like to be productive.


Reading- that is a subject I can write on forever, but I won't. I usually retire to bed early every evening and read while David is still working in his office. Sometimes he comes and joins me and works on his computer or reads twitter. Sometimes we even read together. We have a list of books we want to read but forget a lot. Mostly we like self help books. We are reading "No More Mr Nice Guy" right now, and then we have some marriage and communication books we want to read that have been recommended. I believe it is helping build and strengthen our relationship. I particularly like a book called "Feeling Good, The New Mood Therapy" by David Burns. It's one you have to study not just read.

I love all different genres and I keep a reading log diary. I estimate that I have read around 500 books on my own that I can remember and at least 213 chapter books to my kids out loud. I have kept a record of the read aloud books in my scrapbooks. Every year I would have them take a picture with their favorite book and I would put the pictures in an album with our list for the year. I did this for 10 years (200-2010). Now Johnny and Megan are supposed to be reading their own books so I have stopped.

When the older kids were young, my cousin Christina gave me a book by Jim Trelease called "The Read Aloud Handbook". I read this book and it changed my life. I turned off the TV (we didn't have cable or TV-just videos for the next 18 years or so) and I read picture books every night to my kids. Then we moved into chapter books.

I have been collecting books since then. I have a library of over 4,000 books right now in my home. I have given Joseph (my Down Syndrome son) a small bookshelf of his own with picture books and packed the rest away to give to my kids later when they have children. Joseph tends to destroy a lot of the picture books. Now that we have moved he has his own little play house under the stairs. But I have all the others on books shelves that I pride myself on. I really love them!

I love the quote by Cicero "A room without books is like a body without a soul". Come to think of it, I have books in every room except the exercise room. I even keep magazine baskets in the bathrooms. I always kept track of the books I bought on a list in my purse. When I bought new books I would write them down and update it later. That way I didn't buy the same book twice. I have made that mistake a few times. I collected many from EBay and Amazon. I buy used and new and I also have a kindle. Classics or books that I think others will want to read I always buy a hard copy of. Just for me books are on my kindle although I lend those out sometimes too. For a while it was a fun but costly hobby. Now I just buy a few books once a month or so.

I belong to two book groups right now. One I helped start in the 10th ward and one in my new ward the 36th. Neither one is affiliated with the church, that's just how we know each other. I have started or helped to start 4 different groups and also been involved in a Mother/Daughter book club that was a lot of fun. Some rules I like about adult book groups: 1- The book must be recommended by someone who has read it. That way it's not a hit and miss. 2- Always have food or dessert. 3- Have someone assigned to review the book and/or author.

The Mother/Daughter book club lasted for a couple of years until we moved and Anna and Abby got older. I have a scrapbook of all the books and activities that we did with pictures. That was a more creative book group. The host would pick the book and then do food and activities related to the book. For example, we read "Shakespeare for Children" and then acted out "The Tempest" with props. We did Mary Cicely Barkers "Book of Flower Fairies" and then made little fairy gardens in baskets. We did "Nurse Matilda", had an expert come and teach manners to the girls and then that night they set up beautiful tables, dressed up in formals, got picked up by a limo, (the mom's made a 6 course meal) and ate dinner with their dads. After dinner there were some dancing lessons and dancing. It was awesome! We read "Little Britches" went to ride horses at a horse farm, and had a Dutch oven dinner afterwards with dads and did some line dancing. And we did so much more. For more ideas see

I have had many favorite books of all time. Right now my favorite author is Brandon Sanderson and his book "Way of the Kings". The problem is it's the beginning of a series and he has had to step in and finish Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time Series" before he can even get to the second book. I have read those too and am eagerly awaiting the last one to come out in Jan 2013. I have so many favorites it's hard to choose just one. I loved "The Harvester" by Jane Stratton Porter, "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte, "The Mark of the Horse Lord" by Rosemary Sutcliff, "The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood" By Howard Pyle. "The Deerslayer" by James Fenimore Cooper, "The Blue Castle" by LM Montgomery and so many others.


The Spirit- This is a word I am experienced with. This word means to me that I can actually receive my own revelation from God through the spirit or his spirit. I can pray and receive answers. I believe that when you live a righteous life, the spirit can speak to you. It's a still, small voice and I haven't experienced it a lot in my life that I recognize but I have a few times that were unmistakable. One such experience was when I was driving on a curvy, narrow road lined with trees in Pennsylvania. It was dark and a thought came into my mind that I knew I had not put there that said "Slow down, there are deer". I immediately touched the brake and within seconds a doe ran in front of me that I barely missed.

I have prayed and read my scriptures most days of my life since I was about 15. My prayers consist of "thanks you's" first and then "please blesses" next. We have family prayers together at night and then my husband and I have taught our children to have their own personal prayers. I have gone to church my entire life since birth and never rebelled. My parents weren't Nazi's about though or I must admit, I probably would have.

I served a one and a half year mission for my church in Ecuador when I was 21. My parents paid my way and since then I have helped them pay for other missionaries in my family to serve and have paid them back for my mission and then some. It's pretty cool actually, I have sisters that speak Russian, German, Spanish, Chinese (Mandarin), and Afrikaans and I have two brothers who speak Spanish and one who speaks Samoan. We just got our oldest son, Rick home from serving a two year mission in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. We paid $400 a month while he was out. He went out a boy and came back a man. It's an amazing experience for a 20 year old.

Learning Spanish and Scripture for 8 weeks in the MTC before heading to Ecuador

The last part of my mission I served in Otavalo, Ecuador. This is The Bishop and his wife on the right and the Relief Society President on the left of the Imbabura branch. They were building their own chapel. They were all working on it and they asked me to take pictures of it. 

I read the entire Bible on my mission. When I told my grandma that I had read it she said "Oh don't read that book. It's a dirty old book! She believes in it too, just not reading certain parts. I laughed because I knew exactly what she was talking about.

Service has been a big part of my spiritual life. Serving in callings in my church, service projects and just serving when I see something is needed. I believe service keeps selfishness at bay and selfishness destroys more families and causes most of the problems in the world today.

I also believe God loves everyone and there are many righteous people in every religion. None of us are perfect, but striving to live a righteous life brings us closer to God and perfection. I have great respect for and interest in other religions.

Have I ever had a spiritual crisis? Yes, I have been going through one for about the last three years wondering if God really does love me. My life has been hard in certain ways but when I look around at this beautiful earth that has everything in such perfect order and we can subsist on it, I know that it didn't just "happen". There must be a God and since he exists, he must love us. Even the trials we go through make us stronger if we let them. I am not there yet but I'll get there someday I hope.


Conversation- With eight children I converse with them a lot on any given day. Usually it's about school, chores, plans, what happened at school etc. Some of my kids talk to me more than others. Rex is pretty closed mouthed about stuff so I have to pull it out of him. Emerald on the other hand always wants to tell me what's been going on in her life. With Joseph and his Down Syndrome, I just listen to his gobbledygook for a while and then say yes. His words are becoming clearer all the time and I know that one day it will just click and I will understand everything that he is saying. He certainly knows what he is saying and he copies words very well.

There is a lot of complaining that goes on in our house which I am really getting tired of. Usually it's when I ask the kids to work. My philosophy, if I remember to use it, is to make them do more work when they complain. It hasn't stopped it altogether though probably because I am not very consistent.

One thing that really bothers me about some conversations is that I deal with people who have the idea that life is how they want it to be, not how it really is. This has caused some contention in our communication as I am a stickler for the truth. I am not that good at picking up on it right away and so there are arguments but eventually I figure it out. People including my own children who refuse to see truth can't change bad habits or destructive behaviors.

With David, we usually talk at night when the kids are all in bed. We go out every Friday night for dinner and talk then as well. Sometimes we run errands together on the weekends. Or even when he is home working instead of teaching for a day. We like to talk to each other. He is my best friend!

In fact I don't really consider myself to have many really good women friends, mostly just acquaintances.  I have my 8 sisters and we are all very close though. I can talk to them and my mom whenever and about anything. In fact that is what we do when we are together. We sit around and talk. My brothers are surprisingly easy to talk to also. It makes for some great conversations.

I usually don't talk to anyone as a friend but when I do, the flood gates open. David says I am an open book which is a good thing and a bad thing. I certainly have nothing to hide about myself, but I have to protect my loved ones who are going through trials. I understand this but it is hard. I believe in open communication with my kids. We talk about hard things. We even talk about trials that David and I are going through. As a result some of our kids have come to us with trials they are going through. I wouldn't trade that for anything. Honesty and opening ourselves up is the key but sometimes it's hard. And then of course there are things better left unsaid. I am finding that parenting teenagers involves a lots of love, exhorting and explaining life more than anything else. It works.

Just another family visit


All about me- I am now 48 and I have never minded aging until now. I didn't mind before because I have always tried to do what I thought and was taught was right. It made me happy and satisfied with myself. I always tried to be productive. However my life hasn't been what I expected it to be. I didn't have control over my life like I wanted. If I had, it would be perfect because I am somewhat of high achiever. But as I look back on my life now, I realize how much control other people had over me and how I let them. Some of it is inevitable of course, but some of it is not. When I thought I was turning the other cheek, I was actually letting people walk all over me. I've changed now. I don't let people get away with that. I will confront people who mistreat me, but in a nice sort of way. I've never been in a fist fight yet!

I am not a prisoner to my looks. I wear skirts and sandals in the summer and sweats and slippers in the winter. It's all about comfort. I fix myself up once a day with a quick shower after exercise, spend about 15 minutes on my hair and makeup and I forget about it for the rest of the day.

I am addicted to chocolate. If I am going to eat sweets, it might as well be the best. Chocolate covered nuts are my favorite. Symphony bars with chocolate and toffee and Peanut M&Ms work. I need a small handful every day. Hot Chocolate is a favorite in the winter and I love fresh popped popcorn in coconut oil, drizzled with a little melted butter and honey, and lightly salted.

I love hot baths on the weekend, sitting out on my deck looking at the view, bird watching, taking pictures, reading, scrapbooking and journaling of all kinds. I love creating beautiful things. I love saving my memories. I love to travel anywhere, listen to easy and uplifting music, sit in the sun in the summer, take naps, sit by my fireplace in the winter, stay in hotels with no kids. I love to sit around and talk with my kids or my brothers,  sisters, mom and dad. I love to visit with my brother and sisters in law also. They are amazing! We finally put a sisters blog up since we always talk about ideas and what we are learning and discovering when we get together. It is awesome.

I finally found my dream home and it doesn't have an orchard or a garden.I used to love gardening but I guess I am growing out of that stage now. It does have beautiful flower beds though. It has an open family room and kitchen area with wood floors, an exercise room, a large and secluded master bedroom. Two decks the length of the house that look out onto the most beautiful view in Highland of the mountains. It has a forest in the backyard with a creek running through it. It even has a diner in the basement with an old fashioned ice cream and soda fountain. How much fun is that! And it came mostly decorated which is good because I don't like that part much. I am never leaving this home! I feel that God blessed me with it for a lot of the nonsense I've had to put up with in my life. I could be happy here if I never left. It just felt like home the first time I saw it.

1- Age- 48

2-Favorite part of my day- going to bed early and reading a good book. I usually get interrupted by someone needing a backrub and a good night hug or a kiss.

3-Loving- my family, home, hobbies, comfortable living, learning to relax for my health.

4-Longing for- more travel. I can't get enough. This year I have Boston, Prague and Disneyland to look forward to but am hoping for more opportunities to come up.

5-Inspired by- Pinterest, Big picture classes like this one, beautiful photography, a clean home, a good book and a gorgeous view of the Rocky Mountains.

6-Dreaming of- Paying the house off so we can travel more, getting my kids married off to other good kids and getting on with their lives and Grandchildren.

7-Needing- to eat more vegetables and generally be more healthy, to forgive, forget and get on with my life in a new neighborhood, to get my kids through their troubles and help them gain confidence and to de-stress my life so I don't need to take medication for my Laryngeal spasms. I have acid re flux and a rare condition where my larynx closes off when it thinks there is too much acid. Sometimes I can't breathe for 3 or 4 minutes. Then my body recognizes that it's not getting enough air and it relaxes. I do know what it feels like to almost suffocate to death over and over again. It's not fun.

8-Navigating- Life's hardships, getting 3 kids into college, a new relationship with David and Joseph's messes that never end and are always different and creative.

9-Struggling with- feelings of worthlessness now and again, defining my relationship with God, health problems that I never thought I would have because I was always so strong, my faith and my motivation.

10-Knowing- that everything will work itself out in the end, that God really does love me even though it doesn't seem like it sometimes, and knowing I can do anything I want if I have the desire. I also know that life will get better and I will get stronger as time goes on. The hardest part is over-I hope.


Work- I grew up on a farm and was the oldest of 16 children. I learned how to work. I am not afraid of work, but I am not a workaholic either. I was driving a tractor at the age of 5 for the big boys hauling hay. I was put in an open field and told by my dad to not let any of the herd of cows in. They were twice as big as me and yes some of them got in. I pulled forty acres of mustard weeds from sugar beets. I helped clean out dozens of chicken coops. And that's just the beginning.

As I got older I became a second mother to my younger siblings. Especially when my mom had two sets of twins two years apart. I cleaned house, I helped cook sometimes. I helped take care of the children. For a while we owned a dairy farm and I would get up at 4 am with one of my sisters to wash bottles.

In high school I played volleyball, basketball and ran track. In the summers I was a lifeguard for 5 years and swam a lot. I worked out a lot at that time and received various awards for my achievements. As a sophomore, I made the all region basketball team. I was the only one picked from my school and the only sophomore on the team. The others were all seniors. I loved volleyball and received a full ride scholarship to UCCU as it was then called in Provo, but my mom didn't want me to take it for some reason, so I stayed home and went to Dixie college for the first two years with a half tuition academic scholarship. In track I took second place both my junior and senior years in the Javelin. I also did the high jump and took 6th place I think.

My first job was as a hotel maid near Bryce Canyon for the summer. I think I was only 14. After life guarding through high school, I worked at a convenience store in Provo for a while and then after my mission I became a Travel Agent and did that until after I got married. I worked for Morris Travel which I don't even know if it still exists. Everything is going to the internet these days. I quit Morris Travel and worked part time at BYU in the Stats Department while I was finishing school and was expecting Rick. I quit working, graduated with my Bachelors degree in Geography, and delivered Rick all in the same week.

The only job I have held since then was working for Creating Keepsakes and Lisa Bearnson when she would go on QVC and sell scrapbooking stuff. I was on a team that would create scrapbook pages and demo pages with the product and then she would show or demo on QVC. At first I lived near QVC in PA when I started working for her. One time I got to go teach all the QVC people who sold the products how to do scrapbook pages because it was going to be the kit of the day and they all needed their own pages to show how easy it was to do. Almost all of them grumbled about doing it, but by the time I was finished they were all very happy with themselves- even the men. About the time we were moving back to Utah, they asked me to be a stand in for Lisa because scrapbooking was becoming so big, but I couldn't do it since we were moving. They never did find anyone to do it. It would have been fun but stressful I think.

Now I have my hands full with my kids, homework, carpooling, cooking, cleaning etc. I make my own whole wheat bread and have for years because it's healthier and I can't stand to pay for it at the store the way my family goes through it. I've tried to cook meals for the family every night but Friday. Since my kids have gotten older though, I have set up a system where we take turns cooking. They learn to cook and I get a break. It's awesome. I love being a full time mom. I have a lot a freedom actually and time now that all my kids are in school for extra curricular things like hobbies and travel.

Angelyn's Easy Whole Wheat Bread Recipe

13-15 cups freshly ground Hard White Wheat (It's much lighter than Red Wheats)
6 cups warm water
2/3 cup Oil (Coconut oil works well and is healthier than others)
2/3 cup sugar (or substitute 1/3 cup raw honey for healthier option)
3 TBSP Dough Enhancer (you can find this at health food stores and most others now)
3 TBSP Instant SAF Yeast
2 TBSP Salt (Sea salt for health)

Start with the water and add all other ingredients to a mixer (I have a Bosch that I love). It needs to be able to handle 6 small loaves or 4 large. Mix for 10 minutes until the texture is almost sticky but not and then put in sprayed pans. Let raise until height is about 1 inch above the pan. Bake on 350 for 30 minutes. I also added 1 cup of millet for a nutty crunchy texture.


Transportation- Now this is a funny subject right now because I just got into two fender benders in one week and both were my fault. That never happens to me! Just because I have been complaining about having to drive the beast (a 15 passenger 2001 Ford Econo 350- and I would know since the claim adjuster just asked me) doesn't mean I did it on purpose. Or does it? Am I being careless on purpose but subconsciously just so I can get a new car to drive instead of my college kids? It would seem that way but it really wasn't on purpose. I did however come home after the second one and tell my husband I was never driving that thing again. He said "OK, you can drive the Tribute" but of course I haven't yet because either he or Rick has it. 

Don't get me wrong, I love that van. It has taken us across the country and back at least 8 different times and other numerous places without a single problem. It has been a very reliable vehicle and while I bang up other cars it seems to often get off Scott free. However, I am too old to drive a boat and have weeds in my backyard. I told my husband that last year and I at least got my backyard in finally, but then we up and moved again. At least we moved to a house with a finished backyard.

I grew up driving bad cars, but at least I had one. My parents always bought these puke green square Datsun's that ran great, but the previous lady who owned them kept beating them up driving in and out of her garage. They were dented everywhere and one even had the passenger door wired on. My parents bought them for $200 and I got to drive them. 

I remember how mortified I was one Friday afternoon when I pulled into the local Hurricane Convenience store and some boys I knew from Dixie College walked out as I was getting out. I just happened to really like one of them. That's all I remember about it. I was mortified. I think we did end up going up to Zion Canyon with some of them to hike. I can't really remember that part though, just the mortified part.

After my mission I was tired of driving hand-me-downs and I bought a little blue Nova. I loved that car and it lasted us through our marriage and two children. Then we bought our first van that had seven seats. It was a Caravan. It was a great little van but it got stolen in San Diego and we had to buy another van to get us home to Utah and then back to Philadelphia where we were living at the time. I gone through 4 different vans altogether. I have driven my big 15 passenger van for about15 years now.

My husband just bought me a loaded, year old Ford Edge right after I wrote this. Yippee! What ever I did or didn't do, it worked!


Purchase- Let me just start by saying that I do not like shopping. With a large household to run I could go to the store multiple times a day if I let myself. I do keep lists to cut down on the trips but I always forget something. I don't even like to go clothes shopping unless I happen to find something I really love. That's rare since I feel that I need to lose 15 lbs to really feel great about the way I look. Maybe part of the problem is that I don't really care that much. After all, I don't have to look at myself. My husband has made a comment here or there though that sometimes I might look a little "dressed down". That is really a code word for frumpy, but I like frumpy. Frumpy is comfy and that is what I care about the most. 

I am happy to say that the only thing I bought as of yesterday was another Big Picture class. As far as money goes, My husband more than doubles his Professorship salary with consulting. I feel that we certainly have plenty for our needs which is not how I grew up. Of course there is still never enough money if you include all the trips I want to take, not to mention we now have 3 kids in college.

I grew up in poor circumstances but I never knew it. My parents always said we had every thing we needed and we were rich in other blessings. One time when I was 13, my mom won $500 in a cake decorating contest and we had a little extra money for selling some pecans and so my parents borrowed my uncles truck and my Grandpa's camper and we drove all the way to Florida for Christmas. We had relatives we stayed with near Orlando. We went to Disney World and drove to Key West and then went home another route so we got to see different states. I was up front with my dad when we gassed up for the last time in Flagstaff, AZ. I knew Dad was watching the money so I asked him how much we had left. He said "there it is, count it". I counted it and there was $1.36 left. I will never forget it. When we got home my friends all said "wow you must be rich". I guess I was!

What I get excited about buying is stuff for my hobbies. Scrapbook stuff, Project Life stuff, photography stuff, Books etc. Grocery shopping is the worst though. It takes so much time, money and work. I have to haul it all in. I shouldn't complain, at least I don't have to work a job. Motherhood is all I want to handle.

One thing that helps a lot is that I have 1 years supply of food storage. It is all stuff that I use, so every year I have to replenish it. It's a pain, but that means I don't have to worry about paper products, cleaners, canned and boxed goods- all the stuff that lasts for a year or more. It cuts way down on my monthly shopping bill and I always know I have it on hand. It's such a nice feeling.

I do spend a lot of money, but I try to be frugal. I never let my kids waste anything without letting them hear about it. We always eat all the leftovers, even if it's just David and I who will eat it.

I saw this at the Pleasant Grove Strawberry Days and I happened to have my camera!


What does my day look like after dinner? Well, I tell the kids to do their kitchen jobs. One job is straightening up the family room area. They each have their job for one week and then they rotate. It works pretty well if I stay on top of them. If I don't it usually doesn't get done. We have been doing this routine for years but we have to change it up every now and then with kids going off to work or college and moving into new houses. It does make it nice for me after all the kids have gone to school the next day.

After chores, I finish odd jobs or just go to bed and read. If the kids have homework, David usually helps them at this time. At 9pm we call the kids in for prayers and scriptures and then send them to bed. I have always told them that if they are not sleepy they can always read. This is actually my ideal routine. It doesn't always happen this way. Summers and weekends are different of course, but I do like to have a schedule.

Day 11- Nourish

This word has a lot of different meanings for me. We have traditions around food. The main ones that come to mind are Thanksgiving of course with family, turkey and all the trimmings. Before Christmas I host a Stout Family Christmas party with potluck for the food and white elephants for the game. It's very popular and growing every year. Christmas Eve is a ham with finger foods. Christmas dinner is a turkey and leftovers from the night before. We have been going to extended family for these meals, but we are almost at the stage where we will be staying home with our own little family for these occasions. I am getting excited about that. Thanksgiving is total chaos at my house. New Years is a finger foods and foods-we-don't-eat-all-year dinner at our house. We usually have extended family come to it and we play games and bring in the new year with pots and pans. Murder mystery is one of  our favorite games now. At General Conference on Saturday we have a tradition of taking the kids to a buffet after the first session. This started in PA when we would drive so far to get to church.

We have breakfast pancakes with chocolate chips for all birthday mornings. David fixes this one since it's a tradition from his home and he likes to keep it up. The kids love it and then they get whatever birthday cake or donuts they want for birthday dinner.

Another aspect for nourish for me means that I try to feed my family as healthy as I can. I certainly could do better, but what I have done so far is change out our white rice for brown rice, I make my own homemade whole wheat bread to eat almost exclusively, I don't buy sugar cereal anymore except as a treat. I don't make as many sweets as I used to. In fact I hardly ever do. If I do it is usually a Marie Calendar's Razzleberry Pie that I pull out of the freezer. My kids make plenty of sweets though and now that Anna and Abby have moved out, Emerald and Megan are taking their place. They like to make chocolate chip cookies the most but they are getting more creative now that they are learning how to cook more.

I have given each girl a night to cook dinner so that I can have a rest from it and so that they can learn. It has been great for everyone all around. They are learning to be good little cooks. 

We love ethnic foods. David and I eat mostly ethnic foods when we travel and eat out a lot. My kids would probably say that Pulcogi from Korea is their favorite meal of all. They even eat and like the Kim chee that goes along with it. It's one of my favorites too. We also love Indian food. Chicken Tikka Masala is my favorite. Joseph definitely likes spaghetti or lasagna the best. He will eat tons of it. 

Broccoli is our favorite vegetable. We always eat it with farm raised salmon. All my kids will eat it, but one thing I can do better is fix more vegetables for the family. We love tomatoes during it's season. We do eat a lot of fruit. Peaches during season, grapes, apples, oranges and grapefruit in season and watermelon are our favorites.

I have always grown a big garden until this year when we moved into this house without one. I did plant a couple of tomato plants but the deer kept them trimmed of flowers pretty well. Now I have to figure out how to protect the peach trees I planted over the winter. I use to plant a lot of basil and then pick and freeze it in plastic bags. I also froze all my green peppers and then used them during the year. I can my tomatoes and peaches and my freezer spaghetti sauce. Once in a while I will do jam but now that my kids are getting older and leaving the house, it doesn't seem so important anymore.

My absolute favorite food of any category would be honey popcorn. I cook the popcorn in coconut oil and then mix it with equal parts melted butter and honey and then I add a little salt to it. Its delicious!

My all time favorite place to shop is Costco!

Day 12- WATCH

What we watch is movies. We never had television until this past year so our kids when they were little just watched kid movies. Some of their favorites videos- and we had video tapes until recently were Rex loved the "Herbie Movies", Joseph loved "Winnie The Pooh", and everybody's favorites were, any Disney movie, The "Flintstones", "Bugs Bunny", "Pokemon", "Charlie Brown", "The Dinosaur" movies, "Veggie tales", and "Scooby Doo". Our kids watched and loved "The Beverly Hillbillies", Gilligan's Island", and Hogan's Hero's" as well. They still watch them sometimes.

One period we went through was watching Musicals every weekend as a family such as, Music Man, Calamity Jane, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Singing in the Rain, My Fair Lady, Meet me in St. Louis, Oklahoma, Annie Get Your Gun, etc. Another time we watched a lot of old war movies such as Tora Tora, The Bridge over the River Kwai, Wake Island, Battle of the Bulge, D-Day etc. 

Not having television while the kids were mostly young was one of the best decisions we ever made. We read every night instead of sitting in front of the television like most families. Now that we have television we still don't just turn it on and find something to watch. We usually have something in mind. Rex likes to watch "The Office". We all enjoy "Psych" but we watch them on Netflix so we don't have commercials to deal with. Abby and I watched "Alias" and Rex got us into the "Chuck" series and I am sure there are more to come. The kids watch the Disney channel once in a while but other than that we are pretty much television free.

As for movies, David and I like to go out and watch them at the movie theater for our date night on Friday nights or we will just watch one in bed. I love the popcorn and the large screen. If we know of a good movie coming out we will get our tickets online a few weeks early so that we get good seats My recent favorites have been "Pride and Prejudice", "Twilight series", Lord of the Rings" and a whole lot of others but mostly they are books I have read. David likes the "Bourne" series, "Mission Impossible","X-Men", "Star-Trek" "Avengers" etc. Mostly action flicks.

We always watch all four General Conference sessions in the fall and spring. After the first session on Saturday we head out to Chuck-A-Rama to eat for a family tradition. Now that we live here in Utah, Monica and her family join us and sometimes other family members. It's a fun tradition.

The DVD I watch most is my Yoga DVD. I love it and try to do it twice a week. It's a 30 minute workout by Sean Corn. And as you can see, once in a while I can get my kids to do it too.

Day 13- CHORES

Having eight children made me realize at some point that I couldn't do it all myself, so I started teaching my children to do things. I was surprised at how early they could learn to do stuff like change diapers, unload the dishwasher, etc. It was out of necessity more than anything because I do like order and cleanliness in my home. I had realized that I was spending all my time cleaning with no time for anything else. I had 4 small children at the time and I did employ a cleaning lady to come twice a month to give me a boost. There was still plenty for the children to do. Rex loved vacuuming. He was about three and would vacuum in the same place but hey what can you expect from a three year old. He did get better at it.

Abby making homemade Jerky

I remember one time we had a family over for Sunday dinner and John was the baby. He needed a diaper change and so David asked Abby to do it who was about 10 or 11 and she just got up and took him out and did it. The visitor's we had were astonished. They had small children as well and didn't know that they could ask their own kids to do something like that. But they started after that and mentioned it to us more than once.

As they got older I made up chore charts that the kids had to do every day and that freed me up to do the tougher stuff. As my children grew up and got jobs I let them off of the house chores and made the younger kids pick up where they left off. They just were never around with school and work. I also never paid any of my children an allowance for chores. What I did do though was pay the boys for the yard work and the girls for cooking meals. That way they learned how to do it and had some spending money for their hard work. I found that it was good incentive for them. The boys could have cooked if they wanted to and I did teach them enough to make their way around in the kitchen. It worked out very nicely.

My children are getting older now and there are fewer of them to clean and cook but there are also fewer to make messes and to cook for. We do have Joseph though. He makes messes when change happens and he is thrown off a bit or if he just is in the mood. I heard though about a down syndrome boy who's mother taught him to clean up the kitchen after each meal and he does. Sometimes he doesn't even let you finish your meal before he has whisked it away and is doing the dishes. I'll have to do that with Joseph. 

I have a cleaning lady now that comes twice a month again but for years I didn't because I felt like my children needed to do it. It was a struggle and the house did not always get cleaned well but I do think my kids will be good housekeepers. And now my kids never work harder than when they are getting ready for the cleaning lady to come! It's awesome- my house is just cleaner all the time and I have more free time.

As for myself, I like lists. I always have a list of things I am working on. They are not necessarily chores but projects that I want to get done. When I have worked long enough for one day I reward myself with reading.

I spent about 40 hours on this photo book project. I took my son's two year mission blog and turned it into a book. I will tell you that I have done many different kinds but am now doing only Costco because they are they only ones I know of who have sewn bindings. Too many of my other photo books have had pages pop out because they are glued only. This is a 72 page book!


We moved to our new home about a year and a half ago and the main reason we bought it was- the view. We have two decks along the back of the house that go the full length because the view is so spectacular. And all of our big windows look out the back of the home. We overlook an area called Dry Creek. It is a dry creek with lots of scrub oak. Our house is built on a hill so we can look down on the ravine and up to the beautiful Rocky Mountains. We can see other houses but not that directly block our view. It's the best view in the entire neighborhood!

We own 2 1/2 acres of yard and scrub oak. There is a trail and a stream that run through our backyard. When we first moved here it was almost summer and the kids played down in there all summer. Eventually David wants to clean out some of the underbrush and make trails and hidden rooms. We will see if it happens.

I love my house too but in nice weather we can always be found out on the deck with the view. In fact I commented to David that it was interesting that we never made it out into the yard because the deck with the view was so appealing. Our yard is gorgeous with lots of rock work, trees, and flower beds. It even has a hammock. We bought three sets of the same backyard furniture and we didn't put any of it on the lower deck even though we were planning to.

The evenings especially are wonderful out on the deck. The back of our home faces east and so we get sun in the morning and shade in the evening. It's perfect for eating or visiting just outside the kitchen. The kitchen window is a corner window and overlooks the north part of the ravine and the mountains. So I sometimes actually enjoy doing the dishes. Even in the winter it's a beautiful view!

DAY 15- 11:00 AM
Nov 27, 2013

This is about what I am doing right now. Well, I just went through my emails which is something I do everyday. It usually doesn't take me long unless I go into Facebook or Pinterest and start looking at posts. Sometimes I send out emails like the book group for the Highland 10th ward that I just did or the Missionary newsletter that I am doing for the 36th ward. Then I try to work on pictures. I keep a list of things to do here at my computer desk and one of the things on my list is to finish this post. I started it a year ago and haven't finished it yet but I will. I rarely don't finish things that I start.

My visiting teachers just left and we always have a nice visit. It was Janet Bennett the Relief Society President and I can't remember the name of her companion right now but they are always fun to have over. Janet always brings treats. Today she brought me pumpkin bread. I am wearing my green safari pants that I bought at Eddie Bauer and a white T shirt. I also have socks and nice, warm slippers on. Otherwise my feet get really cold. 

For breakfast I had a spinach, raw yogurt, banana and protein powder shake. But later I will try the pumpkin bread. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. We are having the Bryce's over so I am thinking about what I need to do to get ready for that.

The kids are home from school today because they are out for Thanksgiving. Megan is at the Coopers though. She spent the night there. Emerald would have but McKayla was sick. Rex is blasting his rap music and singing along. Actually I take that back. It's football clips he is watching on YouTube on the TV that has rap music to it. I had to kick John off the computer to be able to write this post and I sent him into read kicking and screaming. He is reading "The Beyonders" series by Brandon Mull who is now in our ward. He did a book group for us last week and it was awesome. He is a really funny guy. John went with me. It was great. Emerald is down in her room but she will come up to dress Joseph in a few minutes. Joseph is on his Ipad. David went down to BYU.

The house is messy but the Christmas decorations are put up. The kids wanted to do it on Sunday so we did. I will have them do their chores in a little while. I will do some laundry for the weekend and I still need to go fix my hair and put on my make up which I do once in the morning and then forget about it. 

Abby just called. She and Rick are coming up for the whole weekend. Abby is painting her dresser first and she just wanted to know how to do it so I told her. Earlier Rex came to me and wanted me to fix his hair that he cut himself and he accidentally shaved a big hole in the back. I told him I couldn't fix it and he would need a professional to do it and so he went and got a haircut. It looks a little like a military haircut but it looks good. They actually saved it. I was shocked. She said it would be grown out by the end of the week. I was laughing hard when he showed me. I took a picture and went he saw it he freaked, but he's OK now. Now he is watching Vines which is snippets of videos that people post that are supposed to be funny. Some of them are. My favorite is a guy named David Lopez. You just have to see it.

Now the kids are cleaning up so we can go to eat lunch at Denny's. This isn't a very typical day since that kids are usually at school but it's typical for the days they are home. There is always a lot going on at my house.


Clothing- As I have said before, I do not like shopping so when I find something I like I tend to buy two and sometimes even three of the same thing if they come in different colors. If it is white though, I have been known to buy three of the same t-shirt. I guess it's because I love white tops mostly. They go with everything, so I have white t-shirts, white nice Sunday shirts, white under shirts, white sweaters an even white jackets (although those, not so much). I am a simple person.

My philosophy on this subject can be summed up in one word- comfort. Comfort is what is most important to me and so I wear sweats and slippers that keep me warm in the winter and skirts and flip flops or sandals that keep me cool and comfy in the summer. I invariably get compliments every Spring when the weather warms up from people who have seen me in sweats all Winter and then all of a sudden I start wearing skirts. They ask me why I am dressing up even though I have on a t-shirt and flip flops with my very comfortable skirt. Sweats are easy to find but skirts are a different matter so I collect them whenever I see one I like. Then I keep them for years.

I have been a long skirt girl for years which were always hard for me to find because I am tall but that has changed recently. I like knee length skirts now too. I am not sure why I never liked them much before. Maybe I had some idea that my legs didn't look good in those skirts, but that wasn't in synch with my other philosophy which is that I don't have to look at me so I don't really care. I care enough to get up, work out, shower, get dressed and put on some make-up which takes me all of two minutes and then I am done for the day! Yeah!

This year I have discovered stretchy pants (as Nacho Libre would say). I hated jeans even though I wore them when I would have errands to run or whatever. I would get big sizes so they would be comfortable though they looked bad. Now they have this great, really stretchy fabric that is snug but very comfortable. I actually like these so I am wearing them more and more. 

Sunday's are a different story. We go to church every single week so I have to have nice Sunday clothes. I have recently discovered pencil skirts and just picked up three new ones since I didn't own any. I always liked how great my girls looked in them and would compliment them, but it never occurred to me that I might like them too. I dress up for 3 hours though and then as soon as I get home it's immediately back into the sweats.

My kids- The only one I shop for now is Joseph and yes, when I find something that works for him, I buy two or three. I don't even try to guess with my other kids. I have wasted a lot of money buying clothes they wouldn't wear. Now I even take them shopping for their Christmas clothes which they pick out and then I put them away until Christmas. They seem just as happy with them, just not that surprised which is OK.


I love technology while I can't say that I am that good with it. I just learn enough to get by. If I need help, I go to my kids and ask them questions. If I have problems with the computer then David is my go-to guy. I didn't grow up with it. I didn't have a computer in high school or college like my kids do. I never had a cell phone until 12 years ago and it wasn't even a flip. I just got my first I phone last year at Christmas. We got our first video player when I was on my mission. My kids cannot fathom this. I didn't even grow up with a dishwasher or microwave. 

-I have an I phone that I text on.
-I have a PC Desk top computer that I do everything on including emails.
-I have a Kindle which I read on all the time.
-I have an Ipod for listening to music while exercising.
-I have a fancy camera- a Canon 5D Mark III. Right now it's the latest version.
-I have a photography blog that is mostly travel and scrapbooking.
-I have an Instagram account. It's mostly travel.
-I have a Facebook account that I connect with friends and family on.
-I have a Pinterest account where I put up and get great ideas for family life.
-I have a Goodreads account where I rate and review all the books I have read.
-I use Lightroom and Photoshop to edit all my photographs.

I love my computer. I don't have to run a business or anything so everything I do is for fun. I make lots of photo books. That has sort of taken over my scrapbooking. I look at my emails every morning. I run two book groups through email and I send out a missionary newsletter every month for our ward. I look at facebook and Pinterest once a week maybe. It's fun if you don't overdo it. I order lots of things online like books, clothes, magazines, Christmas gifts, pictures etc. I look up addresses and phone numbers on Google. Actually I get lots of info from Google. If I have a question on anything I Google it.

Joseph has an Ipad that he knows how to use better than I do. He even face time's Abby or Rick sometimes. He's been known to do it while they are in college classes. He's smarter than me with technology. Last week he took my phone when I wasn't looking and changed my cover photo to him in his captain america costume. Then he hid away all my extra apps so I couldn't find them. The next day he wanted me to put Spiderman the cartoon on for him but I couldn't find my remote for the Apple TV on it. I told him so and he asked for my phone. He's nine and still can't talk clearly. Then he found my hidden apps for me and showed me where they were. He even pulled up the remote and started the movie by himself. I was flabbergasted. He was pretty pleased with himself. He's a funny boy.


I wear a size 9 and I have always been able to share with my daughters. Or at least if they like my shoes they take them over. That's rare though, they usually don't like my shoes. Anna and Abby were always able to share shoes and now Megan and Emerald share some shoes. 

I think I always had the smallest feet of my sisters though. They all wear 10's. I don't buy shoes very often. I don't think of it unless I really need them. I keep some of them for years. If I wear them, they will last a year or two, if not they last for years like my Sunday shoes. Some of them I have had for a long time. I usually wear flats since I am so tall but I am starting to wear small heels to church- 2 1/2 inches max.

-I like to take pictures of my feet and shoes in different places around the world. I have pictures of my feet
-in a Hindu Temple in India, in a lava tube in Hawaii,
-in the Pantheon of Rome, on the blue tile streets of Puerto Rico,
-on the steps of the great wall of China,
-on the steps of the Oleviste Church tower that overlooks Tallinn, Estonia,
-on a coral beach on the island of Bonaire,
-in a church graveyard in Denmark where my ancestors were buried,
-on a safari in Kruger National Park, South Africa,
-at Peterhoff in St. Petersburg, Russia
-and many more places. All in different shoes, but they are all still in my closet. 

Now that I think about it, I am not really a shoe person. I get by with what I can. It helps to wear mostly slippers in the Winter and flip flops in the summer. Those I do go through quite fast. Recently I have started wearing boots with my skirts on Sunday. I picked this up from my daughters. I am picky about them though. If they are not comfortable I won't wear them because I don't like my feet to be confined even though they freeze fast in the winter if they aren't covered well.

As far as brands go I love Clarks but I don't like to spend a lot of money. They have been the most comfortable shoes I have owned. I think they are mid-ranged as far as shoes go. I have a pair of Birkenstocks that I have owned for probably 15 years at least. They are well worn. I don't still have my wedding shoes. I think my girls nabbed them at some point. They were white heels that I never wore.


Right this moment I am listening to Christmas music and the first blizzard of the year blowing outside loudly. It's gusty and we were supposed to get 3 inches at least but I only see about an inch blowing around out there maybe two. It's cold though and this is the first real storm of the season so it's actually been a nice long fall this year.

I play Christmas music almost every day from Thanksgiving to Christmas. We put the decorations up before Christmas and that always gets me in the mood. My favorites are A Time Life Christmas with various artists. I love the Carpenters Christmas and I like Andy Williams. I love Mannheim Steamroller and I like Roger Whitaker since I grew up with him but David and the kids not so much.

When it's not Christmas I sometimes listen to my easy listening playlist while I work on the computer. It's always changing since I get sick of songs and new, good ones come out. Right now I have on there a lot of Colbie Callait, Michael Buble and Christina Perri. I like "Kiss Me" by Sixpence and "White Flag" by Dido. I love "Smile" by Uncle Kracker. I don't know where they come up with the names for their bands. I have heard worse though.

When I exercise down in our exercise room, which is every day that I can, I listen to music with good running beats.  There are two LDS bands that I like. One is Neon Trees and the other is Imagine Dragons. I listen to a lot of One Direction, Kelly Clarkson, and Enrique Iglesias. I like "Brighter Than The Sun" by Colbie Callait and "Walking in Sunshine" by Ali and A.J. I also like "If Today was your Last Day" by Nickelback. I love the words to all of them. I listen to only upbeat tunes and words. Sometimes I even run faster when a particular song comes on.

Other things I listen to-
-Kids complaining about work and arguing and sometimes yelling
-Me complaining, arguing and sometimes yelling (Gee, I wonder where they get it from)
-Emerald's loud, mind blowing music while she is working. I usually like the music just not the volume
-Joseph's shows on Netflix like Curious George or Captain America
-Rick and David talking about business ideas
-Rex watching "The Office"


I am probably the simplest woman I know when it comes to what I carry. I have a little brown purse that holds everything I need when I go out. It's the third one I have had just like it. I got lucky and found them when my others broke. I love it because it's not too big to keep putting stuff in. It just holds the basic and best of all it has a nice long strap that allows me to have both hands free and best of all I don't ever forget it. It's always on me. 

What's in it right now? 5, one dollar, bills which is rare since the kids always need it and it's usually gone the same day I get it, credit cards and my check book, pens, my coca cola- vanilla chapstick, my pill bottle, keys, my I phone, which substitutes as my camera sometimes, a couple of hair elastics, and papers like my list of books and food storage. I also always have my grocery list. If I didn't have it, I would end up going a lot more than I already do.

I have a big red travel camera bag that I use when we go traveling. It's a bit bulky but it makes a great carry on that I can put my books and other stuff I need in and it fits nicely under the seat in front of me. It also hold my money and cards, socks, goodies for the trip and my medication pills. It is heavy but no one is ever going to steal it. It doesn't look like a camera bag, it looks like a big purse.

I used to carry a diaper bag with my purse but I haven't had to do that for about 5 years thankfully.


What am I thinking right now? Nothing. Sometimes I like not thinking and immersing myself in escape- usually a book which I will do after I finish this post. When I do think, I think lots of different things like:
-Life is hard
-Life is fun
-Life is what you make it except for the part where others get to impose their will on yours
-Life should be as simple as we can make it. We have too many things to distract us these days
-I am a conservative thinker but I have friends who aren't
-I like to keep myself busy which doesn't involve too much thinking
-I am thinking about going back to school for the fun of it though I already have my degree
-I like to think about my next trip. Travel is an education in and of itself
-Kids need responsibility paired with freedom to thrive. The older they get the more they get
-I am very blessed

If I think about it, I will add more to this post later


My favorite place or spot. Well my home is that and I do like some places better than others in it. I think my most favorite is my project area downstairs because it reminds me of happy. It makes me happy to work on my journaling, scrapbooking or whatever project it happens to be. It's bright and sunny from all the windows in my very open basement and it's a cozy, nice place to be.

My second favorite place in my house has to be my bedroom since I spend so much time there. I sleep there. I read there on my nice big sofa because my bedroom is huge. The kids and I do homework hour in there after school everyday. They do homework or if they don't have any they just read. I read with them or they would never stay put. It's awesome though, nice and quiet. In the winter I turn on the gas fireplace and that add a nice cozy atmosphere. I do need to do some more decorating in there though. I need new chairs and maybe a TV for one end. Right now there is just a table at the other end that we just end up putting stuff on or sometimes the kids use it for homework.

Next I love my front entrance. From there you can see the entire upstairs except my bedroom. It is so open and roomy I love, love, love it! The front room, dining room, kitchen and family room are all in view. Now that I am here I will never leave this house if I can help it. With the floor plan and the backyard with its view and my big, long decks, I could never ask for better. 


I always enjoyed writing and I have kept journals off and on throughout my life. I would say after marriage I kept my journals through pictures and scrapbooks. I still do but once in a while I try to do more, like this post. It's only taken me a year to finish it but hey, at least I am still working on it.

I like to write lists. They help me move along on all the things that I want to get done. I keep a piece of paper right by the computer and I look at it every day and scratch things off and add to it. It keeps me productive and I like it. It also helps me remember the things I want to accomplish.

I teach journaling classes. I have a blog post on it. I like to give people different ideas on the way they can journal such as blogs (which I have one), photobooks (I am always making them), scrapbooks (I mostly do project life now which is one picture a day with journaling). I also like to teach about recording things that are out of the ordinary such as a book log, sayings, history, gratitude journal, conversation journals (I got this idea from Jen Burke where she writes to her daughters and leaves it under their pillow, then they write back and leave it under her pillow). It's a good idea. These are just a few of many ideas I have. You can look at my blog for more.

I haven't ever liked my handwriting so when I do project life I put the journaling cards through the computer and do it that way. I realize that I need to get over that. It's probably like pictures. No one likes their own. Anyway I am going to try and write more in my own handwriting.

I think I would like to become more of a writer the more I read anyway. Right now I am reading a book on writing called "Bird By Bird" by Anne Lamott. I can't say I like her much but I am learning a lot. I have some other books I intend to read about writing. I am also considering taking some writing classes at BYU since I have free tuition there (David is faculty). We'll see. I wouldn't want it to interrupt my travels.

This is a sample of my mission journal


This is one of the most important topics I could ever right on because I believe relationships to be the most important thing we have in this life. I believe it's the only thing that we can take with us when we are done with this life. That's why I don't yell at my kids when they have their feet on the couch. I might ask them nicely to take them off, but I don't want my children thinking I care more about the couch or things than I do them. Now that doesn't mean I don't totally blow it sometimes, but I am working on that. I feel I have done a pretty good job of it while not being perfect. It is something I recognized a long time ago and something I learned from my parents. 

My most important relationships are with my husband and children of course. While I am sure my husband feels the same way I do, it is harder for him since he was raised differently than I. He has great relationships with all of our children though as I do.

I have great relationships with my parents and siblings. It's amazing really. I am the oldest of 16 children and we all get along great. There are moments of high emotion of course, but we always seem to get over it and nobody has a problem with apologizing when necessary. I even get along great with all my in laws. Maybe that's just them because they are all so awesome and amazing. I truly am blessed to have such a large and wonderful family. For the most part we don't even get uptight with each others kids. Now that's quite a feat since there are 80 nieces and nephews underfoot and more to come! The way I look at it is that I would like to be in the running for favorite aunt and that discipline is too taxing and much better left to the parents.


I have always had a love affair with the outdoors. Since I was raised in warm, desert country I learned to love the heat and I grew up with plenty of good outdoor weather. I remember skipping to Grandma Stout's house thinking how much I loved April because the weather was beautiful and it was my birthday month. I really spent my entire childhood out of doors. 

I think I got my love of the outdoors from my dad. He was a roofer by trade but a farmer by heart. He has grown something every year of my life. The last few years it has been acres of melons. He always told us he could see over hills and around corners and when we would travel he would prove it. He always was very observant and loved to see new country. That's probably why three of us kids have graduated in geography. It's probably why I love photography and travel. Here's a list of some of my memories of out of doors activities:

-Catching buckets of polliwogs at the frog pond
-Climbing Grandpa's cherry trees and eating the best, plumpest cherries ever
-Climbing on the roof of our old white house and eating almonds from the almond tree
-Picking asparagus along the ditches where it grew wild for mom
-Spending hours in the old cottonwood trees that grew along the ditch by our house. There was a giant swing and I believed Tinker Bell lived in the roots of one really old one.
-Hiking to three falls and diving off when I got older
-Exploring the wash with Ilene and then watching it when it flooded
-Hiking Molly's Nipple (yes that's it's real name) many times
-Fishing trips with the family
-Playing in the haunted apple orchard across the street
-Family trips to East Zion or Smiths for picnics
-Driving the tractor at age 5 for the boys hauling hay
-Spending hours in the tree house that was built in a giant pecan tree
-Sleeping outside in sleeping bags in the summer with cousins
-Chasing the cows when they got out even though they were much taller than me
-Night games in the summer with friends and cousins
-Pulling mustard weed out of a 40 acre field
-Fantastic summer thunder and lightning storms
-Swimming for hours at the city pool in the summer
-Floating down the Hurricane canal. Mom would drop us off with our tubes and pick us up at the end
-Swimming at Sheep's bridge
-Riding our bikes down Thrill hill
-Riding Candoe, Grandpa's old and very gentle horse. I started at age 5 riding her around town
-Spending hours in the dirt field by the brown house building our own town

As I got older I spent less time out of doors simply because my life got complicated with school, sports and work etc. I did work as a lifeguard at the Hurricane city pool during my summers for 5 years. My skin is now paying the price but I loved it. Then in college I spent very little time out of doors.

Now with my own home I love to garden. When we put in our own yard in our first house in Provo I poured my heart and soul into my yard. I had a rose garden, an herb garden, flower gardens, fruit trees and a vegetable garden. I loved it but then we moved. Now my home and yards I love but the yards were done to be maintenance free and in some ways I love that too, but I don't have a garden anymore. That didn't stop my from sneaking in a few peach trees and I buy my fruit at a local farmers market. I am OK with it but sometimes I do miss my gardening.

My Dad weeding melons

My kids and cousins swimming at Sheep's Bridge

My kids and cousins at the top of Molly's Nipple


Ali used the word covet but I don't really think that's the right word for her post or mine. Covet is to want the something that another person has. Want is to want one too, or at least that's my view. I heard a talk once where a man said that "Children who get everything they want will want for the rest of their lives". I believe this is true, especially when you are talking about material things. But I also think we always want no matter who we are. The real question is can we be happy with what we have? There isn't much I covet but I do want a lot of things like:

-children who are obedient, responsible, kind, thoughtful and happy
-to be loved
-to feel good and thin, and be healthy
-to have more energy so I can be more productive
-to travel more. I'd like to see the whole world (I know that's asking a lot)
-girlfriends to travel with when my husband can't go
-to write a book someday, maybe
-functional and happy sons and daughters-in-law
-to be debt free
-to take more family vacations
-the desire to cook and decorate more (I don't have any)

Am I happy with what I have? Yes, I think so for the most part. Have I given my kids everything they want? Pretty much. We'll see how they turn out.

The peaceful feeling of a sunset


A hobby I suppose is something I like to do in my leisure time. I haven't had that many hobbies but they do last a long time. I guess my first one was sports. I played volleyball, basketball and participated in track when I was in high school. I remember the counselor tried to talk me out of doing it in ninth grade but I was determined. I am so glad I did. It was a great growth and development experience for me. I also swam a lot and became a lifeguard during the summers in high school. I developed my diving skills and I was doing stunts that no other girl could do and very few guys. I could even do a gainer off the high dive. That is doing a back flip but jumping forward off the diving board first. If we had had a diving or swim team, I would have been on it. 

I played powder-puff football for homecoming for three years and I was the quarterback, middle linebacker, kicker and punter. We won both years. I ran most of the touchdowns in but I'm pretty sure I passed one ball to Tammie Campbell for a touchdown. The next day after my first time, Coach Christensen (the boys football coach) asked me if I wanted to be the kicker for the boys team since I could kick it farther than theirs. I would put it to the twenty yard line every time. I guess what's cool is that I did it without every really practicing. I later played powder puff at BYU and Steve Young was my coach. They made me a wide receiver/tight end and he only coached 8 of us. All 200 girls who tried out wanted my position but I wanted to be on the defense because I knew that that was going to be 
 the funnest. It was flag though so it didn't amount to much anyway. I remember he complimented my in one of the huddles once in front of all the other girls. Their envy was palpable.

I was already in shape from athletics though. My favorite sport was volleyball though I think I was actually better at basketball. I was the setter since my coach believed that if you didn't start with a good one you didn't have a team. I could take the over sets though and slam them straight down. I remember we had a tournament and invited Orderville. They were extremely well coached and though smaller than us took the tournament handily. I remember their coach came up to me after and said that she would love to coach me and I would never be the setter. That made me feel good and then when we played them in basketball I was so nervous but I scored 27 points. My best basketball score ever. 

In basketball I remember hearing about a study that was done with players. Half of the players sat out and did free throws in their heads and made it every time. The other half just practiced free throws. Then when they tested them, the ones who had never touched a ball were the ones who had hands down improved the most. So I decided if it was all in my head, then I would practice in my head. I would bounce the ball 4 times saying to myself "this is going in" and I would practice not letting any negative thoughts into my head. I was a sophomore at the time and by the end of the year I was hardly ever missing a free-throw. In region we played a game where I made 11 of 12 foul shots and we won the game by about 2 points. The scouts were there and I made the all region team of 10 best players that year. I was the only sophomore. The rest were seniors.

The summer before my senior year, we went to a Dixie college volleyball camp put on by Lori Richards and her husband who were former Olympic players. She coached at UVU and she offered me and Ilene full ride scholarships to play volleyball and basketball. I regret that I didn't take her up on it because she became a volleyball icon in Utah. I didn't accept it because mom said she didn't feel good about me doing it and I had a half tuition academic scholarship at Dixie College so I took that. That is the one big regret I have in my life.

I played a lot of softball after high school. While I attended Dixie College I played on city league teams and was pretty good. I played with a lot of former team mates from Hurricane. I skied a few times but I got pneumonia after the first time and didn't really take to it. Also it was expensive for a college student. 

After I got married, I stilled played ward and league sports but as we moved around I didn't always have a team to play on. At this time we play volleyball and basketball as a stake but I just blew out my knee a month ago and so am out this year. It has been fun though. We have some ex college players in our stake and I think we had won 7 years in a row. I only played for one of those though and then they made new rules to break us up. They said you couldn't have a team with players from more than one ward. Our team was classy. We played clean and smooth. I know because we played some rough teams and the difference was astounding.

This photo shows how the other teams has a hand on each of my arms and then one on the ball. No call. I can't figure out where the refs were
I have already talked about reading so I won't go there but that is a big hobby for me. I am up to 600 plus books on I guess another other big hobby has been my scrapbooking. I never would have guessed that I would like crafting or I might have graduated in computer graphics or something. Maybe I have always loved journaling and stuff like that since I did keep one most of my life. My scrapbooking has evolved over the years from fancy pages to project life and photo books. They weren't available when I first started or I would have probably done them all along. I am going to make this post into a photo book in fact. Then I am going to make up my own words and do another one. Maybe. 

I have been doing Project Life for about 5 years since it's inception. I love it. It's Becky Higgins idea and she sells the kits. It is a kit that had an album and page pockets that are different sizes. Each 2 page spread is a week and the idea is that you take a picture a day and slip it in on the correct date and there are also journaling cards that you fill out. There is one for each day. The kit is decorated cute and so all you have to do really is take the picture and write about it on a journaling card and then slip them in. It really gives you a unique look at your year. Do I take pictures every day. No, but I take enough pictures to easily fill up the week and month and year. Here it is Dec 18th and I have only taken pictures this year. I still have to pick the pictures, get them printed, put them in and write on the journaling cards. It should only take me a week or two to do the whole year. Lots of people are doing it now and it's getting popular. 

My projects pull at me constantly but that doesn't mean I always get to them when I want to. I love winter time because I have more time to do my hobbies. I don't play many sports anymore but my working out takes care of that and then I can work on my creative side. Then when I get tired I read. Not every day of course, but that is a good day for me.

These pages QVC asked me to make for a surprise book they put together for Lisa Bearnson's 10 year anniversary. There are little pockets on each section with more journaling or little pictures. This one I didn't get to keep of course


 This one is a big one for a lot of people but not me. I don't drink much of anything except water and milk. Once in a while during the winter I like a hot chocolate for a treat and in the summer I like Diet, caffeine free Coke also for a treat. I am not one of those people who always have a big soda in my hand and I don't drink liquor of any kind. I never have. The only time I have ever tasted it when a girl who was sort of a friend from athletics told me to try her Koolaid. I gagged and asked her what it was. She said it was a mixture of things. I never trusted her again.

Water is what I drink the most of but I don't get thirsty so sometimes I forget. Now I try to keep a cup by my bathroom sink that reminds me. A few years back I had to go to the doctor for some abdominal pain and after describing my symptoms, he thought I had either endomytriosis or chronic constipation. I knew I didn't have the former since I had so many children so I decided to just start drinking more water. It made the pain go away and I have tried harder to get my water ever since. I still forget sometimes but my dry skin reminds me. 

I drank a lot of soda when I was a lifeguard but stopped when I got married and started to have children. I have just recently picked it up again thanks to David. He started ordering it when we went out and so I started again. Still it's just a treat and I don't drink it that often. If I do, it's diet. I am trying to watch my weight now.

I do drink a lot of milk and was raised on raw milk. Then it became unavailable for all the years I was raising my kids. I just discovered it again though. It's more than twice the price of homogenized milk but I tried it and my body wanted more so I started buying it for the whole family. They all took to it right away and love it. I even make my own yogurt and Kefir from it for our morning smoothies.

I am not much of a juice drinker but that is pretty much all Joseph will drink. He will take milk too but not water. He gags on it. I am trying to break him of the habit. He is a stubborn little stinker though.

I had one bad experience on my mission. We were in Quevedo, Ecuador and we didn't have a stove to boil our water so all we could do was buy it. All they had to buy was carbonated water. I felt so awful by the time my two months was through there. I remember eating tons of papaya which is a very watery fruit. It's the only thing that saved me. And to this day I love it but can't find the good kind here in the states.

I would have to say that my two favorite recreational drinks are Hot Chocolate and Spiced Cider.

It's just hot apple cider


I once wore a perfume called Eternity that David bought for me, but I never even used up the bottle because I always forgot. I guess I just never really cared about that much. It didn't help that he smelled it on a woman at work and asked her what it was and then bought it for me. He shouldn't have told me and then it would have been all mine. Still, I am not sure I would have ever really been perfume person.

I have always loved the smell of flowers. Particularly lilacs, roses, peonies etc. My trees right off my deck give off the most heavenly smell in the spring when they are in bloom. I have lots of Lavender in my yard that also smells wonderful in full bloom. I even dry it in bunches to save for use in the house. 

A list of my favorite smells:
-flowers especially lilacs, lavender
-baking bread
-citrus fruits, lemons
-ocean air
-cut hay or grass
-a fresh rainstorm in the summer
-vanilla, cinnamon and apples scent around Christmas
-evergreens or fresh Christmas trees
-David after he uses aftershave
-my kids with freshly shampooed hair
-Joseph right after a bath. He still smells like baby
-Doterra oils, lavender, serenity, on guard, elevation, orange, sandalwood

The first Peonies I ever grew

DAY 30- 3:35PM

Most of the kids are home from school now. Joseph is the only one not home yet. He will come home on the bus about 3:45. Actually all my kids ride the bus now so I don't have a carpool anymore. The high school kids get home first- Rex and Emerald at about 2:30 and immediately go downstairs to change and do whatever. Same with John and Megan who get home at about 3. I am on the computer doing photos or projects like this one, but am now ready to go get homework hour started.

Homework hour is something I wish I would have instituted years ago. I just make all the kids except Rex come in my room and we work on homework or if they don't have homework, they can read. I will read while they do it. I have to be in there or they won't stay and be diligent.

I make John go get the mail for me and the house is messy so I am going to make all the kids do their kitchen jobs before we go into my room. My desk and the office is pretty messy as well. It always is but not because of me. I am the only one who cleans it up. David's desk is always messy and the kids come in and take over my computer often and eat and drink and leave all kinds of surprise messes that they are not supposed to. Oh well, I can still get things so I do and just ignore it. Usually though I straighten up a bit around me because I like order. 

I have some scrapbooking supplies that I bought here beside me reminding me that I really want to get back into that and I have to catch up on my Christmas pages. I am three years behind. I am like 10 years behind in my regular photos. I also have a list beside me of the most pressing things I want to do. They are:

-Finish the Wynn and Phyllis Stout Reunion photo book (I just crossed this one off)
-Finish 31 Things Post (I have been doing one per day) and turn it into a photo book
-Catch up on Christmas Album
-Update Blog (right now I have Yellowstone photos to post)
-Finish Picture the Holidays Post
-Update this years Project Life album
-Do Around The World photo book at Costco
-Start Anna's mission photo book
-Start "The Art of Self Preservation" class which is similar to this one
-When I am done with all of this I have tons of other photo books to do

Day 31- JOY

Joy is something I need to learn to experience more of. I believe that if I work on my gratitude then I will experience more joy. I also think that in general it's easier to experience more joy the older you get. You start seeing the fruits of your labors as your children get older. I think it just keeps getting better with age. Here are some of the things that bring that little thrill of joy to my heart:

-Joy from holding hands with David and feeling that all is well
-Joy from Ricks charming and disarming smile (he's had it since he was a baby)
-Joy from getting Anna's letters from Australia and reading them
-Joy from listening to Abby sing
-Joy when Rex makes me laugh or gives me a kiss on the cheek goodnight
-Joy when Emerald tells me all about her day even the little things (she does this often)
-Joy watching Megan dutifully and thoroughly do her homework or kitchen job
-Joy when John snuggles up to me or lays his head on my shoulder
-Joy when Joseph laughs (that extra chromosome can light up a whole room)
-Joy from seeing and experiencing a new place in the world
-Joy from taking that awesome picture that is just so cool to me
-Joy from sitting out on our deck with our beautiful view in the cool summer evenings
-Joy being alone in a clean house (it doesn't happen very often)
-Joy from sunshine and being outside in summer and sunshine coming through my big windows in winter
-Joy from working hard and finishing up my projects 
-Joy from all the possibilities