Monday, September 22, 2008



On Saturday we had a meeting with Sister Beck, who is the General President of the Relief Society (the women's organization of our church). It was awesome. One of the things that stood out to me about Sis. Beck is that she is an "ordinary" woman with a clear and undeviating focus on the right things--the best things.

At the beginning, she told us it was our meeting, and opened it up for questions. Most of the questions centered on the things that were preventing each of us from having our expectation of a perfect, ideal life. They were about the challenges that we face here on earth. One of the things she told us is that we don't get the ideal here. People that seem to have the perfect life don't. Hearing the questions, and her answers, brought us all closer together, and helped us gain a greater focus.

I'll try to recap some of what she said here, though in my hasty notes I didn't capture her exact words. I hope that I put it down in a way that makes sense.

How can we balance all that we have to do?

We don't do it all. She said that she was dusting when she got the phone call requesting that she come to Salt Lake to have her calling as a counselor extended. That was the last time she dusted.

Our number one priority is our family. For the rest, we should be prayerful and seek personal revelation as to what is important. We do our best and rely on the Lord for the rest, and it's enough. It may not be what we want, but it's enough.

We should also be considerate when asking things of others. Anything we ask can take time away from their number one priority.

I'm afraid of making mistakes as a mother.

Not every moment of motherhood is inspired. Some moments of motherhood are inspired. We seek for more of these moments.

Thankfully, children are more resilient than we think.

Where do we draw the line on intervention with our children?

We all have agency. Our children's agency does not trump our agency.

Along with the snippets I have included here, I believe that nearly every single answer included the importance of seeking personal revelation. We need to go to the right source for help. Heavenly Father loves us, and we can have His guidance and direction every single day. We can also be an incredible strength and influence in the lives of others as we love, hope, encourage, and help.

I think that everyone at the meeting went home with a greater feeling of self-worth, a greater sense of their divine nature, and a greater love for their sisters.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Picnics at Grandma's House

This month had a sweet visit from Great Grandma (my grandma).  While she was here, my mom had a kind of reunion picnic in her backyard.  I've been getting the idea that she wants to have grandkids over to visit because in addition to the normal enticements, her yard now includes a sandbox and playhouse!

These pictures were taken on Cary's cell phone.  Here's Uncle Jordan pushing Maddie and Gwyn in the wheelbarrow:

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And here's Lana attempting to give Everett a ride:


We've had a few picnics this summer.  I love giving the kids a chance to explore and run around.  In our yard, the girls go straight for the rocks and/or dirt.  At Grandma's house they have a lot more to experience--including Grandparents, of course!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ready For Church

Gwyn, I think the protective eyewear was overkill.
I guess you never know...
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Saturday, September 13, 2008

You know they get it when...

...they try to use it in their defense.

(BTW: Cary guest blogger here...)

Case in point: Everett's a great kid. Mild-mannered, delightful, sweet. Snips and snails and puppy dog tails too.

And sometimes, like all children, he likes to try to push his limit a little. We've been teaching him that he needs to be a good example to his sisters so they don't misbehave. In fact, he understands very well now that if he does something bad, and the girls follow him doing it, he's doubly guilty. How do I know he knows? The other day, when the girls all thought it was fun to make an obnoxious noise at the dinner table, I told them to stop. I was able to get them all to cease and desist, when suddenly, when he had been perfectly calm beforehand, Everett started up with the same noise. I immediately sent him to our "penalty box" for doing something Dada said not to. His reply: "But Dada, Gwyn was a bad example!"

Sorry, little guy: you know better than to follow bad examples, she doesn't yet.

It's a rough life for the little guy, huh...

Amusement Adventures

We recently had the chance to go to an amusement park with some friends.  They have a season pass, and brought us to a "bring a friend for free" day.  Between the two families we had nine kids--seven of whom were under the age of 5.  I'm pleased to say that though we had to chase kids a couple of times, we didn't lose anyone!  We also had a great time.  All nine are in this photo, though one is hidden.


The Cutlers' girls were wonderful buddies for our girls, and helped to make things a little easier for us.  In this photo, Lana is "raaarring".


Everyone loved the cars.  (It was a little bit scary for me to think about them actually driving one day, but mostly I just enjoyed the expressions of glee on their faces.)

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We were so glad we went to the waterpark section, even though the girls couldn't participate in all of it, because Everett's favorite part of the day was the waterslides.

Once again, a big "Thank You" to the Cutler family!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Not a baby--sniff, sniff

I recalled today that Everett was a couple of months younger than the girls are now when they were born. It is amazing for me to think of what he had to deal with at that age and how very sweet he was. He had to grow up pretty quickly.

This evening I was trying to hold Gwyn. I told her she was my Gwyn. She said firmly: "I'm not a baby, I'm a Gwyn!"

I love this picture. It shows such a typical expression of hers:


Gwyn has started to mimic me in some ways. It is so funny for me to hear her referring to her siblings as "honey" or "sweetie", or even "sweetie-heart". These terms have become so habitual to me.

Lana, my little one who doesn't like to sit still for more than two seconds, is now the one who likes to be held and loved the most. It took her longer than her sisters to want to look people in the eye and be affectionate, but she is one snuggly bug now!

Some of my non-babies' current favorite activities are having me read to them, or "chase" them up the stairs at nap time and bed time. Maddie and Gwyn each hide under a crib, and Lana hides in their dresser that has a little closet. I tickle each of them and then they come out for a hug.

Quick Thinking?

I've written about Lana's fascination with the vents before.  Today she removed her clothing (which she hasn't done in a while and which I don't usually allow).  Later she decided to open up the vent and sit down in front of the cold rushing air.  Apparently, she decided it was too cold, because she went and got a rug and wrapped it around herself, then sat right back down.

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I guess that was pretty resourceful--and yet another interesting fashion statement.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Definitions of a Mother-in-Law

Cary guest blogger here.

I have the world's greatest in-laws. Not only are they wonderful people, but they're fun to be around too. I could go on for ages about all of the wonderful qualities of both of them, but I thought you all might appreciate specifically Mom's sense of humor.

Mandy and I had Mandy's mom, dad, and grandma over for a game night last week in which we spent a long time playing Balderdash. In case you're not familiar, it's basically a bluffing game: you have to create a real enough sounding definition for an obscure but real English word that no one knows the meaning of so that the others will vote for your definition. We mostly took the game quite seriously, really attempting to fool the others into thinking we knew what the word meant. Mom, on the other hand, just couldn't help herself. She had the worst score by the end of the game because she rarely even attempted to get anyone to vote for her definition.

Here's a list of some of the reasons why:

Thrunch: the lunch you eat after you have already eaten two.
Darg: a sailor's puppy.
Carking: what a sailor uses to seal cracks.
Atmatercera: a dinosaur that frequented automatic teller machines.
Apricate: the act of affixing small dried orange fruits to the borders of children's artwork.
Darhna: what someone in India would use to mend a sock, if Indians wore socks.
Larigot: a snail often found by cowboys when they lift a coil of rope.
Anableps: the noise made by a sonar when it detects some mermaids.
Squama: an amphibious llama found in the Indian ocean.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Young Bard

When Everett is playing alone, he has started to pretend with a couple of toys and sing a whole story about them. When I was doing dishes the other day, he came up with a song that had to have been about fifteen minutes long.

Since I am in the Primary now, I get to observe Everett there almost every week. It was surprising for me to learn that he doesn't participate much in the singing time. He sits, listens, and observes, but rarely actually sings. He is eager to help with things other than singing, like holding a picture or doing the motions. This past Sunday I learned something about him. He thrives in the spotlight. He piped up that he knew a song. The music leader decided to let him come up and lead it. He sang every word. His whole body was animated and his face was bursting with excitement. (For Everett, singing usually involves running around and "dancing".) I LOVE to see him like that. I wish I could inspire that kind of enthusiasm for the rest of singing time, but I can see that this little boy is a performer and find myself wondering where in the world this came from.

When I was younger, I was painfully shy. I still have a lot of performance anxiety, though I have improved a good bit over the years. I hope that Everett never grows out of his exuberance and gregariousness.

One thing that he has grown out of is his blanket. The other day, he informed us that it wasn't his anymore. It was one of his sisters'. His blankies have been put away for some time. (He was so attached to his blankie that I cut it in half so I could wash half of it at a time.) This one has mainly served as a cape. I will never forget the day he wore it to the park, along with his turtle goggles. Wouldn't it be nice to never worry about things like what other people might think of you if you wore a cape and turtle goggles?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Everett's Special Day

I decided to give each child a "special day."  Everett's was yesterday.  We began the day by making him a special hat.  When people ask his name, Everett always gives his full name and states that he is "four and three quarters".  His hat was to be light blue, have a tent on it, and say "A special day for Everett Ives Campbell".  Before breakfast, we all sang "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow".


Along with other pampering activities throughout the day, he helped me bring in the tomatoes and peppers from the garden.  (We also watered the garden and Everett.)  He rinsed all of the tomatoes for me.


For dinner, we had hot dogs and pancakes, at his request.  Then the kids and I went outside and everyone "helped" me set up the tent.

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After the girls were in bed, Everett and I made s'mores and got everything ready.  He and I spent the night in the tent.  It was a lot of fun.  And in the morning, the air mattress was still inflated enough that only my hip was touching the ground.  I'd say it was a very successful special day.  I love my sweet boy!

I don't know what I'm going to do for each of the girls, but their days won't include camping.  I'll wait until they're a little bit older for that.  I loved camping out with my mom in the back yard when I was little.

I did it by myself!

I realize that I sound like a little kid.  The truth is, I'm really proud of myself.  I did water-bath canning by myself for the first time.  (Pats on the back, toots of the horn, etc.)  Our garden has been a great blessing this year, producing a little more than we can eat, and in most cases, not quite enough to can.  I've been giving some away, and have frozen zucchini, Swiss chard, and peppers.  Everett and I pulled so many tomatoes out of the garden yesterday that I decided I should try to can them.  For years, Sherry Eismann has been teaching and helping at canning get-togethers at church.  I never would have had the gumption to try this without first doing peaches, pie filling, and applesauce with her.

So yesterday I took these (minus most of the peppers and the cherry tomatoes)


and turned them into these.


I never would have thought that so many tomatoes would make just one batch of sauce.  This is going to be the best tasting spaghetti sauce ever--no matter how it tastes!