Friday, December 18, 2009

Home for the holidays

The kids got out of school early today for Christmas and I met them at the door with warm cookies and a living room that looks perfect.  I mean since all the shopping is done, the gifts are wrapped and the holiday menu is totally planned what else do I have to do?  Oh, and did I mention that because I budgeted and planned so carefully all year I had cash saved for every purchase so I don't have to redo the budget to fit our holiday gifts.  And my kids are all completely happy to sit and play board games and no one has complained that there isn't enough time to play video games or computer.

Okay--here's what we're really doing.

This is Dallin "trying" to get his chores done with Jenna and Benson helping.

Landon is supposed to be putting all the toys away.  In this picture he's playing catch with everything he can find including Jenna's ponies and Benson's bear. And of course he had no intention of making them squeal...

And Austin.  Need I explain more?  His mother is so mean.  Chores!?! This is Christmas break!  (of course I use my mother's line--"this is a break from school not life.")

My sink is literally piled with every cup we own because everyone has determined that hot chocolate is the only acceptable beverage choice in the week before Christmas.  There is literally not one single clean cup in the entire house.  It's been this way all week.  
The laundry--oh the laundry.  

Other than that we are doing well.  Jenna has the placement of every ornament on the tree memorized.  I added a couple of new ones the other day and she pointed out exactly which ones they were.

I am going to have to get out my creative and patient mothering handbook out for this next week.  I'm sure it will be fun! 


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The 10th day--Healing

We almost forgot our devotional tonight.  Tuesday is always the busiest night for Rustin.  Tonight was stake meetings night so I knew he wouldn't be home until after 10:30.  As I put the boys in bed they reminded me that we hadn't had our 10th night of Christ.

Matthew 9:18-26

A father came to the Savior in sorrow over the death of his daughter.  He knew that Jesus could bring her back to life if He would but lay his hand on her.  As Jesus arose to go to the girl he felt someone touch the hem of his robe.  

When he turned he found that a woman had touched his robe seeking to be healed.  The savior said,
Daughter, be of good comfort, thy faith hath made thee whole.
 He then continued to the home where the maid lay dead.  He took her by the hand and she arose--dead no more.

I love that the savior called both the young and old (or at least older) women "daughter."  He healed and loved the people he lived with. I don't think his feelings are limited to physical proximity.  The Savior loves us and He really will help us through our trials in the way that is best.  We have to trust that the Lord will do what is best and be at peace.

We listened to two of the songs from the Women at the Well program, Daughter arise, and Close enough to touch.   

Then we had a great discussion about what happened to the church after Christ died.  (It fell into Roman control, a council of men voted on which doctrines would be most uniting and excepted in their country and "Christianity" was changed forever.)  Or at least for hundreds and hundreds of years until some very inspired people began again to read the Bible and ask the Lord for direction.  Those questions of course eventually led to the story of Joseph Smith.  Which we will save for another day.

Monday, December 14, 2009

On the 11th day...Blessed are the peacemakers

We decided to start with the early days of the ministry of Christ.  The sermon on the mount was the subject matter for the entire year of talks when Rustin was on the high council.  He and I both learned a lot from studying these simple teachings.  

Matthew 5:1-12

What it really comes down to is learning to live and teach and treat others the way that Christ does. It is really very simple and beautiful.  When we do things that help us feel the spirit of the Savior, our actions will follow.  

That is part of the reason we give each other gifts at Christmas time.  We are striving to make the life of those we love a little more pleasant and in return our own lives are blessed because we invite the spirit of the Savior.  

We took the kids shopping for each other.  They traded names a couple of weeks ago. I had nothing to do with that--Dallin tore the tiniest pieces of paper and they drew our of Landon's camping hat. They each got to come in my room one at a time and wrap the gift.  I had to talk Jenna out of wrapping Austin's present in pink paper.  Dallin wrapped Jenna's gift in the pink paper instead.  She was thrilled.  

Benson has told me at least a dozen times since then that he is most excited for Christmas so he can see what his brother got him and so he can watch Landon open his present ("He's going to LOVE it.").   I think it's a good thing.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

On the 12th day of Christmas--light

We talk of Christ, we rejoice of Christ, we preach of Christ and we write...that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. 2Nephi 25:26

We are going to take the next twelve days before Christmas and talk and teach about something from the life of Christ.  It is my hope that our family will better remember the beauty and hope that Christ brought to the earth.  It is because of the life and death of Christ that we celebrate His birth.

For tonight our scriptures were from Doctrine and Covenants  6:21 and 50:24 and 84:46 

Christ came to the world as our Savior.  When we follow the path that he laid we will not be lost in the darkness of confusion, selfishness or sorrow.  Everyone upon the earth has the light of Christ available to them.  We just have to learn to watch and follow the path.

Each child got a flashlight (with a ribbon to hang around their necks--finally no lost flashlights!) and lots of smiles.

Helping me to feel grateful and inspired

I just read this series of articles in its entirety.  I am touched and motivated.  You won't want to miss this...

Stephanie and Christian Nielson

Rockin around the Christmas tree

This last week was filled with sickness, laundry, overdue homework and a husband busy with tithing settlement... The freshly cut Christmas tree from Franklin was replaced with piles of half empty Christmas boxes. (We didn't get to go to Franklin this year after Thanksgiving...) I've been missing the holiday cheer that keeps me going this time of year.  Really missing it.  I mean like struggling-to-get-out-of-my-pajamas-before-noon....

Then, just when it felt like there was no rescue in sight, we had the perfect Saturday. 

No scouts, birthday parties or meetings.  Just us.  The weather warmed up to a toasty 32 degrees (compared with the previous -0 weather of the last couple of weeks. Rustin proved to the boys that he can still take all of them in a snowball fight.  Though I'm not sure how long that will last...

And we had all of my brothers and sisters home for our Patterson Christmas party.

We danced around the Christmas tree and ate lots of good food and played lots of games and sang Christmas songs.  

When we came home the house was clean and organized.  (At least to a tolerable degree...) Ahhhh. 

And today my sisters helped me regain my sense of family and purpose.  They couldn't have given me a better Christmas gift.

Tonight will be our first annual night of the Twelve Days of Christ--a new idea I have to help us really enjoy the spirit of the season.  I'll write more on that later.  In the mean time I am going to try to relax and enjoy the things I love.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thanksgiving is good, Thanksliving is better!

I saw that quote on a local church.  

I can't agree more. 

Sometimes when my perspective is skewed (that happens a lot lately...) it seems like the only way to find balance is to physically do something to remind myself of what I'm thankful for.  

Visiting teaching helps (thinking of someone else is always a good idea...).  

Counting the pairs of jeans that do NOT have a ripped knee while doing the laundry.

Vacuum the front room which is often the only clean room in my house.

The other day Benson was having a very rare complete crying melt down and finally he sobbed "just put me in the rock-a-bye and I'll calm down don't you know!"  So I held him and we rocked and I felt calm and peaceful.  And Thankful.

I left my heart in...

San Francisco.

Rustin and I had four awesome days all to ourselves (with a few continuing education classes thrown in...).  We actually split our time between San Fran and Monterrey.  We hardly took any pictures because we were too busy enjoying the moments.

But the ocean and the people and the food and the smells... It was all wonderful.

We fell in LOVE with Wicked.  We owe a huge Thank You to Juli for making us go.  Honestly one of the best things I have ever experienced. The story.  It's just beautiful. We are all better better because we know each other.

We also got to spend the night with Jessi and Eli and their 2 and 3/4 kids.  They are very happy.

The streets were so tall and narrow we felt like we were exploring slot canyons back in Arizona!

We loved one afternoon when we walked from the pier up to China Town just as all the kids were getting out of school and everyone was stopping at the outdoor markets for their fresh foods for dinner. Probably one of the most memorable parts of the trip--just seeing regular life in the center of the city.

 I came home with the knowledge that the world is beautiful in all its different varieties.  And I reminded myself that being with Rustin is still my first choice.  Everything else is just icing.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A tale of tails

I love boys
I live with a house full of them.
They cause me to grow in ways I never imagined. I mean, as a teenager with four sisters, I never imagined that I would delve into a world of slimy crawly creatures.

I remember the first time I squeamishly caught a frog in our flower beds in Memphis.
And the time I actually got bitten catching a lizard for a very curious four-year-old.

I consider it divine intervention that I have been transformed into a mom who finds these little tornadoes with mischievous smiles completely endearing.

Last Christmas, my mother-of-boys temperament was again tested when Dallin insisted that the only desire of his heart was a snake. Landon was just as excited to comply with his brother's wish. So a snake it was.

I don't know what came over me--maybe it was a void left when our sweet dog Molly died shortly after Christmas, or maybe it is just the unconquerable mother in me, but (as I should have predicted) it didn't take long to figure out that only I can dangle a frozen mouse by its tail with just the right amount of realism to convince our fussy King Tut to eat.

How did this happen? How did I become the life sustaining provider for a snake?

Feeding time is thankfully infrequent. Last week Dallin again got a mouse out of the freezer and submerged it in a cup of warm water to thaw it out--as is the usual procedure. And once again, he convinced me to take the unlucky dinner morsel by its tail and entice the snake to eat. All is well, King Tut is full for a good couple of weeks.

The next morning, as I began to clean up the mound of dishes waiting for me by the sink, I found myself overwhelmed with thirst. I mean, I guzzled three cups of water before I even stopped to breathe. 

Wait a minute...was this cup just...Oh it couldn't be...No I must be mistaken...
I think I might dry heave...

I'm not sure I can survive these boys after all.
Any one know if dead mouse water has any nutritional benefits?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lucky 100!

This is my 100th blog post! That is kind of exciting I must say. It is really nice to be able to look back at pictures and posts and remember what we have learned and what we have been up to.

Jenna and I had a violin recital this weekend. Jenna played Lightly Row and I played Bouree from book two. It's kind of funny that I started playing again--with the same teacher who taught me years and years ago. Neither of us practice as much as we should but we are learning. (it was a costume recital--I was a witch and Jenna was a snow queen).

This is Benson flashing Rustin's favorite smile (cracks Rustin up every time...) and this is just minutes before he fell sound asleep.

I finally got sick of the horrible shiny gold 1980's light fixture in the dining room. I found some little lamp shades at Lowe's for $1.47 and a can of black spray paint. I took a giant box and held it up around the fixture and sprayed it black and wallah! a new fixture. The one I really want is $200 but the mere $11.82 price tag for this one helps ease the disappointment! I also hung a garage sale find shelf above the window to hold the curtains. Now that's it's (almost) Christmas I am ready to get some lights up there. One of these days I'm going to take an electric wiring class...
{by the way--I just learned yesterday that all this time Benson thought I was saying DYING room--like go get the plates in the dying room... No wonder he looked at me so strange whenever I asked!}

Everything else here is great. Benson got a pretty good sized burn on his hand when he ran up behind the 4-wheeler on Saturday. ouch. He doesn't seem to be hurting anymore though.
We measured Austin at my parents house on Sunday and he is almost a full two inches taller than Dallin and Landon were at his age. Hmmm. This boy is totally destined for football we think.
I have been working on getting the closets reorganized. I have determined that none of the holiday projects I want to do can start until I finish the projects. Me with organized laundry/clothing. That will seriously be worthy of a post all its own.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A few more halloween pics!


It was a dark and stormy night...
Actually it was a dark and foggy morning. We left our house at 5 am. (don't ask me how everyone can hop happily out of bed at 4:45 if it involves a trip to Franklin but no one can wake up at 6:30 for school...). We had a little Spooky gathering in Franklin with all the Nelson and (Jot)Hatch cousins.
Witches' hair
Snowman noses and giant thumbs and a few other food items that will make me gag if I try to write about them. (Gross food names and my stomach don't get along. Seriously--how did I get four boys?)

Cleaning out the last of the garden...carrots and potatoes

And for those of our friends who wonder where our children got their competitiveness, check out this video. It has to be genetic. This is the oldest cousin and the last to take a whack at trying to outsmart Grandpa and the pinata. How many of you have family parties like this!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween already???

Ah--another week has flown by.

Jenna decided to join Benson in the quest to become immune to all things. Unfortunately her sickness left her weezy and very short of breath--at 2 am.
Thankfully we have a nebulizer at the house. Unfortunately Jenna thinks that breathing treatments don't work unless I am holding her in the rock-a-bye.

Actually I don't mind. And Benson very courteously kept us entertained all day today.

The afternoon was really rough for Jenna with lots of crying and trying not to cough (but not worse than 2 am this morning...). Tonight she still has a fever but is feeling much better.

Austin finally got to have his turn for family home evening lesson tonight. He was thrilled to be able to cause his parents the joy of a face full of flour. The lesson: Stay away from the edge. Don't try to get close to things that aren't good. Everyone gave examples of things that could be acceptable but might be pushing a bit too close to the edge. Ex: drinking energy drinks--or for us caffeine in general, listening to bad music, not wearing clean white shirts to church...(we've been working on being presentable to pass the sacrament for Sunday mornings). The game is to try to cut the flour away from the penny as close as possible without making it fall...

You get the picture.

We are not ready for Halloween. I still have to make a witch dress to Jenna's specifications (and they are specific...) and a werewolf costume.

Any ideas on that one?

Thankfully Benson wants to be a knight which is a costume I could easily provide for the entire neighborhood.
And I am in charge of a first grade party.
Hmmm--everything has to be done by Thursday.
I hope we will be able to leave the house by Thursday!

Monday, October 19, 2009


Benson and I have been hanging out in the 'rock-a-bye' chair since Saturday morning. We have been told he has the classic swine flu symptoms going on and not to come to the office (surprise surprise!). Apparently the swine flu test has a very low sensitivity--only around 45% accurate, so much of the diagnosis is based on symptoms. The symptoms aren't too fun. Yesterday Benson was crying and crying because "everything except my feet" hurt. I finally had to get some ice packs for his arms which seemed to be the worst. This morning he woke up with a ghostly pale face (and fever) and puffy purple rings around his eyes. Poor boy.

Two of the neighboring school districts to our town have closed their schools because of wide spread flu outbreak. The kids tried to convince me this morning that they all need to stay home from school. Hmmm, tempting but I told them not to call me unless they actually have a fever. We can always hope for the best!

Dallin and Landon are done with football. Their team was third in the league. The first and second place teams are the only teams that came close to beating them. We are looking forward to some quieter evenings so we can enjoy the beautiful fall weather while it lasts.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Global warming among other things

"If this is global warming then I would hate to have seen it before!"

That was Landon's comment when we woke up this morning to ...


Not just the "is that frost or is it snow?" kind of snow but big fat thick wet flakes sticking to everything in sight. It didn't just snow for a few minutes but continued for the entire day. In fact we had to get the ladder out twice to clean the satellite dish out so we could watch conference today. It somehow made our conference-morning cinnamon rolls feel very festive.
Rustin and Austin and I also went to the Saturday morning session of conference at the conference center in Salt Lake. The other kids stayed home and watched Dallin and Landon play in their football game. (Thanks to my family who were all home visiting!)
We loved visiting our friends from Memphis--the Gibbons. Austin and Andrew were little buddies when they were tiny and they picked right back up where we left off. We really enjoyed spending some time with Austin by himself this weekend!

Now I think we need to head out to the shed and bring in all the winter gear. We should get some nice fall weather here next week but better safe than sorry!

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Last night we all got to remember what we thought and felt five years ago when Benson joined our family.

Austin mostly remembers that Brother A. came over to baby sit at our house. Austin tried to teach him to play video games to no avail. They still have a private joke where Brother A says to Austin "you know, you're not too smart" and Austin says back "you know you're not too good at video games."

Dallin and Landon remember .

Jenna was barely walking (15 months) and was happy to share binkies with him.

I remember the night before the big day. I was completely exhausted from a pregnancy complicated with early labor and bed rest.
I had gone into labor two and a half months early (30 weeks). I had spent three days in the hospital with the maximum doses of uterine-relaxing medicines pumping into my body. There was a moment when I heard someone's newborn baby cry next door and I thought "I really don't want to do this. That does not sound fun at all."

But then I had this little glimpse of Benson's spirit. Just for a second. And I felt peace. I really did. I felt sure that I could and would go through these hard things for that precious spirit. And I felt that having our fourth boy was of course the perfect thing.

So, that night before Benson was born, I sat on the couch downstairs and felt my rib cage stretch as his little foot pushed for more space (he was 9 lbs. 8 oz and 22 in.) as my belly continued to contract over and over again--as it had since those days in the hospital. I wondered if I would ever feel such a sensation again. I don't know how I could see through the discomfort but I recognized that it was such a unique blessing and experience. To know that I had a husband and children who were also ready and waiting for this baby was very comforting.

We are so, so thankful that Benson is who he is. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


This morning I lay on the couch completely avoiding my morning motherly duties.
I have never done this before because getting everyone out the door with all essentials in tow requires my full attention. Though lately the dark skies and cold temperatures have me wishing to stay in bed.
I am having a hard time embracing this new 6:30 am wake up time for the twins. They are too. We say every morning "we need to go to bed earlier don't we?" but then there are just too few minutes of relaxing nothingness in the day so we stay up too late.

But this morning, just for a minute, I felt different. I usually look at our big window and wish for the 100th time that I had the beautiful velvet drapes I have been dreaming about, but this morning I could see the sky.
The clouds were moving so fast that I could almost feel my place in the universe. It's a very strange feeling.

The sky this morning was kind of purple and full of threatening clouds. It made me think of heaven. What I will feel like when I get to heaven? Will I say "it was really hard for me down there. I wish I could have done better" or will I say "I am so glad I got to have such a great experience. I wouldn't change a thing!"

I hope I will say that my spirit recognized the beautiful things on earth that were patterned after the world where we used to live.

Benson turns five tomorrow. That is somehow the official 'big boy' age. It is a different stage for us now. Did I enjoy those sweet baby cheeks enough? Did I give hugs in place of frustration enough? They grow up so fast. Much of the kids' toddler years were just plain exhausting for me.
It kind of feels like we are constantly entering new waters. Right now we are adjusting to growing kids and Rustin's overstretched physical, emotional and spiritual schedule. We have a lot of compensating blessings that none of us would trade, but it's still an adjustment.

In all, I guess I have been reminded that everything is a stage. None of it will last whether pleasant or unpleasant. Many have gone before me and have been able to keep their priorities in the right place. My ancestors have handed down a legacy of happiness and obedience. And I think their chance was over before they even knew it. Mine will be too. Today I will read again President Monson's quote on my side bar and smile at my laundry.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Here's one good reason to get the bunk bed project finished.

(yes those are five kids sleeping on the floor)

Here's the reason that it might take me a bit longer than planned.

I guess the kids did inherit something from me after all. A bit of clumsiness. ouch.

Does a thumb with five stitches count as an excuse to have laundry waiting to be done?
I say it does.

The old big bulky beds are now downstairs in the missionaries' apartment. The new beds won't take up as much space and will have lots more storage. If I ever get them finished.

We are Loving the fall-ish weather. Jackets in the morning--shorts in the afternoon. Perfect corn, tomatoes, apples and all kinds of yummy stuff.

And of course football. The three big boys are loving football but they secretly can't wait until they have afternoons free again. So they can practice the piano. uh-huh.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Errand of Angels

Do you ever need to say thank you to someone but know that there really is no way to do it adequately? That is how I feel this morning.

Last Thursday I got one of those phone calls that only a sister can understand. It was pretty much a jumble of incomprehensible sentences that sounded something like "they mixed up all the piles...eight o'clock tomorrow morning, locked in their rooms, I CAN'T DO THIS..."

My sister is moving to Australia. Her husband left about three weeks ago to start work and that has left Juli with five kids and a house to organize for the packers.
Some things need to go to storage, some to Idaho, some on slow boat to Australia and some by air shipment to Australia. And then, the most important things had to be neatly tucked into suitcases meant to hold every item needed for clothing or comfort for the next month or so.

A day spent cleaning and organizing was undone in a matter of minutes by her unsuspecting children. I could completely understand her panic. And I do mean panic.

My mom and I considered jumping in the car to make the ten hour drive to New Mexico to offer what comfort we could. But it would be too late. The comfort was needed immediately. We couldn't get there in time.

That's when I remembered Susan. Months ago when I was visiting New Mexico Susan let me program her cell phone number into my phone just in case I ever needed to get a hold of her for any reason.

So I called her. At 9:30 at night. I explained that the moment of help had arrived. The moment when only a sister will do. Fortunately she understood that the bonds of sisterhood reach beyond blood. Because we share the same lineage. It is unthinkable to let a sister go uncared for.

Juli's doorbell was ringing before we knew it. The kitchen was cleaned, piles were sorted and the kids asleep in their beds.

I can only think of one adequate way to say thanks and that is to return the favor. I have a feeling there are sisters all over the world in need of a sister. I'm sure someone has a sister near me in need and I am determined to be there. No sister should have to carry her burdens alone. We can be there together. I think I finally understand that now.