Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Gift Idea

My sister sent me this link on end of year teacher gifts. I was smitten with the darling little box and decided I had to make one for Bean's Kindergarten teacher. It was super easy and quite a fun project because my sis and I shopped together finding all our supplies at Walmart.




Bentley delivered the goody box today and it was most happily received. My little guy has just 4 days of school left! I am floored that the year is already over...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Birthday, Birthday!

What do you do when your kids have birthdays 3 days apart? Because I will tell you what I do--make them share a party, easy peasy. In the past we have kept it mainly a family event with aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents. But with Bentley in Kindergarten meeting many new kids, we felt like we could host more friends this year. For both kids. At once. We may have been feeling a little overly ambitious at the time, but we decided to host simultaneous parties--one for Cares and all the girls and one for Bentley and the boys. With the stormy and freezing weather we are so lucky we had 3 floors at our disposal. And we even did pinatas in the newly orange garage!

We had 20 kids here on Saturday! It was soooo busy. And I had a feeling it would be so we recruited A LOT of help--all 4 grandparents AND my big sis. And thank goodness they were all here because those kids kept us on our toes! (Livs included--luckily she took a nap during the second half of all the festivities.)

The boys were Lego maniacs on Saturday afternoon while the girls were fancy, accessorized ladies:



The boys colored a picture of a Lego cement mixer, went on a hunt for hidden Lego bricks in the backyard, built a ship/weapon/base with a bowl full of randomly assigned Legos, and guessed how many Legos were in a pre-filled jar.


the girls made beaded bracelets, colored butterfly pictures, had their fingernails painted, went on a hunt for hidden supplies and then made flower and rhinestone hair bows.




and both "parties" let loose on pinatas



a little LeBaron time when Joe's siblings stopped by to pick up their kids...

And that was our wild and wonderful day on Saturday. Until next year then...


Monday, May 24, 2010

To My 4 Year Old Girl

Dear 4 Year Old Caroline--

Happy Birthday pretty girl! Oh, my little Cares--how are you growing up so fast? It has been a busy ride for us so far but also so much fun--having a daughter is just so delightful for me. I love how excited you are about shoes and clothes, how you love lip gloss and painted nails, and how you escape into your fantasy world of Polly Pockets and princesses and Barbies as you play. It's so wonderful to be a girl!

This year I have really noticed your mothering instincts coming into play. You have been such a lovely big sister to Olivia and very concerned about helping her, feeding her, pushing her stroller and cooing over her. You have also become quite the little mother hen with your preschool friends--calming them when they feel sad about something and making each of them feel loved and cared for. It's too sweet how they all love to sit by you when we gather around the table or sit down for blanket time. You also showed great kindness and love for my Papa just before he died, your gentle and tender nature shining through.

You have learned a lot in the past year too--reciting the Pledge of Allegiance by memory, recognizing many letters and the sounds they make, singing all the primary songs you have learned this year, and improving your coloring skills. I am proud of you for being a good listener during church and preschool and especially during our scripture study each night. You sure love the stories of Jesus--your favorite being when he taught the Nephite children. You have turned into my very best sleeper this year--getting 13 hours of sleep almost every night--sounds dreamy! Let's teach Livs that trick very soon, ok?

Cares, thank you for being a bright little star in our home, for playing endlessly with Beans and letting Livs brush your hair, for being such a meticulous and avid cleaner--folding your clothes so nicely and getting your room and bed sparkling clean almost every day, and for giving such wonderfully, snuggly, hugs and kisses to all of us.

I love you darling girl!

--Mommy

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bentley's Day

A birthday morning: the traditional breakfast in bed




A birthday evening: hanging out at the fathers and sons camp out--
something Bentley was stoked about for his birthday.

with buddies Noah and Mason

reading Mason a bedtime story
(Joseph and Bentley shared a tent with the Barnes--luckily it was a sturdy one. The storms raged last night but those guys stayed dry!)



Friday, May 21, 2010

To My 6 Year Old Boy

Dear 6 year old Bentley-- Happy Birthday darling boy!

What a huge year this has been for you--the biggest change coming in the form of Kindergarten. You were so nervous and worried those first few days--it broke this mama's heart for sure. But your Daddy and I prayed for you and encouraged you and saw how you quickly embraced this new challenge and made friends easily. I was so proud of you for overcoming a new and hard thing. I have loved coming to the school to work with your class and see how well you fit in and how engaged you are in learning. And the hugs and sweet waves I get from you while I am there are among my favorite things in life.


Another big change has arrived with your incredible reading skills. I am blown away at how far you have come since last year! The world has become so new and exciting as you read every sign, every cereal box, each book that comes home from school, the directions on your homework, and the scriptures as we read as a family each night. It has been so exciting for me to see you dive in and learn.


Thank you for continuing to be a great helper in our home--entertaining Cares and Livs, setting the table and emptying the dishwasher, and working tirelessly in the yard with Daddy. You are a good worker and fun company when we do family projects--you sure rocked that roller brush when we painted the garage a few weeks ago!


A few months ago you bore your testimony in church for the first time. I loved how eager you were to do so even though you weren't really sure about talking in front of so many people, but with Dad's help you did so well. This week, during family home evening, we talked about the Savior and His sacrifice for us. Daddy and I both bore our testimonies and then you asked to do so too. You did it all by yourself and shared your love for the Gospel and your family--the most essential things in life my sweet boy. I am so grateful for your sincere feelings and open, willing heart. You bring a happiness into our home that Daddy and I had never known until we met you exactly six years ago. I am so glad you are my first born baby and my beautiful boy.

I love you!

--Mommy


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fun Pic

The kids' favorite thing to do at the hardware store. We have been to Lowe's and Home Depot about 10 times in the last 2 weeks...I forget which one this is :)



Monday, May 17, 2010

ASU Graduation

Friday, May 14th, 2010


Tye Sherman Smith, Law School Graduate Class of 2010
Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University

Tye with his lovely wife and adorable son

the proud family


2 ASU grads

How crazy is it that 6 years ago almost to the day I stood outside the same building, on the same campus, dressed in my cap, gown (stunningly maroon of course) and newly achieved hood? I never would have guessed I'd be back for a sibling's graduation in later years. It was so much fun for me, reminiscing on my fond memories, favorite spots on campus and years of training, teaching and work. The dance building which housed my graduate lounge/office just happens to be next door to the law school--a place where I ate lunch about once a week thanks to the yummy sandwich shop inside. It's been fun to think about my brother walking the same halls, parking in the same lots, and riding the same shuttles these past few years.

But back to Friday...it was honestly a huge honor to be in the audience and hear my brother speak and see him graduate. If you know Tye, you know he is definitely an outspoken man and someone his entire class of 150 knew in one way or another. One other student spoke briefly during the ceremony after receiving an honorary award and his talk basically revolved around his classmates and a handful of specific ones who had stood out and really made their class what it was. Tye was surely on the list and the last one he spoke about, describing him as "the man, the myth, the voice..." and one of the most honest people he had ever met. It was very cool to be there and hear so much about my brother as a law student.

And of course, Tye's speech was really good. He delivered it so well and livened up the whole crowd. Cute Mason was so good during it and loved listening to his daddy's voice echoing across the auditorium.

We ended the day with nothing less than Tia Rosa's for dinner. I had been craving those refried beans for years! And then it was back to the airport for my late flight back. I left home at 5:00 am Friday morning to catch my 6:30 flight, and pulled back into my driveway just before midnight that night. It was a whirlwind day but I felt so lucky that my schedule (and ever so helpful, babysitting mother-in-law) allowed a quick day away.

**In a neighboring state on the very same day and nearly the same time, my brother-in-law graduated from medical school. I am so sad I couldn't be in two places at once. But congrats to both graduates and their little families!

I had to add these pics at the end to document Tye's fame. So many people congratulated him and thanked him for his speech--both friends and strangers alike. I think the following pics are both with strangers coming up to him--it was just a funny part of the day for me...



OK--my own ASU graduation pic. The pics from that day kill me because I was sooooo pregnant and swollen--my Bentley made his debut just about a week later. I mean, look how low that baby was? Such good memories though...



Sunday, May 16, 2010

Haircuts

Before:

After:


Before:


After:


This little girl has been begging me for weeks now to cut her hair short so she can match her mommy. Cute.


*** Friday and Saturday were wonderfully busy days. I flew to Phoenix early Friday morning and spent 15 hours there for my big brother's law school graduation from ASU. Did I mention he was chosen as the student speaker? Very cool (pics will be up soon). And you can check out the speech here.

And yesterday my dancers had their annual recital at Kingsbury Hall so I spent a good part of the day up at the U of U. Once I got home I was dying to finally see my sweet family. I missed them so much during my whirlwind days...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sneak Peek

Our garage clean-up/makeover is still in full swing around here. Last Saturday was one of the busiest of my life--I was honestly working or at scheduled events from 7:00am until 12:15 am--so we weren't able to commit as many hours to our undertaking as we would have liked.

However, we got quite ambitious about painting! Who paints their garage anyway, right? We just did one wall and it is very bright and very fun. I love seeing it each time we head out.

Now, I am only prepared to show this one wall because the other 3 are still works in progress. Granted, they have come a long way but are not yet finished--we hope to get everything organized by the end of this weekend...


Before:


After:


Voila! Where is all the stuff? It turns out that a good portion of it didn't even belong in the garage or it was out of place and belonged elsewhere out there. When we first bought our pegboard a few year ago Joseph tried to convince me to paint underneath it so it would really stand-out and look cool on the wall. I thought he was silly. Now I see the light. That hubby of mine is always thinking like that...

And my new bike just looks so sharp against the orange, no? It is fresh from the shop where I had it serviced and sized because I bought it used. The specialist helping me last night made me feel v. savvy because I got such a good deal on it. I have only ever ridden it on a trainer so now I need to break that baby in on the streets. Wish me luck, it has been years since I last did so...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Love for a Mother

Unfortunately, Carrie already posted today, so we can't give her a much deserved break. But, by her own admission blogging IS her break, so we made these videos today while she blogged. The kids wanted to make these as a surprise present for Carrie, the best mom in the world. Babe, they love you so much! Happy Mother's Day.

video

video

Sorry Care, Livs didn't have much to say. But I think the big kids said it all. Thanks for taking such good care of them!

In This Moment

"For me, the secret of motherhood is in the moments. To stop and hear the peals of laughter, to touch the tiny hands, to notice the organic smell of their sun-warmed bodies after they come in from playing outside on a hot day--to be deliberate enough to enjoy it all. Who--when they've slowed down enough and have come outside of themselves enough--could not enjoy a child? This is the surest way I know of enjoying motherhood--ENJOYING my children. Taking the time and learning the skills of being present in the moment.

This is my greatest desire and my greatest anxiety--that it's going too quickly and that I've had too many children too fast, to be able to squeeze all the life and love out of these moments that I can. I feel as though I'm in a race against time to suck all of the joyful marrow out of each stage before it's gone."


--Emily Halverson, from
The Mother In Me.


There is much to be said on this role of motherhood. But for me, right now in this period of my life, the words above capture my feelings so perfectly. And I am praying earnestly that I can learn more and more how to savor the moments of mothering. I do love it. My children are such beautiful and dear little souls. They bring chaos and stress and a hundred different chores into my life, but they have brought so much love, so much happiness and an entirely new, more humbling and powerful perspective into my life.

Thank you, Bentley, Caroline and Olivia for helping me become the woman and mother I hope to be. And thank you to all the mothers in my life who remind me daily of the tenderness and sanctity of our role--you continually inspire and teach me.


Friday, May 7, 2010

20 Minutes

We had one of those nights last night: Cares crept into my room at 3:20 am and asked me for more water. On solid auto-pilot I refilled her cup, tucked her back in bed, and easily drifted back to sleep in my own bed. At 6:10, miss sunshine again crept into my room to inform me she'd "had an accident." I woke up in a daze and without turning on any lights I changed her bedding while she independently changed her undies and PJ's. Again, I tucked her into bed and wandered back to my room--that time it was much trickier to fall back to sleep. And Cares was subsequently up for the day, chatting in her room, organizing her animals, then turning on her light and outright playing. I could hear her off and on and then at 7:00 she marched into our room and announced she was awake for the day. Joseph slipped out with her and I finally fell back to sleep for almost an hour...a much needed hour at that point.

At any rate, the girls are both napping right now while Bentley is at school. And I can't shake the feeling that I should be on the treadmill or preparing dinner or planning my lesson for Sunday! But no, I am blogging--one of my favorite ways to unwind and feel very much relaxed. It is never a chore but one of the things I really enjoy and love to carve out time for--can you tell? And just before this I took a solid 20 minutes to sit out on my back porch and read my brand new Real Simple (arrived in the mail yesterday!) Heaven sent I tell you because it is all about garage organization and we have our own garage clean-up planned for Saturday (if we can fit it in between a ward mother's day breakfast, cabin clean-up in Sundance and Bentley's soccer game...) Because of the article I just read I now feel very passionate about painting at least one wall in our garage a vivid color (babe--what do you think about that?) And I think I need an orange hose too (green is so boring!)

Check out the entire garage article here if you please.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Fieldtrip

A temple fieldtrip for Cares' little preschool group last week



All Livs wanted to do was dig her fingernails into the flowerbeds--she loves dirt these days.

Remembering our ancestry


Preschool buddies + Bentley eating snacks


We love to see the temple


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Entertainment

Watching intently as our lawn was aerated yesterday.

I heard the big kids rush into Cares' room when the aerating machine loudly revved up, and Livs followed excitedly behind them. I went into the room to help Olivia up on the bed and found them already like this.
3 little buddies...


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Did You Know...

...all of last month's General Conference talks and musical numbers are available for free download as iTunes podcasts? Get them. Right now, as you read this. They are just plain good for the soul.

And once you have them, listen to the 3 hymns sung in the Priesthood session by the BYU combined men's chorus. They are so beautiful and such powerful songs--some of my new favorites thanks to these arrangements. There's just something so rich and engaging about a men's chorus.

This MP3 format of conference has made it so easy for me to listen to a conference talk or hymn while I prepare meals or sweep the floor (my new fave right?). And because they are all in my iTunes it only took 2 minutes to transfer them to my iPod so I can listen when on the go.

Just this afternoon I listened to Elder Uchtdorf's talk from the General Young Women's meeting. It's a keeper, even for us "not so young" women. Listen to it here when you get a few minutes.


**for those who need a little guidance:
1) Open iTunes and go to the iTunes store.
2) Select the "Podcasts" tab from the top menu bar and then do a search in the upper right hand corner for LDS General Conference.
3) Look for this icon when it brings up results, click on it and then choose the "subscribe free" button.
4) They will download into your podcasts in iTunes.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Clean

"I really love to clean. It's not anything compulsive, it's just that you can see a difference when you're through. Not like raising kids or something that you're not sure how it's going to turn out for a couple of decades."

--Jill Churchill, quoted from May's issue of Real Simple.


We worked all morning today cleaning the house. And while it is exhausting work, it is such satisfying work. I am the kind of girl who likes to dig in and get the housework all the way done all at once. Then, for the next few weeks, I can just do a little bit of daily cleaning and tidying. Although my kitchen floor sees the broom every day--sometimes two or three times. Lately I have become obsessed with crumbs--they are my arch enemies. And with 3 children eating meals and snacks they accumulate en masse. It is all I can do to wait until dinner is over before sweeping (or vacuuming--the Dyson works wonders under the kitchen table...)

I do love the feeling of getting real work done--especially dressing my freshly bathed children in crisp, clean PJ's and tucking them into bed--a huge task with all 3 of them in a row, but rewarding and wonderful at the same time.

I suddenly feel so nostalgic about my babes, raising them and nurturing them in these tender ages of theirs...listening to The Samples as I type isn't helping things. I really do adore my sweet little kiddos. Especially when they are happy and kind to each other and help all day picking up toys, arranging their little shoes, blankies and cuddly animals, and scrubbing the toilets with me. One thing is for sure--they are very good helpers. They may not be the best at keeping a freshly cleaned space actually looking clean for more than 10 minutes, but we will just have to work on that...

Nothing Lasts For Long-- by The Samples. Check it out if you aren't familiar. I have loved this song since the ripe old age of 16.