I apologize to all you November birthdays out there, but for my life, right now, November is the worst month of the year. (Darn you, time change! Darn you!!)

It doesn't help that we always have vehicle registration in November, which in a very pleasant surprise (miracle???), we passed on the first try. You wouldn't believe the sense of euphoria we felt when that happened. It felt like we had finally gotten a well-deserved break.

Anyways, let's just say it's been a long two weeks of whining, yelling, wrestling, arguing, and not being able to get the kids in bed fast enough. But why focus on that? Here are some good things--

Turns out fears of Ruby being bullied were overblown. She's not dealing with anything above and beyond what any normal kid does. That was also a great relief. Sorry for the false alarm :)

Every day her class walks or runs 1 mile. This week she was very excited to tell us that some kid in her class (we'll call him Dexter) was going to pay the winner of the mile $20. And then just before she left for the bus, she accidentally let slip out that Dexter would give $20 to the winner, but you had to give Dexter $1. I immediately confiscated the dollar that she did indeed have in her pocket.
Woo: So Dexter's getting into race promotion or gambling?
I was thinking more like fraud.

(She did win the mile, and no one got $20, in case you were wondering.)

Here are some things Herbie is proud of and is excited to share with me: when he anonymously shovels the neighbor's walk, invites a friend to church, passes off his multiplication tables, is "top dog" in his class, or when he cleans his room or makes his bed really well. He'll also come home excited about any successes the autistic boy in his class has made that day.
Ruby: Did you know Justin Bieber taught himself the guitar?  
Herbie: Kinda like I'm teaching myself the guitar? 
We don't own a guitar. At least I don't think we do.

Linus got his leg casted this week, and he was able to walk on it right away. Partially because we again requested one cast for the full duration instead of a new one every couple of weeks, and they casted his leg at an angle comfortable for walking right away. He's even able to go play out in the snow. He just wears my snow boot over his casted foot. Linus has done an incredible amount of whining this week, but did make Herbie's bed for him one day, and was very proud.

Moses' attitude change about always trying his best seems to have spilled over into school too. He's now bringing home spelling tests with sentences that are absolutely perfect and written in very neat handwriting. He also keeps bringing home "pink slips," which sound bad, but are actually compliments from reading aids.

Penelope still really believes that she's a mom, and is offended if anyone suggests otherwise. She napped a few times this week, but not enough. It's always amazing to me how little kids, who're low on sleep, are somehow unable to relax and get the sleep they need for a maddening amount of time. Hopefully, this week's the week.

Archie was very excited to see the snow. The other kids thought it was so funny when he walked right up and stuck his bare hand right in the first chance he got, not realizing they'd all done the same thing as babies. He's spent some quality time trying to get boots on his feet, gloves on his hands and hats on his head.

Woo drove down to town with a neighbor on Tuesday to unload some junk at the dump. He took Linus, Penelope and Archie along for the ride. Nobody realized that it was a holiday and the dump would be closed, which it was. The saving grace was the free krispy kreme donut they got at the gas station. Woo decided against sharing with the kids because of the mess they'd make in the back of the neighbor's car, so instead stuffed the whole thing in his face and climbed in.
Linus: It smells like donuts in here!
Well, that's about it. Hope you all had a great week!



The day after Moses got his cast off, Linus broke his leg. He seems to be doing fine, other than the fact that he can't walk. He's scooting pretty well around the house, and can climb into chairs, but he needs help dressing, getting up and down stairs, etc. No idea how long this will be. He still just has the splint on.
Moses (while driving up to the grocery store with the words food and drug prominently displayed): Mom! Do not take me to the part that says drug!  
I made a pledge at my school to not take any drugs!

Ruby, Herbie and Moses have had a few fun evenings running around and playing tag in the dark after dinner, now that the time had changed. They originally thought they needed their snowsuits, but soon peeled those off--the weather's been so nice.

I moved Archie out of his little high chair. He now sits in a kid chair around the table just like the rest of 'em. I always love to watch the baby get to do something just like the older kids for the first time. They're always so excited. Archie's "no" has evolved to "nope" and he says it most of the time. He'll say "yep" only very rarely.

I'm tired. Part of it is that Penelope hasn't napped well this week, so I haven't. But mostly, I'm going to blame the time change and all the extra work that always brings. It's always worked for me in the past.

Woo worked a lot, told some jokes, did some nice things ... I can't remember any specifics right now, but I think we've both had better weeks.

Well, that's about it. Hope you all had a great week!



This week was sandwiched between extended family. We saw Woo's family last Sunday for a family dinner and to see his brother, Kevin and family, in town, and on Saturday we saw my family for Taija's baptism.

Herbie was very excited to see his older cousin Ryan (freshman at BYU), and stuck to him like glue. It reminded me of the last wedding reception we went to (actually a non-wedding reception, but that's a long story). Herbie parked himself next to the (non)groom and his friends for most of the time we were there. I wonder how old he really thinks he is.

Herbie and I have played a lot of catch in the last couple of weeks. For not being much of a baseball fan, I find playing catch to be surprisingly fun. And Herbie and I are just about the same level--8 year old boy. I have an edge on catching and he has an edge on throwing.

Archie had a love/fear relationship with Kevin and Margaret's dog, Ollie. He used a toy spatula as a tool to pet Ollie, and he did a lot of laughing. Nervous laughing. It's the same laugh he uses when we have to walk past the horses behind our house.

I also loved watching him run up to a crying Penelope a few days ago with his arms outstretched and making kissing noises, which he planted on her back. It was just what she needed.

Penelope loves the leaves on the grounds right now. She likes to pick up a whole armful on our walks. And if she happens to take an armful into the library, she likes to drop them all right in the middle of the floor the second her mother notices them.

Woo has had an extremely busy week, but he still managed to make it to Herbie's pack meeting, go for a walk with Ruby, help out with Moses' class Halloween party (and dress up as an escaped convict so policeman-Moses and friends could chase him at recess), bear his testimony with a story about Penelope, and sit with all the crazy Halloween-high kids alone, while I waited in line for mine.

Moses (on our way out the door for trick-or-treating): Mom, sometimes people give out healthy food...
And you say thank you, even though it's healthy. 

Penelope discovered that when people lowered their bowl of candy at the door, she could grab a handful, and then another, and then another, without them even saying a thing. Then she tried the exact same thing today with the Sacrament bread.

Ruby has been so much better this fall at home, but we found out that she's moved all her moody behavior to Primary. Also those cool kids at school are a problem. Not only do they not like her, but they're actively mean to her. Feel free to shoot up a prayer or two in her behalf.

Linus has been in a pretty crabby mood all week. Almost as soon as we started learning his talk, he refused to even try. I just kept repeating it to him every once in awhile, and one day I bribed him to try the first part with a piece of candy. He spit out the whole talk right then, perfectly. He told me he'd practiced by himself and "learned it in the middle of the night." That little stinker.

Here I am in my natural state: surrounded on four sides by children everywhere I go.

Well, that's about it. Hope you all had a great week and a happy Halloween!


A month or two ago I reread Sister Reeve's excellent conference talk--a Christ focused home--and said to my husband, "I love this talk so much. I wish I had given it. I wish these words had come out of my mouth."

So, as the next best thing, I'm going to quote a couple things from it, which many of you are already familiar with.

First when she receives answer to prayer while overwhelmed with a young family, she says, "It is OK if the house is a mess and the children are still in their pajamas and some responsibilities are left undone. The only things that really need to be accomplished in the home are daily scripture study and prayer and weekly family home evening."

I believe this with all of my heart to be true of all of our homes. 

Sister Reeves also says, "A friend recently cautioned, 'When you ask the sisters to read the scriptures and pray more, it stresses them out. They already feel like they have too much to do.'

Brothers and sisters, because I know from my own experiences, and those of my husband, I must testify of the blessings of daily scripture study and prayer and weekly family home evening. These are the very practices that help take away stress, give direction to our lives, and add protection to our homes."

I would like to add my testimony to Sister Reeve's that these things are not just something we do when everything in our life is calm and peaceful, we have nothing better to do, and everyone in our home is on board. These are things that we do to create calm and peace, make our days more productive, enlighten our minds and enrich our relationships. Especially when done daily over a period of years, much like watering a tree, it will someday grow into something so tall and strong that everyone around you will be able to gather strength and protection and knowledge from it.

I love the gospel of Jesus Christ and the opportunity that it gives me to become clean and free from my sins and the power that it gives me to become more than I am.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.



Penelope's decided that her new favorite book is the classic Miss Nelson is Missing.  She'll laugh and laugh and request it many times, which is fine with me. Every time I read that book I think, "This book is pure genius!"

Anyways, Penelope likes to say, "I'm a little Miss Nelson!" in her bad guy voice. Which makes me think she really thinks she's the wicked Miss Viola Swamp. She also likes to run around and snap, "Never mind that!"

One night when I was asking Herbie what his favorite moment from the day was, he said, "Oh! Seeing Moses at recess and playing flies-up with him!" and from across the room, Moses said, "That was my favorite moment too!"

Herbie won't wear his bike jersey to school anymore because he says everyone says it's weird and stupid. It's hard to figure out how to tell him that just because all the other 2nd graders don't know what it is, doesn't actually mean it's stupid. Especially without disparaging the other 2nd graders.

Moses: Triceratops--cera means three in dinosaur language.

One day this week, maybe on Wednesday, Moses carefully sounded out and correctly read every word in his scripture during scripture time. Even the long, tricky ones that we had previously believed were over his head. When we all clapped, and Woo said, "I don't think I've ever heard you read that well, ever, Moses!" He said, "I decided to try my best." And he's read that well every day this week. Amazing what a change in attitude can do.

The kids got into the costume bin to pick out their costumes for Halloween and Ruby put on the US Space Camp uniform we have and pulled on a chicken beak and announced she was going to be "a chicken in space," which I thought was brilliant, but apparently she didn't. Because she immediately changed her mind to zombie and then Harry Potter. I keep trying to talk her back into it, but she's refusing because she "was just joking, Mom!" Anyways, it's probably time for me to back out now and let her be whatever the heck she wants to be. I never should've gotten involved in the first place, but darn it, everyone's going to be a zombie ...

Linus had a very successful talk in the primary program. He learned his talk easily, delivered it flawlessly, and there was an audible, collective sigh from the congregation as he finished. Someone accused him of having an unfair cuteness advantage. (It helps to be the only 4 yr old in the ward.) So when he got his assignment for a talk in Primary next week, he was super excited and wanted to start on it as soon as we got home from church. We've begun today, and he's unfortunately not too excited to remember that it takes a bit of work before you can get to that moment of glory.

I was a little too optimistic when I started putting Archie on the potty. Most (but not all) of my kids have been trained about 2 months after they've started walking, and I wasn't expecting Archie to not only crawl up to 18 months, but past it to 19. Anyways, here we are at about 2 months out, and he's starting to make important progress. He goes on demand and will hold it while out of the house. How long it takes him from here, really just depends on what he decides. He could make up his mind next week (But my hopes aren't up, seeing how he doesn't seem to have a trailblazer mind set--more of a sit-back-until-I-have-to one.) It probably depends a bit on his reward. He's happy right now to receive a bite of ice cream for a success, but I'm not sure it's exciting enough to put him over the top. I'll reevaluate in another week or two.

Well, that's about it. Hope you had a good week!



Woo and I reached our 11 year anniversary this week. I kind of wanted to take a picture of us kissing and all the kids running around like crazies to show our 11 year results, but that never happened. Maybe next week. (I know you can't wait.)

We made no plans for our anniversary until the very last minute, when we decided to do sealings and go to lunch. I had a devil of a time finding a sitter, since it was UEA, and eventually just gave up. Woo called his mom, who lives close to a temple and had said she wanted to see the kids. We dropped by Lyndy's on the way home for a short visit. Sorry we didn't catch everyone, we didn't really plan it very well.

We spent the last day of UEA hanging out in the living room. Woo and I laid on the couch and the kids played with a pile of dolls and clothes that a neighbor had dumped off at the house this week. Sometimes it's nice to just lie around and do nothing.

Herbie came home from scouts all excited to tell me that he was the only one to get 500. (We'd talked about my glory days playing 500 in grade school during his last story night.) It turns out that he was the only one to get 500, but some other kids got things like 550, 675, and 7,200.

Woo and I figured out Grandma Marva's age.
Woo: Wow! Are you going to live that long? 
You're going to live 20 years longer than me! 
Moses (nodding in agreement): You eat too many potato chips.

Me: I think you're stinky, NellPea. 
Nellpea: No! Liney is stinky! I can hear him from here!!
Even after I explained that smells are something we experience through our noses and sounds are things we hear through our ears, she still insisted that she could hear how stinky Linus was.

Moses got his cast off this week, but it wasn't healed. Another three weeks in a new cast :(.

Death by pumpkin.

Linus in his car.

Just a few math equations for the road.

Oh, another thing that happened this week is that the kids had parent teacher conferences. Woo had to go into work that day for a meeting. He took the car, so the kids and I rode our bikes. It took an hour. Penelope or Archie or Linus cried almost the entire way there. Ruby did a lot of complaining that we had to go the speed of the slowest rider. Moses and Herbie were great.

When we got to the school and I got kids out of the trailer, there was a huge pile of Penelope's hair in Archie's hand. Later, while crying down the hall on the way to the next teacher, Penelope walked straight into a corner. Let's just say that conferences with Ruby and Herbie's teachers were less than ideal. Moses' went pretty well, mostly because the playground was just out the door and I sent everyone but Archie out there.

Well, that's our week. Hope yours was great!



I made the kids memorize their talks for the Primary Program today, which Herbie thought was "stupid." I launched into a long tale about how my dad had taken a public speaking course at BYU, where he learned that memorizing talks leads to better delivery (do I have that right?) and that I'd had to memorize all my talks as a kid.
Woo: And now you can see where your mother is today.
There was a pause as Woo and I both did some thinking about what benefits from it I could see today.
Me: Um, and now I'm the best talk-giver ever ... 
Moses: No she's not. She's the worst! 

Moses had a field trip this week. When I asked him about it, he said it wasn't that good. When I asked him how his school lunch was, he said, "bad."
Me: Really? You didn't like anything in your lunch? 
Moses: Well, I liked the apples. I ate them. And the carrots, I ate all the carrots. I liked 
the sandwich. But I did NOT like the thing that you eat with peanut butter. 
Me: Um, celery? 
Moses: I did NOT like the celery. 
Me: So you liked everything in your lunch, except the celery? 
Moses (smiling sheepishly): Yeah.
Could've ruined a whole lunch for anybody.

Maybe I shouldn't admit that I haven't done this myself, but Moses taught Linus the Alphabet Song. It doesn't sound like it took long, though.
Me: When did he teach you? 
Linus: Um, when I was in the bath and Moses was on the potty.
Linus is a very neat child. I think he's the only one that cares whether his socks match or not, and was very excited for the pack of new "matching" socks that he got this week. He folds his clothes when he cleans his room. He keeps track of his special possessions like his darth vader slippers. He's a very neat eater and rarely makes a mess. I think so far, with the four oldest kids, we're about 2 for 2 in that area.

Ruby (running to Moses aid): Herbie!! God did not say an eye for an eye! 
He said cheek for a cheek
Just because Moses did something, does NOT mean ... 
Sounds like a little clarification is needed there ...

Ruby loves Archie and is always a big help with him. She loves to just hang out and play besides dress him, get his milk or food, keep him out of the road while playing outside, push his stroller, etc.

This week Penelope learned to ride her bike REALLY fast. No more walking while sitting on a bike.

When Penelope wakes up from her nap, she likes to "read" a book. She doesn't even bother to open the curtains. She can tell the story and even turn the pages in the dark.

We got a cub scout merchandise catalog in the mail, and I made the mistake of letting Herbie look at it instead of just tossing it. He's made a huge Christmas list now including: the official cub scout watch, cub scout hoodie, several pocketknives, and the most enthralling of all: earbuds and portable speaker with the official cub scout insignia.

I broke down the crib this week and put Archie on the bottom bunk. If I stay in his room to supervise, he'll constantly crawl out of bed, and even break through baby gates. If I stay away, he'll play around a little in bed like he's in his crib, and then fall asleep.

Woo opted to stay in the car while we ran into Walmart, which took longer than I had anticipated.
Woo: That was the most horrible hour of my life! 
The only way it could've possibly been any worse is if I'd been inside the Walmart!
Hear, hear. Woo and I feel like our life is draining away every time we go in, mostly because it takes so long to get anything out of there.

After conducting several experiments, it's been determined that Woo can get the kids to snack on fruits and vegetables like no other human on the planet. It works like this:
Kids: We're hungry.
Me: Eat a cucumber.
Kids: No.
Woo (washing a cucumber and taking a loud, crunchy bite out of it): Mmmmm! Who wants a cucumber?
Kids: ME!!!
Woo (slicing an entire plate of apples, and then stuffing his mouth): These taste just like candy! Does anyone want an apple slice?
Kids: ME!!!
I got a cell phone this week. Yes, a real one. The first cell phone I've had in 10 1/2 years. Woo is jealous because I got the easiest number in the world (he says).

My favorite talks from Conference might have actually been from the General Woman's session this year. I loved Sister Marriot's talk. Sister Burton's talk was not my favorite, but in rereading it, I was intrigued by the title. This last week I've done a lot of reading in Alma 45-50. It occurred to me (for maybe the first time) that it's my responsibility to be the Captain Moroni for my family. Reading it in that light has brought insights.

The week or so before Conference, I'd done a lot of thinking and study about fasting and prayer. As usual, Pres. Eyring had answers for me (also his First Presidency message this month) and also Elder Holland. But, I look forward to reading them all again.

Well, that's about it. I hope you all had a great week!



This week I encountered one of my worst fears (taking six little kids to an amusement park. Or just an amusement park, period) after Woo twisted my arm and got free tickets for the Vivint end of year party. And it turned out to be--not bad. Some might even call it fun.

We walked right in and Woo took all kids who were tall enough on the first roller coaster he saw. Moses was wise enough to back out at the last minute. Herbie was in for a very unpleasant surprise.

Woo had to yell, "Breathe, Herbie! Breathe!" and then after that he was close to hyperventilating until well after his feet were on the ground. It reminded me of myself on a roller coaster, which I have not experienced in over 15 years. I've loved every second of it.

Ruby mostly had fun, and went on a few other rides with Woo. The Lagoon trip contributed to this being the "best week of my life!" (The other exciting events being chosen for Lunch Duty and Flag Duty.)

Woo went on the biggest roller coaster alone (that's him waving, of course), but mostly we stuck to the kiddie area, where the kids had a lot of fun. Except Penelope. You may notice that Penelope is not in any of these pictures because she was too scared to ride anything, except for the train. Even standing next to a few of the louder rides would make her cry.

When the other kids were listing all their favorite rides on the way home, Penelope piped up, "My favorite ride was the train! And---"

Woo: The train's the only ride you went on, Penelope.

It's the only one I went on too, so I guess it also was my favorite. (That smile may or may not be 100% genuine.)

Vivint provided dinner, which was pretty reminiscent of cafeteria food, but it was (1) free and (2) I didn't have to make it. Woo and I are willing to drop a lot of our dinner standards when those two things are involved.

During dinner we met up with one of Woo's work friends and Moses did what he could to be impressive by running real fast up one end of the table and then down the other. I think it worked.

Of course, my internal "let's-get-out-of-here" clock went off and I hustled everyone out before they were really ready to go. The only thing that I regret maybe a tiny bit is that I didn't get to see Archie and Linus go around on the "baby boats" ride.

Well, that's about it. I hope you all had a great week!