We checked out the book Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming from the library, which led to this conversation.

Linus: What's our car's name?
Me: It doesn't have a name. What do you want to name it?
Ruby: Red face!
Linus: Um. Uh. Um. Chitty chitty bang bang!
Herbie: Mine would be a football player. My favorite football player. Peyton.
Moses: Red face! (but after looking at Herbie's mad face, he decided to change it to) Peyton!
Moses: The car's name is Peyton Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Red Face!
Ruby: No, Manning.
Herbie: The car's name is Peyton Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Manning.

Speaking of Herbie, he sure likes those Betsy and Tacy books. Is it normal for an eight year old boy to request a book called Betsy's Wedding?

The Adventures of Tintin are also a big hit with everyone. They're probably Moses' favorite. Other than The Amulet books, but he's been banned from them, and can only read others under supervision, since sticking two pages of the last Amulet we got together in the corner. We had a bad experience last summer where we had to buy one slightly torn book and almost had to buy another because of fingerprint smudges, before I talked to the library head. After watching her sand off the smudges in a few seconds and tell us it would only be $2, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

This will probably make all librarians in the audience tear their hair out, but I preformed minor surgery on that Amulet book. It involved holding the stuck pages over a steam source, careful separation with the library card, a light sanding, and finally an ironing of pages. But no fine :).

Mister continues to be the biggest insult the little kids can come up with. Actually, that's not true. It's the biggest insult they're allowed to say (one of the school attending kids taught them butt head, but that will get them in trouble).

Penelope appeared to be having fun pushing all the other kids in the stroller, but then, all of a sudden, she tore out ahead, turned (her face full of rage) and screamed, "You guys are MISTER!"

Linus (tired and cranky and mad at Woo): Mister! Mister -- PINEAPPLE!

Linus: Do you want to see how high I can count?
Us: Yes.
Linus: 1-2-3 ...
He missed 15, which sent the three older kids into a fit of giggles, but Linus kept right on counting. Somehow he got from the 20s to the 50s. Soon he hit 57, then ended with pride at "fifty-eighty!"

The undisputed highest counter of any of our four year olds.

We had some visits this week. Grandma, Bruce and Konn came up for lunch one day. Bruce's walker continues to be a popular ride. Grandma picked up the twisted nail puzzle Kurt sent along for Herbie and Moses, and pulled them apart almost immediately. (It took quite a bit longer to put them back together again.) And Konn gave us all shoulder massages while we ate.

Another day Grandma and Grandpa came up. They brought two boxes of apricots with them, which the kids are just as excited about as candy. Penelope got this track suit from them, which everyone knows is one of the ideal outfits for muscle flexing.

Penelope: Oh! It's a shark!!
Me: Where?
Penelope (pointing to a bird): Way up in the sky!

We discussed Ruby's lesson on David and Goliath with her after church.

Woo: What's your Goliath, Ruby?
Ruby: Nikki. And Colton. Tim (He's in scouts with Herbie.) Brock and Sven ...

And I believe she would've kept going indefinitely, listing every person she'd ever argued with, if we hadn't stopped her to say that Goliath is not necessarily a person.

Here's Ruby in her warpaint.

Usually Ruby is the first name that our baby's say after Mom and Dad, but I haven't heard Archie say it yet. I did hear him say "Moses" twice this week, though.

Archie and Penelope play really well together. It reminds us of a little Ruby and Herbie playing together.

Woo's had one of those weeks, where his mind has focused on solving one riddle, and he's worked day and night until it's done. Which he finished last night -- hooray!

Well, that's all for the week. Hope yours was great!



The best part about Woo's birthday this year was that he spent 5.5 hours of it in meetings. No. The best part was that I woke him up 10 minutes before his alarm went off when all he wanted to do was sleep in. No, no. The best part was that this year his driver's license expired.

We decided to renew mine as well, and we drove to town, got the kids out of the car and into the DMV only to be told that driver's license's are all handled in a special building clear across town. "By the fish and game office," the man in line behind us said, which of course made everything perfectly clear.

When we got there, they tried to spring a new requirement on me (marriage certificate), but luckily they were wrong and I got my license without a hitch. (I didn't even have to take the test!). But Woo's experience went exactly the way he expected it to go. He couldn't sleep at all the night before, and he'd been putting it off as long as possible because he knew there'd be a block on his license due to a ticket he got in Connecticut 13 years ago. It's reared it's ugly head anytime he's ever had to do anything at the DMV, despite having taken care of it at the time.

Just 3 hours on hold later, and he was cleared ... until next time.

Penelope had a great birthday. Three year olds are pretty easy to please (thank goodness). Everyone was excited about the new rocking horse she got.

Me: Are you my little birthday girl?
Penelope: No! I's Dad's birfday girl!!

Me: Nelpea, do you want an M&M?
Penelope: No. I don't like those.
Me: Oh, you don't like those candies?
Penelope: Oh, I do.

I've been going on a declutter rampage this week. Herbie, Moses and Linus were thrilled when I pulled an old armchair into the front yard and started tearing it apart so it would fit in the garbage can.
Moses was good at tearing upholstery off. Herbie was all about the tools, and wanted to use them, whether he actually accomplished anything or not. Linus got hold of a pair of scissors, which he used to cut small scraps of upholstery, and then finally the grass.

Ruby helped me carry a dresser we'd gotten from Alisa out of the living room and up the stairs, and she was actually helpful. I had no idea she was so strong.

Archie is eighteen months and not walking. He did walk the entire length of the living room once. I'm the only one that noticed, and I pretended that I hadn't seen anything. That seemed to help. Every other time he takes a few steps, we all make a big deal of it, and he sits right down and laughs at us.

Every mom knows of the phenomenon of never being able to walk into the bathroom without someone knocking on the door. For posterities sake, I thought I'd list who interrupts me the most frequently.

#1: Woo and Herbie: I rarely go into the bathroom without either a "Are you in the bathroom?" from Woo or a "Mom! Mom!! Mom!!!" from Herbie. He can never seem to figure out that he can't find me because I'm in the bathroom, and that I'll be coming right back out.

#2: Moses or Linus: When it's one of these two it's proceeded by a lot of crying because they've either just gotten hurt or gotten served some injustice.

#3: Ruby, Penelope, Archie: These three seem to be able to go the longest amount of time separated from me, but they still have their moments.

Well, that's it for the week. Hope yours was great!


I had originally decided against recording this testimony since I didn't tell a story and it's a little bit hokey (culturally out-of-the-box in my presentation). But then I remembered that Ruby loved this testimony and was tickled pink when I sat down. (Probably because she had talked to me about the Priests memorizing the Sacrament prayers so they could close their eyes just minutes before.) I decided that that alone made it worth recording.


There are a lot of ways I could go with the holiday and the previous speakers ... I hope this is going to be the right thing to say ...

I would like to say that the formation of this country was truly a miracle through Jesus Christ (referencing previous speaker), and I believe was done to create the perfect circumstances for the Restoration of the Gospel.

But I want my family to know how much I love the words to the Sacrament prayers. If I was ever a prisoner of war or in a concentration camp I believe I could repeat the words over and over again to keep myself from going crazy. And, in such a situation, I know I would weep to hear their words just like I would weep to hear any of your voices.

But more important is to remember the words and appreciate them now. They bring the Spirit into any situation.

And this is kind of ... odd ... but I'm going to say the words of one of them right now.

O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it; that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he has given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.



We had a fun week filled with events and family visits. First Mom came and helped the kids pick out and plant flowers, which they loved. I ripped up a bit of grass in that area, while they were working, and decided that would be the perfect spot to start a few vegetables -- we'll see how they do.

Mom left a few treats, including one of those giant bags of peanut m&ms, which meant that I ate m&ms exclusively the next day. Good thing I never buy them for myself :).

While I was eating m&ms, Woo spent a day at his parents picking raspberries and making raspberry jam, otherwise I could've counted on him to hide them from me.

The day before the Fourth, Christine and Jon and their kids rolled into town. We had fun in the pool and ate dinner before getting the kids to bed. Nicole spent a large chunk of that time in the bathroom working on her hair. She definitely had the best hair there.

The kids got up in the morning and dressed in their best red, white and blue, which for Herbie meant his cub scout shirt. I wanted to know when he'd planned that, but he told me that he always wears that shirt for the Fourth. There was no debate or planning involved. Before the parade, his den leader rode by and asked him if he wanted to walk in the parade with the flag. He said no, but later when his den walked by, I think he regretted it.

Archie really loved throwing the snaps that Grandma sent along with Woo. All that good rock throwing finally came in handy.

After the parade, we had no real plans until the fireworks, so Jon went on a mt bike ride. The same ride he started at the family reunion last year, but had a much more enjoyable time due to the actual presence of a chain.

Ruby took the liberty of ripping Isaac's training wheels off his bike, and the next thing I knew he was riding around on two wheels with all the other kids.

Penelope taught Sammy the joys of "bum-bitty bum, bum, bum!" They spent a lot of time laughing and being silly together.

Linus decided he'd had enough of Lil' Pinker, and upgraded to the slightly bigger blue bike, which the kids call Lil' Bluer, of course.

We also made a trip to the beach, kids used the water slide, everyone but Christine took a ride on the kiddie train and we BBQed before we headed to the park for fireworks.

Woo declared this picture the best picture of me taken in the last five years. I guess he would know. (Thanks, Jos and Trace for the glasses.)

Penelope was not nearly as scared of the fireworks as we thought she might be, and they put Sammy to sleep.

The next morning Woo took the kids to the park for their annual search for "treasures." Moses found these glasses, which pretty much made him the coolest kid in town. Or maybe it's the cherry stains. Or the ribs. Either way, he's the coolest.

Ruby found a broken camp chair that she insisted she could fix with duct tape. When I refused to allow her to take it home, she countered that I just didn't know how to use duct tape as well as she did.

We made another trip to the beach, where Ben finally got his fill of sand and water.

Through it all we ate A LOT of food. In part because Christine brought enough meat and ice cream treats to feed a small army. Woo declared her salmon the best salmon he's eaten in five years (I'm sensing a five year theme here ... )

Anyways, it was a good holiday and week. Hope you had a great Fourth!



We had a nice quiet, summer week, mostly spent hanging out around home. Herbie and Woo did go to scout camp. Which Herbie loved, and best of all, Woo bought him a pocketknife.

Herbie: Mom, you know those toothpicks?
Me: Yeah.
Herbie: Well, I'm not going to ever need any more because my pocketknife has one.

Herbie: Mom, guess what, if I ever need tweezers, I don't need to borrow yours. I can just use my pocket knife.

I didn't point out that we're keeping his pocketknife in our possession except for supervised occasions, and that he can't just use the pocket knife whenever he wants, but he is pretty excited about it, and is massively entertained whenever he does get to use it.

Ruby really wanted a pocketknife, and has been asking for one for quite awhile, so it was a bit of a blow when Herbie came home with one. But she only ever asks me, not Woo, and Woo has now promised to buy her one before we go camping in the Uintahs.

Ruby taught FHE and got to pick the activity.
Woo: We only have five minutes left.
Ruby: Ok --- piggy backs!
Herbie (taking charge): Ok, I can take two kids at a time.

Herbie has also been counting down every single day of summer until school starts again.

I've been excited to further ingrain in my two oldest, my favorite summer break activity, which was reading. I've reserved lots and lots of books from the library, including some of my grade school favorites like The Diamond in the Window and The Three Investigators, and they have just burned through them. Some new favorites for both of them are the Betsy-Tasy books and Tintin. Ruby also really loved Tucket's Travels.

Moses has picked up the habit of chewing on something almost constantly. It's usually paper, but also sometimes little rubber toys like car wheels and the like. One night before putting him to bed, I held my hand under his mouth, and he spit out a dark and gooey wad of some mystery substance that he said was foam from Herbie's football helmet.

Me: Moses, you can't just put any thing in your mouth! You're going to end up getting poisoned! Nothing but food goes in our mouths!
Moses (the next morning): I'm glad I'm still alive. I'm never going to put anything but food into my mouth.

We'll see.

Linus doesn't seem to get heat. Or how to deal with it. He wore a long sleeve shirt, pants and a hoodie out to help Woo mow the lawn. Of course he was sweating. He prefers his darth vader slippers to bare feet and would still be wearing footy pajamas, if we hadn't outlawed it. In fact Woo has outlawed pants and long sleeved shirts for him. He's the only kid we've ever had to coax into shorts and a t-shirt.

Whenever we talk about kids or babies, Penelope still feels she's exempt.
No, I'm a mom!
Woo: Penelope, if you're a mom, who's your baby?
Apparently, this bit of logic had never occurred to her before because she sat in silence for awhile. Then she said slowly: Archie's ... my ... friend ...
Woo: Archie's Mom's baby, Penelope. Who's your baby?
And she didn't really ever come up with a good answer to that.

One of Penelope and Linus' bonding phrases is: Bum-bitty bum, bum, bum! They like to shout it and laugh together, and often Penelope will say: Whinus! Remember bum-bitty bum, bum, bum? And they'll be off.

Archie is still not walking. He will take a four or five steps and then stop. Sometimes he will clap as if he's accomplished something. The more we try to encourage him to do more, the less he does. 18 months is coming up here quick.

He's also developed a "smile" for the camera. This is it:

It did rain one day this week, so the kids got to watch a movie. Luckily, someone gave us this portable DVD player right about the time ours died. And because of the novelty, the kids probably like it better.

Well, that's about it for our week. Hope your's was great!


This is the story I shared several months ago about an experience in our branch in St. Louis. I started off by talking about what Elder Eyring had said about bearing our testimonies in Sacrament meeting to strengthen our children, and then I said this:

Another thing I've been thinking I should get up and talk about -- but haven't had a strong enough kick in the pants until now to actually do -- is share the most memorable times when the Spirit has witnessed to me that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. 

I'll start with the most recent. I was sitting in Relief Society in our inner-city branch in St. Louis. The lesson was being taught by a little lady named Debbie Lancaster. Debbie was a retired junior high band teacher, and walked with a cane. Debbie was a convert and this was the very first time that she had ever taught Relief Society. She read the lesson, which was on Joseph Smith and the Restoration of the Gospel, straight from the book. Even her questions were taken straight from the book -- It was an excellent lesson. And at the end of it, Debbie hobbled out with her cane from behind the podium to bare her testimony. She placed two hands on her cane and lifted it up in the air as she said, "Joseph Smith is a prophet of God," bringing her cane down with a thump on the ground at the word "God."

And just as the cane hit, it was like an arrow shot through my heart. A sudden pang of the Spirit that took my breath away and testified to me that Joseph Smith really is a prophet of God. 

I'd like to add my testimony to Debbie's that I know Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. That Jesus Christ restored His church through him on the earth again.

And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.



We had a busy weekend last week visiting family for Fathers Day. It meant that Woo didn't really have much of a Fathers Day, but he did get this giant bowl of cereal, at least. 

I was so tired that I fell asleep at 8:30 and slept all night. It was wonderful, but no email. So here are a couple of random things from the last two weeks.

Linus gave his first talk in Primary. I was a little bit nervous about him giving it right off of coming home from Capitol Reef, but he memorized it fine, and was excited. He was so tiny when he stood up, we could barely see him over the podium. He started out great, but got nervous and hung up on a long string of rapid "ums" and "ahs." I had to feed him a few words from the back row to get him back on track. He had no idea that it was me that had helped him. He later told me that it had been his primary teacher.

Linus (eyeing the cantaloupe): Dad, will you cut some antelope for me? 

I rarely (never?) put sunblock on my kids (I have my reasons, but will spare you right now), but the kids think it's cool. This is how Linus asks for it:
Linus: Mom, I wish we could get some sunburn right now. 

Archie has decided he's too old to eat food that's been cut up or torn into little pieces. He will toss them all to the floor. He wants the whole apple, sandwich, whatever. He does well with like a whole banana, but he's obviously not there for everything yet. Another thing he's decided he's entitled to do is ambush the garbage can and fish out any apple or pear cores that anyone throws in. Pretty gross. I have to watch him in the kitchen.

Herbie's getting pretty good on the skateboard. He's really comfortable skating up and down the street and swerving, turning, etc. He was not interested in my suggestion that he take it off the jump. (I wouldn't have been either.) Also he can ride his bike without hands for an indefinite straight-coursed period. No more counting the seconds his hands are up for him.

Moses is also working on his no-hands skills. He can ride pretty far. Woo loved this berry soul patch that he got at the BBQ.

This one is a tough one to read, because it has to do with pronunciation, but I'll try. For background, I have a great-grandfather named Christ (pronounced crisp, but with a t at the end, so crist), and there was a kid in our ward named Jesus (who's Mexican).
Herbie: I know how to spell Christ (crist). Like Christ!Me: Yes.Ruby: And Jesus (the Mexican) is spelled Christ!

One book Ruby read last week was The Adventures of Ulysses. While telling me all about it, she kept calling him Useless.

There's still a lot my kids have to learn ...
Ruby (observing some people in the park): Those people over there were playing bad music. And then they said a prayer.  
I don't get it. 
Me: Hmmmm ... (A lot of things I could've said here, but decided upon:) How do you know it was bad music? 
Ruby: Because it kept saying "Shut up! Shut up!" stuff like that. 
Penelope: They's need they's mouth wash out with soap!

I'm sure Woo won't mind me telling everyone that he has a Brittany Spears t-shirt. He wears it oh, once every other year or so. Anyways, he wore it this week.
Penelope: Dad! There's a woman on your shirt! 
Oh! That's Tyson, actually!
Penelope (crying): I got hurt. I need to go to jail.

One night last week I opened the door to go up the stairs to check on the kids before bed, and a bat flew down at me. I ran back into the bedroom to Woo, and the bat followed me. I figured this was my chance to check on the kids and left Woo and the bat alone in our room. When I came back, Woo had fashioned an elaborate contraption with his pillowcase, a hanger, and a broom pole. The bat was nowhere to be seen. 

Woo is a pretty reliable spider/wasp/mouse killer, but apparently bats are not his specialty, and I had to help. Neither one of us was excited to see the bat again, but it was decided that I would harass the bat out of it's hiding place in a cubby while Woo waited with his homemade net. I poked at the basket in the cubby, expecting a bat to fly at my face any second, but it never did. Bolder efforts didn't work either. Finally, I had to pull the basket completely out, with my face right up there. No bat. 

Woo saw it attached to the back, and clamped the net over it. We carefully moved as one (him holding the pillowcase/net, me holding the basket) out of the room, out the front door and onto the porch. Woo worked his magic at that point to get the bat into his pillowcase, but neither one of us had the guts to get the bat out of that. We left the pillowcase on the porch over night, and in the morning the bat was gone. Whew.

In other news: someone reserved and printed out the temple ordinance work for the man I accidentally marked dead on FamilySearch. It's been a brilliant family history debut.

Well that's all for this week. Hope yours was great!

TESTIMONY BELOW (read at your own risk):

Since my testimonies have mostly been turning out to be personal stories, I thought that it would be worth recording them for posterity's sake (grandkids and the like). And then I thought: Eh. Might as well tack them on the end of the email. So I've included (roughly) what I said last month, and will probably start including these every once in awhile. Here you go:

I've had a day of feeling inadequate. Of not quite saying the right thing, or knowing what to say, and it's reminded me of my mission. 

I'm not a natural speaker. I was born into a family of awkward speakers. (Sorry guys :) I decided to go on a mission, not really thinking about what I would have to do there. Which was talk. A lot. And not just talk, but talk about things that are personal and meaningful, which was uncomfortable. Very uncomfortable for me at the time. 

I can remember riding the train or walking to appointments, just dreading what I was going to have to do when I got there. I remember one time, in particular. We were doing doors. Missionaries today probably never do doors, but we were, and we knocked into an apartment that was two rooms, chockful of kids our own age meeting to go to party. 

It was pretty much my worst nightmare. 

They said, "We're going somewhere." 

My companion said, "Ok." 

And I said, "We have a short message about Jesus Christ. May we share it with you?" 

Not because I wanted to, but because I knew that I should. 

And they said, "Ok." 

We walked in and they set up a chair on a little raised thing like a dais for me, and everyone sat on the floor looking up at me. Including my companion. 

So I started the first discussion. When I got to the part where Jesus Christ and God the Father appear to the prophet Joseph Smith, I felt the Spirit one of the strongest times in my life. 

It was a testimony to me that Jesus Christ really did appear to the boy Joseph Smith and also that the Lord will support and send His Spirit to even a reluctant speaker, if they will just open their mouths. 

And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.