We live in a beautiful place.

Archie's very presence makes every one of us happy. He is just so cute. I can't get enough of kissing his fat cheeks. Woo loves to tickle him. Penelope likes to "read" him stories. Herbie likes to make him laugh with his funny noises. Ruby likes to hold him. Moses and Linus like to chase him and crawl next to him.

Penelope has moved beyond knowing how to talk, and now likes to have a real chat. She sits down with a hymn book and sings the words a few seconds after we do. I overheard her tell Linus, "Linus, it's time to sing!" when he was just sitting through a hymn in church. Also, I discovered this week that not only can she count to 10 perfectly, she can accurately count objects up to about 8.

(Linus making oatmeal)

The kids have been absolutely excellent at picking up their messes and doing their chores. I also lightened my Sunday load quite a bit by assigning each older kid a younger kid to help with breakfast and dress for church. Ruby, Herbie and Moses love getting to help button and pick out clothes for Linus, Penelope and Archie. 

And the little kids love being helped (Well, except Archie. There are things he only wants me to do). I think it's helping their relationship with each other too. 

Linus keeps calling Herbie "best friend" instead of Herbie. I heard Herbie say, "You're my best friend Linus, and also Penelope is my best friend, and Moses is my best friend."

Woo took Linus snowboarding for the first time this year. One of the fun things about doing things with the kids one-on-one is the deep questions they ask. Like this:
Dad, where did Mom find her wife?
Dad, where did you find me?

Moses' lego houses are seriously rivaling mine. Look at all those balconies and turrets and garages. He even attached a pool after this picture was taken.

Ruby has never been one to come for me for hugs, even as a baby, but I've been making a bigger effort seek her out for a hug and kiss. Even though she pretends to hate it, I know she likes it and is touched.

Here was the biggest blight on my week:

How can something be so stimulating for kids and so mind numbing for adults? No one ever told me that one of the hardest sacrifices I'd have to make as a parent would be listening to kids read every single joke from a joke book out loud to me.

And instead of tearing the book into shreds or smashing a potted plant to the ground, like I'd really like to do, I'd instead get to act interested in every single one. 

I hope you appreciate this, Herbie!!!

Well, that's all for our week. Hope you had a good one!



I'm not sure Woo's ever been elk hunting before, but a neighbor invited him this week, and he went. He did not bring home an elk or even see one, but he did go for a long snowshoe through the mountains, see this cool thing in the snow (no idea how the bird did this),

he managed to freeze his sock to his boot,

and he spent much of the time on the phone dealing with work stuff.  A successful outing, by all accounts.

Tired of pictures of happy kids who are always getting along? Well, here you go.

I'm sure they had their altruistic motives, like this:
Ruby (hitting Penelope's with a plastic hammer): Let me check your reflection, NellPea.
Unfortunately, "Penelope has bad reflection."

Penelope always insists on climbing into huge drifts of snow where I know she's going to get stuck.

Thank goodness Moses is always up for a rescue.

Linus too. One day I found them in the front yard, Penelope on her hands and knees with one bootless foot in the air, Linus trying to dig out her boot and clean the snow off her sock at the same time. Needless to say, I arrived just in time.

More from Linus' dreams:
Linus: I wish I could watch Christmas again in the night.
He also has his upcoming birthday on the brain, and assumes that everyone else does too.
Ruby (referring to her lego creation): I'm lopsided. 
Linus: Are you lopsided for my birfday?! 
Me (the killjoy ... ): Lopsided, Linus. NOT excited.

Herbie told us that There is a Green Hill Far Away is his favorite song after The Iron Rod. I thought this was an interesting choice, and asked him why. He said, "Because it's a Sacrament song, and I want to help pass the Sacrament."

Woo and I reflected for a short time on what a good boy he is, and the next morning read the entries in his school journal. Half of them described how he'd ridden his motorcycle to the lake to meet Woo with the boat or ridden his motorcycle with Grandpa.

Poor Herbie, born into a decidedly anti-gas-guzzling family, several generations strong, where the closest we get to those things are a bike and a canoe.

Here Herbie insisted that Archie was standing all by himself. No one was fooled.

Archie's reached that cute stage where he'll laugh a second or two after everyone else, just because  we're laughing. He'll also "sing" when we do. He's decided that the stairs are his to conquer, and even if he falls down a few to the hard floor below, he'll turn right around and climb back up. I have to keep the door to the stairs closed or a close watch on him to make sure he doesn't get too high without anyone to spot him.

Woo's been showing the kids old home movies and old interviews of themselves in the evenings. Penelope tried to describe a movie of Ruby and Herbie when they were tiny toddlers to me.
Penelope: I saw Ruby, and I saw you, and I saw Dad! 
Me: Where was Penelope? 
Penelope: Uh ... He's sleeping! And Linus sleeping and Etchie!

I almost became the mom of everyone's dreams when I successfully dehydrated a batch of apples and then a batch of bananas this week. But, then I was right back to regular ole me, when I wouldn't let them eat the entire batch in one setting. Our dried apples really are sweet. Almost like candy. (That was for you, Woo :)

One of the reasons Moses was so excited to go to school was because he wanted to learn how to read.  A while ago, he told me he was sad because he couldn't read yet, and so many other kids in his class can. He's really doing fine. He's above where he's supposed to be at this point, but of course, some kids in kindergarten can already read very well, and he sees Ruby and Herbie read. I started making a point to work with him on his reading every day, and have handed him books to read himself that are his level when he has quiet time. I've not been one to try to get my kids reading as early as possible, but I think, more than anything else, it has boosted his confidence in his progress, which is what he mostly needed. 

Well, that's all for this week. Hope you all had a good one!



Well, I don't know about anyone else, but I had a great week! And since this is my email, that's what I'm going to talk about -- Bwahahahahaha.

1. I'm having fun -- playing with the kids, not worrying about things that are not as important.

2. My patience is back. Hooray!!

3. By some miracle, even though I decided to clean less and play with the kids more, the house is cleaner. I think because I have more energy; I remember better to have the kids do as much as they can do (which is quite a lot in the way of clutter); and I also started cleaning for 30-60 minutes after they go to bed. 

I've never done that before. I've always said I don't do overtime. My hours are 7am-7pm, but hey, I have 6 little kids. I realized I was just going to have to start putting in an extra hour.

4. I got a new calling teaching Laurels (16-18 yr old girls). I love, love, love teaching, and I haven't done it regularly in over 4 years. I have a great group of girls who give good, thoughtful answers to all of my questions.

5. Woo has moved from the bed with the laptop to the couch with the laptop. This may not seem like a big deal, because he is still zoned out in his work 90% of the time, but it feels like he's a part of the family again, instead of being gone all that time before dinner. He looks up and talks to us just enough that he can help when I need an extra hand or voice.

6. I'm having fun working on my children's novel. Rewriting is a lot of fun, and I usually come out of the hour I spend waiting for the kids to fall asleep to their relaxation stories excited and refreshed.

For those of you who just read for the kids. Here they are:

Ruby: Was excited on Thursday to have finished her math test first and to also have gotten all of them right. She doesn't like to dry her hair after getting out of the tub because she prefers the slicked-back look. Yesterday after her bath, she was dressed head to toe in black. I guessed Malfoy, but she sheepishly told me she was Anakin. Of course, I had to sing The Imperial March every time she passed by me. It did wonders for our relationship (actually, I think it did :).

Herbie: Came home from school and handed Ruby a book he'd picked out at the library, "Here Ruby. I picked this out for you. I thought it was something you'd like." and she did. The kids sang "I'm a Child of God" in Sacrament meeting today. Herbie could sing great alone, but was loud and monotone practicing in the group. We think it was because his voice is low and when all together they would start too high for him. He did great during the real thing. They all did.

Moses: Really enjoys look-n-find books. He got a new one for Christmas and Herbie also got a Where's Waldo that Moses spends a lot of time with. Sometimes he looks at them with Ruby or Herbie, but he's the one who enjoys them the most. He's also probably the best at puzzles. 

Linus: Just graduated from nursery into primary. He's the tiniest kid in a 3-piece suit. He always carries his little red Book of Mormon to class, just in case he'll need it. Linus has become a wonderful helper in just the last couple of weeks. I'm a bit surprised to discover that he can pick up a disaster area entirely by himself.

Penelope: Was my favorite practicing "I'm a Child of God." She would sing each line after everyone else had sung it. But during the real thing she just stared out at the crowd. She did pull out a faint, "to live with Him someday," at the very, very end.

Archie: decided to go and get sick this week. He slept in bed with Woo while I went for a run, and snuggled in my lap other times, but it kind of put a wrench in my weaning plans. Plus, he's just not that excited about milk. He will now allow me to put the sippy cup in his mouth, but he just lets the milk dribble out. Baby steps.

Woo: Is definitely overextended. But, he's so much better at dealing with stress now; it's incredible. He did take a lot of time off Friday to play in the snow with the kids, and went snowboarding a morning or two when we had snow. What a great world we live in, where he can get some work done on the gondola or during a break in the lodge (and then get yelled at by the ski patrol because he didn't hear that they'd closed the lifts due to lightning).

Overheard while preparing lunches at The Ronald McDonald House at Primary Childrens.
Herbie: Ronald McDonald-- what a horrible name! 
Ruby: Yeah, I wonder where they got that?
We clearly don't watch enough TV or eat enough McDonalds.

I've always wondered when kids start to differentiate between dreams and real life, and how they perceive it. Now I know.
Linus: Mom, I watched a movie in my bed about an earthquake!
Hope you all had a great week!



In the last two weeks we've had Ruby's 9th birthday, Christmas, New Years, Archie's 1st birthday, everything those entail, plus our regular life. It's just too much for me to even attempt to describe, so here's a bunch of photos instead.

Penelope feeding one of her new babies.

If we ever need a panhandler in the family, I know where to find one ...

Happy New Years!