Ever After
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  • August29th

    The Finish Line

    Posted in: Bryan, Lori, Tad

    With a nice array of photography equipment and my love of preserving memories, you’d think that our home would be decorated with lots of family pictures. But it’s not. Other than a few 4×6 prints of my kids displayed on the mantle and in my craft room, I have never printed any pictures of our family. Never. Sick and sad.

    With Bryan’s love of family history and my adoration of vintage, you’d think that we would at least have some nostalgic photos of ancestors displayed somewhere in our home. Nope. None of those either.

    I’ve always wanted to do a collage of photos past and present, and I’ve bought (and returned) frames several times. I’ve seen several beautiful collage walls and a lot of mediocre ones; I knew that I lacked the skills and confidence to pull together anything more than mediocre. I also love the “collected” look, and I wanted something that could easily evolve and adapt over time. As such, art ledges seemed to be the perfect answer, and the wall at the bottom of our stairs, the perfect place.

    After seeing some ideas online, BT and I knew what we liked, but we also knew that we’d have to build them ourselves; the commercially available art ledges that caught our eye were not long enough and would have been cost prohibitive even if they were. Excited about the prospect of doing this project together, we purchased mahogany the day before Mother’s Day and completed construction of five, 7-foot long floating shelves a few weeks ago, but they still needed to be finished–stained, distressed, and sealed.

    This week with the girls back in school, I felt compelled to get our project across the finish line, but I was a little hesitant to let Tad help. Yes, I was afraid of what harm he might do to the ledges, but I was more afraid of what harm I might do to him if he flipped stain all over the place, tipped over the paint can, or if the finished project looked like the work of a four-year-old.

    Nonetheless, I recognized that this might be a good opportunity to make memories with my little guy, so I prayed for an extra dose of patience, and then we changed into grubbies and went to work in the hot Texas August sun. We got the shelves stained on Tuesday without mishap, and on Thursday we tackled the task 0f distressing and sealing. Tad was exceptionally good at distressing the shelves, but I cautioned him more than once that he couldn’t just start sanding the finish off of all our furniture.

    Early on Day 1 of our labors as Tad helped me lift one of the shelves, he observed that he was like Jean Valjean from Les Miserables. (Tad is a bit obsessed with Les Mis, and although I have exercised my parental censorship rights and removed a few inappropriate songs from his MP3 player, he has memorized much of the remaining score.)

    Jean Valjean

    From that point on, I affectionately called him “24601” (Jean Valjean’s prisoner number) whenever I needed his assistance. At one point I gave him the option to go back inside to relax, cool off, and watch a movie, but he decided to stick it out and stay with me. It was hard, hot work, and he was a huge help. Only once when the project was finished did I lose my temper. Although I was exceedingly le miserable (HOT, stinky, sweaty, and sore), I wanted to get a picture of us to remember our project by. Repeatedly, I’d set up the camera, activate the timer, run to get in the photo, and then he’d stick out his tongue or make a goofy face. Aagh! It brought out the Javert (merciless antagonist) in me. Sometimes I amaze myself at just how bad a mom I can be. Thankfully, 24601 accepted my apology, and we quickly made peace.

    25601 and mom art ledges 25601 art ledges

    The ledges are hung on the wall, and we’ve started the process of putting photos on them. Although I haven’t arranged the frames or anything, I did want to snap some pictures to document our accomplishment of the week .Tad Art Ledges_blog

    art ledges finished 2 art ledges finished 1

    I hope that the art ledges and photos will serve their intended purpose: to beautify our home and to help our family remember who we are, where we came from, and where we hope to go from here. I also hope that Tad will remember that he can do hard things, that he is a “finisher” in all senses of the word, and that his mother loves him (even though she acts like a beast more often than she should).

  • August26th

    Even without BT’s usual morning help (he made an early morning visit to a friend in the hospital), the girls made it to school for their first day. This was a first for us. I’ve NEVER done the first day drop-off, and I definitely don’t have a reputation for being the most helpful or pleasant parent in the morning. After I fed them a quick breakfast of yogurt/granola and fruit smoothie, I made their lunches (including a quick love note), did their hair, snapped some pictures, and drove my sweet girls to school.

    blog_Ariana First Day School 2013

    blog_Vivian First Day School 2013

    Tad was a mess . . . sour about spilling his smoothie, about not being the center of attention, and about the impending loneliness.

    blog_Tad First Day School 2013

    I love you, my school girls. Hurry home and tell me all about your adventures. In the meantime, Tad and I will try to not miss you too much.

    p.s. Shoot! I just realized that we forgot family prayer. 🙁

  • August25th


    Posted in: Ariana, Bryan, Lori, Tad, Vivi

    Julie B. Beck, former General President of the LDS Relief Society, taught: “Women are like lionesses at the gate of the home.”

    When I first heard this quote, I’ll admit that it felt a bit hyperbolic to me; however, over the past few years, I’ve come to find peace and empowerment in her analogy. When I feel guilty about fiercely guarding my family from the good things that monopolize our time and rob us of the better and best things, I remember her remarks, and I don’t feel quite so bad any more.

    While unfailingly supporting and sustaining the local leaders of our church, this lioness will continue trying to respectfully and appropriately influence a calendar clear of firesides and mandatory meetings scheduled on the eve of a new school year. It’s always a sad thing when BT walks out the door and misses the last few precious hours of summer vacation and pre-school prep with our kids.

    Thankfully, we had enough time this evening for me and the kids to receive special back-to-school priesthood blessings from BT before he had to leave. Sweet Tad beamed as he received the first blessing, and by the time he’d remained reverent for the other three, even his super Spidey Powers couldn’t conquer The Sandman.

    Tad_Fathers Blessing

    After BT left, I painted the girls’ nails, we sipped Vitamix watermelon-lime slushes, and I tackled their traditional first-day-of-school foam roller ‘do’s. Wow! Ariana has a lot of hair!

    First Day Prep

    (Tad’s nap was a short one.)

    A year from now, Tad will be headed to Kindergarten and Ariana to high school. If my tears today are any indication, we’d better add flood insurance to our homeowner’s policy. What’s a lioness to do when her cubs have left the den?

  • August19th


    Things that make you go, “Hmmm????”

    1. Ariana’s maternal Great-Grandmother, the oldest daughter in her family, was born on 13 October.
    2. Ariana’s maternal Grandmother, the oldest daughter in her family, was born on 13 September.
    3. Ariana’s mother, the oldest daughter in her family, was born on 13 March.
    4. Ariana, the oldest daughter in her family, was born on 13 August . . . at 13:13 in the afternoon!


    With all the lucky 13’s in our lineage, the optimal theme for Ariana’s 13th birthday party was pretty obvious: Triskaidekaphilia! (Love of the number 13).

    At 13:13 on 13 August 2013, a few of Ariana’s close friends gathered to celebrate our beloved Triskaidekarian and some of her favorites:

    *Meatball subs
    *Cooking–toffee apple dip cooking class
    *Fresh-squeezed lemonade
    *Pinterest: cute hair ties craft
    *Harry Potter: bracelets
    *Books: book exchange
    *Friends: each girl wrote things that they liked about each other on a pieces of cardstock. We framed them as a keepsake for each girl.
    *Photography and being silly: photo booth with silly props
    *Ice cream sundaes with 13 favorite toppings

    That night, Ariana selected Buca di Beppo for our family dinner. She loves Italian food!


    Of all the mysterious things about the number 13, the thing that has me the most bewildered is “How did the last 13 years pass so quickly?”


    But, Ariana, even though you may be befuddled about why you aren’t the proud owner of a shiny new cell phone, let there be know doubt in your mind how much we love you. My birthday wish for you is that you defy all the stereotypical teenage behaviors (and my mother’s hope that someday I’d have a teenager just as sassy as I was) and stay your sweet self. You are a kind, smart, even-tempered, polite, articulate, bibliophilic wonder, and I’m proud to be your mother.

  • August11th

    In an effort to be more consistent with recording the happenings of our lives for posterity and for our faraway family, I will try to do a periodic post entitled “Wish You Were Here” (WYWH). Perhaps it will just be a boring brain dump, but I’ve been feeling an urgency to write certain experiences down, so hopefully, at the very least, I can sleep easier knowing that I’m following through on that prompting.

    And so without further ado . . .

    Ariana: Sometimes I worry that Ariana gets lost in the shuffle. Vivi and Tad are younger and seem to demand a lot more parental interaction than Ari. This week, between spending lots of hours planning a birthday party for her; dentist (no cavities), orthodontist (started with rubber bands), and optometrist (got contacts); and school supply shopping, hopefully Ariana will feel way down deep in her gut that she is loved.

    13 Bday Invite_blog

    Vivi: Vivi is blessed with with an obedient spirit. When I proclaim it to be a nap day, she meekly says, “Yes, ma’am.”  Most days, my sweet early-riser 7-year-old needs a nap, and without it, she’s quite unpleasant and doesn’t abide teasing from Tad well at all. Vivi is also very sensitive about us laughing at her. Today as we parked at church, she said, “this is the same sparking pot as last week.” I chuckled and said that I thought we should call “parking spots” “sparking pots” from now on, but she took offense at the rest of us finding humor in her tongue twister.

    Vivi Sweater 2

    Tad: Oh, Tad. He’s a bundle of energy who defies my every request and who can’t keep his hands to himself. He loves to help in the kitchen and be my “tester.” We barely get one meal cleaned up before he is asking for another snack. He also has my acute sense of smell and says the funniest things. Example: Much to the dismay of our kids, we’ve cut back on sweets this past week as we try to detox from our vacation. (The drive back to TX was particularly bad.) BT sneaked some root beer after tucking the girls in but before getting Tad settled in for the night. Here’s the dialogue.

    BT: Night, night buddy. I love you.

    Tad: I love you too, Dad. What’s that breath smell?

    BT: I think it’s toothpaste.

    Tad: Naaah. It smells like root beer to me.


    Tad mall water fountain

    Lori: One highlight of my week was sewing the buttons on a sweater I knit for Vivian. Woo hoo! I finished a project! It is the first sweater I’ve knit since I was in high school. In addition to the fact that the sweater fits her, I’m also particularly proud of the alterations I made to the pattern (with my mom’s help). We figured out how to add a lace section to the bottom of the sweater. I love the wool/silk yarn I used, but the temperatures will have to cool down a bit before Vivi can wear it. I’m going to make her a simple dress to wear it with.

    Vivi Sweater 1


    BT: Maybe BT is as excited about fixing a broken sprinkler yesterday as I am about finishing a sweater, but I honestly can’t say. I love him to death, but he isn’t much of a communicator. I am alarmed that he says he wants to dismantle all of the garden areas in the backyard, and he isn’t composting anymore. For our entire married life, I’ve saved all of the non-meat scraps for his garden . . . until yesterday. He’s just so busy with work and church that he has little time for anything else. It makes me sad, and it makes me feel guilty that I can sneak in a few minutes of my hobbies here and there (mostly as I sit in carpool lanes or doctor’s offices) but he really doesn’t have the time or energy to pursue his. He never complains, though. I also don’t feel super inclined to take on the garden in addition to everything else that falls on my list.

    This week was also a transition week for us. It’s hard being back home when I’ve been at my mom and dad’s house for the last month. I miss being around family in the worst way.

  • August11th

    Some husbands lavish sparkly tokens of love and appreciation upon their wives. They take them on exotic, romantic trips. They spoil them with housekeepers and handymen.

    Bryan buys me no jewels (I bought my own wedding ring months after our wedding), takes me to Philmont Scout Ranch on vacation, and he wed the only housekeeper and handy(w0)man we’ll ever have. And for this I am *mostly grateful.

    As I write this, I am reminded of a talk Elder Richard G. Scott gave in General Conference a few years ago. He spoke of two occasions when he wanted to buy his wife something a little extravagant–a dress when they were newly married and a fur coat a little later on. On each occasion, his wife taught him a lesson that enriched their marriage and benefited their family: First was the principle of “we cannot afford it,” and second was “we don’t need it.”

    BT Rock2truly appreciate that I don’t have to worry about BT blowing money on frivolities. If he ever suggested that he wanted to buy me a fur coat, I’d freak out and suspect that he has a brain tumor. One specific thing I love is that on our thrifty, not-so-exotic, and even less-so-romantic adventures, he scours the landscape for heart-shaped rocks. It’s a fun tradition, and I hope that my kids will associate our collection of heart rocks with joyful provident living and creative expressions of affection. Being cheap doesn’t have to be boring or loveless.

    *Now, for the rest of the story: Sometimes I’ll read a cheery blog about someone’s perfect life, and I’ll come away feeling like crap because I know that I will never be the kind of wife/mother/person that will have things pulled together enough to enjoy perfect bliss. And because I don’t want this blog to be that blog for anyone, I freely admit that dear BT’s uber frugality sometimes feels like he’s subliminally saying “You are worthless” or “If you were a better wife, I might actually want to take you on a romantic, exotic vacation.” True fact. I really do think these things, and sometimes I really do believe these things.  But when I hit rock bottom, I can usually work through the destructive voices in my head in a rational manner. And when that doesn’t work, I go buy myself a nice skein of yarn and say, “Hey, BT. Yeah, you, the cheapskate over there in the free, circa 1985 t-shirt and $8 Walmart jeans. Look what you bought me today.” And then I blow him a big kiss, I feel much better, he has no idea where the heck all that came from, and we go about our mostly blissful lives.

    I am blessed. (And I have a lot of yarn).

    BT rock

  • August11th


    Posted in: Ariana, Bryan, Lori, Tad, Vivi

    After our week of adventure at Philmont Scout Camp, we traveled through beauty (Gunnison, CO) and desolation (middle-of-no-where, UT) to reach family in Utah. We had planned to take our time getting there, but Bryan’s Grandma Jones wasn’t doing very well, and he wanted a chance to visit with her before he flew back to TX, so we made the trip in one day. As an added bonus, Bryan’s mom was in town, and Michelle (Bryan’s sister) and her children were able to meet up with us as well.

    Grandma Jones is one of the most pleasant people I’ve ever known, especially considering she is suffering from Alzheimer’s. She always seems to find humor and joy in even the simplest things, and although she probably had no idea who the gaggle of people around her were, she was warm and personable.

    Grandma Jones

    Fam with Gran and Grandma Jones

    Summerhays with Gran and Grandma Jones


    Grandma Grace Jones was particularly tickled when she was reminded that two of her great granddaughters carry her name–Ava Grace and Vivi Grace.

    Sweet Grandma, we all love you and are grateful for the time we were able to spend with you. Thank you for your example of enduring gracefully and faithfully.

  • August6th


    Posted in: Ariana, Bryan, Lori, Tad, Vivi

    Several months ago when BT told me that he’d signed us up for a week at Philmont Scout Ranch where, with other church leaders this summer, he’d receive training relating to Boy Scouts, Duty to God and other programs aimed at strengthening the young men of the church, I think I muttered a few naughty words under my breath and started to cry. This is my blog and this is America, so I think I’m at liberty to say that I am not a huge supporter of BSA, I am not a camper, and I don’t think that a week-long church meeting is a family vacation.

    With less than a stellar attitude but truly doing my very best to be supportive, we drove the 10+ hours to Cimarron, NM. One of the highlights of the trip to Cimarron was stopping at Clayton State Park and were awed by hundreds of dinosaur tracks.

    blog_Clayton Lake State Park Jun 2013

    BT Vivi Clayton Lake State Park Jun 2013

    BT Tad Clayton Lake State Park Jun 2013

    blog_dino track Clayton Lake State Park Jun 2013

    Philmont trip 2013

    As we rolled into Philmont, so did a huge rain storm. Thankfully, the tents were mostly waterproof because we had rain nearly every day we were there.

    BT enjoyed the training he received, the kids had fun participating in their various activities, and I met some very sweet, nice people . . . and one bear.

    Vivi Tad Sis Wixom Philmont June 2013

    Ari Philmont 2013


    Vivi Philmont 2013


    Tad Philmonth 2013_3

    Philmont Bear

    For the record, I still maintain that Philmont is not a “real” family vacation, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, either. Also, it is my sincere hope that the learnings obtained through such an outlay of time and resources can somehow benefit the young women of the church and not just the young men.

    In case this post leaves you in doubt, just let me say that I love the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I love and sustain our Prophet and those that serve with him. I also hope that my skepticism about scouting and the time, energy and expense involved in the program won’t keep me out of heaven. 😉

  • August6th

    Something . . .

    Posted in: Lori

    is better than nothing.

    If I could have a do-over on anything in my life, being more consistent at recording the happenings of our lives would top the list. Sadly, I can’t turn back the clock and record the up’s and down’s of our past, but I will try to do a better job going forward.