Ever After
  • Musings
  • 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.




  • March11th

    Happy Birthday?

    Posted in: Vivi

    Did Vivian and friend have fun celebrating their seventh birthdays together at the American Girl store? I’ll let you decide.


    Because this birthday celebration was during Spring Break, the store was pretty crowded, but I agree with Vivi’s friend’s mom’s observation that the buzz only seemed to enhance the girls’ excitement. I am grateful that I had made reservations for the afternoon tea a few weeks ago. For $11 per person, it was the perfect little birthday meal.

    I asked Vivian to write a little synopsis of her trip. She loves to use the word “so” in rapid sequence, but I told her she couldn’t use the word “so,” hence the “never ending” verbiage in place of her favorite “so, so, so, so, so . . . . much” line. Cute and clever, that girl is.

    Yes, it’s ironic that every tag in the store says “Made in China,”  the mark-up on the merchandise borders on extortion, and some of the employees look like they’d be better suited for a liquor store in the wrong part of town, but the girls obviously didn’t seem to mind one bit.

    Happy Birthday, Miss Vivi. I love you so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so much NEVER ENDING!

  • February21st

    I find solace in crafts, and I get giddy when I actually use some of the stockpiles of supplies I’ve amassed over the years. Here are a few of my latest creations:

    First up is an embroidery pattern that I designed in Illustrator. It’s stitched with Cosmo thread on linen fabric. I then selected six little vintage buttons from the button jar. I wanted to make my own shadowbox frame but ended up just buying one from Hobby Lobby. This little creation is getting shipped off to Utah for my sister’s 40th birthday. I’m only a month-and-a-half late.

    When I was a little girl, my mom made me an Easter dress each year. When I was eight, she made a particularly special dress with a tole painted yoke. I still have it. I also still remember the day this photo was taken. I was not happy with being forced to wear hot rollers and with the resulting ultra-poufy do.

    For this little soldered pendant, I scanned a floral motif from the dress and made a little collage in Photoshop. When I was in Utah a few years ago, my mom sent the extra Easter dress fabric home with me, so I cut a little piece of it and used it on the backside of the pendant. This has gotten me in the mood to sew a dress for Vivian this year. Maybe even out of the vintage pink Easter dress fabric? Ariana is too old for such nonsense, she reminds me, but I am going to knit a vest for Tad.

    And while I had the soldering iron out, I got some practicing in and made myself a fun, busy charm bracelet. I call this creation “A few of my favorite things . . . ” and found myself humming the Sound of Music song as I soldered away.

    I’m sure BT wishes that I could find solace in family history work and that a few of my favorite things included cleaning, folding laundry and making dinner.

  • February21st

    Be Mine

    Posted in: Lori, Vivi

    As a seasoned room mom that helps plan class parties up at my kids’ elementary school, I give the thumbs down to Oriental Trading Company crafts that just get thrown in the trash the moment the kids step through the door. As a result, when the head first grade room mom asked if I would help head up a little personalized Valentine’s craft for all the first graders, even though I knew it might be a sizable amount of work, I agreed.

    The head room mom and I went up to the school and took pictures of the 100+ first graders. We set them in front of a large piece of foam core and had them pretend that they were blowing kisses. I cropped and adjusted each picture in Photoshop and then imported each into a card template I’d designed in Illustrator. I had the cards professionally printed on nice, heavy glossy cover stock  and found some yummy, high-quality square envelopes on clearance at paperpresentation.com. At the party, the kiddos wrote a little note to their mom or dad on the back of the card and decorated the envelope.

    Perhaps, like the junk crafts that I dislike, the card ended up in the trash can at home, but maybe a few moms tucked it away as a memento of their sweet first grader.

    I know I did.