Wednesday, June 29, 2011

last june article for justice and mercy

I'm so glad that writing about the monthly values is finally becoming more doable.  I'm a teeny, tiny bit bummed that this is the wrap-up, because I had a few more things left to do, but I'm also glad that I got up what I did this month and have had fun watching the values section of Power of Moms grow bigger as I continue to write. 
Thanks to all who read it.  I love your comments and ideas. 

I am excited to create this little interactive corner of the website with my mom, and we are excited to watch it evolve into something that can really help a lot of moms everywhere. 

Every day I am so grateful for the blessings Power of Moms has brought into my life and for the opportunity to be involved with such a wonderful, powerful movement.

So without further adeiu, here it is.  Enjoy!

Monday, June 27, 2011

tadpoles - summer science project

Last week, my sister had this brilliant idea to raise tadpoles as a summer project.

This is something I've wanted to do with my boys ever since I was a mom.  I remember my sister and I "saving" tadpoles that were in small, drying up pools of water when we were out camping at Goblin Valley when we were young.  We took tons of them home and ended up with 1 toad.  But it was a fun, educational experience and one that I'll never forget.  I've always wanted to share it with my kids.

So this year, after a few successes with caterpillars to butterflies under our belts, I felt confident that we could figure the "tadpole thing" out.  I jumped at the chance to grab some when my sister said she'd found some.

This is what my feet looked like when we were done.  Gross would be an understatement.  SO glad I didn't wear shoes....they would have been ruined.

And here are Kolton's feet.  Micah was smart enough to stay out of the mud.  I am sooo glad Kolton's shoes are black!

Here is a picture of what the tadpoles look like in the water.  Can you see them?  There is one on the bottom left, and one of the upper right.  They were tricky to find!

Kolton LOVED looking for the tadpoles.  He was busy the entire time.  Micah loved it too, but all he really did for the most part was splash around and celebrate catching rocks and weeds.  I did help him catch a couple, and he was pretty proud. 
 After he'd caught a couple tadpoles, he was content to feed Jonah's snack to the ducks....

...and himself.

Kolton didn't quite with the tadpoles. They were fast little buggers!  But he did finally catch one all by himself.  He was pretty excited about it.

We had to do a little more than we originally mom and I had some tadpole fatalities, but my sister didn't.  The only difference was that hers were in a tank.  So we went out and got a simple little setup and they are happy as can be for their "growing into frogs home".

Here they are up close, as of last week.  They have already grown so fast!  They are absolutely fascinating and so fun to watch.  We are headed to the library tomorrow to find books about tadpoles and frogs.

We have already talked to the boys about "giving back to nature" when we are done.  We will NOT be the owners of this many frogs, or any for that matter.  But I think that it's a magical experience watching any baby animal grow and develop.  This has been nothing short of magical for my boys so far.  We are excited to see how this unfolds, and we will share the progress of our little guests in some upcoming posts.

Wish us luck!

6 on 6

Wes got to play in a 6-on-6 outdoor tournament on Saturday.  He played with his brother, Bryan, and some childhood friends, Kenny, Travis, and Lance Ririe.

It's been a long time since we've been to a tourney, because Wes only played in one last year due to his schedule changes at work and out new little Jonah.  It was so nice to be at the point where it felt feasible to haul all the kids there and watch again.  Wes was so excited that it almost made me guilty it had been so long.  I'm going to have to remind myself more often how happy Wes is when he has a tournament coming, and how little he really does see his buddies. I'm always trying to think if things that I can do to support him for working so hard for us, and volleyball tournaments seem to be such an easy way to do that.

This is his brother, Bryan.  Bryan is so much fun!  It's funny, because we used to hang out quite often before Wes and I started dating.  He took me rock climbing for the first few times, he came ice skating with me, etc. I had so much fun with him thinking it was so fun to feel like I had a "brother-like" friend.  He was everything I'd pictured a big brother to be like: he has a kind of arrogant, hard exterior, but he is a sweet softie inside that would do anything for you and is always there when you need him.  He's a lot of fun, and he was always up for any kind of play whether it be indoor soccer at the church, volleyball, climbing, anything.  (We had a huge, really fun group of friends back then, and we were always doing crazy, fun things like single young people do.  I'm so grateful I have those fun memories of the time in my life when I felt like I was really blossoming and growing my testimony so much, as well as having tons of new adventures and trying many new things and having a total blast doing them!)

Obviously, things changed a little when Wes and I got married (we moved away to Nevada the day we got back from our honeymoon), and a few years ago Bryan moved to Huntington Beach, California to play in the AVP (professional beach volleyball league) where he did us all so proud.  He recently moved back after being prompted by the spirit and soon after started dating the most darling girl, Anna, who I have a feeling will be my next sister-in-law!  I am so happy for these two!  They are a beautiful couple and Anna is so perfect for Bryan.

So, to make a long story short, it was a real treat to have Bryan at the tourney with Wes. 

 He is one heck of an assertive player!  He really goes after the ball and he never seems to get tired.  (I think the endless energy is a Stewart trait.)
 Here are Wes and Bryan going up for a block. I thought it was so cute watching them play together and wondered if this is what I would be watching our boys do in another 10 years or so.
 My sweetie is a blocker all on his own, too.  I LOVE watching him play!
 Brothers again.  I couldn't help myself, they are so cute how identical they look in the air!
 Wes doesn't think so, but he's a pretty amazing player, too.  When we were engaged and travelling to his college tourneys all the time, everyone used to rave about him and wish he would believe in himself enough to play for a bigger school.  He's so darn fast and such a good team player, cool as a cucumber under stress, and so reliable.  I truly think he is right up there with his other two amazing brothers, but he will never believe it no matter how much he hears it from so many people.

Jonah (and Kolton and Micah) was such a jewel the whole time.  Tourneys usually go until around 3 or 4 in the afternoon, but this one went until almost 6.  I was SO tired of chasing them around, hauling them back and forth to the bathroom, and so on, but I was truly amazed at how big they've grown and how much easier it really has become to go to anywhere.  I have so many fond memories of going to my dad's softball games when I was young, and I hope they are building similar memories with volleyball.

Man alive, Wes is so darn sexy when he plays volleyball!

The whole posse, returning from the net after taking second overall.
Travis, Bryan, Lee (in the back), Wes, Lance, Kenny, and his cute wife, Monica

I've got a few more pictures, although my camera card got full because I couldn't unload onto my hard drive.  We all had a ball together and I hope it's the first of at least a few more tournaments this summer!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

all boy

Sittin' on a fence.  Barefoot.  Filthy.  Stitches on his chin and band aids on his knees.  And a blond, buzzed head.

That's my boy.


Landon Bryce Croxford
This is my new nephew.  Isn't he darling?  More pictures to come!

amish grace

My next article is up over at Power of Moms. 

I watched the movie, "Amish Grace" and reviewed it.  I couldn't have picked a more perfect movie for the value of Justice and Mercy.  I loved it.

You can check out my article here.

Seriously, rent this movie.  You will be inspired.


You know how I was just here yesterday whining about how it would be three weeks before I'd have a computer?

Well, serendipitously my brother-in-law kindly offered to fix it for me today after the volleyball tournament he played in with my hubby and some of their friends.  At first, I thought he was just offering to be nice, but soon realized he truly meant he was willing to help.  Added bonus: he already had a hard drive!

Needless to say, I took him up on it, and now I am happily sitting here getting my Carbonite all transferred over as I blog.  I am so glad I serendipitously ordered it a few months back.  All my writing, budgets, pictures, etc. have been saved and presto! they are back on my computer.  Coolest thing ever.

Man alive, I am glad to have my computer back because so much has happened that I want to remember.  Here are some of the highlights:
-We decided to take on a fun summer "science project" of raising tadpoles.  We now have a bunch of them swimming happily in a tank in the kitchen.  They are growing bigger with each day and are so fascinating and fun to watch.  It's already become part of the routine to sit and watch them a few times a day.  Next up: heading to the library for some books that we can read about how tadpoles become frogs and toads. 
-Kolton had four stitches in his chin.  We got them out yesterday and ended up back in the Instacare sweet talking our way out of him getting more!  Luckily, the doctor complied and he just has steri-strips this time.  I have a feeling his scar will heal better that way. Needless to say, "mom of boys" initiation has begun!
-Wes got to play in a 6-on-6 outdoor volleyball tournament with his brother, Bryan, and some of their childhood buddies.  We all came home a little sunburned, exhausted, and full of joy.  I always love watching Wes play volleyball.  He is so sexy!  We also loved catching up with old friends.  They shared some pretty exciting news with us and we were so happy to be part of the excitement.  Plus, the boys had a blast with their little buddies and Jonah was a jewel.  I definitely got lucky this baby....he blows me away with how easygoing, patient, and happy he is.  (I cannot believe he is going to be ONE tomorrow!)
-We created a summer tradition of meeting my mom and sister at the splash pad every week.  This week, Wes happened to serendipitously get off work early and came to meet us.  We decided to let Jonah in the water since we were both there to watch the kids.  Man alive, that boy LOVES the water!  He loved the current, the spray, splashing and crawling around...the whole shebang.  He was so darling to watch.  It's fun to watch him growing so big (although it makes me a little baby hungry).  We just love having him in our family!
-I got to play with my Silhouette and make some wicked awesome Fathers' Day shirts.  I will post some pictures.  I LOVE getting out my Silhouette.  It's so much fun to play with!
-Jonah cute three new teeth in the last two days.  Maybe four....I didn't really get a chance to feel in his mouth tonight, but he had one more that might have poked through.  Didn't even fuss.  I am so glad that the teething struggle seems to have subsided for now.
-Fathers' Day came and went.  It was simple like Mothers' Day was, because poor Wes had to work again, but it was still special.
-I signed Kolton up for riding lessons.  I started taking them sporadically last summer and signed up again while it was warm outside.  (Horseback riding is apparently a very health-promoting activity and recommended by my doctor.) When Kolton found out, he decided he wanted in on the action, so I signed him up with no expectations.  He's never been on a full-sized horse before.  We'll see what happens.  But man oh man is he ever excited!  He asks me all day long "how many days until my horse lesson?"  I'm happy to see him so excited about it.
-I've finally (mostly) sat down and executed a summer routine and plan for me and the boys.  We've stuck to it for the most part so far, and it's been really fun.  The only thing left we have to do is some summer goals.  I will post more about all this stuff later.
-I got my hair done this week.  My best friend is my hairdresser, and she is also 9 months pregnant.  I wanted to get it done before the baby came so I wouldn't need to ask her to do it for a long time after.  I learned that my hair is much thinner than it used to be (she was almost in tears telling me this, and I was holding mine back also), but also that we both think it's stopped falling out.  I'm s glad it stopped while I still have some, and I am hoping it will thicken back up quickly.  I think it's another good sign that good things are happening in my body right now.
-One drawback of my health is that my eyes are struggling again.  I'm having lots of eye pain and droopy eyelids.  I'm not too worried about it though because we've had a REALLY stressful, busy week and I didn't nap or get much sleep at all.  I'm going to focus on sleep more this week and see if it makes a difference.  I think sleep is very important to my healing and I think I need to keep it on the very top of my priority list. (Too bad I can't get pregnant right now....sleep is at the top of my list when I'm pregnant.  When I was pregnant with Jonah, Wes surprised me with a new mattress, and then I got a new comforter for Christmas.)
-I gave the boys a buzz.  I am SO happy to not have to deal with their hair all summer.  Definitely one of the perks of having boys.  Nothing cuter than tanned, buzzed-headed, barefoot boys.

That's all for now.  So happy to have my computer back!

Friday, June 24, 2011


I am writing you all from my mom's computer as we attempt to nap 7 kids under 5 at the same time. 

Last week,Wes and I were watching a movie in bed on out laptop.  All of a sudden it shut off.  We haven't been able to turn it back on since.  My cute brother-in-law took it into his work an had a tech there look at it only to find out that our hard drive is ruined.

Luckily, we did buy a warranty with our laptop, and since it's only been 8 months since we bought it, the warranty is still good.  The only setback is that it's going to be about three weeks before it's up and running again.

Man alive, I miss that thing!  I have a budget to update, pictures to work on, articles and blog posts to write, etc.  Every day that goes by I get a little bit more overwhelmed, especially since I can't use my Silhouette machine right now and I need it - bad - for some things I am making for Jonah's first birthday party.  I am holing out hope that things pan out faster than they are telling me.  Otherwise I am going to have to simplify.  At least he's one and he won't even know what's going on, right?

It is nice to enjoy the time we have without the computer though.  A technology fast is always welcome here,
and we've been enjoying the little bit of extra time we have without the ability to use the computer.

I'd better sign off mom has a family laptop that has a line of people behind me waiting to use it.  I am grateful I was able to at least hop on today and pay some bills and send a few emails.  See you later!

Friday, June 17, 2011

t-ball fun

The boys had so much fun with t-ball this year (actually, maybe that was an overstatement, but I sure had fun watching them.).  All the boys (my youngest brothers, Nathan and Josh, and my oldest sons, Kolton and Micah) got to be on the same team.  Man alive were they ever excited about that!
My little Kolton did enjoy the game until about 2 or 3 innings in....then it got a little old.  But He sure looked cute when he'd get into the game!
Just chillin'
Same goes for Nate and Josh.  (This is Nate above)  They crack me up when they get bored - they both are such clowns! 
Micah didn't really care about t-ball.  He was happy diong all kinds of things, but none of which were t-ball, unless it was his turn to bat.  Then he'd participate, but only if Mommy ran the bases with him.  I gladly was fun to hear those happy giggles.

Poppy was out in the field with the boys every game.  Wes was out there as much as he could be with his work schedule and us juggling Jonah.  I think the Daddies both enjoyed doing "guy stuff" with the boys.  The little boys sure ate it up!

Joshie is patiently waiting in the outfield....

Just experimenting with my camera a subjects were too cute not to take advantage of!

I told you this guy (Nate) was a clown!

Here's a good example of Micah finding anything to do other than playing t-ball.  Silly boy.  I'm just glad he's so easily entertained by himself or I would have been in real trouble!

I think my Dad is so handsome.  :)  Love ya, Dad!

This boy was just as good as gold almost the whole time every game.  Even when he'd get bored, he'd obediently go out and play until the game was over.  He was such a good sport.  I'm so proud of him.  He's suddenly so grown up to me - slow down, Buddy!

Here's Kolton at bat....
.....and now tagging first.

Nathan batting.  I love the cute faces they pull.

He'd slide into first every time.

Kolton waiting on second base.  Boys will be boys.  I love it.

Micah entertaining himself again.  I love that boy!

Spiderman glasses are a hot commodity around here!
I'm not sure what was going on here, but it made me look twice!  Wow Nate!

The girls (my youngest sisters) were content just being spectators or park-players.  They'd much rather do girly things than play t-ball.  Aren't they cute?

Not Joshie has the honor of wearing the Spiderman glasses.

I loved seeing how hard the boys would try to get the ball.  Every time someone would hit you'd see a swarm of determined little boys go running after the ball.  It kind of reminded me of girls trying to catch the bouquet at a wedding.  Kolton came out victorious a few times.  He was so proud!

I'm not sure where the ball went, but apparently not where he was expecting it to go.  Don't you just love that cute little face?

I have some more t-ball pictures, but this post is already getting too long, so I'll save them for later. 

I'm glad these boys all got the chance to play on a team together.  I hope it happens for many years to come, but we'll see.  My little brothers loved t-ball, and my boys just begged to play soccer the whole time.  I wonder what they'll all end up loving.  Either way I'm so glad they all have each other.  And I'm even more glad that I get to be a big sister and a mommy to such a darling, sweet, fun group of busy little boys!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

being a parenting team - five-facet reviews

I like to think of parenting as a true team effort.

I'm the mom, and Wes is the dad.  But it seems like the roles of mom and dad are slightly, or very, different from family to family. 

I love being with my kids.  I hog them for preschool (by doing Joyschool at home), create my own "kids' camp" at home with me so I can keep them home just a few more months before school starts.  I get overwhelmed and busy and tired at times, but my role as a mother keeps me completely fulfilled and happy.  I am pretty easygoing and mellow most of the time.  I have NO desire to work away from home. 

Wes is a pretty involved dad.  He works hard and plays hard.  He is a ball of energy and the kids love it!  It's contagious and we all play hard when Daddy's home.  Wes is also a great peacemaker.  Sometimes it's a good thing because I probably fall into the category of "passionate people".  ;)  We can always count on Wes to keep his cool and blow off his steam playing volleyball or working out.  He does withdraw a little when he's upset, where I normally like to face the problem.  I feel like we are very compatible as a couple and as a parenting partnership.

We make a great team.  Wes is strong where I am weak and vice versa.  But how do we make sure that we play on one another's strengths and keep a good offense?  How do I keep him "in the know" about all the important stuff with our kids?  How do we prioritize their needs as well as ours?  How do we stand as a united front that can serve as a strong foundation for our family to rely on?

The answer for us has been simple: five-facet reviews.

This was a concept taught to me on numerous occasion from the Eyres.  It's in a few of their books (I don't remember which ones, but I do know it's mentioned in several) also.  But I've been thinking about the reviews a lot lately since the last Motherhood Retreat I went on back in April.  Richard Eyre was there and was saying that doing the five-facet reviews was, in his opinion, one of the best ways to involve dads.  It's divided out and conquered, which is just how ment typically operate, so it can be extremely effective.

Wes and I have been doing five-facet reviews for about a year now, and I would have to say it right at the top of the list of things I would consider one of the best things we've done for our kids. 

What is a five-facet review?  For us, we sit down for about 10-20 minutes (we only have three small children, this obviously will take longer as your family grows in number and age) and talk about each child and their five facets.  (The five facets are: physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual.)  We've dealt with many issues already from potty-training to separation anxiety to bottle attachment to eczema.  It's amazing how when you stop and think about your kids every month, from two different perspectives, how many little things you can nip in the bud long before they become big things.

*in fact, sometimes, on my own, I'll secretly interview Wes for his own five-facet review.  I'm slick, so he doesn't know I'm doing it.  Afterwards ( a few minutes to a day or two later), I try to give it a quick rundown myself, to make sure I think Wes is happy and doing well and knows how much I love him.  I'll also do this for myself sometimes.  I think doing this has been a big part of keeping our marriage as strong and happy and fulfilling as it is.  Just a little tidbit.

For us, five-facet reviews truly are a must because we want to have a good offense.  I don't think it matters how you do them - just making sure they happen consistently is what's important.  I feel so grateful to have been taught to use this simple and effective tool early on in my parenting.  It's already made a world of difference in our lives.

my magical moment at disneyland

When we were in Disneyland a few months ago, something special happened.

As we were walking out of Jamba Juice one night, we heard a familiar song:

"Time to Say Goodbye" is performed here by Drew Tetrick. He is a phenomenal musician.  I just had to go up and tell him how moving his playing was when he finished, and in doing so, learned that he is the violinist in this version of the song the Bellagio uses in their water show.

When Wes and I first got engaged, we went down to Vegas for one of Wes' tournaments.  I was one of the only girls there - I was kind of the honorary cheerleader of the team.  I had so much fun with Wes and the guys on the team.  We stayed at a kind of "chaperone's" house (a guy on the team had lived out there and knew some people who were family friends.  They were so sweet and great caretakers.  They even gave me my own room in the house full of men - man alive did I ever appreciate that!) while we were there and didn't get much alone time. 

I was fine with that.  I was happy to be there and be a part of the action.  Everyone was always so nice, and I love volleyball, so I enjoyed watching the tourney. 

Wes came into my room each night and we read our scriptures together and said a prayer.  He'd kiss me, hold me for a minute, and then go out and sleep with everyone else.  It made me so anxious and excited for the day when we would be married.  I just knew that we were going to be so happy together, and I was still pinching myself at the catch of a guy I'd gotten.  I still do to this day.

Anyway, one night we were all out driving on the strip.  This song had just started playing at the Bellagio water show.  Wes and I were holding hands squished inside the car - stuck in stopped traffic.  Suddenly, we found ourselves pushed out of the car by a group of awesome guys who instinctively knew that this girl was suddenly feeling romantic.  They left us there and we found them waiting a little ways away from us a few minutes later.  I soaked in that glorious moment alone with the one I love.  I felt his arms around me and heard his soothing voice in my ear as we talked and laughed and swayed to the music.  It was magic.  I wanted to marry him right then and there (hey, we were in Vegas...j/k)

I was so thankful for that simple, spontaneous moment of alone time.  Especially since Henderson, Nevada ended up being our first home.  I felt so grateful to have that song that we shared and the comforting memory of the Bellagio just twenty minutes away.  We visited there often when we lived there, and we would never leave until we heard "our song."

Needless to say, I was nothing short of ecstatic to meet this very talented musician.  He truly is amazing and I felt my heart going pitter-patter all over again as I held Wes' hand while listening to Drew Tetrick playing "Time to Say Goodbye" live.  It was one of the most magical moments in Disneyland for me.  Thanks Drew.

If you haven't heard his music, check it out.  It's very moving.  Enjoy!

delicious taco soup variation

The other day, I was desperate for a quick dinner that everyone would eat.  My good ol' standby for those types of evenings is either frittatas, lentils and rice, or taco soup.

I really needed to grocery shop at the time, and we were out of eggs and lentils.  So taco soup it was.

One problem:  we were out of ground beef too.  We've been eating less meat lately and focusing on really good quality meat (free range, organic, lean, ground after you've requested - that way it's all from one cow, and it's the cut of meat you'd like to eat).  Wes had made a bunch of quinoa that morning (we LOVE quinoa - if it's cooked right) and I thought, "what the heck?" and threw it in instead.  (I didn't measure, but it was probably in the neighborhood of 2-3 cups.)

Oh. My. Goodness.

It was delicious!

This is now our new favorite way to eat good ol' taco soup. 

Added bonus: so much healthier for you!

Quinoa is a low-glycemic food (18 on the scale of 0-250, has 5 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein per serving, and is chock full of healthy nutrients such as amino acids, magnesium, calcium, and iron.  And if you sprout it - which is pretty darn effortless - you'll only increase the nutritional value by making it a live plant food.

If you don't know about the nutritional benefits of quinoa, you can check them out here.

So, if you're in the mood to try something new, this one was really yummy.  My kids loved it.  We loved it.  Taco soup is just yummy!

*something else that we do to "healthify" this recipe is use Wildtree's taco seasoning.  It is MSG-free, color and preservative free.  It tastes exactly the same as McCormick's too.  We love Wildtree products!

If you haven't cooked quinoa before, it's really easy.  You must rinse it first, because it has its own natural pesticide on it that can be slightly toxic (give you a tummyache) if you don't rinse the grains.  All you do is use a 1:1 3/4 ratio of quinoa:liquid (we use water), bring it to a boil, then cover it, turn the burner off, and let it sit for 15 minutes.  Easy peasy.

So, if you're feeling adventurous, give this variation a try.  It's fast, easy, and delicious!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

back in the saddle

I FINALLY got another article up over at Power of Moms. 

You can check it out here. 

I'm SO glad I finally got past my writer's block, and made the time to sit and write.  Now I'm spilling with ideas....hopefully I can keep on top of writing them down.

My mom and I have some big ideas to revamp the values now that we're up and running again.  Feel free to add your input.  :)

Good luck with the June value, Justice and Mercy.

Monday, June 13, 2011

kolton's artwork

We are finding lots of this around our house right now:
This one is a "beautiful horse".

And this:
Mommy on a beautiful pony.  And ponies have magic horns and they can fly.
 And this:
This one is Daddy riding a horse. One of my faves.
 And this:
This is another favorite.  I think he tried to write "Kolton loves Wes, Jonah, Mommy, and Micah. 
 And this:

And this:

And this:
This artwork was done by both boys.  There are piles of paper like this all over the house.
 And this:
The one on the right is Micah's, the other two are Kolton's.
All this artwork makes me smile and feel my love for my little boy growing deeper each moment.  I love being a Mommy and getting to partake of little treasures like this each and every day.  They truly are beautiful to me and I feel so glad to have, at least until the next phase begins, a budding watercolor artist.

I love watching the creative side of my little boy starting to emerge.  He just melts my heart and I am so proud and lucky to me his momma.

Dear Kolton,
Please keep painting more pictures.  Mommy loves them and thinks they are little treasures.  I love you and I am so happy and proud of the big boy you are suddenly becoming!
Love and kisses,


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