Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Memories: 2012 Edition

Our Davydd as Baby Jesus and our Dierdre as Mary

I still have to be careful about the amount of pictures I add here, until I decide to actually PAY for more storage (Yeah, I know I'm uber-cheap!), but I want to record some of the fun things we did this year! (Most of which I forgot to take pictures of anyway!)

  • We taped candy canes to several bank ATMs and handed them out at various shopping centers, just to say "Merry Christmas" and hopefully brighten someone's day. The best experience with this was when one of the kids handed a candy cane to a tiny little boy (he couldn't have been more than three years old), whose dad had just told him he didn't have money to buy him any candy from the vending machines. The expression on the little guy's face was priceless! 
  • We not only went to the Christmas lights at the temple visitor's center, but we also met Russell's boss and his wife there. They are not members of our church, but are faithful members of the Catholic church, and it was so great to listen to a combined Catholic and LDS choir with them, as well as seeing the lights all around the temple grounds and some of the other things at the visitor's center. They asked several questions about the temple itself and the work that goes on there. It was so fun to share with them and see things through their eyes. I never want to forget how good it felt to share my love of temple work!
  • On another night, we made up a big batch of hot chocolate and took it around to bell ringers at a few different stores. Even though it's not SUPER cold here in Arizona, it was still a bit chilly for bell ringers to stand out in for long, and it felt good to give them a warm treat.
  • We got to go see my sweet Southern Granny at her nursing home the Sunday before Christmas. I feel bad that I don't go see her very often, but it can be a bit painful for me. Granny and I used to be so close, and she doesn't remember me at all-- she has even stopped recognizing that she knows me. But we were able to introduce her to Davydd, and she adored holding all the kids and hugging them. She kept saying "I love you!" over and over to each of them, and in her classic Granny fashion kept asking me if I would give the baby to her-- just as she has always done with each of the others. That was sweet music for me to hear. It was good to be reminded that she's the same Granny, the same person I have loved all my life, even if her memory is gone.

Granny meeting Davydd
  • One day, we left some wrapped cookies with a note for our grumpy mailman in our mail box, and it was AWESOME to see him smile when he took them out of the box! (We were sure to watch him stealthfully!) 
  • Money was REALLY tight this year, so we got the kids a few things at the dollar store, Russell got the older boys some inexpensive leatherman-type tools, I sewed presents for everyone else, and the kids all made each other gifts. They drew names, as is our tradition, and I was so impressed with the gifts they came up with! We had homemade bows and arrows, jewelry, playdough, dollhouses, and more. (Thank you, Pinterest, for all the great ideas!!!) It was a humbling experience, but it was also very, very SWEET.
  • One other thing that happened this year, was that an unknown, kind family chose to give us a present every night for the twelve nights before Christmas. The kids had a ball with it, and Russell and I looked forward to every day's new gift, as well! It was also a bit humbling, but it gave me great memories of the times we did that for other families with my mom on several Christmases during my growing-up years.

All in all, we had a warm and wonderful Christmas season, and wish everyone a very Happy New Year!!!

Love, Mama Rachel

Monday, December 17, 2012

Times and Seasons

Sixteen Years Ago (With my family)

I've been all kinds of contemplative lately. It feels like our family is standing at the threshold of so many changes coming all too quickly.

See those babies in the photo above? The baby girl turns 19 years old just two days after Christmas this year. And she has decided to put in her mission papers.

Morganne at age 18

And the fuzzy-haired little boy can send in his mission papers at the end of March 2013.

Brennan at age 17


Yes, I am getting all kinds of emotional that I am "losing" my babies, one by one, starting NOW.

Where has the time gone? I could have sworn that the picture above was taken yesterday-- wasn't it?


But I AM thankful that my babies are growing up to be such wonderful people. They amaze me! They are making really great choices, and are doing the things I've tried to raise them to do.

Now, if I can just get my brain in line to figure out how to be a mother of adults and babies at the same time...

Love, Mama Rachel

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Davydd's Birth Story

They kept two IV's in me until just before I left the hospital, so they wouldn't have to stick me again...

 Things I want to remember:

  • The hours of praying through the night that baby's heartbeat would stay good so there would be no C-section needed.
  • The divine intervention that kept me in pain in just the right spots to help move baby's head into the right place. (Even though I was frustrated beyond belief that I was still in pain WITH an epidural.)
  • The sweet spirits I felt enter the room right when I thought I would burst with worry and overwhelm due to the oxygen I was on and the hyperventilating I was doing in an attempt to get baby all the oxygen he needed.
  • The 9 attempts at getting my IV in that left me bruised and  nervous-- and the sweet nurse who was so upset about it saying "This is all you're going to remember, when all you wanted was a nice home birth!"
  • The calm and kind nurse-midwife who was willing to wait patiently for our boys arrival-- more patiently than I was willing to wait through most of the experience!
  • My midwife, Sue, who showed up JUST when I needed her to put cool cloths on my forehead and give me words of encouragement. (I don't know how I would have survived the nurse change right as things got hairy!)
  • How I pushed for less than 10 minutes, determined to get baby out and in my arms at last!
  • How scary it was afterward to realize how LITTLE ambiotic fluid my poor little guy was trying to swim in!
  • How bad I felt when I realized that I was birthing without pain, but that my little one had to do a lot of work on his own WITHOUT pain relief.
  • How I felt EVERYTHING while pushing-- the epidural blocked nothing.
  • The lesson I learned about facing fears with faith. The Lord's plans are ALWAYS better than our own! If only I had trusted Him...
And now for some pictures:

Me on oxygen-- trying to stay positive!

First Davydd picture, covered in green vernix-- poor guy!

Meeting the whole family!

Alls well that ends well.

Love, Mama Rachel

Slacking Off

I need to apologize-- I have been sooo neglectful of my blogs! But I always need to readjust after a new baby arrives, and now it's the Christmas season, and I have reached my quota of free picture space on Blogger (Hey, I've been blogging since 2006, ya know...) so that stopped me from updating, and... and...

Yeah, excuses, excuses!

So until I can delete some pictures (gasp!) or somehow figure out stupid Picasa (grumble-grumble), I won't be posting many updates.

I DO think I'll finally publish the draft of my birth story, however, even though it's not very thorough. Who wants to read too many details of a traumatic experience, anyway? Right?


Love you all!!!

Mama Rachel

Friday, November 09, 2012

A Baby, A Birthday, and a Bob

One of Davydd's funny faces.
Sweet Davy keeps growing, getting cuter every day. He is so expressive in his facial expressions! He has a rather large fan club at our house. It seems like he's always been here, even though it's only been three weeks since he was born.

In other news, MacKenna turned SEVEN years old!



She liked her necklace, bracelets, and new outfits. (Fifty percent off day at Goodwill makes it all possible!)

Oh, and she and Mom are going to make a Raggedy Ann doll together for one of her presents, too. She's growing so big and smart! We are very grateful for her bright spirit in our family.

Moving on...

Eryn has a fascination with scissors-- and it finally caught up with her and her long, beautiful curls. *sob* In the end, Mama had to cut her hair SHORT to even out the many lengths Eryn had cut. Here are her "after" shots-- she's still such a sweet, pretty girl!

Even if she is a mischievous toddler, now...

It's a good thing she's so cute.

From behind-- so short!

And I leave you with one more Funny-Davydd-Face from this morning:

Love, Mama Rachel

Monday, October 29, 2012

Precious Photos of Baby Davydd

All photos in this post were captured by Jill Rich.

My friend, Jill, is an amazingly talented photographer who has blessed our family with her skills in the past, (See our family picture on the "About Us" page!) and came over today to capture some newborn photos of our tiny little guy.

Again, this is a post for the grandparents! We love you!!!

I'm so grateful to be blessed by the talents of others!

October 2012 Pictures

Me with my sweet little Davy

 The next few posts are for all our family members that are not on Facebook, so please allow me to indulge in sharing lots of photos of ALL our cute, cute kids...

Most of us (except me and our little Davy) attended our ward's Trunk or Treat earlier this week:

Lovely Morganne chased little girls all night.

Brennan was an "apocalypse survivor/zombie-killer."

Lliam was scary in his black cloak.

Pretty Bonny had lots of fun with her friends.

Gavin was a dashing Legolas.

Dierdre was an adorable witch. (She made her own broom at her  weekly homeschool club.)

Ronan saved boxes for weeks to put together enough to be a cyborg. (He did a great job!)

MacKenna was excited to dress up as Mulan!

Miss Grayse Dawn as "Dorothy"

Adorable Princess Avalon...

And pretty Princess Eryn.


Now for some pictures of our new little one:

Grayse loves her baby brother.

Dierdre is so careful and kind.

Our Davydd Aldie

Sunday, October 21, 2012

He's Here!

Arriving at 8:39am on October 17, 2012

After 15 hours of labor, lots of prayers, Priesthood blessings, and loads of waiting, our sweet little man has FINALLY arrived!

Russell's grandfather passed away at the beginning of the month, and we were not able to attend the funeral. That was hard, but we were there in spirit and heart. Our precious little one was given Grandpa's first name for his middle name, and we know Grandpa would be very pleased.

There is so much I have experienced, so many lessons I've learned, that I'm not sure where to start. Right now I'm just processing it all! Sometime soon, I will record everything, but for today it is simply enough to say that he's here, he's wonderful, and we are all falling deeply in love with him.

Welcome, Davydd Aldie!!!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

While I'm Waiting...

"Be Not Afraid" by Greg Olsen

Three days have come and gone since my "due date,"and my emotions are ALL OVER the place! But thanks to a sweet husband, as well as our willing and able kids, the house is staying afloat, and I'm holding on to hope.

So far today, I've been listening to some hypnobirth recordings, finishing up some new job charts, (Specific checklists so the kids will know when their jobs really are "DONE.") playing on Facebook and Pinterest, and trying to process everything on this woman's blog.

Here's what I know:

  • This baby WILL come. I just need to trust in the Lord's timing and do my best to be as prepared as I can be in the meantime.
  • Nesting is a GIFT!
  • I am far from perfect, my kids are far from perfect, and my home is far from perfect. But I'm still trying, and learning and growing.
  • A lovely, tall glass of chocolate milk can make even this grumpy pregnant woman smile!
  • Relaxing exercises and music can go a long way to soothe worries and anxiety.
  • Even a small house can have plenty of room for lots of love in it.
  • The Great Unknown exists only in my limited, human view. Our Heavenly Father knows everything we don't-- I can leave my worries in His almighty hands. (Thank goodness!)

Love, Mama Rachel

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Education, not Schooling

Oh, I LOVE this quote by one of my favorite homeschool advocates!
"...if we're going to change what's rapidly becoming a disaster of ignorance, we need to realize that the institution "schools" very well, but it does not "educate"; that's inherent in the design of the thing. It's not the fault of bad teachers or too little money spent. It's just impossible for education and schooling to be the same thing."
--John Taylor Gatto, "Why Schools Don't Educate"

And, no-- no baby yet...! 

Love, Mama Rachel

Monday, September 10, 2012

Coming and Going

Mildred and Aldie, 2011

Pregnancy Update

Today I reached the 37 weeks mark-- and I am feeling it! I'm trying to decide if it's a blessing that we forget the discomfort of those last few weeks or not. All the aches and pains DO help me become more willing to face labor and childbirth, however. And that's good-- right?

What happens at 37 Weeks...

I've pulled out and washed all the baby clothes and blankets, bought newborn diapers, and even set up the baby crib (by myself!). I've got the birth pool and about half of the items on my home birth supply list. (The most important of which is the birth kit.)

The baby is moving well, and his head has settled right where it's supposed to be-- much to the chagrin of my bladder. The midwives think he was right around 7 lbs. at my last appointment. I guess we shall see! (Some days, he's feeling more around 20lbs., but that's just me...)

Endings and Beginnings

In the midst of everything, Russell's sweet grandpa is not doing well, and may be passing on soon. He's been in poor health for a long time, and we want him to be free from pain, but we know how much he'll miss his sweetheart. Thankfully, fragile Grandma now has some help coming in for him, so she's not trying to care for him on her own any more.

They both mean so much to me! I tease Russell that I married him because of that sweet couple, and while that's not completely true, it was the visit to meet them that helped me see the possible future I could have with Russell. They are some of the most accepting, loving people I have ever known. Their example has been such a comfort and joy to me.

Grandpa and Grandma met at a county fair talent show, and they have always sung together. (Grandpa was a member of a family cowboy band, and toured with his dad and brothers for years. His nephews grew up to be members of the "The Lettermen.")

The only thing Grandpa has ever asked of our family, is that we sing to him. So whenever we visit, we all gather around his bed and sing him a song or two. Then, when it's time to leave, he asks us to please record some songs for him. And we FINALLY recorded one the other day! (Follow the link below.)

Homeward Bound

He also asked us to sing at his funeral, with a specific song in mind. I'm working at arranging it for our family to sing, but it's been an emotional thing for me. I don't want him to go! And so I'm kinda blocked on doing it. :-(

I am also afraid that we're going to miss it! I can't travel this late in pregnancy, and Russell doesn't feel like he can leave, either. So we need to record the song, and at least send it to be heard at the funeral, if Grandpa leaves us before we can make it up there. Not fun things to think about!

So you can see why my thoughts on this new baby coming and Grandpa going are so intertwined-- a beginning and an ending that stay in my mind constantly.

37 weeks.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Homeschool Advice

"The true picture of the effective home teacher is more often a secure and happy mom. She and the children do straightening up chores the first thing each day so that the home with provide an organized, clean environment for learning. She selects learning tasks for which each child is ready. She requires only enough daily practice or drill to allow her children to progress appropriately to mastery of basic skills. Fun projects are used to integrate and reinforce basic skills. And much of the day is framed around the children's interests with work and service that build genuine golden rule citizens,"  

~The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook, Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Thoughts on Light

These beautiful videos touched my heart and illuminated my mind today. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have. :-)

Hugs, Mama Rachel

Friday, August 31, 2012

Nine Months

I'll be 36 weeks along on Monday.

The false labor is here and going strong-- my uterus is working hard already. It's really exhausting, and though I'm trying to stay positive, truthfully it's NO. FUN. AT. ALL.

I just need to begin my deep breathing. I CAN "endure to the end!" Yes...

I think I need to work on some sewing projects with a good movie or a book on CD. I have plenty of projects in my "to sew" box; now I just need a dash or two (or five) of motivation to work on them.

Or maybe I'll just take a nap...

Love, Mama Rachel

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Structuring Time in A "Relaxed" Home Culture

I have shared this post in various places, like the Latter-day Homeschooling blog and at various speaking engagements. But for some reason, I have not been able to find it here, on my blog! It must already be here somewhere, but I cannot locate it! So, because it has been requested by more of my readers, I'm reposting it here today.

Mama Rachel

I am not a "scheduler." In fact, I totally rebel against them-- even when I make them! I've continually looked to outside sources to "fix" me, including great programs like this. But I like to be spontaneous! I like to switch things around randomly. And I like to go with the flow of my children's interests, so I NEED more flexibility in my home.

One day, I decided to simply accept myself and my family as we are, and workwith my natural tendency to work on a relaxed, unstructured-- uh, structure. *grin*

Something I learned from the "Managers of their Homes" program, was to split up the hours of the day into three separate charts. So I sat down and made a list of the things that we need to do during each part of the day, and then I made a chart for each. This way, we have a goal for what needs to get done, but we are not restricted by my inaccurate time estimates.

Morning is from rising to 11-ish, Midday is from around 11am to 5pm, andEvening is from 5pm to bedtime.

See the chart below to see what we work to accomplish in the Morning.:

And here's what we work on through Midday.:

Here's how our Evenings work. (Please note that each of the activities listed under "Inspiration Time" are not done EVERY night. They simply include the things that happen through the week.):

I am a believer that scheduling IS important. but I am also finding that if I want to truly succeed, I need to work with my personality, and make sure that our schedule is working with our family rhythms, and not against them.

I wish you happiness in creating a plan that fits YOUR family's needs!

Love, Mama Rachel

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Twenty Years

Happy Anniversary to me! 

I'm excited to go to the temple and do sealings tonight with my true love.

I can't believe it's been 20 years...

Love, Mama Rachel

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

The Craziness that is Moi

Image by my lovely friend, Misty.

Just FYI, I do know I'm crazy...

For example:

  • I chose to travel 16 hours each way when 8 months pregnant.
  • I decided that packing two family reunions in two different states and a high school reunion in the course of a week would be the most efficient thing to do EVER.
  • I volunteered to make a slide show for the above mentioned 20th class reunion and it ended up being over 30 minutes long.
  • I chose the crazy last week to allow sugar back in my diet after being off of it for an entire year. The heartburn alone is enough to make this crazy pregnant woman think twice-- for once!
  • I still have the second semester of my Shakespeare booklet to finish by next Saturday, the 18th-- and I haven't looked at it in over a week.
  • I have a Shakespeare teacher training scheduled for the 18th-- hence the need for the booklets to be FINISHED.
  • There is a multitude of sewing I was supposed to finish while I was at my mom's. And I didn't. But considering they're maternity clothes and I only have 2 months left in my pregnancy, perhaps they should be sewn sooner rather than later?
  • I still have suitcases to unload, clothes to put away, laundry to do, and floors to mop.
So wouldn't right now be a good time to revamp our chore chart, or move around some furniture???

Of course it's a good time!!!

Because I'm CRAZY...


Mama Rachel