Monday, January 26, 2015

This Week at Our House # 4

  1. After 10 long months, it's finally happened-- the miracle we have been waiting for. John signed a contract last Wednesday, and he begins work today. It's contracted work. He won't have any benefits, but the pay is double to make up for that plus the small business taxes. He'll work from home, which is good since we are down one car and not in a position to buy another. It's been a long, hard time. The kids hardly believe that it's true. Everyone wants me to quit working now. I will, eventually. I think we still feel a bit traumatized. We've barely mentioned it even among ourselves-- like somehow it won't be real if we talk about it.
  2. I am still working for a little bit.We need to get through until we get the tax return and the first pay check.
  3. Ruth has a dance class and a ceramics class this semester. I think she will enjoy them both, and especially enjoy the break from a straight set of serious academic courses.
  4. Kate's been mourning the loss of her last semesters seminary teacher and class. This semester, the teacher began the class talking about how they need to get along and be friends. Kate looked around and noticed that a lot of the people she does not get along with are in the class. I think this will be a good challenge for her. It's something we all need to work on.
  5. Johnny had homework!! It really frustrated him.
  6. Adam and Rachel have been fighting like cats and dogs and I am tired of being a referee.
  7. Rachel was the only kid that had a cavity this last dentist time. Poor girl. But she bravely got her filling done without any noise.
  8. Anya is about to loose her first top front tooth, just as Suzy is growing hers in.
  9. Joseph can be such a good boy, I am just not sure I'll make it to his adulthood as a sane person while I wade through the not as good parts of his decision making.
  10. Josh keeps taking everyone's things and putting them on his shelf in his closet. He took $241 from Ruth, and legos and food from Johnny and Adam. I wish I knew how to get this to stop.
  11. Arwen can dress and undress herself better than Josh can.
  12. Suzy has her first front tooth. The other one has not cut, yet, so we are in for more teething. She pulls herself up and climbs a few stairs. She definitely needs to be watched all of the time now.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Zuppa Tuscana

This is about the best soup version of potato soup on the planet...


  • 2 bunches Kale, Picked Over, Cleaned, And Torn Into Bite Sized Pieces
  • 12 whole Red Potatoes, Sliced Thin
  • 1 whole Onion, Chopped
  • 1 pound Italian Sausage
  • 1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (more To Taste)
  • 2 cups  Chicken Broth
  • 3 cups  Milk
  • 3 cups Heavy Cream
  •  Fresh Or Dried Oregano
  •  Black Pepper To Taste


Prepare the kale and set it aside.
In a medium pot. boil sliced potatoes until tender. Drain and set aside.
In a large pot, crumble and brown the Italian sausage. Drain as much as the fat as you can. Stir in the red pepper flakes, oregano, chicken broth, milk, and half-and-half. Simmer for 30 minutes.
Give it a taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Add the potatoes, a splash of heavy cream for richness, then stir in the kale. Simmer an additional 10-15 minutes, then serve.

This Week at Our House # 3

  1. John is still negotiating some possible contract work and he has a couple of job interviews this week. Maybe things will be back together soon.
  2. I wrote this to my moms with big families group of friends, "While I was working tonight, I realized, probably for the first time, what a charmed life I have had. We've never had a lot, but we have always had sufficient enough for me to stay home with the kids until now. I had gotten so used to thinking that I am sacrificing some big career or what could have been prestige. blah, blah, blah. Anyway, I never realized how good I had it until now. And now I really know, that none of that matters much. I have just been very blessed to be at home and have as much time as I want to care for my family."
  3. Ruth's been quite busy with school and work. She doesn't have an actual job, but she is working about 12 to 15 hours a week babysitting and housekeeping. She has a pretty good savings so far and is paying for all of her own things now.
  4. The semester ended this week and Kate has another 4.0. She is working real hard because she wants to get a scholarship to BYU.
  5. Johnny ended up with all A's and 2 A-'s but never does any homework. 
  6. Trying to get Adam to read is trying. I don't know how to help that boy learn to love books. I limit video games to just 2 days a week, and TV is supposed to be just as limited, but the kids sneak it if I am not home. Adam got all A's and one A- for the second term.
  7. Rachel brought her grades up. I think she is trying harder to  pay attention in class. She has way less homework at Legacy Prep than she did at Foxboro. She now says that she likes Legacy Prep better.
  8. Anya for the first time did not get straight A's. She got a B in essential skills because she never did her make up work from when she missed a week of school. But she is only in the first grade.
  9. Joseph got all A's too, and he's also been bumped up another level in reading. 
  10. Joshua had his 4th birthday!! He LOVED it! He loved his gifts. His sibling all pitched in using their Christmas money and got him a pretty nice lego set. We use the food stamps to get the kids their own little stash of candy which he has been carrying around and sharing little of. Uncle Jeremy showed up with a real model train and track, that Josh is in love with. He got a noisy plastic train that runs around the floor on batteries from my mom. He carried that around for days. Josh knew exactly what he wanted for his dessert and dinner. He wanted salmon for dinner and a "brown" train cake for dessert. We provided both. At dinnertime he chanted "Salmon, Salmon" and at cake time he blew his candles out before we even started singing. John kept relighting and Josh kept blowing and we all had a good laugh. Josh is a very organized little boy. He likes things neat. He loved building things with legos and blocks.He loves to color and tries to stay in the lines. He hates dressing and undressing himself and going to the bathroom. Hopefully, he'll outgrow those 2. He still wakes up crying at night which is annoying, but all in all, we love our little Joshua. He brings a lot of joy to our home.
  11. Arwen was sick most of the week. I came home from work Monday at 1:20 am and she had puked all over. She had been having diarrhea the week before. She puked one more time that night and one more time on Wednesday, We tried to keep only simple sugars and carbs in her to give her body time to get rid of the germ and to give her stomach time to heal. So she cried every day when we said no chocolate milk. She seems to be okay now and is happy to be getting her favorite drink again.
  12. Susan is getting her top teeth. She's been pretty grumpy and waking up at night. Since I get home after 1am, I have been getting 3 hours of sleep a night. I never planned on working before my little ones started school. When John gets a job, I am going to go back to that plan. 10 young children and a part time job is a little more than I can do, I think, at least long term.
This Week's Pictures

Monday, January 12, 2015

This Week at Our House # 2

  1. I was really thinking John would get some work this week. But he didn't. I feel pretty disappointed and discouraged about it. 
  2. I started work on Monday. I spent the whole week in training and tomorrow I will start working on my own. I will be cleaning classrooms and hallways and such in the BYU SLC center. I work from 9pm until 1am, so I am still home with the kids during the day, but I have to stay on a fairly strict  schedule to be ready to leave around 8:30.
  3. Ruth now has a daily babysitting job and a weekly house keeping job. She is really busy between school, homework, and work.
  4. Kate has had to pick up the slack with Ruth and I gone as much as we are.She has lots of homework and several tests coming up to.
  5. Johnny never has homework. I have no idea how he gets through school as well as he does while doing so much less than his sisters.
  6. Adam eased into school without any trouble. He got up and ready in the mornings and did not complain too much about homework.
  7. Rachel had to write a book report the same night that she had musical practice. I thought she would be up past 11pm like Adam usually is, but she got to work as soon as she got home and finished before I had to leave for work.
  8. Anya had her birthday!!! She is now 7! She is a bright fun little girl. She does not like things all pink or to be a princess. She likes to read, run, and play ball. She is a really good artist with a keen sense of design and balance. She is smart and fun to be around. We are grateful to have darling little Anya brighten our home.
  9. Joseph did well with getting back on schedule. He does his homework and his reading without much help and little prompting.
  10. Josh is driving me crazy. He won't stay out of his brother's room and he is constantly sneaking and making big messes. He will be 4 in another week. I am hoping he will be a little happier and a little less destructive in the year to come.
  11. Arwen got a lot of art things for Christmas and spent the week coloring and reading books.
  12. Susan gets around everywhere. She can stand herself up and will sometimes try to crawl up the first step. We have to keep a closer eye on her. I usually wait to give my babies solid food until they are around 9 to 10 months, but Susan just wants to eat. She crawls around and she finds food that the other kids have left on the floor. So I have given up and given her food. She can even eat finger foods and picks them up between her forefinger and her thumb.
This Week's Pictures

Monday, January 5, 2015

This Week at Our House 2015 # 1

Christmas Morning

  1. Still no job.
  2. We went to John's parents house for a New Years party and returned home at 3am. The kids stayed awake the whole time. We read Fablehaven 3 & 4 to the 5 oldest kids. On Saturday, we took the whole family to see "Meet the Mormons" which is now free at the Joseph Smith Memorial building. And Saturday night we used the gift cards to Red Robin my mom had sent and took the entire family out to dinner. The kids were very, very good. We waited 45 minutes to get a seat and another 45 minutes for our food and the kids didn't run around or complain or cry at all. 
  3. Ruth mainly enjoyed laying around the house and watching "I Love Lucy" when she had the chance. 
  4. Kate did about the same as Ruth except that she really, really enjoyed reading Fablehaven together.
  5. Johnny played lots of games-- video games everyday, and board games almost everyday. I loved hearing Johnny, Adam, John, Ruth, and Kate play dungeons and dragons together.
  6. Adam has become and maybe always was the ring leader of the little kids. He can get his younger siblings to do whatever he wants. Yet, he is the first to be annoyed with their noise and mess. Adam, like Johnny, played video games every day and as much as we would allow.
  7. Rachel read a lot, drew a lot of pictures, and spent plenty of time playing video games too.
  8. Anya loves video games. I would say that she is just as easily addicted to them as are her older brothers. Free video game time was the highlight of her vacation too.
  9. Joseph likes video games, but they are not his main source of entertainment. He played out in the snow and spent a lot of time drawing, reading, and building with blocks and legos.
  10. Josh had some pretty funny things to say this week. One night he was keeping Joseph up late building legos with his light on, so I had John remove the lightbulb. The next morning Josh came over to me. "Do you know what Mom?" he said, "That man you married is a jerk!" I looked at him rather dumb founded, when he clarified, "You know, Dad. He is a jerk. He took my light bulb out last night." Sunday Josh had his first day of primary. I noticed that he was pretty unhappy and Kate saw him in the hallway screaming at one point, so she comforted him. When we got home, I said, "So you hated primary," and Josh replied, "No. I was just mad."
  11. Arwen takes naps and then wakes up incredibly grumpy for a couple of hours and then won't go to bed. I try and keep her from taking these naps, but she always seems to sneak them in.
  12. On New Years Eve, Susan crawled up to her cousin Seth, who is 7 weeks younger, kissed him tenderly on the forehead twice and then grabbed his face and pulled his hair. She is now starting to pull herself up into standing positions, but she does not know how to get back down and just cries.
Christmas Break Pictures

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Exposing Yourself and Letting Other's Help.

My friend, Ganel-Lyn Condie's husband lost his job 4 months after John lost his. She started the Magic and Miracles in the Mess. Recently on Facebook, she admonished everyone to expose themselves and to be honest and open about their needs. She's not asking people to become complainy or generally ungrateful, but rather to show their gratitude while being sincere about their needs. She has learned as I have learned that Angels are surrounding us anxious to help.

Nine months ago when John lost his job, I was very quiet about the fact. I did not want to tell anyone. I even pleaded in my prayers that we would not have to get help and that we would be able to get through this alone. In my prayers, I informed Heavenly Father that we needed to and wanted to be keeping commandment to be self sufficient and therefore He would need to get John a job right away. If John got a job right away, we could then go on our merry way taking care of ourselves and keeping the commandments.

Obviously, that did not happen. At all. Pray denied. We had other things beyond self sufficiency to learn.

As time went on, I began struggling a lot, mentally and obviously financially. Then Ganel-Lyn began her Magic and Miracles and the Spirit whispered to me to find a way to count those blessings publicly too. Being the creative person I am not, I asked Ganel-Lyn if I could copy her. She seemed grateful to share.

Months have gone by since I began writing our magic and miracles and putting them on Facebook. Near the beginning of December, I got this comment from a good friend and neighbor, 

"Wow! These are wonderful! I wonder if some of the miracles you experience are because you share your outlook and experiences here. You inspire people, and I think people genuinely want to help. Sharing your miracles has brought you attention that I know you weren't looking for. Kinda fun how things come in full circle. 
I am grateful you share your family's blessings."

She's absolutely correct. We would not be having the amazing experience of people we know and people we do not know helping us out if I had continued to remain silent in the name of self sufficiency. It's possible I would have fallen into bitterness, maybe even anger with God for abandoning us. This.Has.Been.Hard. 

To be completely honest, we have been living on nothing for the last month. 

But, miraculously, ways have been open for all of our bills to be paid.
So if you are having trouble-- if you need friends-- cheering up-- financial help-- physical help-- there are scores of good people in the world who want to help-- take Ganel-Lyn's advice and expose yourself. 

What am I learning in this mess??? Self sufficiency is good. In fact, it's the best! It feels wonderful to be able to meet all of your own needs. But we all face times when we will not be enough. That is why we have community and family. That is one big part of building Zion. If we want Zion to come again. If we want to be of one heart and one mind and have no poor among us, then we have to expose ourselves. It hurts. And it heals. It helps us. And it helps others. It feels good to be the giver, and we need to allow people to be the givers. I want to be the giver. Someday, I know that prayer will be answered. For now, I will be grateful to be the getter and for the lessons I am learning.

This Week at Our House # 52 Christmas

**I didn't get any pictures of Christmas morning or when Santa Claus came on Christmas Eve because the flash died on our camera. But don't worry, we have every intention of buying a good expensive camera and starting a photography business once we get the tax return.**

On Dec 23rd for United Families International, I wrote:

"To my children tonight, I read the words, “Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small, Was singing! Without any presents at all! He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME! Somehow or other, it came just the same!”

These words mean a whole lot more to me this Christmas—more than they ever have. My husband lost his job 9 months ago. Despite trying and applying for job after job, as the holidays approached, he still hadn’t found employment. We did not know how to approach the holidays with our 10 children. The week before Thanksgiving, we sat our children down and told them to not expect too much for Christmas. We explained that Christmas means a lot more than just presents, and it would be okay. We would still have Christmas.
That very week, the miracles started happening.
Several of my friends had gotten together and donated money for me to buy presents for our kids. They gave me this the day before Thanksgiving.
The day after Thanksgiving, some people I did not know came to my door. They purchased a new washing machine, new pots and pans, a new Kitchen Aid mixer, new cups, and new towels. Not expecting anything and certainly not asking for anything, two days earlier, I had posted a list on my blog of all the items that had either broken or were just wearing out since my husband lost his job. These gifts came from complete strangers.
After that, we had several people offer to help with Christmas. We had money either come in the mail or dropped off on our doorstep—some anonymously and some not."

On Dec 24th Santa Claus, like a real living person in a red suit, showed up at our house with a whole bunch of wrapped gifts. My dear friend, Marianne stopped by at midnight with even more gifts. My children had a huge Christmas.

This is the first year John and I did not know exactly what was under the tree. The kids woke up at 7am. I had grabbed Suzy up a little early to feed her. We went downstairs together to open stockings and get the unwrapped Santa gifts. Anya cried because she wanted Joseph's gift. She said she did not want her gift and gave it to me. Everyone else was in present heaven and very happy and excited. After a time, we moved to the Christmas tree and began opening presents. After opening some more of her presents, Anya took her Santa gift back and decided that she actually did want it. 
Suzy didn't last through all of the gift unwrapping before falling asleep. Arwen was cautious about opening gifts at first, because she had been in a lot of trouble the day before when she unwrapped about 5 gifts. I am glad that she got the message. Josh loved everything he unwrapped. He got an array of cars, trucks, trains, blocks, and legos. Joseph, Johnny, and Adam would unwrap a gift and then move to the other side of the room to play with it before their turn to open another gift. Kate got everything blue and some paint, which she loved. Ruth got mostly clothes, make up, and perfume as was her desire. Ruth and Adam helped hand out the gifts. Rachel got a lot of arts and crafts stuff. She has been very happy and it has kept her quite busy.
We really did have a magical Christmas and the kids knew why. They knew that their gifts came from a lot of Christmas Angels.