Thursday, October 6, 2011

Summer Events

Friday, August 26, 2011

Stepping Stones

Yesterday Audrey got to actually spend her own money for the first time. Last weekend we had gone to get all the stuff for our 72 hour kits and we got watches for the kids too. Audrey loved it and wanted to wear it all the time and I kept telling her no because they needed to stay in the backpacks. She would ask me almost every day. So one day I told her that if she wanted to use her money to buy her own then she could. She was worried that she wouldn't have enough, so we sat down and counted. She had more than enough and so I let her put all her little coins into a little wallet and we went to pick one out. It was all very exciting. I stressed all the normal things of course that she would have to take care of it and keep it in a special spot. I let her hand the checker her money and everything. I thought it was interesting however another lesson learned more important than all those things. Audrey said something a long the lines of going home to put her money back in her bank. And I had to explain how money works. I think that was the most valuable lesson in teaching her about money. She had it, and earned it, but never got to see what it was good for.

And an extra cute little boy on the side

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sweatiest week of my life

I have a party I am hosting this weekend, and I wanted to get this project done before. It took a lot of work and isn't perfect yet. Still need to actually lay the pavers and fill the planters and add some eye popping comfy pillows of course. But I am so excited that this is done. I have been wanting to build this since I moved into my house. I didn't think I would ever be able to afford it. Now I have planting space and seating space incorporated into one space.





The cheapest most fun your kids will have outside all summer.

Come on you know you always wanted to play in a pile of bubbles as a kid!!


Cousins camp 2011 was maybe even better than last years. It happened to be over Pioneer Day and so Grandma planed special things so we could help the kids learn a little more appreciation.

Jill did an awesome job in her primary way of sitting all the girls down and telling them the stories of the pioneers, and singing songs with them. I loved her for it. I realized that Audrey had never hear anything about pioneers and I was glad that she did such an amazing job. You can tell she is just engrossed by the stories. We all made little pioneer skirts and bonnets for the girls. Audrey's I made out of a couple of old shirts because I had NO pioneer kinds of material. It turned out super cute, except that her poor bonnet was NOT a toddler size. I did it from a tutorial with no pattern and that is how it goes sometimes.

So we all dressed up and loaded up the "wagon" so they would have to actually do the work. Some of that weight included Ethan who sat there perfectly royally willing to be pulled along. The kids did awesome and it was a lot of fun. We finally made it to "Ft. Harris" (my dad's old boss has a cabin at the end of the road) so we "forged" the stream and got to sit and rest in the shade and eat journey cakes and jerky. The kids really did great and pulled most of the way. Charles help up the rear (the WAY rear) when Ethan had to give up his seat to Tara and walk home. He stopped to talk to another neighbor along our "trek" who apparently thought we were all polygamists.

We got to do other fun things too, like make home made ice cream. Those pictures must be on someone else's camera though. And roast hot dogs by the fire, and giant marshmallows. We took several ATV rides and got to play in the creek. Kids love to throw rocks in water. Who ever said kids need toys?!

Mom also celebrated her birthday at the cabin.


We came home from Utah and got to spend one night in our own beds before rushing off again to California. We had a funeral to go to and decided to squeeze in an extra day to go to the beach as well.

> Audrey has truly grown up and now loves everything about the beach including actually getting wet. Ethan on the other hand barely survived the ordeal. He does enjoy EATING sand though. So he had that!
> Charles and sibling got to catch up with cousins they have not seen in AGES. Isn't it crazy that some of the best reunions are for funerals. I hope everyone I have ever known comes to mine. I love reunions.


While on the Idaho Trip we drove the two hours over to Boise- One of my favorite places on earth. I would move there in a heart beat if there were no other factors involved. I was only super sad that Charles did not get to be there AGAIN. I keep wanting him to go so I can convince him this is the best place ever, and he always misses it!

> We went to the science museum which had some cool stuff. One exhibit had this big bar that you pull up and it makes a giant bubble which you can blow out really far. They also had this little tube of mirrors you could stand up in and see a hundred of yourself. Audrey went NUTS in that thing. She laughed so hard.
> Don't you love my picture of why you don't really need a double stroller?!
> We also went to the zoo. The Boise zoo is the best, just the right size with some pretty awesome animals. Now if they only had elephants, our trip would be complete.
> My aunt and uncle have horses which of course Audrey has been talking about non stop since we went two years ago! She was super excited to get to see them and ride again. THANKS STEVE AND NANCY!
> We stayed with my cousin who lives there and it was a lot of fun to get to know her more and to even get a girls night with her and another cousin. Love it.
> We ended the Northern Trip with a couple days in Logan Utah with one of my best friends in her new house built BY HER HUSBAND, from the dirt up! So impressive. I love these people and it was nice to have a couple days to relax from a lot of activity. They were "babysitting" a horse so Audrey got to see another one for a couple days.
This was definitely a little different country life for us. Yards with no walls, a horse with no fence, and a rooster that woke Audrey up in the morning reminded us how nice life is in NON housing development America.
> That is a picture of their AWESOME playhouse I want to build one day. Beautiful.


Now this really WAS the best day ever. There is a retired couple that has a farm about an hour from Twin Falls. They have these plastic slides permanently set up on two great big hills on their property. They run water down them and provide tubes and all sorts of stuff TOTALLY free to anyone that has a mind to reserve it six months in advance. It is possibly one of the funnest days I have had in a while. It was so nice outside. The kids had a blast and Audrey even got up the courage to go down on her bum by herself right at the end.

> We also got to go to Dirkies Lake (or something) which is right by Shanoan Falls up there. Is is the perfect little spot right at the top of the dam with all sorts of amazing big trees and a perfect little blocked off water section with sand for the little tikes. LOVE IT.

> Also a picture of the girls doing yoga together. So cute.

Fourth of July

We actually lit sparklers while Charles was still there on Sunday. So at least he got to be there for that.

> We played a capture the stick game at my cousins house. They have almost the PERFECT yard ever. They are on an acre and a half and it is GORGEOUS. I was not very good at this game. Never much of a sprinter, but I couldn't keep from giggling as I ran, so I was not very sneaky.

>The kids loved the fireworks of course and Ethan kept saying "WOAHW" and Audrey kept saying, "This is the best day EVER!" I think that is slightly influenced by Tangled.

Twin Falls

We were going to get to spend our "vacation" for the year in Twin Falls. Charles ended up not being able to get it off work. Luckily he has long weekends anyway, and luckily Allegiant Air flies directly to Twin for OOBER cheap. Love it. So he drove with me over night and got to spend some time in Twin for the weekend at least.

> All of us at Twin Falls
> There is another water fall on the other side of town that is really long and cool. You can walk underneath it, and it literally is like 100 feet from the highway. Everyone take note at how awesome Colleen is with one kid on her back, one kid in her arms, and holding Noelle's hand while climbing down the little hill to get there. She is super mom for sure!
> We spent lots of time at the parks, and playing. The girls even got American Flag toes for the 4th!

As of late

Here are just some cute catch up pictures of the summer.

> Couple of the kids being cute at the dicovery museum.
> Then in the snow in MAY at the cabin. I I love how Audrey is sporting her pajamas along with winter ware.
> We took a tour of the fire department and this was a cute picture of me and the kids.
> One of Ethan falling asleep while waiting for Grandma and Grandpa to come over. He didn't make it obviously
> Playing cute!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My heart sings!

Selling Charles bed gave me the money to buy the wood for Audrey's bed. I have been wanting to build this for months but since it was a little more complicated with more wood I had to save up. I sold almost all of the functional storage out of Audrey's room so she needed something. But knowing that there might be two kids and beds in this room one day I didn't really want to crowd the walls with extra "storage". Enter Ana White's full size storage bed. I modified it to be full length on the sides and added a footboard. I decided to keep Audrey's existing headboard because I love it so much and I think it still works.

This cost me about $70 to build. That is buying a sheet of 3/4" plywood and a sheet of 1/2" plywood. I did buy the cheapo sheets that are pretty crappy to save about $30. Most of the wood doesn't show but I still think I would upgrade to pre-sanded plywood to save a lot of time and imperfections.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Bed plans

As asked, here is how I made this bed. You can also head over to She is amazing and has lots of starter projects if you don't have big tools, or are nervous about starting.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Newest Build and sell

So Charles had a birthday last week. Normally we are so poor and he has such big budget interests that we don't really ever do hardly anything for birthdays around here. You start to care a lot less as an adult don't you find?

Well you all remember that weekend when Charles took the kids to the cabin without me. I drew up some plans to build him a platform bed. He has always liked them and we could of course never afford one. So I drew up the plans and priced it out how much it would be. I contemplated building it that weekend for an early birthday present, but we didn't really have the money and I wanted to finish those other projects first.

So Charles birthday rolls around and I am trying to justify maybe just biting the bullet and spending a little tax return money on a nice gift for him. But of course that money has really been allotted for other things for a while now. I look at the clock at about 11 and think to myself, "I could probably build that bed before he gets home." And I DID!!!

I ran to the store (twice actually because I bought the wrong size wood) and built an entire platform bed in like 5 hours. It didn't get a finish on it or anything because I wanted him to choose. But not bad at all if I do say so myself. I turned out awesome, and we didn't fall through it when we slept on it.

So Charles ever the entrepreneur, challenges me to see if I could sell it and see how much for. I listed it for $160 and had a buyer coming to pay $135 within a few hours. So I made more than 100% profit! It was actually my easiest build yet. Even considering that I had to practically disassemble it twice. It didn't fit up my stairs as one piece. URG

Oh did I forget to mention that this bed cost me $62 to make!!!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Emily's poem

There have been moments in my life when I have tampered with poetry (or rather rhyming poetically) if there are any professionals out there. I by no means pretend to actually KNOW anything about real poetry, but I like it when words sound good together. Here is what I wrote and read at Emily's funeral as requested by some people.


A life ended before its prime

Might possibly be the worst pain of all time

I can’t help but think of the things she’ll miss

Like running, dancing, and giggling with bliss

It seems so unfair to have to carry on here

To forget her little face is my greatest fear

There are no words at a time like this

To express the magnitude for the ones we’ll always miss

It feels so unfair when someone is taken from you

Sometimes you feel you’ll never make it through

You ache and it hurts just to be apart

From someone that could fill so much of your heart

Sometimes it seems the pain won’t go away

Some feel they’ll never make it another day

But there is something worse than losing someone you love

It’s not knowing the promise that was sent from above.

A promise of peace and hope is such a sad time

A promise that my little girl will forever be mine

And while living a life without her might be tough

We know we will be together soon enough

Heavenly Father has blessed me beyond belief

To feel peace instead of dwelling in grief

I will try to excel and be my best in this life

So I can return as an eternal mother and wife

May I live a righteous life and my faith never shift

Because an eternal family is God’s greatest gift.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Charles has a tendency sometimes to really milk some situations. His boss loss her husband 6 or 7 years ago and told Charles that he could take as much time as he needed. SO he took two full weeks! HEHE. So last week on Wednesday when I asked him if he was going back to work or not and he said no I said, "ok well then lets go somewhere" Why not if you have 6 days off work. Then I told him we could do that or have a project weekend. So he chose that. It was a little cheaper. So we finished some much needed projects and started some new ones. And we listed and sold a bunch of stuff on craigslist. LOVE IT!!

I FINALLY got my "mud room" done totally done. I have this closet by the front door and garage door like most people do. However, I have another closet downstairs so have made do without needing this one. And I REALLY wanted a drop place for all the stuff when you come in the door. So I took the door off built in a bench added some shelves, baskets and hooks, and viola! Instant mud room. Love it.


If you recall I built some little kid Adirondack chairs a couple weeks ago. They were actually a little on the tricky side so I wanted to try out one of Ana's other outdoor chair plans in a kids size and turn it into a bench. It turned out awesome and super cheap and super easy, so tackle this one if you have any interest in building something fun! Audrey was excited to pick out the paint color!

I also started refinishing my cabinets, so will post pics soon!!!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Our Special Experience


Our little baby girl Lauralyn Emily Graf was born yesterday evening. She was able to spend 6 hours on this earth fighting for her life till she went home to be with a more peaceful world.

So in a nutshell leading up to the event, I started having some really low pressure in the afternoon followed by the start of contractions. I called the doctor on call and he suggested that we go into the hospital. We got there and admitted at 4:50 and lots of pain and frustration and rushing later the baby was born at 5:57 pm. It was very fast, but probably very easy. She came super fast. It hurt A LOT of course but we were grateful at how "ease" it went considering she was breech and came out but first. Good thing she was small. She was 2 pounds and 13 inches long. Very small.

They immediately pulled her over to the little warming bed and worked on her for about 20 minutes. The doctor in charge of her came over three different times to tell me it was not going well. It was like she was asking me to tell them to stop trying. I felt a little confused though. I heard them say they did have a heartbeat and I could tell they were still working and that she was surviving, so I don’t know why she would ask me that. Yes keep going, do everything as long as needed. The only thing I could see was them doing chest compressions. She looked so little.

They finally got her to a point where they could take her into the NICU to get her onto a ventilator and try to get her doing better.

Mom and dad came in shortly after that. They said they wanted to be there with us, and I am glad they came. I am glad they got to share all of this with us. The Dr. in charge of her in the NICU came in a could times to tell us what was going on. She said that she was on the ventilator and that they would be watching her heart which had gone up at that point, and her oxygen exchange, which was not great but went up over the next couple hours. However they were concerned about the blood ph because it was really a struggle to get oxygen even started into her.

The next few hours were really a whirl. It went pretty fast in a way. I felt pretty calm and we just waited. We went down to see her in the NICU at about 8:30. I was not super alarmed at all the wires and machinery as might be expected, it was actually less than I thought it might be. I was actually shocked at how little she was and how much I didn’t recognize her. I was sitting in a wheel chair so I didn’t get a great look at her or anything but she almost didn’t feel like mine. I didn’t touch her, I didn’t know if I was allowed to. The nurse talked to us about her and that her stats were going up. We didn’t stay very long. It was kind of weird. This whole thing has just kind of been so distant, almost like I am watching it happen. I haven’t felt a lot of deep anything yet.

We went back to a new room and shortly after that I sent Charles and dad back to give her a blessing. I felt like that was important. Charles recorded it on my phone and we all sat and got to listen to that. The only thing that stood out to me is that he mentioned that the angles might be able to come be with her. I think I kind of knew at that moment that that meant she needed to go home. I didn’t really let myself think that. I have been so calm through this whole thing and that can be mislead as hope I think. Not long after the blessing the doctor from NICU came in and said that she was declining and that she would keep us updated. At that moment I felt almost an urgency to go back and see her. I hadn’t even talked to her. I hadn’t touched her, and I hadn’t told her that I loved her. Moments later they called us to come down right away. We did and there was a bustle of people around her giving her things and doing compressions and bag breathing for her. I think that was the moment it all hit me and I started to cry. I knew we were on our way down. The doctor talked to us and told us there was also something a little off with her spine. She had some contractures anyway from being so squished in the womb with no fluid and that might have led to some problems physically. But they also found a vertebra that was askew in her spine. I am not sure what that meant. They think it might have been a chromosomal problem. We won’t know that for a week or so. I got to touch her little head and talk to her. I told her that her mommy was there and that I loved her and that we were so glad she got to come be with us. They had to give her two more shots of epinephrine to get her heart rate back up. But her oxygen was down again and the ph was dropping again. The doctor said that this is normally what happens. They are able to get a baby into the NICU and they see a slight elevation in the stats for a while but then their little bodies just can’t sustain it and they give out. She said that basically they have just been applying a band aid to a really big wound. There were drastic measures that could be taken but not really with any extra hope that it would help and I think I knew right away it wasn’t right for them to be cutting into her.

We went back to the room and I got a blessing. Dad blessed us with the ability to be calmed by our decision and not second guess or feel inadequate but to know what was right. I think we had both actually decided before the blessing to let her go. That was the worst moment. To have to say those words and say that we weren’t going to try anymore. But while she was talking to us about the more serious problems these thoughts came across my mind. I thought what a blessing modern medicine is. But if this little baby would have been born 30 or 50 years ago, she never would have even made it that far. She never would have been meant to survive. I kind of felt like, maybe this is just more than she needs to handle. Maybe it was never meant to be.

A few more minutes later they called us down again. We told them we were going to just let her go. I just wanted to touch her and hold her and I could tell Charles did too. He kept a hold of her little foot like he wanted her to know we were there. They showed us back to a little room and they unhooked her and brought her back to us so we could be a lone with her. She was the tiniest little thing all bundled up in a blanket. I was worried, I didn’t know if she was gone right away or if she was still with us a little. But after a minute I could tell she was still with us. She still had some little body jerks and she was warm and looked good. We all got to hold her and we told her that her name was Lauralyn Emily Graf and that we were so happy she came to be with us for even just a little while. Then mom and dad came in and we asked them to help us sing a song for her. We sang her I have a Family Here on Earth. I knew I wanted to sing her a song that is what I do to calm my kids. I couldn’t think of which one until right before they brought her in and I knew it was right. We all struggled through it and I don’t think it was real musically astounding, but I wanted her to know those words and that we couldn’t wait to be with her again. Then dad started singing Sleep Sleep till the darkness Ends. I don’t even know if that is the title, but that song seamed really appropriate as well. Then everyone took a turn holding her. Charles told her that we were releasing her to go to sleep and rest and go home now. We sat a little while longer and also sang I am a Child of God. The doctor came in once and told us her heart beat was really low, and then came in a while later and we all knew she was gone. It was so amazing to be able to hold her and be with her in those last moments. I am so grateful that she was able to fight long enough for us to be able to have that with her. I hope she will always know how much we love her. I just know that she needed to be with us for a little while. It felt so right. I hope she has great work to do.

She felt like my babies. When I got to kiss her and hold her little hand. She felt just like when I have done that with my kids. That was amazing. Mom and I both think she looked a lot like Ethan and we both feel that this little girl will be super close to Ethan in some way. They are less than a year and a half apart and I think there will be a strong bond between them somehow. I am a little sad to tell Audrey about all this. She is old enough to understand and she was starting to get excited about it. I am going to have to take down the crib in our room now and tell her the new baby won’t be coming. That makes me really sad for some reason. I was starting to really be ok and excited about having this little baby with us. But, honestly, I think we know that this was the right decision. I never would choose to have my kids have a life of hardship and misery. And I wonder if that is what it might have been. I am just so eternally grateful to know that she is being taken care of and that she can watch over me and hopefully help her mommy to be a better person!

Mom bought this for me for my birthday to fill a much wanted request for an original nice piece of church artwork. She brought it over today to give to us early. It immediately brought tears to my eyes at how appropriate and perfect this it. I hope that this is the peace she feels now!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

weekend alone productivity

My lonely two days without kids let me have a last little project weekend uninterrupted. So even with a half broken nail gun I was able to churn out a little kids table and chairs, and two little kid Adirondack chairs, and a new work bench table for my garage (this one isn't pretty so not pictured!)

FYI- a pregnancy update. Still no idea what we are having. Doc is now having me go in twice a week for monitoring, and in two weeks he is admitting me to the hospital until I give birth! AWESOME. My life with two kids, and busy personality should do just SWELL with that! We are trying not too think about it too much for now. I would rather be safe than sorry though in the overall scheme of things. We should be ok with Charles work schedule and lots of amazing family. Any ideas how to not go CRAZY in the hospital!

No one has given me the impression I will make it past 32 weeks. So luckily it shouldn't be 2 whole months or something crazy like that.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Thoughtful day

I am ALONE right now. This is the first time in three and a half years that I have had a real true break and gotten to choose what I want to do and when! Charles took the kids up to the cabin for conference weekend. I would have loved to go, but with a diagnosis like, "you could go into labor at any moment" doesn't really send the message, sure go three hours away from Las Vegas and 40 minutes away from any hospital. It is a little crazy to be without your normal responsibilities all day long eh?

Anyway. I have been a little thoughtful and trying to "fix" me as I always am.

I watched a movie last night, Eat Pray Love with Julia Roberts and there was a guy that told her something in it. He said, “Believe in love again”. I have gotten so consumed with all the things that love isn’t enough for. It doesn’t pay the bills, it doesn’t clean the house, and it doesn’t feed the kids or put them to bed. However, there is a reason that we all jump into love so willingly. Maybe it should be enough. Yes it doesn’t do all of those things, but maybe it should be the driving force in our lives that makes all that ok. If there is enough love then it should help us to remember that together we will grow and make it work. It sure is hard as anything I have ever done though! I will try better.

I hope we can all try better.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Everyone read....and Participation Please

Hey yall. Thanks for your loving remarks. Hopefully we will be able to tell what it is at my appointment Thursday.

So, I don't know if any of the rest of you have high maintenance "go to sleepers" like I do. But my kids basically require, reading time, singing time, and cuddle time. I actually don't mind this schedule seeing as I have accepted the whole hermit lifestyle.... :)

So I thought I would ask everyone's opinions. If you have some, we are always looking for more diversity. So I would like everyone's input on their

1) Top 5 favorite kids books.

2) Top 5 favorite songs to sing to your kids (preferably not a typical nursery song or primary song, we have a wrap on all those)

Here are mine in case you were wondering.
No Matter What by Debi Gliori

Heaven is Having You by
Giles Andreae

Parts and More Parts by Tedd Arnold

Alice the Fairy by David Shannon

I Know a Rhino by Charles Fuge

We also really really like all the 'How does a Dinosaur' books. and I love you stinky Face

2) Favorite songs to sing.
- Edelweiss from Sound of Music
- Come to My Garden from the original broadway musical of Secret Garden
- Round Shouldered Man from Secret Garden (FYI almost all the music from this play is AMAZING)
- Stay Awake from Mary Poppins
- Castle in a Cloud from Les Miserables
- And occasionally Wishing you were Somehow Here Again from Phantom (although I am sure I never sing the verses in the right order)!

So read a new book and sing your kids a new song!