Monday, November 23, 2015

January 2015

A day in the life...

even Ruby can work a cell phone!

Ben and Eli went on a Scout campout.

Making a fire.

Eli's way of cleaning up...only 1 trip upstairs!

Meilani celebrated her 14th birthday.  We didn't have a big celebration this year.  She did hang out with a couple friends one day to celebrate, but when you're 14, you're kind of too cool for kiddie parties.

And you must take selfies!

lots of selfies!

Ben and Tyson bonding at mom's after family dinner.

During Christmas break these two took a bike ride together.  I'm so glad that they're getting older and becoming good friends.

Kiddos packed in the bus.

Liam really needed some one on one time so we went out for fondue.  Liam was such a gentleman, holding my door, and being so kind.  It was a great night and such a treat to be with Liam all by himself.

Sariah received an award at school.

Meilani went to her first youth dance at church.  She didn't have the best time as most of her friends aren't 14 yet and weren't there, but she had a great attitude anyway.

After an obscene amount of debating, we decided to give club volleyball a try.  Here's Meilani at her first tournament.  Overall the commitment was intense, but Meilani grew a lot in her ability.  We were thankful that the head coach was willing to work around her Sunday church commitments.  

We were out looking for matching t-shirts for our upcoming family Disneyland trip.  Poor Ruby had had enough shopping.

Family dinner at my mom's with Princcess Mutti.

Liam brought this home in a stack of classwork.  "I am thankful for the temple because the temple gives me testimony, strength, and it makes my family stronger.  You can be sealed forever and the temple makes my family happy.  The temple helps me learn about my family history.  I am glad the temple is on the earth."  What a gem!  Enough to melt a mother's heart!

Sibling snuggling

A little post Christmas shopping with Rubs.

Blog Blunders

Well, today's November 23rd, 2015, and I have yet to blog even one post from this year.  I'm not sure how it happened.  Or why.  Somewhere in the fog of this year, I gave up...on lots of things actually, but that's another story.   Tragically in the midst of crying toddlers, and messy floors, lonely days and sleepless nights, I also gave up on writing about our daily happenings.  In the hindsight I sit in today, I can see that I've kind of lost myself in the process.  And while the chaos of life is challenging, this little blog right here helps me keep the frustration and overwhelmed-ness of it all in perspective.  And right now, I feel like I've missed some of the joy, some of the happy snippets of monotony, because I stopped reflecting, stopped writing, and in turn, drown a little in the struggle rather than relishing in the blessing of it all.  Truthfully, the weight of life and the guilt of not living it fully has caught of with me, and as a result, my camera is quite a bit less full, and my heart is heavy.  The impression to continue blogging is strong, and I feel compelled and paralyzed at the same time.

As a result, here's our year, in a nutshell.  Many details will have faded by now, but it's my last ditch attempt at not giving up...maybe even on myself.  The photos are not quality, most from my phone, and as the goal is to get completely caught up by the end of the week, I doubt the writing will be witty.  Hopefully though, my kids will look back and realize that I'm just trying my best..same as them.

Here comes January...

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Happy New Year

I did not get Christmas cards out...or even a Christmas email, so Happy New Year it is.  Sent late at night, December 31st via email and is what it is people.

Happy New Year Friends!
We love you, miss you, and are ever grateful for your friendship and the experiences we've shared. May 2015 bring blessings to you and yours. Feel free to keep up with us at
Ben, Danelle and Family
2014 Highlights:
In August Ben opened the brand new Mountain House High School, sans textbooks, and is in the middle of the comprehensive exams for his doctoral program.
After three years, Danelle was released as Young Women President at church and is now the Assistant Camp Director and volunteers with PTA when she's not cleaning up spills. New hardwood floors help with the latter.
Meilani (13) was elected as Student Body President and just started playing club volleyball.
Eli (11) has developed musically progressing in piano and taking up the baritone at school. He and Sariah went with Ben to General Conference in Utah last October.
Sariah (9) made the all star soccer team with her mad goalie skills and equally loves basketball.
Liam (7) loves sports, continues to tower over his friends, and has a special little bond with Ruby.
Seth (5) started transitional kindergarten, loves doing homework and is a Frozen fanatic.
Ammon (3) loves to be outside and can work our iphones better than we can.
Ruby (16 months) is "Miss Independent," has perfected the "duck face," and hates shoes (but loves slippers).

Meilani, 13

Eli, 11

Liam, 7

Sariah, 9

Seth, 5

Ammon, 3

Ruby, 1

Post Holiday Post

After getting all caught up on his doctoral assignments during Thanksgiving Break, Ben was FINALLY cleared to continue in the EDD program.  We were seriously on pins and needles for a bit there while we waited for his professors to accept all his late assignments.  We celebrated, albeit halfheartedly, when we learned that he would, indeed, be allowed to take the comprehensive doctoral exam, as we knew there was only more and more work ahead.  The "exam" is really a written study based on a fictitious scenario in which the doctoral students have to make a written recommendation, utilizing and compiling every theory and concept they've learned over the last three years of course work.  And to make matters more stressful, Ben was informed that only about half the students who take the comprehensive exam actually pass.  Those who don't are required to defer their doctoral studies a year while they study and attempt the test again the following year.  Alas, Ben received his exam topic the day after Christmas and had one week to complete the writing, which had to be done completely independently with no outside assistance or help.  So, from the crack of dawn, until late into the night, he worked and worked and worked.  The kids literally did not see him.  To say that it was stressful is an understatement.  Ben was completely beside himself, feeling an urgency to pass the exam, but sure he wouldn't, and even more sure that he wouldn't be able to handle another year of study, worried about all the money we would have then wasted because he'd never finish his doctorate...and on and on.  I can't tell you the number of phone calls and texts I received from him telling me that there was no way he'd be able to finish.  I was the annoying voice of the little engine that could and tried to just stay out of the way.  At one point Ben was so overwhelmed and frustrated that I our friend over to Ben's office to give him a priesthood blessing of comfort and direction.  It helped immensely!  Our friend then reported to me that he couldn't believe Ben's office, that his white board looked like something from the movie "A Beautiful Mind."
Comp Exam Central

It was a relief when the week was done and the exam turned in, however; we knew there was a high probability that he'd have to rewrite at the very least.  

January 9th may very well have been one of the happiest days of our lives!  Such an incredible relief!  So so proud of my husband.  I kept saying I knew he could do it, which annoyed him to no end, and frankly I think I was trying to convince myself in the process.  Some time later, once Ben returned to classes, we actually learned that he was the only student in his cohort who's exam didn't have any critiques or criticism.  We are so thankful, and recognize a hand, more powerful than our own, guiding our paths, strengthening us beyond our own capacities, and magnifying our efforts.  On to dissertation!  

In the meantime I spent time with my family.  Sure love my mom!

We made cabbage rolls at my house while Grandmom "supervised."

Poor Abby missed the action in lieu of a breathing treatment.

And we celebrated New Year's Eve with Costco appetizers and sparkling cider.

Ruby's the duck face master!

By the end of Christmas Break we were all exhausted.  No rest for the weary!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Merry Christmas

Christmas morning is always magical.  I love being just our little big family together. We kept thinks super simple this year in an effort to remember more fully the real meaning of Christmas...and to keep our house from being overrun by garbage.
Santa brought each child 1 toy and a stocking, which was mostly filled with socks.

The anticipation!

Ruby got her first baby doll, which she was thrilled with.

Ammon got a Jake pirate ship.

Seth got Frozen barbies.

Liam got a remote controlled helicopter.

Sariah got a longboard.

Eli got a tent for scout campouts.

and Meilani got a shellac nail kit.  She was expecting a phone, which is why she looks less than thrilled.  Later she told us she was fighting back tears.

Sweet Ruby girl, loving her stroller!

Sibbling gift exchange.  My favorite tradition.  Meilani got Eli headphones that exceeded the required budget, but she wanted him to have nice ones and kicked in extra from her own hard earned cash.

Eli bought Ammon a tent.

Seth opened his gift from Sariah prematurely, so she wrapped up a brick to teach him a lesson.  It was hysterically sad.

Then she brought out the real gift.

Liam got Sariah some crazy ball.

I didn't get pictures of the rest but Ammon bought a jewelry box for Meilani and Seth bought a transformer for Liam.

From Mom and Dad: the coveted phone...well, mom's refurbished one anyway.  Now there's the smile.

Blocks for the little boys.  Paper was flying and I didn't get everything but it was so nice to have a low key morning together.