Saturday, May 28, 2011

A memory

(Annalisa enjoying a ball of snickerdoodle dough)

Today I finally rolled around to doing something I've been craving ever since Nikki posted this--I made Snickerdoodles! I called Lee and Anna to me and asked them if they wanted to make Snickerdoodles with me. Anna got all excited and started getting the pasta out of the cupboard, "Let's make Snicker-noodles!" I guided them through the dough, having them help me count the scoops of the cream of tartar and baking soda. Then it was time to roll in cinnamon sugar ("Sprinkles" to Anna) and squish with a cup. The kids were a good help then... well, mostly. And I suddenly had a memory come to me of rolling gingersnaps in sugar with my mom as kids. She would even be so smart as to give us each our own little bowl of sugar, and drop one cookie in our bowls at a time. I'm not sure how many gingersnaps actually got baked; probably less than 50% of the dough. I remember feeling somewhat sick to my stomach after gorging myself on raw gingersnap dough. I remember laughing with my siblings and my mom as we made cookies together. And I also remember feeling so grown-up and important when mom would call us to help her. Only now am I realizing it probably would have been faster, cleaner, and easier for mom to just do it herself. But she took the time to get us involved, and it was those kinds of moments that taught us all to love cooking, and better yet--love being together.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It's official!

After a couple of bumps and lots of phone calls, our final approval (well, at least at this stage) has been accepted and we are officially building a house.

A few days ago we got a call from our loan officer with a concern regarding our landlord approval. Yes, our *omitting unkind words* former landlords flat-out-lied in our rental report, stating that we were "Consistently 30 days late with rent." I was mad when I heard this. We were never late. Not even once. But we can't just go with our now-landlord's letter--they need 2 years history. We explained what had happened with the former landlords, and while she was sympathetic, our officer said she couldn't just take our word for it. So Cody, the wonderful man that he is, went into scramble-mode and began scouring our bank history for all the rent checks we wrote. Fortunately, he was able to find them all. He faxed those in and we went back to waiting and praying.

Today we got another call from the loan officer saying that the credit report had arrived and, much to our delight, our credit score is awesome and we are approved even without the landlord approval (but I'm still glad we had those checks and proved just how dedicated we are). Phew! After this great news, our officer informed us that this approval would be sufficient to start building. After the house is done, we'll close on the loan and start paying mortgage payments.

What a grand morning. This afternoon, though we did find out the one teensy bummer (though when we're talking about building a beautiful new home just for us, nothing can be counted a bummer!)--we didn't quite make the cutoff to start building in June. They told us previously we could be in that group, but I guess we were just a bit too slow or something. So now we're first in line to build in the next phase, which will start hopefully in July or August. This is good news, though, in that we get the first choice in house plans and lot location.

Doing a happy dance! From here on out, it's going to be hard work. We have some classes to attend, and we will get to pick our house plan and lot and colors and whatnot. And of course there's the building itself. But truly, we could not be happier.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Adventures in Couponing: the Stockpile

Most people who use coupons to the extreme have a "Stockpile" of some sort. The basic idea is to buy in bulk when the price is good so you won't run out and have to buy something full price. You can call the stockpile whatever you want--food storage, your own personal grocery store... but no matter what the name, it is a good habit to get into.

It starts with just a few items. Instead of buying one, buy two. Try to get multiples of coupons whenever you can. If you can get tubes of toothpaste for $.13 apiece (which is currently a coupon sale at my grocery store right now), and you have the coupons for it--buy five! That will get you through several months or even a year of not needing to buy toothpaste. If you can do this for all your items, this is when you'll start to see your grocery bill drop drastically. You may have a few more pricey months--but you'll be storing up what you need and it will last you much longer. A well-stocked storage is as valuable as money in the bank when emergencies hit. Here's some tips to keeping an awesome stockpile:

-Mark perishable items with the date when you get home.
-Rotate, rotate, rotate! Put new items on the back of the shelf/fridge/freezer so that you'll grab the older ones first.
-Try to keep a paper or electronic inventory so that you don't forget what you have.
-Start with a 3-month storage goal. Try to get 3 months worth of things. Most sores and items run on about a 3-month sale cycle (in other words, nearly everything will come on a really good sale about once every 3 months). If you can utilize that well, you'll be needing to restock about the time the sale comes on.
-After you've accomplished 3 months, shoot for a year!
-Build shelves in a garage, storage room, or closet for your extra stuff.

Tips for avoiding going nutso:
-You do not need a thousand tubes of toothpaste for a family of four. You maybe need ten to twenty.
-You do not need to buy a year's supply in one shopping trip. Just get in the habit of buying two or three or four when you can.
-If you don't have the room in your house, you do not need to sleep on toilet paper instead of pillows. Just store what you have room for, and be satisfied. (PS--I'm currently storing things in the place where I use them. So I have extra lotion on my shelf, lots of dishwasher detergent under the sink, etc. Good tip if you're short on space and don't have a room to devote to stockpile.)
-Only buy and store things you need and use. If you don't have children, you don't need a hundred boxes of diapers.

Overall, remember that a stockpile shouldn't be overwhelming; it should be something that helps you save money. Once your stockpile is rolling, you'll have enough inventory to hold you out until the reeeally good sales come on. That's the goal, at least!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

What a kid sees

For Christmas I found a cool kid's digital camera on clearance. I thought it would be a fun gift, considering the kids love playing with our camera. This way they could have their own. The camera is nearly indestructible, and the coolest part is it takes real pictures. You can download them to the computer and everything! Granted, the quality is quite poor, but we just recently downloaded the contents of the camera. Want a peek at what the world looks like to a little kid?









Friday, May 20, 2011

Featured!

I was featured here! Go check it out. :)


style="text-decoration:none;border:0;">MommyGiggles.com

Adventures in Couponing: Some Lingo

There may be a few unfamiliar terms when you start couponing. Here's some words/lingo that I had to figure out, that might be helpful to know:

BOGO: Buy One Get One. Can be followed by "free," "50% off," etc, but usually if you just see "BOGO" it will mean Buy one Get one Free.

Catalina: a voucher for money off a future transaction, printed at the register. It is usually a reward for buying a certain item. Catalinas often are not highly advertised, but when you can find them, they can end up being really hot deals--especially if the item is on sale or you already have a coupon. This is the way a lot of people "make" money off of a purchase--they drive the price very low with coupons or sales and then get catalinas after to boot. Catalinas can be used like gift certificates at the store they were printed at. Do be cautious to read the fine print though--sometimes they have stipulations that you need to be aware of.

Moneymaker: Just like it sounds, an item that will actually earn you money when purchased. Depending on the store's coupon policy, they'll either give you an item up to free, or they will actually give you a the difference earned. For example: a bottle of body wash comes on sale for $2.49. You have a coupon for $3 off 1. If your store allows it, you may actually earn $.51 per bottle purchased, or you may just get the item for free. Another great way to find moneymakers are with mail-in rebates or catalinas.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cousin playtime


We're playing with our cousins Shayden, Gavon, and Ashlin for a few hours this morning so their mommy (Raychel) can run some errands. We're having lots of fun!

I made some hairbows. Of course I did. :) I had to take some pictures of Ashlin and Katie in their matching bows.

(Ashlin was surprised by the flash)




(Nikki, I commend you. I don't think I'm ready for six children.)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Adventures in Couponing: Fine Print

It's important to familiarize yourself with the nitty-gritties of saving money. You can save more money, but also you can prevent yourself from losing money if you're careful. Here's a few things that can potentially be pitfalls:

-Watch for expiration dates on coupons.
-Know your store's coupon policy. Some stores have a coupon maximum per transaction. Sometimes they change their policies too, so be cautious of that.
-Double read all the sales and mark any stipulations on your shopping list, like "need 10 items total" or "limit of 3."
-Read all the fine print on your coupons and catalinas.
-Check for size restrictions, and make sure you grab the right size to get the biggest bang for your buck. Check the unit cost with your calculator--the results might surprise you!

Keeping you in the loop...

Following up from a few posts back...Link
We have been pre-approved for a home loan and are set to start building a house in mid-June!

This is of course pending final approval, which we just have to wait for at this point. The organization that we're working through said everything looks good, and there is no reason why we shouldn't be approved--but we still just have to wait for it. It can take 2-6 weeks from this point. Obviously we're praying it's closer to 2, or at least less than 4, considering we need to close on the loan before we can build.

To answer a few questions, without giving away our specific location on the map (for security reasons)--you may have heard of these Self-Help-building programs. We work together with several other families to build all the houses simultaneously. We will have to put in a minimum of 35 hours a week, including evenings and all day Saturdays. (If you're doing the math, you will realize that this means we probably won't be doing many family vacations this Summer. bummer.) It will take approximately 8-12 months to build the houses, and once they're all completed we can move in. Right now, I'm thinking it would be lots of fun to take a picture every day and then compile it at the end in a movie format. Cool, no? Matthew, my brother, did mention long-term satisfaction with the houses, and that has been weighing on my mind. I found several people who have done the program here and they have all been very satisfied. In fact, our location is one of the best programs in the country, so obviously we're thrilled with that. The truth is, this will be one of the only ways we can get a house with all the things we need, and even the things we want, within our budget. So, we're happy. Very happy.

Now, we are continuing to pray hard that the final approval will come, and come soon. We are nervous and yet very excited. I'll let you know more when we know more!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Adventures in Couponing: At the Store

It takes some organization and a lot of planning just to get to the store. You need your coupons, carefully clipped and organized. You need your lists with how many you plan on buying and where. But at last, you get to go see the fruits of your labors! Here's some tips to make your shopping trip a success.

1) Go early. If you can, go the first day of the sale, first thing in the morning. Other people have access to the same coupons and sales you do, and on the hottest items, the stores will sell out. Of course, sometimes the stores re-stock before the end of the sale, so you might get lucky. But your best bet is to go as early as possible.
2) Be polite to the other shoppers and clerks. I don't like people who clear a shelf of items, even if they're free or, rarely, moneymakers. A few days ago, Brittany commented to "not go crazy. There is no reason you need 40 bottles of mustard, even if they are cheap or even free, unless of course you're going to donate them." My personal goal is to get between 3 months and a year supply of everything. But this is built up over time, not in one shopping trip. Be mindful of the rest of the world, okay?
3) ask for rain-checks of sold out items, if your store does that.
4) Be happy and enjoy the ride! If you absolutely hate shopping, then maybe this couponing adventure isn't for you. This should be fun--so make it a party!

Grandma Picture Bloopers

Every time I try to take pictures of the kids, there are more "outtakes" than printable photos. While they're super cute, I just can't hang them on Grandmas' walls. (maybe a fridge, I suppose...) I thought you'd like to see some of the bloopers from our most recent photo shoot.




Monday, May 16, 2011

Adventures in Couponing: Matching Coupons and Sales

Now that we've started collecting coupons and have them nice and organized, it's time to start the major savings. The way you do this is to match sales with coupons. The hard way to do this is to do it all yourself. Get your store's circular the day before the sale starts, then look through each item to see if there is a coupon for it. Like I said, that's the hard way. That can take several hours, especially if you have to look up each coupon individually.

Fortunately, there are other people in the world who coupon who love to share their information and resources with you. My favorite website for this information is http://www.grocerysmarts.com/ (an affiliate with www.pinchingyourpennies.com). By selecting my state and then my grocery store, I am given an amazing all-free list of everything on sale, any coupons that might be there, and the famed "bottom line" you'll pay per item. Now is when the organization comes in handy, because in the coupon section it might say something like "$2/1 RP 4/17." In Coupon-lingo, this reads a $2 off any 1 item; coupon can be found in the Red Plum from April 17. If you have that coupon pamphlet, you can pull it out, find the coupon, clip it, and store it in your binder until you go shopping. The people over at Grocerysmarts.com have also made it possible for you to customize this list, make your own notes on it, eliminate items you don't want to purchase, etc, and then print it out. My friends, this is SO cool. They even mark each item with a star system so you can see how good of a deal it is. They keep track how often that item comes on sale and how cheap you can get it, so when you see those five-star or free items you know you want to jump on it.

If you're like me, this is the point where you get really excited. When I start lining up my coupons and making a list and seeing how much I will save, I get giddy. Coming up next... going to the store!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pictures, anyone?

Grandmas love pictures! I'm gearing up to print off a new set. Please vote for your favorites. If you are a grandmother, your vote counts twice. Winners will be printed and sent to all our Grandmas, to be displayed with pride to all who come with a hundred foot radius of them. :) (Isn't that how Grandmas work?) I'll be printing these at the beginning of next week, so please vote soon!

Oh, and by the way, the number for the picture is the number ABOVE the picture, not below.

Katie:

1)

2)
3)
4)
Lee:
1)
2)
3)
Annalisa:
1)
2)
3)
4)

Adventures in Couponing: Getting Organized

Keeping your coupons in a giant crazy heap on your desk will not help you use them. Keeping them organized will. Simple as that. Here's how I organize mine, which I mentioned briefly in the last post:

I have a hanging file folder with several envelopes in it. First, I have a file for each of my coupon pamphlets: RedPlum, SmartSource, P&G. I always mark the pamphlet with the date first so that I can easily find it. Couponing-assistant websites, which I will discuss later, refer to these pamphlets by their title and date. I also have a file for restaurant coupons, store coupons, and miscellaneous coupons, like the Val-Pack savings I get in the mail, or ones printed on the back of my grocery receipts, etc.

This hanging file folder stays up high on a shelf. In it I save all the coupons I get. I clean it out occasionally, as coupons do expire. The rule of thumb is to keep the coupon packets for about five months. Other things to keep with the coupon packets: scissors, a pen, a highlighter for marking sales, and the current week's sales circulars. Make sure you recycle extra paper if you can!

Part two of my organization system: My notebook. I invested some money and bought a nice 3-ring binder, some insert tabs, and several packages of 4x6 plastic photo sheets (or you can use baseball card holders or business card holders. I like photo holders because the slots are bigger.) I had to go to Staple's to find the photo pages, but they are there by the other page protectors. After purchasing these things, I labeled my inserts by type: Household Supplies, Frozen, Snacks, etc. You could also do alphabetical, by expiration date, by store you plan to use things at, whatever you want. Put a few coupon holders per section, and then sort your clipped coupons and put in the page protectors. This way you can easily flip through and see the coupons. The goal of this binder is to be easy to understand and use, and for you to keep with you all the time. I put coupons in my binder both when I plan on using them, but also if I think I might use them. Then, if I'm shopping and I see something I need, I can easily flip through my coupons and see if I have one. Other things to keep in the binder: Your organized shopping lists (see future posts), a calculator (my phone has one), a pen, and if you start getting super extreme--your store's coupon policies.

Friday, May 13, 2011

An obituary

Oda, Lee's Russian Tortoise, died yesterday. Funeral services were held in our backyard this evening. The pallbearers were Cody and Lee, and remarks were given by Lisa and Annalisa. Lee gave the benediction.

Oda came into this family as the star of the best-kept secret of Christmas morning, 2007. Santa Claus brought her to our house in the middle of the night. Lee gave her the name "Oda," selecting it himself even though he was only 18 months old.

Oda loved the warm sunshine and eating lettuce and dandelions. We loved playing with her and watching her crawl around in the grass.

We loved having Oda in our family, and she will be missed. Goodbye, Oda.

Adventures in Couponing: Acquiring Coupons

A few people have already asked me where I find my coupons. The answer is, anywhere I can! But there are two main types of coupons, split into sub-categories.

1) Paper Coupons. These are those good ol' traditional coupons that you cut out and take to the store. Paper coupons can be found in lots of things, like the backs of cereal boxes or magazines, but the #1 primary source is in the Sunday newspaper. There are a few very common coupon fliers that every coupon-clipping-enthusiast clings to like a hundred-dollar bill:
a) P&G: a once-monthly flier in the paper, advertising and coupons for Proctor & Gamble
b) SmartSource (SS): once a week, in the Sunday Paper
c) Red Plum (RP): comes in the mail along with store circulars.

When your paper coupons arrive, write the date clearly on the front and then keep the whole thing. I like to store mine in a hanging file, with a folder for each source. We'll talk more about this when we get into organization.

2) Online Coupons, or E-coupons. More and more things are becoming electronic these days, and coupons are no exception. While nearly every product has a website and they occasionally sport coupons there, you don't want to spend all your waking moments scouring the web for coupons one at a time. There's a few good websites you can find e-coupons at, my all-time favorite being www.coupons.com. Before you can print any, you must download a free printing application that allows your computer to print each coupon with the appropriate barcode and date stamp. After that, it's just click and print. And heads up--most of the time you can print two. So do!

A few more thoughts:
When I first started clipping coupons I only wanted to keep the big coupons, for a dollar or more. But now I've learned to keep all coupons, no matter how small they seem. And I do keep all coupons. I keep the whole packet that comes in the mail and clip the coupons as I need them. We'll talk more about this later. But today is just about acquiring coupons. So start saving them! All of them! Multiple copies if you can! Ask people who don't keep their coupons for them.

speaking of which, if you live by me and would like to give any coupons to me, I'd love them! I'd be happy to come pick them up even!

urg.

A few days ago I typed up five posts and scheduled them to be published over the next few days. Now they are all gone. *grumbles.* You'll also notice the post about Katie turning 2 months old is also gone. *more grumbles.* Fortunately these issues are very rare for me with blogger. But it is still very frustrating!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Happy 2 months to Katie

Lady Katie is two months old today!

Her doctor appointment is tomorrow, including her 2 month immunizations. We will see how big she is then; however, I guarantee you she's grown a lot!

Katie is outgrowing her colic, hooray! She has been the most crying baby of our kids thus far, but that's been easy to overcome because she sleeps well. It's amazing what we can do with good sleep! I also feel very very fortunate that I got a good sleeper on my third child. If you get a good sleeper, you want it on your third child, when it's hard enough to find a good night's rest to begin with. But Katie typically sleeps from 10 to 4, then will go back to sleep after eating for another hour or two. Some nights she's even gone 10 to 6.

Katie is getting good at smiling now. She gives us several smiles a day, and even some coos. Her least favorite things right now are her carseat, getting too sleepy, poopy diapers, and kisses from an unshaved daddy. Her favorite things are her binkie, bath time with dad, wiggling her arms and legs, and sleeping.

Mostly, she's a cute, sweet little baby and we love having her in our family!

Adventures in Couponing: Is it right for me?

Before you ever clip a single coupon, there's an important decision to be made. How much can I devote to saving money?

My story:
I'm a stay at home mother with a nursing baby. I have a nice recliner and a nice laptop. These are all important facts to keep in mind, as serious couponing takes time--lots of time. Like, several hours a week. Most of that time needs to be spent on the computer. So this works well for me, as I can take care of my baby and do my couponing simultaneously. However, if you're a working mom or dad, or are already viciously busy, then this might not be the most viable idea for you. Just look at the math. A good couponing run typically gets you about 50-75% savings. For my family of 5, with a grocery budget of about $450 a month, I can hope to (hope is the key word) save about $225 a month with coupons. That's good. And that's devoting about 10 hours a week or more to couponing. That's like working for less than minimum wage. So make sure this is something you want to do before going all crazy.

Adventures in Couponing: A new Series

I have recently started some serious couponing. It's been a fun new adventure (yes, I was indeed inspired by the new TLC show "Extreme Couponing") and I've already made a few good scores, even though I only started saving coupons about three weeks ago.

Scores like:

6 boxes of pasta for free
2 12-packs of Cottonelle Toilet Paper for $2 apiece (about $5 off retail)
2 bottles of body wash for free
an additional 6 bottles of body wash for about $1.50 apiece
a bottle of lotion for $1
4 bags of chips for $.50 apiece

I'm learning a lot about couponing and saving money and how sales work. I thought it might be fun to start a new series about couponing and how to make it work. Of course, I'm no expert. So if any of you have some tips or tricks you'd like to share, please do! And as always, keep your eye here at For Kicks and Giggles for lots of fun. ;) (just kidding. I just like to imagine that the whole world reads and loves my blog.)

Previously on "For Kicks and Giggles..."

Last night Blogger went down for several hours. This morning I'm missing about six posts. This one I was able to retrieve from Google Buzz. The others I will probably have to retype. So this is not really a new post, just a re-post. But while I'm re-posting, here's her stats from her 2 month checkup: 11 lbs 12 oz, 24" long.

Happy 2 months to Katie

Lady Katie is two months old today!

Her doctor appointment is tomorrow, including her 2 month immunizations. We will see how big she is then; however, I guarantee you she's grown a lot!

Katie is outgrowing her colic, hooray! She has been the most crying baby of our kids thus far, but that's been easy to overcome because she sleeps well. It's amazing what we can do with good sleep! I also feel very very fortunate that I got a good sleeper on my third child. If you get a good sleeper, you want it on your third child, when it's hard enough to find a good night's rest to begin with. But Katie typically sleeps from 10 to 4, then will go back to sleep after eating for another hour or two. Some nights she's even gone 10 to 6.

Katie is getting good at smiling now. She gives us several smiles a day, and even some coos. Her least favorite things right now are her carseat, getting too sleepy, poopy diapers, and kisses from an unshaved daddy. Her favorite things are her binkie, bath time with dad, wiggling her arms and legs, and sleeping.

Mostly, she's a cute, sweet little baby and we love having her in our family!
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Monday, May 9, 2011

An unexpected Mother's Day Surprise

I had a wonderful Mother's Day. I took out a small insurance policy (read: I bought myself some steaks, new pants, a steam mop, and made myself a cheesecake) to make sure I had a wonderful Mother's Day. The best gifts I got were a full night's sleep from Katie, big hugs and "I love yous" and sweet letters from my children and husband, and a tasty big breakfast.

But I did get one unexpected little surprise, which Lee was so kind to point out in his hand-drawn Mother's Day Card:Can't figure it out? that's okay, I had to ask him too. "It's the ant in our house mommy!" Yes, I spent the half hour before church sweeping and steam mopping to get rid of as many ants as possible. They'd just been discovered before we left. So we were already a few minutes late when I picked up Katie and found her explosion diaper through the back of her dress. Which is why we were all about ten minutes late to church. Oh well, life goes on.

The steam mopping helped, I think, but it didn't destroy the ants yesterday. So this morning, after a fresh trail of ants was found traipsing across the living room, I picked up some ant traps and some of the new Raid Barrier Max stuff. I do feel mega cool, however, in that I had a $3 off coupon for the Raid Barrier. I came straight home and sprayed and set the traps. Cody thinks I'm crazy in my pest control habits, and made me promise to not go overboard. But hey! The experts recommended doing it this way! They also recommended outdoor lawn traps AND specialized ant killer for hitting the little buggers individually, but I just stuck with the first two.

I hope that's the end of that little surprise. I'm really not scared of ants, but I'd prefer they stay outside my home.

Congratulations, Sara!

My little sister Sara graduated from college (walked... she actually graduated last December) this weekend. I took the kids and we had a fun time watching the ceremony, and an especially fun time playing at the barbeque party afterword.

Lee's description of the day: "I'm so excited we get to have french fries at the party! Sara and Grandpa are wearing funny hats, Grandpa because he's so awesome, and Sara is because she's gra-jurating!" (my dad is a professor and marched in the opening ceremony. I don't have any pictures of him in his regalia.)

I can't believe how good the kids were all day. Granted. They're kids. They still ran off into the field behind Grandma's house. But we didn't have any wet pants, Katie didn't cry at all through the whole hour and a half ceremony, and they listened most of the time! Good job, kids!

And of course, congratulations, Sara! We are proud of you.

Friday, May 6, 2011

3 cute kids

Finally, a post just about my cute kids! With pictures! Of all three of them!

When Katie smiles, one eye squints more than the other. That is a trait she definitely inherited from her mommy. I just love it when I see a little of me come out in my kids!

What's cuter than one little girl in ladybug hairbows? Two little girls in MATCHING ladybug hairbows! Annalisa was comforting Katie so sweetly, even though she was nursing a hurt foot (Anna somehow has a blister the size of a quarter... and I have no clue how she got it...).
And of course, the stud of the century, just being himself.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Moments

Katie is approaching her 2 month birthday. The time really is speeding by. The recovery since her birth hasn't been as peaceful as I would have liked, what with the surgery and trying to stay up on Anna's potty training, considering the purchase of a home, and so on; Not to mention that our beautiful little Katie is kind of colicky... alright, quite colicky...

But at moments like these:




I try my best to remember and look forward to moments like these:


And life is better. Life is good. The happy moments are coming more and more frequently. And even the crying moments bring me joy, because they are moments I get to spend with my children, and moments I get to be their mother.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Katie's Blessing Day


Yesterday Cody gave our daughter Katie her name and blessing. It was a special, sweet day.


Katie was dressed in the same beautiful white dress that I was blessed in, as well as my sisters, and also Annalisa. I made her a new white hairband. Once the men took her up to the stand, she started crying really loud. It made the whole audience giggle. But despite Katie's wailing, Cody pronounced a beautiful blessing on her--about her legacy of giving and Christ-like service and love. Katie was surrounded by her father, her grandfathers, all her living great-grandfathers, and even a couple of uncles and great-uncles. We were really happy that so many people came to participate in our special celebration of Katie's birth and the spirit of this day.

After church we snapped a few photos and Lee and Anna snuck out of the church before anyone noticed. This caused a major panic as we tried to find them, but fortunately one of Cody's cousins found them just as Lee was telling Anna, "Come on, we have to walk home!" Silly kids. Just as we got back to the house with all fifty of our dinner guests, the heavens opened and it started pouring rain. So we moved the tables and chairs into the garage and just made do. We still had a fun dinner with all the family there, and everyone got fed (amazingly!). It was fun to chat and laugh and catch up.

Every day I enjoy holding Katie and looking at her and imagining what her life will be like. She is already growing too fast for me. I want to savor every second I have. I love my children, and am so grateful to be their mother!