We have so much for which to be grateful; the list is endless. Every day this month, we each made a hand leaf and listed something we consider a blessing in our lives. I am glad Thanksgiving exists so I can be reminded to feel and show gratitude more often. Happy Thanksgiving! 

"Living in thanksgiving daily is a habit that will enrich our lives and the lives of those we love. We like to be around those who are grateful. They tend to brighten all around them. They make others feel better about themselves. They tend to be more humble, more joyful, more likable." –Joseph B. Worthlin

Sam is grateful for... my health, Edison, the Chinese people, my testimony, Alex, my car, my parents, snow, holidays, the church, my calling, nature, the Priesthood, my siblings, basketball, my wife, prophets, books/reading, seasons, my bike, the Bible, modern revelation, the Book of Mormon, my education, golf, my job, Declan, my friends, and running.

Emily is grateful for... Sam, laughter, awesome sisters and brothers, temples, fabulous friends, a fancy stroller that is easy to push, heat/AC, dancing, my sexy minivan, my calendar, chairs so we do not have to sit on the ground, holidays, beautiful weather, music that has feelings connected to it, forgiveness, running water and electricity, organization, service, my phone, vacuum cleaners, the prophet, large appliances, good food, the Atonement, the ability to think, sisters and brothers, that I made it through today without strangling someone, sleep, Jesus Christ, and dancing.

Alex is grateful for... my family, my body, my friends, playing, knowing how to spell, my future baptism, the tooth fairy, Heavenly Father, music, colors, my grandparents, running, my furniture, my house, animals, my backyard, our car, teeth, holidays and celebrations, our TV, money to buy things, getting and giving presents, clocks, prophets, seasons, plants and trees, food, the Bible, "specials," and coloring.

Edison is grateful for... table, toys, my scriptures, snakes, my blankets, Earth, drums, presents, my grandmas and grandpas, my helmet so I can ride my bike safely, myself, the backyard, books, my house, nature, Dad, Christmas, arts and crafts, prophets, my brothers, alligators, playing, my neighbors, fires, socks so I do not get blisters, the church, that I can be baptized, television, Mom.

Declan is grateful for... my body, my stuffed animals, Mommy, alligators that chomp, leftover pizza, future covenants, Jesus loves me, presents, ceiling fans, snakes, Lightning McQueen, football, baptism, pitching, lights, health, my internal organs, Daddy, TV, bath, Jesus, giants, numbers (especially two), my eyes, being cute, my clothes, my house, and "Jesus Once Was a Little Child."


Meet the Teacher

There have been many thoughts and discussions about what grade Alex should enter this year. The kindergarten cutoff date in North Dakota is July 31st, meaning Alex missed it by a day. We did not worry about seeking an exception, and he did preschool. Then we moved at the end of the semester. The cutoff date in Texas is August 31st. I did not want him to start kindergarten halfway through the year so we kept him in preschool for the second semester. Kindergarten is not mandatory in Texas. Our options were to "hold him back" in Kindergarten or put him in first grade. We chose for him to skip Kindergarten and go straight to first grade. He can already read so that helped ease the decision. I am so nervous for him to be in school full-day but I am hoping he is kept busy and excels.

School starts on Monday but they had a special time to meet the teacher and bring in supplies so the first day can go smoother. This will be his teacher's first year and she is very nice and very young. Her name is My Nguyen.

He immediately made himself at home and found some reading material.

Edison is not excited about Cornell

Empty cafeteria

Lots of nerves but this kid excels at everything he does so we know he will learn and love it. I cannot believe I have a first grader!



We went to Fish Gallery's story time again. This time our friend Dane Moore came with us.

Such a big boy stacking his own chair!

Alex is fascinated by animals

After story time, feeding the fish, and the touch tank, the boys did a craft and had snacks.



Ten years. This is an anniversary that seemed so far away. I was starting my senior year of high school when she died and now I am about to send my oldest child to first grade. Time has been frustrating me recently. Time is so unforgiving and relentless. Its characteristics are consistent to every individual but the usage of that time varies so widely. Time doesn't care about intentions or outcomes. It just ticks on.

Sometimes I feel like I am very far away from myself. I am not where I thought I would be and I am not where I think I could be. It's an odd kind of feeling. It is an anxiety-inducing feeling. It is a feeling of not being enough; it is a feeling that something about me needs to change to please someone else. I have been struggling with feeling like anything I am doing is successful or making any sort of difference.

When I think of Rachael I remember that even inconsequential things can have a big impact on others. It makes me wonder what kind of wake I am leaving behind me. Am I drowning the people around me or leaving a wake of love? It has been ten years since Rachael has walked on the earth but it has been minutes since the impact of her life and death have been seen in my life.

The memory is vague now (as are so many of my memories), but when I was back in college, I was worrying to Michelle that I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. She laughed and said I sounded like Rachael. I think of my sister Rachael often, but especially on January 22nd and August 19th. Although those dates have become so significant me, there are so many other days where important things are happening and I need to focus on those things, embrace them, and look for more ways to share love. To conclude an email my Dad wrote to one of my brothers on his mission he wrote, "Hope you are feeling loved by many and loving all." How often I am mixing around this equation. I don't want to cry for a wasted day. 

While writing this, I was interrupted by a phone call from Michelle. We talked for almost two hours. We laughed at funny things and we pity-laughed at our sad things. I am so grateful for family. I am grateful for these people who are forced to be my friends because we were birthed by the same Mom. I think about Rachael and I remember her smile and it makes me smile. That's a pretty good wake she left behind. I hope to add my wake to hers and one day join the Apostle Paul in saying, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."


Alex's Birthday, The Day of

Alex had a very full day on his birthday. It was spent celebrating his friends' birthdays! We went to three parties on his birthday, and none of them were for him. He woke up to a pile of presents and a tower of donuts.

His brothers gladly helped him open them.

We headed to The Home Depot Kids Workshop to make chalkboard door hangers.

I had to go to the YMCA to teach two hours of classes and Sam took the boys to the park while they waited for me. 

Party #1 was for our friend from MOMS Club, Audrey Spinner. We showed up right on time to a come-and-go, all afternoon party. We had the pool to ourselves for a while and then had to run before time for cake.

Party #2 was for a friend from church, LeMei Sheets. It was at a splash pad. It was a toasty warm day and Declan was exhausted so he fell asleep.

Party #3 was for a Houston Moms' friend, Daylin Pena. It was at a bounce house place and we played hard.

Emily Torres, Missy Carter, Emily, Evelyn Pena, Amanda Hermis

It was a long day but so fun to spend the whole day partying. We love Alex and he is loved by everyone who knows him.


Happy 6th Birthday, Alex!

 photo Alex1_zpslvdotmgk.jpg

Alex wore a pedometer about a month ago and I was shocked at the end of the day to see he had taken 22,000 steps. He is only awake for 12 hours! At the end of a long day, Alex (the only child around here who does not take naps) is still bouncing around gleefully. His brain is just as busy as his body. He can read so well and understands the things he reads. He even gets in fights with me about words  why is "signal" not pronounced "sine-uhl" anyway?! Alex loves music. He remembers lyrics, dances to the beat, and can carry a tune without needing a bucket! One day, he heard a song that he really liked. He asked me to keep replaying it for him. Later that day he said, "I feel like I have a DVD of 'Fireflies' playing over and over in my head." I explained that people describe that as having a song stuck in their head. I love how he came up with a way to describe it. Sometimes I worry that Alex is a little bit of a people-pleaser. But then he likes to act like a total punk just to mess with me. I think he is turning out alright.

As for things this kid has said recently that make me think he is even cooler, I have a long list...

Alex: What helps with a runny nose?
Emily: Lots of water and lots of sleep.
Alex: I don't want either of those things!

I was telling Alex that his friend stays at school even longer than he does, and that she eats lunch there and then doesn't come home until the afternoon. Alex said, "Wow! I'm so excited to do so much learning! But I am going to miss you."

I told Alex that they forgot to put the toy in his kids meal and I did not noticed until we got home. He said, "It's okay. I have something better than a toy." And then he ran over to me and gave me a hug.

Alex met playground graffiti for the first time. "Why did I read a word that says, 'F*** off?'"

I helped Alex get his cleats on for the first day of baseball then asked him if they hurt his toes. He said, "No. But it hurts here [pointing somewhere other than his toes] and pretty much all over the rest of my foot."

Alex told me he peed on the kitchen table. But he didn't want to make me mad so he licked it up. I asked when this happened and he said, "A few weeks ago." Vomit.

"When you have another kid  if you have another kid  and it's a boy, I think you should name him M-A-K-A-Y [he was pronouncing it McKay]. And then the next one you can name L-E-O."

"I really want to fly sometime. That's one of my plans for summer. I'm serious! All I need are four fans and then I will be able to fly!"



July was another fun month. I love summertime!

Edison suddenly started calling Declan "Dec(k)." We will see if this lasts.

I prepared tons of cupcakes, cookies, and frosting for mutual and only two Beehives showed up!

Taylor, Zina, and Melanie

TMNT and pizza at the library. It was a questionable "all ages" movie. We left early and on the way home Edison asked, "Were those Ninja turtles being bad?"

Our mailman is the worst.

Playing after Turbo Kick with the Brooks kids.

Watching TV is more fun when you are in a basket.

Lost tooth #2 while eating an apple.

Always catching the wildlife.

Swimming at the Spinner's

Laynie's birthday party at the splash pad // Emma & Edison, Declan & Emma

Free Chick-fil-A for dressing up like a cow.

Crafting at Whole Foods.

Checking out the Gaither's cats before swimming in their pool.

Cheap hot dogs at James Coney Island.

Crafternoon at the library

Toddler Skate at Dairy Ashford Roller Rink

This house is full of crazy. To the brim. All crazy.

Girls night with Amanda and Evelyn. We were out talking until 2am!

Alex drew a picture of a fort and then they drove around to find some wood and Sam built this for him!

Time for prayers.

Off to work!

Declan hated going through the car wash! He was so scared!

Working for some prizes from the summer reading program.

We went to Mercer Arboretum with Chelsey. We were supposed to pack a lunch and I left ours sitting on the kitchen counter and she didn't bring one so we went out for Greek food and then tried out a little cupcake shop.

My friend Amanda lives about 15 minutes from the temple. Sam was out of town but Amanda watched the boys so I could go to the temple. After I got back, we all went swimming at her neighborhood pool and then went to another friend's house for ice cream sundaes.

Alex said, "I like having chlorine eyes because then I can see rainbows on everything!"

Our swimming suits were not even dry and we went to the Moore's neighborhood pool to swim with them.

"Dear Alex, I love you. Happy birthday, Alex! You are my best friend ever. Love, Keaton."

I love the sister missionaries in our ward. Sister Moreno has been in our ward for a long time and I am so sad to see her go!

Emily, Sister Moreno, Sister Greaves

We are so grateful the Gaithers said we can use their pool during the day on weekdays. It is really nice to have a place to go since our neighborhood pool has crazy hours.

Young Women making pajama pants for Girls Camp.

Girls night for frozen yogurt // Natalie, Susan, Brittany, Emily

Brittany, Emily, and Natalie

My MOMS Club went on a tour of HEB. It was such an interesting tour and kept the kids interested the whole time!

A new Blaze Pizza location was opening and they were giving away free pizzas. We met up with the Moores and Mosses for lunch. The line was long but we got four pizzas and had leftovers for a few meals!

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