Dec 16, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

I'll start this post with our most recent news: we moved to Riverton, Wyoming!!!  Steven accepted a job as the City Administrator here and began his new position at the end of August.  The boys and I stayed in McMinnville with the house on the market and lots of prayers that it would sell soon.  Our prayers were answered and we were able to move out here the first week of December.  We're pretty sure our Christmas will be white because it snowed the day before we arrived here and the temperatures have not been above freezing yet, so the snow (even though frozen and crunchy) is here to stay.  There is much to say about what's going on in our lives; I'll try to narrow it down so you've got time to read others' letters.

Jared, 2 1/2, is talking up a storm.  He thinks he is in charge at our house.  He probably is.  He loves being outside as much as possible and during the summer he figured out how to slip on his rain boots so he could ride his bike around the yard without burning his feet.  As the rain started in, he kept up the boot routine and could be found splashing in every puddle his eye could see.  Even now, he'll walk in the snow rather than on the sidewalk.  He loves playing with his older brothers and really misses them during the day, especially now that Andrew's schedule changed with the move.  He has found his singing voice, making us all smile when he finds a songbook and starts singing what sounds like beautiful nonsense to us, but is probably a beautiful hymn in his mind.

Andrew, 6, went from half day kindergarten in McMinnville to all day kindergarten here.   He loves school, he loves reading, and math, and stations, and art, and music, and P.E.  You get the idea.  Being in school all day has been a bit of an adjustment for him, one that I'm sure we'll conquer just in time for Christmas break.  :)  He learned to ride his bike with just 2 wheels this year and he may have earned a noise maker for his bike as a reward.  Really, this means I can always hear him and know where he is.  He LOVES to color and draw, even learning how to look at an object or picture and draw it in good detail.  Steven and I are never without a picture and note made especially for us by this sweet boy. 

Benjamin, 8, was baptized in March of this year.  We were glad to give Papa, Nana, and 2 cousins an excuse to come visit us.  Springtime also meant garden time at our house and Benjamin really loves this stuff.  He planted lots of flowers and vegetables in the garden and all over the yard and then he tended to each one all summer long.  Thankfully, he and his brothers love to eat lots of veggies.  Being 8 also meant joining Cub Scouts and he has enjoyed being part of a den, doing some great activities, and participating in week -long day camp.  His 3rd grade teacher in McMinnville was amazing! and in just 3 months  helped Benjamin come out of his shy shell and flourish in his schoolwork.  His adjustment to a new school and new teacher seems to be going alright.  Piano lessons and practicing are still part of his daily schedule, sometimes he even does it with a smile on his face.  He'd be a happy kid if I'd let him play MarioCart all day long.  Actually, it doesn't take much for Benjamin to be happy, which we all benefit from when making him laugh-what a great sound.

Adam, 11, is much busier, or should I say, keeps me much busier.  He participated in cross country and improved his time at each meet.  Boy Scouts seems to fitting him just fine; he loves learning about everything and the wide array of merit badges available is exciting to him.  In June he entered a photography contest and took 2nd place.  This summer he was able to spend 2 weeks with Nana and Papa Millington, and a few cousins, as they built a deck, kept the cows fed, mowed the lawns, and added to the mounting laundry pile in Nana's laundry room.   While he was away, he paid his younger brothers to cover his paper route, which they didn't like until the money appeared.  Then they were always available for hire.  Beginning middle school was a bit hard the first couple of weeks; learning how to work a combination, get to class on time, keep track of assignments, and still try to be social, (I hope the really expensive binder I bought him helped with all this) but he was soon in the groove, and I think the transition to a new school is easier with the other "stuff" already mastered. 
All four boys love being outside: swimming, riding bikes, playing ball, digging in the dirt, catching frogs and snakes (yep-good times) and helping with the garden.  They really hope this winter time move means some ice fishing for them and summertime brings more fishing and camping. 

I found a clogging group at the beginning of the year, dusted off my shoes from 20 years ago, and jumped right in.  The gals I danced with were all senior citizens, but I loved 'em all.  We had a lot of fun at our weekly class and occasional performances.  I also was able to train for and participate in my first half marathon in June.  I probably couldn't have done it without the 3 other gals I ran with.  Our uplifting conversations during long runs helped pass the time.

Steven has been busy learning the ropes of a new position but really enjoys his work and the people he works with.  In July, Steven and Adam joined their Weaver cousins in a hike through part of the Narrows.  They had so much fun it may become an annual event.

We have much to be grateful for including our family, our dear friends, and our knowledge of Jesus Christ and His importance in our lives.  We hope that this letter finds you all healthy, happy, and blessed by our Savior in your lives as well.

Merry Christmas!

Nov 22, 2011

What I'm doing...

I know posts have been a bit sporadic and, well, things just aren't going to improve around here for a couple of weeks.  Our house is finally "sale pending" so I'm packing and cleaning.  We leave in just a few days and then I'll be consumed with getting the kids in school, unpacking, and most importantly-putting up the Christmas tree.  I plan to post a Christmas letter the first full week of December.  Until then-enjoy your Thanksgiving and the beginning of the most wonderful time of the year!

Nov 16, 2011

Jared's Day

 Jared's days are pretty much a set routine and I just realized how much he depended on this routine when he started telling me what came next...

In the morning, he eats breakfast with his brothers and tries to finish before Benjamin leaves.  After prayers, he insists on being lifted up on the counter so he can look out the kitchen window and wave goodbye.

The next one to leave is Adam.  Jared follows Adam through the garage door, puts on his boots, grabs his bike and waits for Adam at the back gate.  Then Jared and Andrew race Adam down the sidewalk, all the while yelling "bye bye Adam",  "bye Jared" back and forth until Adam is out of sight.
Andrew and Jared then spend a couple of hours playing before it is time for lunch and we walk Andrew to the bus stop.  Jared is always ready with shoes in hand for this adventure.  He waves at Andrew until the bus is out of sight then he turns to me and says, "daddy!"
So we call dad on the cell phone, (it's lunch time for Steven in WY by now) and he has a quick chat with dad while we walk back to the house.  After his conversation is over, he grabs his blankie and pacifier and reminds me it's time for his nap.  By the time his nap is over, his brothers are getting home from school and all is right with the world again.

Nov 9, 2011

Thank You

Taken July 2007 at a traveling memorial in Burns, Oregon 

Earlier this week I attended a Veteran's Day assembly at the middle school.  The program was so well prepared with music from the middle school choirs, middle school band, and the high school symphonic choir, as well as two videos, a moment of silence, and a time to honor the veterans.  There were, in attendance that day, 15 veterans from various branches of military.  Some had been lucky enough never to have fought in a war, others were currently serving or had served in the Irag war, the Vietnam War, Korean War, and one who had served in World War II, the Korean War, and the Veitnam War. 
I became so emotional as I stood to applaud their service. 
I am so grateful for my freedoms and thank them for their service. 
Thank You.

Oct 10, 2011

A Birthday Party

Brother 3 turned 6 a couple of weeks ago and we had a small celebration.  We were able to Skype Steven so he was able to participate in the fun.  B3 KNEW he would be getting this headlight because his dad and two older brothers had each received one for their birthdays. 

There were plenty of unexpected surprises to open up and then of course, he had to try out each present for a few minutes before going on. 
He is so easy to please-I could have given him a pack of gum and he would have smiled for days.  Oh wait-I did give him a pack of gum.  He loves gum and I knew the Trident Strawberry Twist would be a favorite.

Andrew requested a "fish cake" so I spent a few hours working on what I hoped would be a cake to him liking.  (those little yellow and black dots were individual frosting circles that took WAY TOO LONG)  From the looks of it, he was pretty pleased.   Glad we were able to celebrate another year with this cute kid.

Oct 2, 2011


Brother #1 decided to complete the music  merit  badge for scouts.  To complete one of the requirements, he arranged his own variation of "Carol of the Bells".  Then he called a very talented woman in our ward who has a great keyboard/computer set up, she was willing to help him put the song "on paper"-actually with technology, it didn't even go on paper...he viewed it on the computer screen as he entered each note and then it was saved to the computer.  A couple of weeks later he was able to go back to her home and record the song.  We are so grateful for her help-she was not only patient, but encouraging.  Both versions of his song are available now.  To listen to the song go to her website:  On the left hand side, under SHARE is a white box with her songs listed.  Carol of the Bells is #50.  Or to view the music:

He had such a great time learning some very basic composing tips to create his own song-he has already expressed interest in trying his hand at it again soon.

Sep 26, 2011

Meet John Frew

written by Brother #1 for a school project:

  My great-great-great-great-grandfather, John Frew, was born June 17, 1826 in Avershire, Scotland.  He was born with a talent for singing.  in fact, as an adult he was asked to sing for the queen of Scotland.
  As a young man, he met and married Jean Clotworthy on
May 1, 1846.  Shortly after that they joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  When he was 30, on March 23, 1856, they set sail from Liverpool on the ship called the Enoch Train with his wife and 5 children.  Two of their children died on the way, but they arrived in Boston, MA on May 1, 1856, their wedding anniversary.  From Boston they took a train to Iowa City.  There they gathered wagons and handcarts to go on the 2000 mile journey to Utah.  This Mormon trail occurred because Mormons were being persecuted, their houses were being burned, their cattle killed, and the Mormons went West for religious freedom, settling in what is now Utah.
  John's oldest 2 children walked every step of the way barefoot, sometimes bleeding so badly they left a trail of blood.  Along the way, his wife gave birth to one son, her bed being the wagon.
  Once they arrived in Utah, John got a job as a stationary engineer.  They helped settle Franklin, Idaho a few years later where John bought and ran a sawmill.
  One night as Jean Frew was pulling fresh bread out of her oven, an Indian broke into the house.  She fought and fought and finally the Indian dropped the tomahawk and left.
  In 1869, John and his family moved to Hopper, Utah.  Sadly, his wife Jean died on march 30, 1872.  John remarried and had 3 more children for a total of 11.  He died on February 22, 1904.  He was 78.

Sep 20, 2011

First day of School

School started the day after Labor Day here.  I know it has been 2 weeks, but better late than never.

Brother #1 started 6th grade this year.  The first week of learning locker combinations and getting to class before the bell was a bit of a challenge, but cross country also started, and he is in his element so there may be a balance.

Brother #2 started 3rd grade with the teacher #1 had when he was that age.  #2 is glad to have this great teacher, but still wonders why there is only one Saturday in the week and 5 school days.

Brother #3 headed off to kindergarten without a glance back...until the second week, then he suddenly got nervous.  I think we've worked out the jitters and are back on track.

Brother #4 is in this picture and holding his very own "backpack" (#1's lunchbox).  Everyday when his brothers get on the bus he looks at me and says "me, mom".  In a few years my son-and I'm afraid it will come quicker that I'd like.

Sep 12, 2011

Dear Grandma,

Dear Grandma,

I miss you.  Can you send me your stewed tomatoes recipe?  I could eat your stewed tomatoes, slightly warmed up, as breakfast, lunch, or dinner.   I just spent 3 hours slicing, chopping, blanching, peeling, and seeding what I thought was a large number of tomatoes.  Turns out I was able to can 8 pints.  P-I-N-T-S, not quarts, and it just doesn't taste the same.  As a college student, the presents you sent were always coveted.  We knew we would find a towel, toothpaste and toothbrush, maybe some other necessities, and a bottle or two of plum jam, maybe some fruit, and of course, stewed tomatoes.  These items might actually have been worth something in a family auction, but they were too dear to us.  Today I am more aware of the value of your gift.  The countless hours you spent at the kitchen sink preparing food for your grandchildren.  But that's who you were...evident in EVERY single letter you typed up and mailed to each one of us, every week.  Your acts of service to neighbors, ward members, family members, and our Heavenly Father while working at the temple were recorded in these letters for us to learn from.  I doubt you knew the eternal impact that with each journal entry lessons were being taught and lives were being shaped.  Thank you, Grandma!

Sep 6, 2011

Celebrate the Family

Last year I followed "Chocolate on my Cranium" and "We Talk of Christ, We Rejoice in Christ" as they spent the month of September celebrating the family and the Family Proclamation.  This year they have included some additional bloggers and condensed all the goodness into 2 weeks.  I am looking forward to reading some inspirational ideas.  Follow along...

May 5, 2011

New Trick

Guess who learned to ride his bike yesterday in about 30 minutes? 
Guess what he's been doing ALL day today? 
Oh-the possibilities!

Apr 18, 2011

Bedroom Re-do

I've been planning on painting my bedroom for about a month now.  I had found some great bedding and chosen the right paint.  Then life took over and the re-do got pushed to the backburner.  Last week I decided it was time.  I had already started cleaning out my bedroom when I wised up and took a picture.  (The cute boy is an added bonus)  This is the before picture with green paint that we've had for 6 years and the bedding that we've had since we moved in as well.  It was a nice color, but I was done with it.

This next image is the after picture.  The wall color is "Tropical Straw" and I love it!  It is very calming.  The bedding is the third set I bought.  (heehee) I returned the other two after bringing them home and looking at them in my room.  I'm glad the lamps and curtains match, I probably wouldn't replace them if they didn't.  I need to find some kind of art work to go above the bed, but that may take some time. 

I am so glad with how it feels and how it all came together.  I love it!

Apr 14, 2011

Mom! Mom!

 So, I'm downstairs cleaning up lunch, and I hear, "Mom, Mom!"  I realize that brother #4 is upstairs and there are numerous things he could get in that he probably shouldn't be in.  Brother #3 and I raced upstairs to find this:

Brother #4 had climbed up the changing table and then on to the dresser.  Frightening for me.  (By the way-he has not done it again since.)  I stayed close by and asked Brother #3 to go get the camera so I could take pictures.  After all, this must be recorded for future reference.  :)

Yep-that's the edge!

But, he is still so stinkin' cute!

Apr 3, 2011

Eight years old

See this cute boy?  He's 8 now.  Guess what that means...


He was baptized on March 26, 2011.  The meeting was very nice, we had some good friends and leaders there.  We also were so glad to have Papa, Nana, and two cute cousins come join us. 
Brother #2 was so excited; I enjoyed watching him smile all day.

Mar 9, 2011

Gone for a few days

On Monday morning, my sister's husband passed away.  I am so sad for her and her little family.  We are headed to Boise for the funeral.  I've wanted to be there since Monday, to wrap my arms around her, to help her through the difficult moments, to let her know I love her.  Please keep the Grow family in your prayers.

Feb 28, 2011

Pine Wood Derby

Pine Wood Derby 2011 was so much better than the first one 2 years ago.  Brother 1 and Steven are starting to get the hang of how to build a faster car.  Adam was excited about the design of his car as well as the finishing work (hint-I cheated and bought a wrap that he adhered similar to a child's tattoo).

Here-Adam is placing his car on the track. 
Cheering for his car...

End of the racing-he came in fourth overall, but was given an award for best decoration.  All the cub scouts were so good to each other-really cheering each other on and giving each other a pat on the back.  That helped so much.  Adam's sportsmanship was much better this year than in the past. 
It was a fun night for all.
And for the record-we only have 9 more derby cars to go....

Feb 19, 2011

Surrogate Grandparents

We have been so blessed to become friends with a couple in our ward who are so kind and so loving.  We love Paul and Jackie and we feel loved by them as well.  Everytime we see them, Andrew will run over and give them both a great big hug.  Last fall they invited us over for hamburgers and smores.  They have a beautiful home and yard and with the weather cooperating, we were able to be outside all evening.

Outside, warm weather, a fire, poking sticks, and chocolate.  My kids were in heaven.  Good company, good food, no clean up.  I was in heaven. 

We had such a wonderful time. I cherish our friendship with this great couple. I'm blessed to know them.

Jan 25, 2011

Courage and Faith

Adam's class has recently held some impromptu discussions on religion.  Last Thursday, Adam came home and announced that he was going to give a Book of Mormon to his teacher.  We pulled a Book of Mormon from the shelf and talked to Adam about his testimony.  He spent a couple of days thinking and praying about what he wanted to say.  On Sunday, he wrote his testimony in the front of the book and on Monday he gave the book to his teacher.  She was surprised that he wasn't just lending the book to her, but that it was her copy to keep.  She promised Adam she would read it.  I could only hope for the same kind of courage and faith he exhibited this week.

Jan 15, 2011

Books I'd like to read...

I read quite a few books last year and I wish I would have kept a list of the books and authors.  I did read the "Hunger Games".  I also started a series called "City of Ember".    This year I have a list of books I would like to read, including these:

Okay, the truth is: I have already read "Tiger's Quest" by Colleen Houck.  It is book two in her tiger series.  The first book is "Tiger's Curse" which I started and finished the day after Christmas.  I neglected all my other responsibilities while reading both books.  These books are labeled young adult ficiton, making them both a quick read.  To find out more about these books or the author, go here.  For the record, Colleen currently lives in Salem, Oregon but grew up with her family in Tucson, Arizon, in Steven's ward/stake.  Congratulations to Colleen who originally self-published "Tiger's Curse" before being picked up by Sterling.  Just last week, she was #1 on Barnes & Noble Topsellers for teens.  Quite a journey.

Second truth: Andrew was sick this week and just wanted mom to sit on the couch next to him.  I took advantage of the time and read "Charlie St. Cloud" by Ben Sherwood.  I've been wanting to see the movie, but I like to read the books first.  As is almost the case for me, I'm glad I read the book first.  Steven brought the movie home from Redbox on Thursday and we watched it.  I have a friend who loves reading but when she gets to a part in a book that takes the book from PG to PG-13, if she owns the book, she'll get out a black sharpie and cross it all out.  If I owned "Charlie St. Cloud", I would have crossed out chapter 25.  The movie was not as revealing as the book in this case but both were decent entertainment.

I looked at the "Smoothies" recipe book.  Most recipes called for gin, tonic, or caro.  It's already gone back to the library. 

Not pictured are two more books I have already read: "Paint the Wind" by Pam Munoz Ryan (LOVED IT!) and "Diamond Willow" by Helen Frost.  These books are included in the Oregon Battle of the Books list for grades 3-5.  Adam read 15 of the 16 books.  I've tried to keep up with him.  It's a great way to read more authors and genres.  We've enjoyed reading the same books and talking about them.  He just finished "Theodore Boone" by John Grisham.  Yes-the same John Grisham of adult books but this one is for a younger audience.  It's now sitting on my nightstand waiting for me.  Adam tells me the end is a cliffhanger.  Hmmm...another book on the way?

So there you have it.  My beginning list.  I'm planning to write a post for book reviews.  Feel free to share your favorite reads.  And for the record-I'm halfway through the January Ensign.  :)  I also recommend it.

My Book List...

Books read in 2011:
Update as of October 3, 2011:
The Seventeen Second Miracle by Jason F. Wright
Cole Connor has become a patient teacher, and now he has invited three struggling teenagers to visit him on his front porch to learn about Rex Connor--and the Seventeen Second Miracle. Together they will learn how Rex Connor could have allowed seventeen seconds to destroy him, but instead he chose to live every day believing the smallest of acts could change the world for good.

I was disappointed with Jason's last book, "Recovering Charles" but I had loved "Christmas Jars"  and "The Wednesday Letters" so much I was quite willing to read this book.  I was not let down.  Seventeen Seconds...How many of those have I let slip away?  Clean read, good story, great moral lesson.

January 2011:
Tiger's Quest by Colleen Houck
Kelsey Hayes takes up her college life again in Oregon, after having left India and the Indian prince she loves. She had saved him from a curse making him live in the form of a white tiger, but she had to leave him. Very soon, however, she is drawn back to India and Ren.

A young adult fiction book, easy to read, easy to get attached to so that when you start reading your house doesn't get cleaned, your family goes hungry, and you lose sleep until its done.  Yes, I liked this book.  It is a little bit Indiana Jones style adventure with some love and might I say, passion.  I appreciate that Kelsey is not a ditsy girl and the 3 male characters, Ren, Kishan, and Mr. Kadam are so respectful.  To learn more  about Colleen and her books go here.  Big congratulations to Colleen.  She self-published this book to begin with and just last week was #1 on Barnes & Noble topsellers!  You can see an interview with Colleen on the B&N website.

Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood
The powerful bond between two brothers--one alive and the other killed in a terrible accident--unexpectedly transcends the barriers of life and death, and it is up to one woman to make their world right.

Good entertainment.  Glad I read the book before seeing the movie, but both were good.  I have a friend who also enjoys reading and when she gets to a part of a book that is not necessarily appropriate, she uses a sharpie to cross it out.  I didn't own this book, it came from our great library, but if I owned it, I would have crossed out chapter 25.  Some people might say, however, that without chapter 25, there would not have been such a connection, a bond, a reason for Charlie to make the decision that he did.

Paint the Wind by Pam Munoz Ryan
After her overprotective grandmother has a stroke, Maya, an orphan, leaves her extremely restricted life in California to stay with her mother's family on a remote Wyoming ranch, where she discovers a love of horses and encounters a wild mare that her mother once rode.  Maya learns the importance of honesty, trust, and family.

Juvenile fiction, but so good. I think I'll find more of her books to read.

Diamond Willow by Helen Frost
Juvenile Fiction. 
In a remote area of Alaska, twelve-year-old Willow helps her father with their sled dogs when she is not at school, wishing she were more popular, all the while unaware that the animals surrounding her carry the spirits of dead ancestors and friends who care for her.

I love how this book is written.  The words in each page look like a diamond shape and Helen Frost has bolded words within the diamond to form another sentence implying Willow's real thoughts and feelings.  Clever.

Life Between the Keys: The (Mis)Adventures of The 5 Browns.
Biography.  This is simply a collection of stories written by the Brown siblings.  Not too enlightening.  But when it comes to their piano playing, they are a talented group.

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham
With two attorneys for parents, thirteen-year-old Theodore Boone knows more about the law than most lawyers do. But when a high profile murder trial comes to his small town and Theo gets pulled into it, it's up to this amateur attorney to save the day.  Thankfully, at 13 he is wise enough to realize he can't fix everything on his own.  Looking forward to book 2. 

The Color of My Words by Lynn Joseph
Juvenile Fiction
Twelve year old Ana Rosa wants to be a writer, but growing up in the Dominican Republic, a country where words are fears, proves a challenge.  Ana Rosa is the youngest member of her family but it is clear she is sincerely loved by her older siblings and parents.  In return, Ana Rosa is quite intuitive about her family, specifically her older brother Guario.  He works hard for the family and Ana Rosa wants to help him as he searches for his future.  Ana Rosa realizes the power of her words can transform the world she knows as well as help her comfort her as tragedy surrounds her.  Quick read-I read it while walking on the treadmill, but thoroughly enjoyed it.  My heart ached for Ana Rosa and her mother, Mami, as I read.  This was a recommendation from my 5th grader.  I'm looking forward to having a book talk with him when he gets home from school today.

Playing for Pizza by John Grisham
Rick Dockery, a NFL player, lets his hopes of playing in a Super Bowl slip away when he leads his team to a terrible loss.  His career in the NFL is over until his agent gets him a spot on a team in Parma, Italy.  I didn't ever get so attached to this book that I couldn't put it down, but I did eventually finish it.  I found this book to be a bit wordy and kept wondering where Grisham was headed.  His descriptions of Parma, Italy as well as the food gave me a desire to visit the region and find some good pasta. 

Books I hope to read:
The Help - I recommended this to my sister and she finished it before I've had a chance to even pick it up!
Fisher of Men series
The Diamond of Darkhold:  book 4 in the Book of Ember series
Eat, Pray, Love - maybe. I can't decide if I want to read it or not.    I have decided this book would not be worth my time. 
A good classic- maybe some Jane Austen.

Jan 7, 2011

What I feed my kids for breakfast

Benjamin: What cereal is that mom?
Mom: Well, it is called Fiber One Raisin Bran.
Benjamin:  I'll try it. 
Benjamin: (after taking a few bites) nevermind Mom, it has rocks in it.

Another time...
Benjamin (while looking through all the cereal options, and then looking at regular Fiber One):  hmmm, twigs.

Andrew: I'll have the Grape-Nuts please.
Andrew: (4 bites in to the cereal)  Mom, I don't want this cereal, it tastes like dirt.

So there you have it.  I feed them rocks, twigs, and dirt.