Friday, December 18, 2009


We visited Santa at the mall. Ashley asked for a webkinz, Katelyn for Kit, an American Girl doll, Justin asked for a digital camera, and Mia asked for presents. Santa made us pay big bucks to get a picture with him, so we settled for these by his Christmas tree. They were more excited about the build a bear coupons on these elf hats then seeing Santa. Even though we haven't used the coupons.

He was bleeding. The only time we are allowed band-aids are when we are bleeding.

Katelyn in her new leotard. She successfully landed her roundoff back handspring on the ground. Go Katelyn!

Think about where you sit down next time you are at our house.

Hans' Birthday

Here are some not so flattering pictures of any of us, but it was a fun birthday, regardless of what we looked like! Hans is 33. So old. We celebrated the day before his birthday with a race car themed party. The kids and I bought this stuff at Party City, which may have been the most fun they have ever had. They loved doing this for Hans. Then we made a racetrack cake, complete with some of Justin's cars on it. The kids and I got him some slippers, which will likely be returned for Beatles rockband and a jacket for frisbee. We ate cake, opened presents - Conley girls made motorcycle cards for him and gave him a subscription to some dirt bike magazine, played duck duck goose, london bridges, and then crashed. It was his best birthday ever. I am oh so grateful for Hans. He is an amazing husband and even more amazing father. We all adore him and fight for his attention when he walks through the door. Happy birthday!!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

More Reasons to Give

I stole this off of my Dad's blog, but it's worth reading. Especially for crazy people like me who know that emotions effect physical health:)
December 1, 2009WellIn Month of Giving, a Healthy RewardBy TARA PARKER-POPEWhen Cami Walker of Los Angeles learned three years ago that she had multiple sclerosis, her health and her spirits plummeted — until she got an unusual prescription from a holistic health educator.Ms. Walker, now 36, scribbled the idea in her journal. And though she dismissed it at first, after weeks of fatigue, insomnia, pain and preoccupation with her symptoms, she decided to give it a try. The treatment and her experience with it are summed up in the title of her new book, “29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life” (Da Capo Press).Ms. Walker gave a gift a day for 29 days — things like making supportive phone calls or saving a piece of chocolate cake for her husband. The giving didn’t cure her multiple sclerosis, of course. But it seems to have had a startling effect on her ability to cope with it. She is more mobile and less dependent on pain medication. The flare-ups that routinely sent her to the emergency room have stopped, and scans show that her disease has stopped progressing.“My first reaction was that I thought it was an insane idea,” Ms. Walker said. “But it has given me a more positive outlook on life. It’s about stepping outside of your own story long enough to make a connection with someone else.”And science appears to back her up. “There’s no question that it gives life a greater meaning when we make this kind of shift in the direction of others and get away from our own self-preoccupation and problems,” said Stephen G. Post, director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics at Stony Brook University on Long Island and a co-author of “Why Good Things Happen to Good People” (Broadway, 2007). “But it also seems to be the case that there is an underlying biology involved in all this.”An array of studies have documented this effect. In one, a 2002 Boston College study, researchers found that patients with chronic pain fared better when they counseled other pain patients, experiencing less depression, intense pain and disability.Another study, at the Buck Institute for Age Research in Novato, Calif., also found a strong benefit to volunteerism, and after controlling for a number of variables, showed that elderly people who volunteered for more than four hours a week were 44 percent less likely to die during the study period.How giving can lead to mental and physical changes in health isn’t entirely clear, although studies suggest that altruism may be an antidote to stress. A Miami study of patients with H.I.V. found that those with strong altruistic characteristics had lower levels of stress hormones.By contrast, being self-centered may be damaging to health. In one study of 150 heart patients, researchers found that people in the study who had more “self-references” (those who talked about themselves at length or used more first-person pronouns) had more severe heart disease and did worse on treadmill tests.And like Ms. Walker, numerous people have reported feeling better after helping others. A 1988 Psychology Today article dubbed the effect the “helper’s high.” Analyzing two separate surveys of a total of 3,200 women who regularly volunteered, the article described a physical response from volunteering, similar to the results of vigorous exercise or meditation. The strongest effect was seen when the act of altruism involved direct contact with other people.For Ms. Walker, a former creative director for an advertising agency, most of the gifts involved time, emotional support or small acts of kindness. After the first 29 days, she began a new cycle, a pattern she continues. Neither she nor Mbali Creazzo, the spiritual adviser who taught her about the month of giving, knows why it is 29 days rather than 30 or 31 — it may have something to do with the lunar cycle, which is 29.5 days.Ms. Walker says she now approaches daily giving as a crucial part of her treatment, just like regular medication. She has also found new purpose in her experience and started a Web site,, that encourages giving to improve health.“Giving for 29 days is not suggested as a cure for anything,” Ms. Walker said. “It’s simply a coping mechanism and a simple tool you can use that can help you change your thinking about whatever is going on. If you change your thinking, you change your experience.”Dr. Post, of Stony Brook, agreed. “To rid yourself of negative emotional states,” he said, “you need to push them aside with positive emotional states.“And the simplest way to do that is to just go out and lend a helping hand to somebody.”

Gingerbread houses

Ashley's house. She is the most concerned over the artistic quality of her home.
She had a balcony and everything.
Katelyn with her million dollar smile. Also did an artistic job with her house.

Justin was most concerned about eating the candy, rather then decorating. This project seemed a little too good to be true.

Very exciting.

These girls are best friends. They hold hands, hug while they are waiting for me to catch up on walks, play games, and generally love each other.

Mia spent most of the time doing "one for me, one for the house."

Getting started. Grandma came to visit this weekend and brought the stuff for gingerbread houses.

The blank breakfast stare.

Mia sneaking a candy cane off the Christmas tree in her "I'm on the nice list, trust me" shirt. She gave me the guiltiest look.

Bed head. I'm never quite sure what to do with this girl's hair. This is all she's grown in 2 years. It's tempting to shave all her hair off and see if round 2 produces something better. I'm open to suggestion here.

Thanksgiving pictures

The Thanksgiving Kids Table. It was tons of fun thanks to Melanie.
The finished product. We made that pig pinata, thank you very much.

Hans, Mia, and Justin had a lot of fun brining the turkey. I love Mia watching Justin in this picture and trying to copy him. They are adorable together. They giggle and laugh at each other in the car a lot. Mia wants to be included so much. Usually she is.

Doing the paper mache on the balloon for our pig pinata. This was a fun, easy project and I love it because it takes 2 different days to drag it out for the kids. We cracked it open on Thanksgiving day with the Conleys. It was a nice addition to Thanksgiving tradition. It was a highlight for the kids, along with hiking the incline, and bowling. They were SO cute bowling.

More paper mache applying.

Cute Kate

By far the cutest pilgrim ever!
Mrs. Meyers told me that Katelyn had the loudest singing voice and they positioned her accordingly.

Isn't she cute? This girl makes me heart fill with joy everytime I see her smile and sing. She is so perfect at 5.

"This land is my land, this land is your land...."

I love Kindergarten, and especially my Kate.

Mia painting. She loves it.
Costco is the place for Christmas dresses. I love that I can get all 3 in the same size. They are so cute in them and feel so pretty. The first Sunday they wore them they got to be reverence children in church and of course Justin and Mia joined them. When they released the Egbert Children to sit with their family I had a moment of pride, but mostly of anxiety that all 4 of those people were in my care. I love them. And their dresses.

Mia loves to play in the sink under the disguise of "i'm washing my hands." It takes some of her time and she ends up here after painting anyway.

She also loves sippy cups. One with water, one with milk, and I don't know what's in the other one. She pushes a chair over to the drawer, gets a sippy cup, and then fills it with water from the fridge until she's screaming because she has cold water pouring over her and she still doesn't pull the cup away.

Hans gave this beautiful girl a black eye. They were passing the frisbee, Hans got a little enthusiastic with his passes, and this is the result. This is the 3rd day of it too. She liked the attention. I've never had a black eye before except when I threw up so much when I was pregnant with Ashley that I popped all the blood vessels around my eyes. Hans made me wear a hat on BYU campus so it didn't look like he'd beaten me:)

Sunday, November 29, 2009


November has flown by. It is hard to believe that December starts this week. We have done so many fun things and now I am sure the Christmas season will fly by as well. When I reflect back on the month it helps me to realize that I need to appreciate the moments more. The days can sometimes feel long, or at least certain hours in the day feel long, but somehow the weeks and months are too fast. I must be getting old to be feeling this way. So here were some highlights from November - I'll start with the girls art lessons. They are incredible. They drew the most unbelievable turkeys and made awesome earrings out of clay. They love it. And I love that they go together. It makes for a lot of Tuesday afternoon driving, but it is well worth it. The girls are also in piano lessons, which are fantastic. I love their teacher, who drives to my house to teach them one after the other. It's so great. It's been really fun to see them learning and progressing so quickly. They both play a mean "Jingle Bells." Katelyn participated in the cutest Thanksgiving program in school. And I get to volunteer in Ashley's classroom as the math helper. Justin also got to participate in a Thanksgiving feast. The highlights for him are probably all the playdates. He has so many friends. He loves them all. He got to play a lot with them this week. I think there was 1 week where he had more then 1 playdate in a day for the entire week. For Mia it's all the Dora watching. I am limiting it, but I will find her hiding somewhere with my phone where she has figured out how to find Dora episodes on You Tube. On her own. Now I try and hide my phone, but she almost always finds it. She also ate all 24 chocolates on her advent calendar already. She is a girl of little patience. She is 2. What else? For Thanksgiving week we went to the Science museum in Denver for the day with the Conleys. We also hiked the incline as a family. The girls and I made it all the way to the top in less then an hour. I was so impressed with them. We caught up to Hans and the babies on the way down. Then we stopped for ice cream in Manitou. Fun day. We did motorcycle rides, bike rides to the park to play, and sat outside. We had 60 degree weather all weekend. I love that. We, of course, ate a gigantic Thanksgiving meal. The Conley's came over with a feast and I had prepared a feast. We ate until we were sick. Then we did a pig pinata that the kids and I made during the week and watched a movie. We are so exhausted from all the fun. For me a big highlight is completing my yoga training. I successfully completed it. Hooray! It was a life-changing course and I am so glad I participated in it. I'm hoping to find a job teaching, but in the meantime I am teaching twice a week out of my house. If that interests you, call me. You can come. I applied at a place in Falcon through the YMCA. Mostly I am enjoying doing yoga because I want to. I love yoga. Now we are onto Christmas. Cards, gifts, shopping, decorating, and all that goes with it. It's great!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

More pictures

We had such a great Halloween this year. We made witches out of oatmeal containers, which the girls spent the entire afternoon on. They turned out really cute too. Justin wasn't that into it and Mia was sleeping. And I actually splurged on costumes this year and it was so fun to see how excited they were about dressing up in what they actually wanted. They got a ridiculous amount of candy, as usual. We had a ward Halloween party where we ate soup (I brought my own gluten-free "healing quinoa and cabbage soup" ) and maybe 2 bowls got eaten so I had it for lunch for 2 weeks and the kids went from room to room in the church doing activities and collecting candy. They also trick or treated at the high school and collected tons and did fun activities there as well. Then around the neighborhood in the evening. We only did 8-10 houses, but we had more then we needed. I picked out a bunch of candy to pass out to our trick or treaters. It was a great weekend. I was able to go up to Denver on Halloween for a cadaver lab for yoga. It was a unique experience. Then Hans and I got a babysitter that evening for Stake Conference. I was hesitant to go since it was the holiday, but I'm so glad we did. Elder Maynes of the seventy spoke and it was so great and worth the time. I needed some spiritual guidance:)


October has been one crazy month. I've loved it. We had some fun snowstorms and then tons of warm, beautiful days where we could play outside and lay out on blankets and read. It was fantastic. We carved our pumpkins, went to Halloween parties, finished up the soccer season for both girls, and just generally had a great time. I got to go to SYTYCD in downtown Colorado Springs. Yes, I'm a SYTYCD groupie. I signed the girls up for art classes again up in Monument, which they love. And suddenly I can't think of anything else we did. But I'm sure we spent lots of our time in our house. I've fallen in love with my crockpot and I cook almost every single day in that thing. It's so much easier and I have a great gluten-free cookbook. I do eat stuff like Quinoa and cabbage soup, but it's yummy and I'm getting used to it. The girls are doing great in school. They are best friends, which I love. They love to see each other when school gets out and then they frantically play until bedtime. Last night they spent 3 hours making a bracelet on their bead loom and then decorated the cutest cards for me with the "World's greatest mom Award" written on the back. I taped them up to my mirror. They make it easy to be a mom, that's for sure. Mia still can't stop talking about "soda, cake, soda" and her Dora party. She is obsessed with parties, but even more with Dora. I did finally take her to the Doctor. She is 21 lbs and not on the charts and 25th % for height. Her speech is above average and she's perfect in every way.