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:)